A lawsuit claims a Baton Rouge man improperly collected a $500,000 payout from his business partner’s life insurance policy after the partner gunned down his estranged wife and shot and killed himself in Connecticut last year.
A federal judge on Monday ordered the U.S. Marshals Service to seize all of the money that Todd Hines obtained from the policy for his deceased business partner, Billy Wayne Newman.
A federal lawsuit, filed Friday, says Newman illegally removed his wife, Lauren Beebe, as the policy’s beneficiary and replaced her with Hines less than two weeks before Newman killed her and himself inside their Killingworth, Connecticut, home on Nov. 25.
Hines filed a claim for the policy’s proceeds less than three weeks after the deadly shootings, without informing the couple’s relatives, the suit alleges.
Beebe’s relatives are suing to recover the money from Hines, who insists he did nothing wrong. During an interview at his home Monday, Hines said he hasn’t spent any of the policy proceeds and doesn’t want to profit from the “tragedy” that cost him two friends. But he said he has honored Newman’s decision to make him the policy’s beneficiary after Beebe filed for divorce.
“I have absolutely nothing to hide,” Hines said.
The family’s lawsuit says Newman and Beebe’s two young children are the couple’s only heirs and the rightful recipients of the money.
Beebe, who was 48 when she died and taught at LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge from 2005 to 2010, filed for a divorce from Newman in Connecticut last October. Her family’s suit says Newman, then 57, was served with divorce papers on Oct. 30, making it illegal for him to remove her as the primary beneficiary of his life insurance policy.
Hines subsequently drove with Newman from Connecticut to Baton Rouge, where, on Nov. 13, Newman “knowingly and wrongfully” replaced Beebe with Hines as the beneficiary of his policy, the suit says. On the same day, Newman changed the title on a van from his wife’s name to his own and then left the vehicle with Hines before returning to Connecticut — “also evidencing an intent to keep anything he could from his wife,” the suit added.
During his trip to Baton Rouge, Newman also illegally obtained the gun that he used to shoot his wife and himself, the suit says.
Hines filed a claim with Protective Life Insurance Company on Dec. 14 along with a copy of Newman’s death certificate and the original insurance policy.
“It is not known where or how (Hines) obtained the original insurance policy,” the suit says. “It is known, though, that (Beebe’s relatives) were totally unaware that Newman had wrongly changed the named beneficiary to (Hines), yet (Hines) obviously knew.”
Hines said Newman didn’t tell him about the change until after he made it.
“He did it because he trusted me,” Hines said, adding that he purchased the van from Newman.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge James J. Brady ordered Hines to cooperate with the Marshals Service’s efforts to seize all money or property derived from the policy proceeds pending the outcome of the litigation.
Hines and Newman co-owned Southern Pottery Equipment & Supplies LLC in Baton Rouge. Hines says he owns 10 percent of the company and Newman owned the remaining 90 percent.
Hines said Beebe’s mother asked him in February to use the $500,000 payout to buy out Newman’s share of the company, but he said he would need a portion of the money to keep their business afloat.
“I don’t want to gain anything from this,” he said.
Hines says he never saw any warning signs before the shootings and still can’t make sense of what happened.
“I’ve been over it a million times and tried to figure out what I missed. There’s nothing there,” he said.