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Woman a no-show at sentencing hearing for life insurance fraud

Bridgette Buckner had terrible luck with marriage: Her FBI agent husband died in 2007 — and again in 2008.

The 50-year-old Bartlett woman twice claimed her husband had died as part of separate scams to illegally collect life insurance benefits from her Aurora employer, according to DuPage County authorities and corporate security investigators.

Buckner also killed off three fictitious children in other insurance schemes to collect cash, officials said this week.

The bogus insurance claims — supported by forged or fake death certificates — netted Buckner about $70,000, officials said.

But they also left her facing up to seven years in prison after she pleaded guilty earlier this year in DuPage County to insurance and wire fraud.

Buckner — who more recently was charged in Cook County with identity theft — failed to show up Tuesday to be sentenced for those DuPage County offenses.

It was her 2008 insurance claim that her husband had been killed in the line of duty that led to her initial arrest in that DuPage County case. Buckner sought $15,000 in insurance benefits from her employer, Hallmark Services Corp. in Aurora — which just months earlier paid $10,000 to her after she claimed her 4-year-old daughter had died.

Two security consultants — both former FBI agents — who reviewed the claim for her employer quickly realized it was bogus.

“I immediately told her it was nonsense,” said Tom Bourgeois, one of the consultants who checked the claim. “If someone had been killed in the line of duty, we would have heard of it.”

Buckner already had collected $40,000 a year earlier from her former employer after claiming her husband had died.

“She killed off the same husband twice,” prosecutor Helen Kapas said.

But if Buckner’s claims were outrageous, she appeared sincere, Bourgeois and co-investigator Diane Rivers said.

“She is incredibly believable,” said Bourgeois. “When you talk to her, she seems like a nice, sweet lady.”

Even when confronted with evidence that her husband was alive, estranged from her and not a federal agent, Buckner was “incredulous,” Bourgeois said.

“She said, ‘You mean he’s not dead?’” Bourgeois said.

While authorities could find no proof Buckner ever had any kids, she collected about $30,000 in life insurance benefits for three children she claimed died in 2007 and 2008.

A DuPage County judge issued an arrest warrant for her, while prosecutors asked that Buckner be sentenced next month even if she’s not in court.

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Written by lordsinsurancelog

August 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Insurance News