GRAND JURIES INDICT CHAMPION PRINCIPALS

GRAND JURIES INDICT CHAMPION PRINCIPALS

Federal and state grand juries on Thursday indicted the owners of the defunct Champion Insurance Co. on forgery and other charges.

Among the charges is that officials of the company concealed over $2 million that was provided to Doug Green, Louisiana insurance commissioner, for use in his 1987 election campaign. Mr. Green was not indicted and has denied any involvement with Champion.Attorney General William Guste told reporters the investigation is continuing.

The indictments were issued by a state grand jury in Baton Rouge and federal grand juries in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

The state grand jury named the entire immediate family of John Eicher, the principal owner of Champion, on forgery charges.

In New Orleans, the federal grand jury named Mr. Eicher, his son Naaman and Naaman's wife, Tina, in a 25-count indictment for alleged mail fraud and conspiracy.

The New Orleans federal indictment said the Eichers concealed the true condition of Champion and continued to sell policies when they knew the company was intentionally limiting its payment of outstanding claims.

It also alleged that the Eichers concealed and destroyed records to thwart investigations into the failure of the company.

Naaman Eicher alone was charged with three additional federal counts of wire fraud, seven counts of money laundering, and one count of illegally structuring a financial transaction.

The Baton Rouge federal indictment cites John and Naaman Eicher on 19 counts of mail fraud, and Patti Eicher, Tina, Ashley and Meredith on 11 counts of mail fraud.

The indictment said the family continued operating the business on the basis of false and fraudulent pretenses and representations for personal benefit.

The Eichers have denied criminal wrongdoing in the company's collapse.

Champion was Louisiana's third-largest insuror of autos, with 100,000 policyholders, and the collapse left $150 million in unpaid claims in Louisiana and an undetermined amount in Alabama and Tennessee, where it also operated.

Also indicted in Baton Rouge were Naaman, 34; John Eicher's daughters Meredith, 29, and Ashley, 28; his wife, Patti King Eicher, 46; and Tina Eicher, 30, wife of Naaman.

All were officers or owners of various Champion affiliates.