The Wall Street Journal's Joseph Hallinan, a former Star reporter, wrote about Hilbert's game of hide and seek with Conseco on February 9, 2005:
Conseco contends Mr. Hilbert owes it $248.2 million. During his heyday, the college dropout and former encyclopedia salesman was among the country's most highly paid executives, pulling in over $100 million a year at peak compensation.Do you think the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis would be as kind to you if you didn't pay your bills?
Today, Mr. Hilbert, 59 years old, pleads poverty. At a hearing in November in Hamilton County Circuit Court in Indiana, he said he had virtually no income and only $175 cash in his pocket, and that his wife, Tomisue Hilbert, 34, "generously" pays his bills.
Since he was ousted from Conseco in 2000, Mr. Hilbert has transferred some $100 million in assets to his wife, according to court filings by Conseco. The sum includes $20 million in cash and an interest in a Caribbean chateau.
Phillip Fowler, an attorney representing Mr. Hilbert, says any transfers Mr. Hilbert made to his wife were "completely proper" and that Conseco isn't entitled to recover anything from Mrs. Hilbert. "Tomisue Hilbert owes not a dime to Conseco -- period," Mr. Fowler says.
In October, Conseco won a court order, which has since been stayed, giving it the right to foreclose on Mr. Hilbert's $25 million mansion in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel. Before Conseco could kick him out, Mr. Hilbert agreed to leave.
On Jan. 31, Mr. Hilbert and his family moved out of the 25,500 square-foot mansion, only to move into a 14,000-square foot home nearby. According to the deed, the home was purchased by Mrs. Hilbert, as trustee of the Tomisue Hilbert First Amended Trust. Its reported sales price: $2.3 million. Conseco now is in possession of Mr. Hilbert's mansion, which it hopes to sell.
UPDATE: Today's Star adds this: "About six months ago, Hilbert and his wife, Tomisue, settled a $300 million legal dispute over Conseco-backed loans that Hilbert used to buy Conseco stock in the late 1990s." It also notes tax abatements and incentives are being offered to another Hilbert-controlled business next door to where Halverstick is moving its offices. "The state is providing New Sunshine up to $420,000 in tax credits and $92,000 in training grants. The city is providing $126,000 in a property-tax abatement. New Sunshine employs 314 people."