NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Why would an owner of a company hired to care for a severely disabled man then take out a life insurance policy on him?
A family in Madison said it happened to their bedridden father. They told NewsChannel 5 Investigates it just doesn't make sense.
We found it's a bizarre case that even has state officials scratching their heads. When we tracked down the man at the center of it all, it got even more bizarre.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates went to the Smyrna office of Kevin Madondo and asked, "We'd like to talk with you about what your company is doing?"
We came to Madondo hoping he would explain how he and his home care company got tangled up in an apparent life insurance scheme.
"Why are you taking out life insurance policies on your clients," NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Madondo.
We got nothing but silence from him. But people, like Sheree Dowell, want answers.
"I think that they're [Madondo and his company] taking advantage of people," Dowell said.
Her father, Charles, was left seriously disabled by a series of strokes. TennCare hired Kevin Madondo's company, Warm Hearts, to take care of Dowell last fall, though the family insists the company never sent anyone to care for him.
But later, the family said a man claiming to be with the home care company came to Dowell's house asking to speak with him, giving the impression he was there to organize care for their bedridden father.
"He was coming to try to find him some nurses and to figure out all what needed to be done for my father. He spent the few minutes upstairs, came down and left," Sheree Dowell recalled.
But a week later, when Lincoln Heritage Insurance sent a letter congratulating Dowell on a new $9,000 life insurance policy, the family began to suspect something was wrong.
The family then learned that the man they thought was a home care worker was actually Joseph Coomer, an insurance salesman, sent to the home by Kevin Madondo, owner of Warm Hearts. It turns out, Madondo was not only paying the monthly premiums on the life insurance policy, he was also named as one of the beneficiaries.
"We have never met him a day in our life. He has never called us on the phone. We don't even know who he is period. So why is he paying for a policy? Why was a policy written," Sheree Dowell told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
There were even more questions once the family saw the life insurance application. While Coomer admits he filled out the application on Dowell's behalf, he insists Mr. Dowell signed it, on October 28, without assistance -- something the family said is just not possible.
"How do you know," NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Mr. Dowell's daughter, Sheree.
"Because he never signs any papers for himself. He's not capable of holding an ink pen to sign," she answered.
Another form asking to change beneficiaries was purportedly signed by Dowell three days later.
Again, Dowell's daughter insisted, "No, he didn't do it. He's not capable of doing that."
Even more surprising was that the form named the new contingent beneficiary as Kevin Madondo, even listing him as a friend.
“I'm like we don't even know Kevin. Who is Kevin," Sheree Dowell asked.
Charlie Weaver, the past president of the Nashville chapter of NAIFA, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, said, "That makes no sense to me. I mean why would you do that?"
Weaver told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that if it was, in fact, not Dowell's signature then, "That makes the policy null and void."
Then there's the section on the application that asks if the applicant is bedridden. It clearly states being bedridden is an uninsurable condition. Yet the box is checked no.
"He said that my father wasn't bedridden and clearly my father is bedridden," Sheree Dowell said.
Weaver also believes that's yet another red flag.
"It doesn't smell right. There's too many questionable things. Number one, misrepresentation, the guy's obviously bedridden and yet they say no," Weaver explained.
Joe Coomer turned down our repeated requests for an interview. But through his attorney, he told NewsChannel 5 Investigates he had gone to Charles Dowell's home at the request of Kevin Madondo's company. The attorney insisted this was a "consensual transaction" and that the "appointment had been pre-arranged with Dowell's family," and that this was a "life insurance benefit available to him as a member of that organization," meaning Madondo's company.
Yet, according to TennCare, Charles Dowell was not a client of Madondo's company when the policy was taken out and hadn't been for a month and a half.
Sheree Dowell believes the family was never supposed to find out about the policy and suspects others may have tried to collect the money after her father died.
"And why would they target your father," NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Dowell's daughter.
"I guess knowing the condition he's in," she replied.
And Kevin Madondo isn't providing any answers.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked him during our visit to his office, "If there's a perfectly logical explanation, why won't you give it to us?"
Again, we got nothing but silence from him.
Last summer, state regulators moved to put Kevin Madondo on Tennessee's abuse registry, after accusing him of financial exploitation of Warm Hearts clients and failing to provide adequate care for them. He's appealing that decision, and in the meantime, he and his company are still in business though they have since changed the name to Spring Home Care.