When healthcare giant WellPoint Inc. ousted its top financial officer last week, it said only that the executive had violated its code of conduct.
The parent company of Blue Cross of California said an inquiry "did not reveal illegal conduct and policy violations were in no way related to the business of WellPoint."
On Monday, hints began to emerge on what may have contributed to the departure of David Colby, 53, a highly regarded executive who was a key player in the merger that made Blue Cross, the state's largest health insurer, part of WellPoint.
Colby's sudden sacking came days after a Ventura County woman filed a lawsuit against him claiming he had promised her his Thousand Oaks home, a mansion in the gated golf community of Lake Sherwood valued at more than $4 million.
The same day that WellPoint announced Colby's departure, the company received a subpoena from a lawyer for the woman, Rita DiCarlo, who has lived in the home for some time.
The subpoena seeks e-mails and text messages from Colby. DiCarlo, who allegedly has hundreds of e-mail and text messages documenting her relationship with Colby, also has sold book and movie rights to a Hollywood producer.
DiCarlo's purported relationship had apparently been underway for more than a year. In February of 2006, the Indianapolis Star published a notice of Colby's engagement to DiCarlo and their planned summer wedding.
"They have a home in Lake Sherwood, California, and Dave commutes often for work," the paid announcement said. "The wedding will be a private ceremony with Dave's two children ... on the 12th hole at Sherwood Country Club."
The wedding didn't come off. Colby's divorce from his second wife is pending. DiCarlo remains in the Lake Sherwood home. In the lawsuit, she is seeking legal title to the house.
The suit also raised questions about what top executives at WellPoint knew about this, when they knew it, whether the alleged relationship had anything to do with the sudden departure of Colby, and whether corporate resources, such as computers and telephones, were involved.
The Indianapolis-based healthcare giant remains mum about what prompted its board and two top officers to demand the resignation. The company declined to make Chairman Larry Glasscock available for comment.
Colby could not be reached. A call to his cellphone went unreturned. His lawyer declined to comment.
Mark Hathaway, DiCarlo's attorney, said he didn't know whether his client's complaint had anything to do with Colby's ouster. But the Los Angeles lawyer said Glasscock was informed of DiCarlo's claim against Colby before last August.
That's also what DiCarlo told Larry Garrison, president of SilverCreek Entertainment. He is a bestselling author, journalist and a Lake Sherwood neighbor.
Garrison said he bought the book and movie rights to DiCarlo's story after she told him that top WellPoint officials had been aware of her complaint for some time and after reviewing hundreds of e-mails and text messages between DiCarlo and Colby.
WellPoint spokeswoman Shannon Troughton declined to say whether DiCarlo or her suit had anything to do with Colby's departure.
"Because it's a nonbusiness violation of the code of conduct, we're not commenting further on the specific reasons why we asked for his resignation," Troughton said.
Troughton also reiterated the company's position that WellPoint officials learned of it only "very recently." And she said Glasscock was not available to discuss the nature or timing of the issues that led to Colby's ouster.
In addition to the subpoena, Hathaway sent a letter to WellPoint last week demanding that the company preserve as potential evidence all company telephones, cellphones, BlackBerry devices and other hand-held communication devices used by or confiscated from Colby upon his departure. The company said last week that it had repossessed his BlackBerry, among other corporate property.
"You are to preserve the devices themselves, as well as their electronic content, including without limitation all text messages, photographs, e-mails, memorandum and records of incoming and outgoing communication," the letter says.
Hathaway's letter also demanded the company preserve Colby's desktop, laptop and notebook computers, including hard drives and any removable electronic storage devices that he may have used.
Angela Doan, a woman described by the Indianapolis Star as a Colby companion in Indianapolis, told the paper this week that DiCarlo's wedding announcement was a hoax.
"He's never dated her, he's never been engaged to her, so certainly he would have never said OK to running an engagement announcement," the paper quotes Doan as saying.
Doan also told the paper that DiCarlo frequently sent her e-mails and instant messages and made phone calls to relay false allegations against Colby.
DiCarlo's suit alleges Colby agreed orally and in writing more than two years ago to give her his approximately 7,500-square-foot, six-bedroom Lake Sherwood home but has reneged on that promise.
And Garrison, the Hollywood producer who bought the rights to her story, said he had gathered copies of hundreds of e-mails and text messages from DiCarlo that suggest she and Colby were romantically involved.