Scruggs updates, Part III: Was there a third insider?

August 25, 2008, 3:30 PM UTC
Fortune

[This is part of a series. The introduction is here.]

The newly available Tammy Hardison and Dana Lee depositions also shed light on an arcane question that I have posted on before, and that State Farm has been aggressively trying to answer: was there a third insider? The question stems from an isolated interview Scruggs gave to a Bloomberg reporter on March 30, 2006, in which he claimed to have made a trip to Bloomington, Illinois (State Farm’s headquarters) where he met with an insider and picked up a trove of incriminating documents that he was about to turn over to attorney general Hood. Scruggs never again referenced a Bloomington insider, leaving Scruggs-ologists to wonder: Had he just made this story up out of whole cloth and, if so, why?

Hardison and Lee said that, according to the Rigsbys and Lobrano at least, Scruggs did fabricate the story, and that he did so, indeed, with a gusto that even jaundiced Scruggs-watchers might not have imagined.

By March, Hardison said, colleagues at the Gulfport cat office were beginning to suspect the Rigsbys of being moles for either Scruggs or attorney general Hood. Accordingly, Hardison testified, Scruggs wanted to “throw suspicion off” the Rigsbys and send it, instead, to State Farm’s central office in Bloomington. Here’s what he allegedly did:

“So he either flew a jet, flew his jet out there,” Hardison testified, “hired some guy to meet him at the airport, called Bloomington and tipped them off and said that Dickie is there to meet somebody. And Pat [Lobrano] kept going, he loves all this. . . . And I was going, what was in the package? They were, like, oh, probably nothing. . . . They were laughing about it. . . . He loves cloak and dagger, you know.”

In an interview with me, Lobrano says she remembers “the whole Bloomington thing” but not any specifics of what was said. “I don’t know if [Scruggs] did that, if it was true. If he did, he would’ve been trying to protect the girls and we would’ve appreciated that.”