Hall of Shame: Daughter, hubby get dishonest demisesBy James Quiggle
July 12, 2011
Pitiable family calamities dogged Bridget Buckner. The Chicago-area woman’s husband and little daughter had died suddenly, just months apart. How sad.
Buckner produced death certificates and enough vivid detail to convince her employer’s life insurer to hand over $25,000 in life-insurance money.
But neither family member actually died. She offed them on paper to heist the insurance loot.
Buckner’s preschool child Briajay died of an illness in 2008, she told the life insurer with whom she had coverage through her employer, Hallmark Services. She made the claim barely a month after starting with the company. Buckner forked over a bogus Cook County death certificate and collected $10,000 in life-insurance money.
Her saddened office workers sent her flowers. Buckner even took time off later that summer, claiming the child’s death left her heartbroken.
But little Briajay actually had died four years prior, well before Buckner came to work for Hallmark or taken out the employer-sponsored life policy. Assuming the little girl even existed.
Next came Buckner’s hubby. He was shot and killed in the line of duty as an FBI agent just five months after Briajay’s supposed demise, she claimed. Buckner filed a second insurance claim, worth $15,000. It seemed a small amount, barely enough to salve the shock of a second family death. For Buckner, however, any free money was plenty enough.
But the con soon started unraveling. The close dates of the two deaths were suspicious. Also, her hubby had “died” just as Buckner was returning to work after medical leave when she supposedly hurt herself by slipping on spilled water at the office. Yet, suspiciously, more time off work.
The insurer started asking questions. Buckner wove a vivid tale for the investigator. Her brave husband was shot in the lungs and died while awaiting surgery at Loyola Hospital, she said.
But just her rotten luck...the investigator was a former FBI agent.
Her husband’s death was a surprise; the investigator would’ve heard about it through the FBI grapevine. Nor did Buckner place an obituary, and nobody could even locate a burial plot.
Buckner’s hubby was never an FBI agent, but was quite alive. The couple had been estranged for years, and he was unaware of the plot.
She was convicted, but abruptly bolted and went into hiding before her sentencing. U.S. Marshals soon tracked down Buckner and hauled her back to court. The judge already had slapped her with 10 years in prison in absentia. But Buckner brazenly asked the judge not to send her away despite disappearing as a fugitive. She begged for probation and counseling.
The court wasn’t amused.
“The defendant chose to attempt to evade sentencing and to attempt to evade punishment...” Judge John Kinsella said in sticking with Buckner’s decade in prison. “The defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious because of what she was willing to do.”
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