Women lift curtain on fired CFO's loves

Two sisters were once astonished to learn they were both dating David C. Cole. His amorous exploits may be the subject of a movie.

June 16, 2007|By Lisa Girion | Lisa Girion,Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- David C. Colby was Wall Street's favorite managed care money man.

He helped build WellPoint Inc. into the nation's second-largest health insurance company. Portfolio managers and brokerage analysts voted him the industry's best financial officer four years in a row. The water-cooler talk was that he was a natural to move into the chief executive suite.

He was 53, earning more than $740,000 a year and had just received stock options then valued at $1.6 million, along with the title of vice chairman, when WellPoint asked him to resign.

Colby, the company said in a statement, had committed unspecified violations of its code of conduct.

An investigation uncovered nothing illegal and the alleged infringement was unrelated to WellPoint business, the company said. But Colby was out, and WellPoint would have nothing more to say about its former chief financial officer.

Women who said they dated him during his 10 years at WellPoint and accompanied him on business trips haven't been so reticent.

They described amorous entanglements that could embarrass the company if they became public - as it seemed they might, considering that at least four women signed up with a Hollywood producer who said he was shopping for development deals for their stories.

Among them are two sisters, one a former WellPoint employee, who said they had no idea until last week that the man each thought she was going to marry was Colby, whose divorce from his second wife isn't final.

Another woman, Rita DiCarlo, filed a lawsuit that lays claim to his 7,500- square-foot house in Lake Sherwood, a tony development in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, where she said she had resided for the past 20 months, driving one of his cars, a 1998 Jaguar with vanity plates that say C(heart)LBY.

Yet another woman lived with Colby in a century-old English country manor-style home in Indianapolis - where they were referred to in society columns as Dave and Angela Colby. The home recently won a restoration award from a historic landmarks group.

"There is no way that they could not have known what Dave was up to," said DiCarlo, whose photo with Colby ran in the Indianapolis Star in a paid engagement notice that announced a summer 2006 wedding on the 12th hole of the Sherwood Country Club.

DiCarlo's suit in state court in Ventura County, which claims Colby reneged on promises he made in writing and orally to give her legal title to the Lake Sherwood property, was filed five days before Colby's ouster.

After the suit was filed, her lawyer served WellPoint with a subpoena and a letter demanding Colby's e-mail and text messages. DiCarlo said she called WellPoint last summer, telling the company chairman's secretary about Colby's allegedly hectic personal life.

The producer, Larry Garrison, president of SilverCreek Entertainment in Thousand Oaks, Calif., said he called WellPoint after DiCarlo agreed in early May to sell him her story. At least four of the women who agreed to participate in a media, book, movie and film-rights deal with Garrison also have retained DiCarlo's lawyer in Los Angeles, Mark Hathaway.

Colby's second wife, who filed for divorce in 2004, declined to comment. Diane Colby-Honerkamp, his first wife, said she sued for divorce in 1988 after four years of marriage on grounds of infidelity after she became aware that he was involved in two extramarital relationships.

"These weren't affairs. These were lives - other lives," she said. "I just couldn't stand it. That's why I divorced him."

Colby didn't respond to phone messages and his lawyer declined to be interviewed. WellPoint officials declined to comment about the former chief financial officer.

One director at WellPoint, William G. Mays, said the board wasn't concerned with Colby's romantic life, only with his "several breaches" of the code.

"Dave Colby was an outstanding CFO and he chose to resign from WellPoint," Mays, a director since 1993, said, "and that's fine given all of his personal problems."

WellPoint's "standards of ethical business conduct," posted on the company's Web site, cover 25 pages and include language typical of such documents, mandating that employees "act ethically, honestly and fairly," and saying that they "are expected to exercise good judgment about socially appropriate behavior" when representing the company.

A graduate of Tulane University, Colby became chief financial officer of what was then known as WellPoint Health Networks Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, in 1997. Eight years later he helped orchestrate the $16.4 billion deal that joined WellPoint with Anthem Inc. of Indianapolis.

The deal was criticized by consumer advocates and scrutinized by skeptical California regulators because it bestowed more than $200 million in bonuses and other payments to executives, including Colby. But it has been a winner for shareholders - the stock moved up steadily, reaching an all-time high of $85.07 less than two weeks before Colby was forced out.

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