AH. That explains that one.

I always wondered why the Argus Leader had been promoting the odd notion that it was ok for an insurance agent to end up as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy that they had written. Now I know why they've been ramming that notion down their readership's throat:
South Dakota's Supreme Court says the state Division of Insurance can revoke Sioux Falls agent Steve Tinklenberg's license for accepting a $25,000 policy from a former client.

In a unanimous decision released Thursday, the court said records in the case provide "clear and convincing evidence to support the revocation of Tinklenberg's license."

It appears to be the final word on a long-running and highly publicized case that included Tinklenberg's acquittal on criminal charges and the state's payment of $57,500 to the agent after he accused Division of Insurance investigators of violating his civil rights.

"I'm not a bitter, angry man at all with this outcome," said Tinklenberg, 54. "During the entire six years this has been going on, I've taken the high road. Quite honestly, I know that I've never done anything to break the law, and I stand on my record in that regard. People who know me know I didn't do anything wrong."


The storyline in this case began in 1980, when Tinklenberg sold a life insurance policy to Waverly farmer Albert Klein. The policy named Klein's sister, Mary, as the owner, though Tinklenberg argued that Albert Klein controlled who the beneficiaries would be since he took out the policy and paid its premiums.

Tinklenberg said he helped Albert Klein with many matters through the years, such as obtaining disability benefits, and helped his sister as well. As a result, the old farmer decided in 1993 to make his former insurance agent the beneficiary on his policy.

Papers were signed to accomplish that, though an ailing Mary Klein later insisted that she didn't remember signing the forms.

After Albert Klein died in 2000, Tinklenberg received $34,398.96 as a payment for the death benefit. He spent $6,766.58 of that to pay for Klein's funeral. But the farmer's family filed a complaint with the Division of Insurance after learning Tinklenberg received the payout. The division investigated and ultimately brought theft charges.
and finally, here's what got my attention:
Tinklenberg had worked for the Argus Leader circulation department for four months at the end of 2005 and beginning of 2006 as an independent contractor setting up kiosks at different locations for the purpose of selling newspapers.
That's rather telling. Read it all here and make up your own mind. But it certainly seems like some quid pro quo for his participating in their series of stories. Or do they hire everyone who contributes to big sensationalistic expose's?

Despite their best propaganda, I'd be hard pressed to ever believe that an insurance agent ever had an insurable interest in the life insurance policy of someone whom they weren't related to, nor had a business relationship.


Anonymous said…
PP is right. No insurance agent should be out there selling someone a policy and desgnating themself as beneficiary. Just another crook taking advantage of the elderly and the weak.

I couldn't figure out either why the Argus thought that was o.k.
Anonymous said…
B/c it put them against the rounds administration. That's why.
Anonymous said…
Tinklenberg is a slime ball, just like Randell Beck. You know what they say about birds of a feather...
Douglas said…
Say it isn't so.... Dakota War College has not been Sibbyfied. The shame of it all.
PP said…
Sorry Doug.

It's not anti-media vitriol. It's a matter of being incredulous that the argus would think it's ok for an insurance agent to write a life insurance policy and end up as a beneficiary.

When I was with the DOI several years back, I helped investigate a similar case where a guy was prosecuted for the exact same thing. He, his wife, kids and even his church all ended up as the beneficiary on the policy of an older man in a wheelchair to the tune of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And in that case too, the agent's alibi was that he did all these things for the insured, and "it was a gift."

The AG prosecuted him, and if I recall, won.

So, it's more of a matter of fact that I've seen it all before, and I'm a doubting thomas on the portrayal of innocense.

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