Part of PEMGroup’s business is buying life-insurance policies from older people at a discount, collecting after they die. But a problem arose in 2007, Mr. Aboubakare says, when policies weren’t paying off at the projected rate — “everybody lived a long time.”
That last sentence ought to wave a red flag for readers, regulators, and lawmakers. There’s a cottage industry where investors buy people’s life insurance policies at discounts, betting they’ll die before the investors lose money paying the premiums. That kind of incentive can’t be good, right?
Which leads us to the death of Pang’s wife:
Janie Louise Pang, who was 33, had worked on and off as a stripper. She had married at 16 and had two children before she married Mr. Pang.
That marriage evidently was stormy. The police were called to their home four times for domestic-disturbance complaints, including a 1993 incident in which Ms. Pang said she was afraid Mr. Pang “was going to kill her.”
She also told police her husband had drained value from her parents’ home and spent it on “gambling, women, alcohol, etc.” She said Mr. Pang once had broken her nose, forced her to withdraw $70,000 from the bank and gambled it away in one night…
In May 1997, Ms. Pang hired an investigative agency, which, according to court records, observed her husband holding hands with another woman. The next day, Ms. Pang was scheduled to meet with the investigator at noon. Shortly before that, the doorbell rang at the Pangs’ home. According to court records, the family’s maid heard Ms. Pang, her 5-year-old at her side, answer the door and begin talking to the visitor, who asked if she was “Miss Pang.”
She then began screaming. The maid saw her run through the house, chased by an elegantly dressed man carrying a briefcase and holding a gun. As Ms. Pang cowered in a closet, he shot her dead.
That’s from an also-excellent sidebar story looking Ms. Pang’s murder.
And it even has a life-insurance angle:
While police investigated the sensational murder, Mr. Pang, who had been out of town at the time, tussled with others over control of $750,000 in proceeds from his wife’s life insurance. The beneficiaries were her son and daughter by her first husband.
Swell guy. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up. Like the second classic PR response from Mr. Pang’s flack about the history of wife-beating calls to the police (emphasis mine):
Mr. Pang, through a spokesman, denied any of these events took place and said any police reports of abusive conduct refer to a different Danny Pang.
I wish the Journal had named this spokesman (UPDATE: A sharp-eyed reader points out that the paper does name the flack: LA disaster PR specialist Michael Sitrick. My mistake, and yet another reason to love this story.) He deserves to be publicly shamed. PR people are supposed to have ethics, too (really!). But even though the flackery was transparently pathetic, the Journal drives a stake through it:
But the reports include the Pangs’ correct birth dates. Mr. Pang didn’t face any charges because of the calls.
And someone actually got tried for Ms. Pang’s murder:
Four years after the murder, police arrested a suspect, who had drawn suspicion because he knew Mr. Pang and, days after the murder, had faked a suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge. When the man went on trial in 2002, the defense tried to point the finger at Mr. Pang instead, introducing a police and Federal Bureau of Investigation memo saying Mr. Pang shouldn’t be ruled out as a suspect and might have ties to Taiwanese organized crime.
Pang plead the Fifth Amendment in his wife’s murder trial.
See what I mean about the sure-to-come Hollywood thriller?