Trial: Suspended Georgia insurance chief convicted of fraud


ATLANTA (AP) – A jury on Thursday afternoon sentenced Georgia’s suspended insurance commissioner on 37 counts of fraud and money laundering against him to close a two-week federal trial, quickly returning the verdicts of guilt after the close of the day.

ATLANTA (AP) – A jury on Thursday afternoon sentenced Georgia’s suspended insurance commissioner on 37 counts of fraud and money laundering against him to close a two-week federal trial, quickly returning the verdicts of guilt after the day’s pleadings.

Suspended Commissioner Jim Beck was convicted of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax evasion charges by jurors in federal court in Atlanta. Beck was charged months after taking office in 2019.

Earlier, prosecutors presented evidence at trial that Beck orchestrated a scheme to embezzle more than $ 2 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association. Beck had run the state-licensed private insurer of last resort for years before taking office.

Beck came to his defense during the week. He had testified that the contractors he controlled provided valuable data that helped GUA increase its profits. However, prosecutors argued that the companies were doing little actual work.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 8. The judge ordered that Beck be confined to his home in Carrollton, west Atlanta, pending sentencing, except for court appearances and outings for medical treatment.

The testimony at trial spanned nine days before Thursday’s oral argument.

After federal prosecutors dismissed six counts, jurors were invited Thursday to consider verdicts on 37 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

Prosecutors argued at trial that evidence showed Beck had stolen more than $ 2 million from the state-licensed insurer of last resort he managed, devising a scheme to channel money through it. ‘through a series of companies, but not actually providing most of the services that he told investigators he played.

“The evidence clearly shows that Jim Beck (…) is a thief,” Assistant US Attorney Brent Gray said at trial. “He’s an ordinary, simple, quick, and rich fraudster.”

But defense attorney Bill Thomas had repeatedly told jurors that investigators did not understand the insurance industry and prosecutors had not provided enough evidence to merit a conviction. He had told jurors that “the government is simply wrong in this matter” because Beck’s work has transformed GUA from a longtime money loser into a highly profitable entity.

“A man who takes a business from worst to first – when in 40 years this business has not made any money – cannot intend to harm or cheat the business,” said Thomas.

Prosecutors used their closing arguments to attack Beck’s credibility again, arguing that he concealed his financial interest in two companies, Green Technology Services and Paperless Solutions, which worked for GUA. They pointed to an email Beck wrote explaining how the payment trail finally got to him.

The defense argued that Beck’s work provided important data that allowed GUA to charge higher premiums and pay reinsurers less to share its risk. Beck had testified that a man named Jerry Jordan was the computer programmer who wrote the programs that collected this data. Beck also said there were no withdrawals from his bank accounts to pay Jordan because he paid him in cash he had accumulated in a safe and at his home.

Beck told jurors he didn’t know where Jordan was today and had no match to prove his relationship.

Retired IRS investigator Bill Bruton on Thursday said he examined Beck’s bank accounts from 2014 to 2018 and found he reported about $ 880,000 in income in those years. which had never been deposited in a bank and were presumably available in cash.

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Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

Jeff Amy, The Associated Press



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