The federal government filed a motion today in a North Carolina court for forfeiture of nearly $1.5 million seized from insurance magnate Greg Lindberg, who was convicted on bribery charges last week.
The money was seized by the FBI from two separate Wells Fargo bank accounts during the agency's investigation.
Lindberg, a Durham, N.C. billionaire who in recent years became one of North Carolina's largest political donors, was convicted March 5 of using the promise of millions in campaign money to bribe North Carolina's insurance commissioner Mike Causey.
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. Two emails seeking comment sent to an address Lindberg set up for press inquiries were not returned.
Lindberg hired several attorneys and a large overall defense team. As of Friday afternoon, no appeal had been filed and the federal government moved ahead with forfeiture efforts, filing its motion in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
"Defendants set-up and controlled the entities that held the Funds, opened Wells Fargo accounts in the names of the entities, and funded the accounts of the entities for the express purpose of bribing the North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance and hiding the source of funds used to bribe the Commissioner," reads a motion filed by U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray.
At the end of the trial and before the jury rendered its verdict, defendants waived their statutory right for the jury to decide the issue of forfeiture of the seized money, Murray noted.
Lindberg owns Global Bankers Insurance Group, a managing company for several insurance and reinsurance companies.
The trial hinged on hours of secretly recorded conversations between Causey, Lindberg and his associates. Jurors also heard extensive testimony from Causey, who cooperated in the federal sting and wore a clandestine recording device to capture his conversations with the defendants.
Over the course of the eight-day trial inside Charlotte's century-old federal courthouse, 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. They contended Obusek was unjustly hurting the reputation of Lindberg's companies and hampering their ability to make investments and acquisitions in other states.
The recordings also revealed that the defendants promised Causey that they would send him millions in campaign contributions, initially through an independent expenditure committee and later through the North Carolina Republican Party.
Ultimately, the Republican Party did transfer $250,000 to Causey's campaign.
Defense lawyers argued that Lindberg and his co-defendants were innocent victims of a politician who used his power to "try to entrap and ensnare them."
Those lawyers also contended 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.
Lindberg donated at least $9,500 to Goodwin during the 2016 race, according to state records.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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