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Women claim lives with WellPoint exec

Times Staff Writer

DAVID C. COLBY was Wall Street’s favorite managed care money man.

He helped build WellPoint Inc., which runs Blue Cross of California, 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, pulling down more than $740,000 a year and had just received stock options then valued at $1.6 million, along with the new 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 nonetheless and WellPoint would have nothing more to say.

Women who said they dated him during his 10 years at WellPoint and accompanied him on business trips across the U.S. and Europe haven’t been so reticent.

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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, where she said she had resided for the last 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 -- that 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 a secretary for the company chairman about Colby’s allegedly hectic personal life.

The producer, Larry Garrison, president of Thousand Oaks-based SilverCreek Entertainment, 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 CFO. 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 website, 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 CFO 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.

He had been the company’s representative on Wall Street and at conferences around the world, winning over analysts and investors and generating buzz in the financial community that he was destined for promotion.

In February, WellPoint announced that Larry Glasscock would step down as CEO, remaining as chairman, and that Angela Braly, the general counsel, would succeed him. That surprised people who had expected Colby or another more senior executive to get the job.

In March, Colby got the stock options and vice chairman title. Two months later, he was out.

Women who spoke to The Times described Colby as attentive and generous. Some said they suspected he might not be monogamous but all said they were shocked when they learned of the scope of his alleged philandering. Some said they were angry and hurt.

“He’s basically a very good person. I just think he’s confused,” said Joyce Goodwin, 53, who works as a dispatcher for the city of Ventura’s public works department and said she dated him in 2003 and 2004.

Sarah Waugh said she met Colby in 1998 when she was a 22-year-old temporary worker at WellPoint’s offices in Thousand Oaks, where she later landed a permanent job. Their romantic liaison began at a company party at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles in early 2001, she said, where she felt “like quite a big deal” because Colby danced with her.

“I was impressed by all the riches,” she said. “He drives me to the Sherwood house and shows me his home, takes me home and drops me off. He says, ‘Stay with me and you’ll never have to worry about anything. He hands me $300 or $500 and says, ‘Get a pedicure, buy yourself a dress.’ And that’s how it started.”

She said she left the company a few months after she began dating Colby and that he talked repeatedly of marriage.

Her sister Jessica Waugh, 27, said she met Colby at a party she attended with Sarah and later started dating him, enchanted by his dedication. “He is very knight-in-shining-armor,” she said. “He is incredibly charming and takes care of everything for you and makes you feel very safe and very cared for.”

In late 2004, she said, she joined Colby on a business trip to Europe during which he visited investors in London, Paris, Amsterdam and other cities. She said she considered him her fiance.

The sisters said they were astonished to learn they were involved with the same man at the same time.

“I’m sure that was part of his thrill, but we had no idea,” said Sarah Waugh, now 29. Her sister described herself as “kind of in disbelief.”

“He’s very good at what he does,” Jessica Waugh said. “This is not a stupid man. He did not get to where he is today without knowing how to handle people.”

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lisa.girion@latimes.com


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