A retired education professor at Appalachian State University has been indicted on federal fraud charges, accused of making millions of dollars through an insurance scheme.
Richard L. Stahl, 56, of Boone is charged with 24 offenses, including money laundering, wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy.
Stahl was a longtime faculty member in the university's Reich College of Education, said the college's dean, Charles R. Duke. Stahl retired in the late 1990s, Duke said.
The 14-page indictment filed last week said Stahl began a scheme in 1995 to defraud several insurance companies by having himself named as the beneficiary on life-insurance policies written on an unnamed co-conspirator.
Stahl had no legitimate interest in insuring the man's life, the indictment said.
Stahl and the co-conspirator made several false statements to the insurance companies about the health of the co-conspirator, the indictment said.
When the co-conspirator died in 1999, Stahl received more than $5 million from five life-insurance policies, according to the indictment.
Stahl's attorney, Sean Devereaux, said that the case arises out of a long-standing civil lawsuit involving Stahl and a former business partner of the co-conspirator in Florida.
Devereaux said that the co-conspirator is likely to be David R. Andersen, who died in Watauga County on Nov. 10, 1999, the same date of the death of the co-conspirator listed on the indictment.
"I think there are some misunderstandings we hope to clear up," Devereaux said. "The insurance companies were accurately and fully informed."
The indictment alleged that events surrounding the death were suspicious. When the medical examiner went to the funeral home where the body had been taken, Stahl tried to talk him out of performing a post-mortem examination and refused to leave the room while it was taking place.
He also told the medical examiner that the man expressed a wish not to be examined, autopsied or even have blood drawn, according to the indictment.
Stahl also had a document purportedly signed by the man expressing a wish that he be cremated within 24 hours of his death, that Stahl oversee the funeral arrangements and that no notice of his death appear in any newspaper or radio reports, the indictment said.
In several earlier discussions with a funeral director, the man said that he wanted a traditional funeral with a viewing and interment, according to the indictment.
Devereaux said that he and Stahl have met with investigators four or five times over the last year and Stahl has cooperated with them. Stahl has not been arrested, but has been served with a summons.