Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Insurance billionaire Greg Lindberg convicted for bribery seeks new trial

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Billionaire insurance magnate Greg Lindberg is asking a North Carolina federal court to overturn his March 5 bribery conviction and grant him a new trial.

Lindberg’s lawyers filed a motion Thursday for acquittal and for a new trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. His attorneys submitted a 69-page document, claiming court errors, the government failed to meet the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt,” and that Lindberg was entrapped by state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey.

Lindberg has a simultaneous lawsuit against Causey in the Middle District of North Carolina, in which he accuses Causey, who wore a wire and cooperated with the FBI, of “abuse of power and breach of the public trust.”

Lindberg, a Durham, N.C., billionaire, was convicted of using the promise of millions in campaign money to bribe Causey. Lindberg owns Global Bankers Insurance Group, a managing company for several insurance and reinsurance companies.

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The federal jury also found Lindberg associate John Gray guilty on two public corruption charges. Associate John Palermo was found not guilty. Lindberg and Gray could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for one of the charges and up to 10 additional years on the other.

Question Of ‘Official Act’

Over the course of the eight-day trial, prosecutors contended there was abundant evidence to show what Lindberg and his associates wanted for their money: They wanted Causey to reassign the senior regulator who oversaw one of Lindberg’s companies.

The recordings played for the jury showed that Lindberg and his associates repeatedly urged Causey to move Jackie Obusek, the deputy N.C. insurance commissioner responsible for regulating Lindberg’s company.

However, Lindberg’s attorneys claim Judge Max O. Cogburn erred in instructing the jury on the proper legal definition of what constitutes an “official act.” Citing precedents, attorneys argued that there are three parts that must met to satisfy the “official act” standard.

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“Because the jury was not instructed to find every fact necessary on the element of an official act, the Court must set aside the jury’s verdict on this ground alone,” Lindberg’s attorneys wrote. “The Court’s decision to treat ‘official act’ as beyond the province of the jury violated bedrock principles of constitutional law.”

As it has in several court filings, Lindberg’s attorneys point to a March 5, 2018 conversation between Causey and their client to make the case for entrapment.

“After a conversation with Mr. Lindberg about regulatory issues, Mr. Causey asked ‘what’s in it for me?’ and suggested that he wanted support that would be ‘[u]nder the radar screen.’ This evidence alone was enough to show inducement,” Lindberg’s attorneys wrote.

Lindberg’s attorneys argued at trial that Causey had a strong motivation for entrapping Lindberg: The insurance company magnate was the largest financial supporter of Causey’s chief political opponent — former insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin, who Causey narrowly defeated in the 2016 election.

 

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