LINDEN, Texas - Doris was a free-spending, popular lady around Reno town. She was well known in the casinos for her daily gambling sprees.

I became friends with her and her husband through my good friend and golfing buddy Ken and his lovely wife Linda. This is a true story, but the name Doris is fictional. This happened almost 50 years ago, and made news worldwide, because Doris was responsible for major changes in how insurance business was conducted worldwide.

Doris was the district manager in Reno of a large insurance company, and Linda was the head bookkeeper for that office. Linda was as honest as anyone you know, and Doris was a thief. Here is the story how she swindled her employer out of a small fortune. The lady was a genuine bona fide certifiable professional thief.

Doris and her husband lived in an upscale apartment in Reno. They seemed to be living way above their means, and Linda worried that Doris was stealing from their employer, but since she (Linda) was head bookkeeper and had total access of the money going from and coming into the office, just how could it be happening? Linda kept telling me and Ken that Doris had to be stealing from the company.

It was Christmas time and Doris threw a lavish, catered party at their lavish apartment that I was invited to. It cost many thousands of dollars. Doris was telling everyone that she was a constant big winner in the casinos. Not many believed that, knowing most addicted gamblers are losers.

Then a car accident in Southern California that killed a wealthy young man brought Doris down, and she didn't even know the man. It was the event that Doris had secretly worried would happen. A faraway fatal car wreck involving a total stranger and Doris was in handcuffs. After a lengthy investigation, of course.

Doris would get the company mail very early and take it to her private office. Looking through the files on the life insurance policies, she picked out the biggest policies, which were also the biggest premium payments, and choosing young insureds rather than older ones, she systemically swindled the company with her yet unheard of thievery.

She showed the chosen insureds as cancellations, and interrupted the premium payments of the supposed canceled policies. Those premium payments went into a secret bank account that only Doris knew of, and one that she used to siphon off company funds for personal use. Then a driver in California brought her down. He was killed, the family filed the life insurance claim, and the insurance company said no way Jose. He canceled that policy years ago. No he didn't, said the family. We have his canceled checks as proof. It took a long investigation before Doris' scheme was revealed, and eventually, industry-wide, safeguards were put in place to prevent that from ever happening again.

I think one of the strangest twists of this event was that Doris never served time for her crimes. Of course she was fired, and her notoriety from her crimes kept her from ever again working in the insurance industry.

They moved back to California and her freeloading husband had to go back to work, and she worked as a waitress. No more wheeling and dealing in the Reno casinos, no more catered parties. They withered away and died of old age in their hometown, having only distant memories of easy living and wealth. Crime never pays. If it did, most of us would be criminals, instead of just 10 percent.

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The judge in a criminal case in Dallas was shocked when the thief, who pleaded guilty to the burglary charge, was acquitted by the jury. "How could you possibly come to that decision?" he asked the jury foreman. "Well, your honor, everyone in town, except you, knows he is the biggest liar in town, and you can't believe anything he says."

Roy Bale can be reached via email at