The Denver Post
July 23, 2004 Friday
Dark advice for troubled swindler
By Al Lewis
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Whatever prison sentence convicted financial schemer Will Hoover gets today, it won't be enough for some people.
Some people want him dead.
At least one of Hoover's top executives advised him to commit suicide.
Why? Because Hoover had more than $13 million in life insurance - enough to pay back most of the money he's been convicted of stealing in a Ponzi scheme.
"Everyone would be better off if Will Hoover were in a box," explained Steve Boyd, a former senior vice president of The Will Hoover Co.
Hoover, convicted June 3 on 44 felony counts of theft, securities fraud and racketeering, will be sentenced today at 1:30 p.m. He's filed bankruptcy but has vowed to repay his victims. To Boyd, a Wharton MBA, a self-directed exit is the only way Hoover can do it.
Hoover and his family would be spared the humiliation of a long prison sentence. Hoover's wife and children would be secure. And Hoover's clients would recover most of their money.
Call Boyd callous, but he's not alone.
"It certainly is acknowledged by a number of people that him killing himself would solve the problem," said John Moore, a former attorney for Hoover who has dealt with Hoover's investors.
In the waning weeks of 2002, as Hoover was under investigation, Moore, Boyd and Hoover met in Moore's office.
According to Hoover, Boyd began the chat: "'Will, you are not going to be able to pay your creditors back.' " From there, Boyd advocated a deadly plan that could reap millions in insurance benefits, Hoover said.
Under Colorado law, suicide clauses in insurance policies expire in a year. No one who knew of the plan believed it would be a crime. Hoover's policies were beyond the contestable period.
"This was the shock of my life," Hoover said. "These were my top two guys."
Moore was one of Hoover's best friends and the trustee of Hoover's life insurance trust. If Hoover died, Moore would control the insurance payoff, according to trust documents.
"John Moore didn't say much in that meeting, but he was nodding his head," Hoover said.
Moore said he did not advocate Hoover's suicide. He said he merely acknowledged growing concerns that Hoover might take his life.
"We wanted to assure him that if something happened, Steve and I would do everything we could to make sure that ... his family would be OK," Moore said.
Moore said Boyd had a later discussion with Hoover in which Boyd suggested that Hoover take his own life. Boyd told me he believed Hoover was planning to clear his balance sheet in this manner anyway. He doesn't hate Hoover. It's just that Hoover had narrowed his own choices to prison, life on the run or a casket.
"I thought it was a better idea than leaving everyone else high and dry," Boyd said.
Many of Hoover's victims were financially unsophisticated folks who trusted him, like Nancy Moseley, who lost her $1.5 million lottery winnings to Hoover.
"White-collar crime is just as bad as rape and murder," she wrote me after Hoover's conviction. "I want him to die a lonely old man in prison!"
Hoover said he's received 12 anonymous death threats: "The common thread through all of them is: 'You need to do the right thing. ... You need to kill yourself. And if you don't, we will."
On Monday, Moore argued before Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Campbell that Hoover's life insurance should be kept in force. Campbell, however, ruled that Hoover's two bankruptcy estates will no longer make the hefty payments to maintain Hoover's policies.
Those policies would now yield $8.5 million in benefits, and they may soon lapse. Moore said he is trying to organize creditors to pay the premiums.
Hoover, 52, has been under a lot of stress, prison won't add to his life, and if he dies, creditors get paid, Moore said.
"Under the circumstances, it's prudent to keep the insurance," Moore said.
Said Hoover: "They are making a market out of my life."
Al Lewis' column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at 303-820-1967 or firstname.lastname@example.org