Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Woodington/Munson Line: When Things Go Really, Really Wrong


Neil Woodington, right, the day he was convicted
Madison Wisconsin State Journal August 5, 1965
My 2nd great grandmother, Mary Ann Munson's sister Henrietta married Moses Woodington who had left Pennyslvania to move to Wisconsin and pioneer. Generations later, their great grandson, Neil Allen Woodington, who had such an awesome start in life, would bump up against life-changing problems.

He was born 03 Apr 1927 in Altoona, Wisconsin, to Clyde Woodington and his wife Grace Murn Bradley, Clyde was a long-time locomotive engineer of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.  Neil attended school in Eau Claire County and was a good student. In 1945, he was awarded a $200 scholarship by the Eau Claire Elks Lodge. He also won the Elks Americanism Essay contest that year.
First divorce

He attended law school at the University of Wisconsin and graduated first in his class in 1950. The guy who graduated second, Robert C. Kelly, would go on to become his business partner and co-defendant at his criminal trial.

He married his first wife, Jeanette M Hall in 10 Sep 1949 in Lamatine in Fond du Lac County; they took out a license on September 4th. Jeanette filed for divorce and it was granted in March 1963. Woodington was ordered to pay $1,100 per month in alimony and child support for their five daughters.He was also ordered to maintain life insurance to benefit the daughters.

His second wife, Betty J. Nedlose, married Woodington on 08 Apr 1963 in Miami, Florida. They had one daughter together. They divorced in 1971.

In the years 1964-1968, Woodington would face his greatest challenges. Two of the companies he ran, Madison American Guaranty Insurance Co. (MAGIC) and Allied Development Corp.found themselves under investigation for potentially filing false statements relating to a stock offering. Those companies later went into bankruptcy. The details of the trial and the ultimate conviction are located below. Woodington, as president, was found guilty of filing a false or misleading financial statement and sentenced to three years in state prison. His partner, Robert Kelly, who was reportedly portrayed by his lawyer as yet another victim of Woodington, was also convicted and sentenced to probation. Woodington stated repeatedly he thought that the investigations started by then Attorney General George Thompson before the election of 1964 was politically motivated. Thompson was a Republican and MAGIC general counsel Clarence Bylsma was a prominent Democrat. Thompson lost the election. Investors and other creditors in the companies lost about $8 million.

Woodington appealed to the State Supreme Court, and while his conviction was upheld, the Court made comment on the harshness of the sentence. Woodington's subsequent appeals failed and he was sent to Waupun State Prison in 1967, shortly thereafter being moved to Thompson Prison Farm in Cambridge. There, he was ultimately granted work release, where he worked as a "financial advisor" for a company set up by Clarence Bylsma in Madison.

Both Woodington and Kelly were disciplined by the State Bar in 1968. Woodington was disbarred for life and Kelly was suspended from practice for six months. An attorney, Jack McManus, who stated he'd provided counsel and advice to Woodington related to his disbarment proceedings, sued him in Nov 1967 for $11,500 in unpaid fees. The fallout from the original trial was significant, driving other litigation such as this regarding the players.

After his release from prison on May 9, 1968, Woodington became what his second wife called, "a promoter." He had moved to New Brighton, Minnesota and was involved with a number of interests such as the Diesel Driving School as well as restaurants co-owned with Fuzzy Thurston, former Green Bay Packer, both in Wisconsin. The restaurants were put under court control and the owners, including Neil Woodington, were barred from entering the restaurants. Woodington was accused of "wrongfully taking money from the corporation, issuing bad checks to employees and suppliers, and grossly mismanaging corporation business." Madison Wisconsin State Journal November 12, 1979

Woodington married Carole McFarland in 1976 in Reno. They divorced 29 Dec 1980. Also in 1980, Woodington moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. He had other business interests under the auspices of The Woodington Group which included such businesses as Dollars and Sense, a direct-mail publishing venture he ran in Colorado. That company would be taken over by several of his children and run into its own legal and criminal issues in the 1990s.

Woodington died on 15 Jul 1989 at his home in Scottsdale at the age of 62.

Marriage Licenses; Madison Wisconsin State Journal September 4, 1949
News Notes: Birth of Daughter, Madison Wisconsin State Journal October 5, 1950
Woodington is Divorced; to Pay $1,100 a Month; Madison Capital Times, March 28, 1963
Woodington Given 3 Years; Kelly Placed on Probation, by James D Selk, Madison Wisconsin State Journal August 5, 1965
Appeals to Knowles; Woodington Seeks Reduced Sentence; Madison Capital Times December 31, 1966
Outside Work Permit Granted; Woodington Denied New Trial; Madison Wisconsin State Journal October 19, 1967
In State; Journal: Libel Trial Bylsma Says He Didn't Know of MAGIC Moves; Madison Capital Times February 12, 1968
Woodington Wins Parole on May 9; Madison Wisconsin State Journal May 2, 1968
Five Describe Loans in Atty Bylsma Case; Madison Wisconsin State Journal October 16, 1968
25 Years Ago, Eau Claire Leader Telegram July 17, 1970
Wife Seeks Divorce from Woodington; Madison Capital Times July 8, 1971
McManus Sues: Asks Big Woodington Fee; Madison Capital Times September 11, 1973
Salesman Wanted; Classified Section, Eau Claire Leader Telegram, February 16, 1978
Restaurants Under Court Control; Madison Wisconsin State Journal November 12, 1979
Business News: Dollars and Sense of Colorado...; Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph June 20, 1982
40 Years Ago, Eau Claire Leader Telegram October 16, 1985
Obituary: Woodington, Neil Allen; Madison Wisconsin State Journal July 19, 1989
Daughters Follow in Dad's Crooked Footsteps; Madison Capital Times May 7, 1997
Wisconsin Divorce Index, 1965-1984
Nevada Marriage Index, 1956-2005
Florida Marriage Index, 1822-1875 and 1927-2001

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