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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Did MassMutual Executive Melissa Millan's Knowledge of Trade Secrets Result in her Murder?

Big banks routinely take out life insurance policies on employees.
Last week's blog post discussed the unsolved murder of MassMutual Vice President and mother of two, Melissa Millan. Based on the details that I provided, readers unanimously agreed with my theory that the stabbing that took place at a bike trail in Simsbury, Connecticut, on November 20, 2014, was the work of a professional hit man. Now it is time to delve into the question of who hired the hit man, and the motive behind said hiring.

I still plan to look at court documents regarding Millan's divorce, which was drawn out for two years and finalized in 2012, to see if there is any potential motive that can be gleaned on the part of Millan's ex-husband. That said, I find it hard to believe that a guilty ex-husband, albeit a smart guy with a law degree, could remain free from arrest for over two years after extensive FBI involvement. Perhaps I have too much faith in the FBI, but the solving of a murder carried out by a former spouse motivated by greed or revenge is usually (not always, but usually) a fairly straightforward task. Law enforcement knows to interrogate the suspect; speak with those that knew the suspect and the victim; trace the money trail to locate payments made by the suspect to a hit man; and hopefully get the hit man's family or friends to talk. Often, a rat or two will crawl out of the woodwork during the investigation to help speed things along. Frequently, the hit man is not a true professional, but rather, he is an ex-convict hard up for cash, not very bright; maybe he has a drug problem, and he also has loose lips.

The fact that none of this has played out in the Millan murder investigation makes me wonder if the MassMutual conspiracy theory, first posited in an article by Wall Street on Parade, has any merit. On its face, thinking that an agent or agents within the insurance company that employed Millan was somehow responsible for her murder sounds like the far-fetched plot in a Michael Connelly novel. As a member of MassMutual's Senior Management team, Millan was in charge of overseeing the general management of the company's Bank Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) accounts. That is no small thing. BOLI accounts, sold by insurance carriers like MassMutual make up significant tax-free revenues for "too big to fail" banks. As stated in the Wall Street on Parade article, in 2013, four of Wall Street's largest banks were the largest owners of BOLI, and the four banks' BOLI assets combined totaled $68.1 Billion dollars, with Bank of America leading the pack ($22.7B in BOLI); followed by Wells Fargo ($18.7B); JP Morgan Chase ($17.9B) and Citigroup ($8.8B).
Flowers mark the site on a bike trail where Millan took her final breaths. 

The entire concept of big banks owning life insurance policies on their employees, both high level, mid level, and even low level workers, is ethically questionable. Nonetheless, it is standard practice and the BOLI funds are relied upon by the banks when distributing company bonuses. It is an ugly business. Banks will look through the BOLI database of current and former employees annually and determine who died so that policies can be cashed in and proceeds can go to the entity that paid the premiums: not the family members, but the bank itself. How does the bank justify taking out an insurance policy on a worker in the first place? I am not sure, but I would certainly appreciate reader feedback concerning the reasoning behind how banks justify the necessity of BOLI accounts. To me, it seems like giving a worker a gold watch at retirement and then stealing back the watch, and a whole lot more, when the employee bites the dust.

So what could Millan have known about BOLI accounts and practices that would have put her life in danger? According to Wall Street on Parade, three years before her murder, Millan "assumed leadership of an expanded and centralized services observation division that included business underwriting and operations, as well as claims."  As suggested by blogger Dr. Joseph P. Farrell shortly following Millan's murder:  "Ms. Millan was in a position to see general trends." It is "not about banks offing their employees to collect on insurance." Rather, according to Farrell, where "there is a trend, there is information that someone desperately wants to keep secret."

I recently spoke with an individual who met with Millan and knew, firsthand, that Millan had problems with the power structure of MassMutual while she was working in that very system. Millan was something of a crusader, according to that source. She was frustrated with what she perceived as an "old boy" power structure and she longed to have a voice.

This leads me to the conclusion that a specific worker, probably one lateral to Millan in position and authority, knew that Millan could destroy him or her by unveiling their secret(s). I doubt it was a lesser-level employee. Someone under Millan would have simply quit the job. However, a person of equal if not greater authority to Millan would have the wherewithal to hire a seamlessly professional hit. Here, the hit man in question was no drunken slob that you meet at a biker bar. Imagine, instead, a guy like Gus from Breaking Bad: capable, experienced, and extremely intelligent. This was not the first time that he has murdered for money, and it probably won't be the last.  

It is all so complicated and way above the heads of the Simsbury Police and even, it seems, the FBI, as evidenced in a Hartford Courant article one year following the murder, in which the Simsbury police Chief said that the renewed investigation involving the FBI "led us back to where we started."
In order to further explore the BOLI conspiracy theory, federal investigators will need access to the information known by Millan and see if there were, indeed, any secrets regarding the trends and patterns of BOLI accounts that could have threatened her life. Unfortunately, an automatic disbursement of any and all original documentation is not allowed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as the material is considered "privileged" or "contains trade secrets."Yes, shareholders are entitled to make inquiry, but the documents provided would no doubt be neatly edited and presented in a way that would offer little insight into possible misdoings.

Could a Federal Grand Jury Hold the Key to Solving this Case?
Perhaps, then, it is time for federal prosecutors to call a grand jury to look into the matter. Prosecutors do not need probable cause to form a grand jury. Mere suspicion of foul play can suffice. Then, under Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the grand jury can subpoena the information reflecting BOLI patterns and trends that Millan had access to prior to her death. MassMutual would have to turn over such information and the refusal to do so could result in a contempt of court finding involving three years of sentencing for the obstruction of justice. Since the investigation is clearly at a standstill, the formation of a grand jury to look into matter could be just what is needed to heat up a case that gets colder by the day.

Disclaimer: Law enforcement has yet to publicly name any persons of interest in the unsolved murder of Melissa Millan.  

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