Derek Tudela and the LIP

by Grace4Ayla on February 2, 2013

state_farm.imageTrista Reynolds revealed that Justin DiPietro purchased a life insurance policy of $25,000 on Ayla Bell Reynolds shortly after he took custody of her. He bought this policy from his long-time friend, Derek Tudela. This is a very concerning situation, given the fact that Ayla suffered a broken arm, her blood was found on Justin’s bedroom floor and she disappeared just weeks after this purchase.

Derek Tudela and his family have explained how the sale came about. Derek claims he approached Justin with an offer to “bundle” the LIP with Justin’s auto insurance, and according to Heidi Tudela, saved Justin $40.00 a month. That would be a significant savings for an unemployed student living at home with a dependent child. But, was what Derek did ethical?


Last year, another blogger wrote a similar article about the life insurance policy. However, the other blogger was attempting to suggest that Justin DiPietro intended to use this policy for money laundering purposes. In my opinion, this is just more smoke and mirrors from the Reynolds’ camp. Much of the article was copied and pasted from an Anti-Money Laundering Training course found at the Life Insurance Company of Alabama website, which the author never bothered to cite as her source.

Despite the money laundering theory making little sense, I found that much of her information was still valid, if you looked at the actual facts. What follows is my reinterpretation.


While each insurance company may have their own AML training course, the Life Insurance Company of Alabama (LICOA) provides the following guidelines for their agents regarding the acceptance of funds:

  • Not knowingly accept funds from, make loans to, or do any type of business with customers whose money is believed to be derived from criminal activity.
  • Not knowingly conduct business with any person or business whose transaction is intended to conduct, finance, or support terrorist activities.
  • Not ignore indications that an individual’s or business’s money originated from criminal or other illegal activity.
  • Take appropriate measures to contact the Compliance Officer when made aware of facts that indicate suspicious transactions.
  • Stop providing support and assistance to customers who are seeking to deceive law enforcement with false, altered or incomplete information.

Have the Tudelas stopped cooperating with Justin DiPietro since LE declared he wasn’t telling all he knows about Ayla? No, they have not.

The LICOA course also instructs agents to watch for suspicious activity and red flags. To her credit, the other blogger made some very good points about these red flags some of which were: (Note: Emphasis added by me)

  • Customer intends to purchase product which is inconsistent with the buyer’s age, income, employment, or history.
  • Unusual payment methods such as cash payments.
  • Customer gives fictitious information.
  • Frequent loans on the policy that are immediately paid back.
  • Customer purchased a product that is inconsistent with the customers’ needs and is reluctant to divulge reasons for the investment.
  • Makes an over-payment on the policy and then asks for a refund.
  • Where the relationship between the policy holder and beneficiary seems unusual.
  • Makes a payment more than a year in advance.

Here are some red flags in reference to the agent:

  • Agent does not comply with company policies.
  • Agent submits application with false, inconsistent or suspicious information.
  • Agent pays premium payments for customer and customer pays them with CASH.
  • Does not report customer’s red flags to the Compliance Officer.

Upon perusing several life insurance applications, it is noticeable that most carry agent checklists covering common issues.

On one top page of an application is a list of 17 do’s and don’ts for the agent. One of them, the most notable in Justin’s case, instructs the agent to verify income to insure the policy is not outside the customer’s financial means. Justin was unemployed and attending school at the time of the application, therefore he had NO MEANS.

On this same application, there is a page attached to the back of the application that is required to be completed by the agent. On this form, one question stands out:

“If proposed insurer is a minor, what is the amount of insurance coverage on parents and any siblings? IF PARENTS AND SIBLINGS ARE NOT COVERED, GIVE REASON.

We have heard from Derek several stories, one which includes that Justin did indeed have a policy on himself. We have also heard, through the same rumor mill, that Justin supposedly has another child, and he is aware of this child. If this is true, what reason did Justin give for insuring himself and Ayla but not the other child?

An Impossible Scheme

If the policy were for money laundering purposes, it would stand to reason there would be multiple life insurance policies “floating” around that household. There would be one on Gabby and Ayden and his other child as well, but there aren’t.

The fact that there was a policy for Justin, as well as Ayla, only serves to further my point. If your best friend was an insurance salesmen, and he was counseling you on how to beat this system, this is exactly what he would tell you to do – Take out one on yourself and Ayla, in order to look legit. And this is exactly what we see Derek and his family spouting off in their interviews defending Justin.

If they were truly laundering money, they would have taken a whole life insurance policy out on all the kids, and not bothered with themselves. The point of money laundering is not to deposit and withdraw repeatedly, but to steadily increase the cash value of the policy to hold your ill-gotten earnings (tax-free, I might add) until it is safe to withdraw them by surrendering or cashing-in. You simply cannot use those types of insurance policies like checkbooks.

For more information on money laundering, check out this article.

The Bottom Line

An attempt by Justin to use Ayla’s life insurance policy as a money laundering device would mean that he expected to have her in his life for a good long time. Yet we have heard from the child’s own mother that Justin did not want Ayla in the first place. He was not active in her life until he either agreed to (with a complicit Trista) or was forced to by DHHS. I do not believe that after a mere few days of caring for Ayla he felt compelled to purchase a life insurance policy for either her future security, or money laundering purposes.

In spite of all this ammunition against the Tudelas (which could only help in solving Ayla’s disappearance), Trista Reynolds has still not contacted the Maine State Insurance Commission to file a complaint against Derek Tudela. The petition she had written for her to State Farm was as laughable as the one to the Governor. All bark and no bite. Sort of like her blog and TLLOM’s infamous billboards; looks like a valiant effort, but accomplishes nothing. Now, I ask you readers, does this seem like a mother who is doing everything she can to find her daughter to you?

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