Former insurance commissioner guilty
This week, a jury found suspended Georgia insurance Commissioner Jim Beck guilty on 37 counts of fraud and money laundering. Beck was convicted of orchestrating a scheme to embezzle more than $2 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association (GUA). Before he became Insurance Commissioner for the Peach State, Beck managed GUA.
Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that Beck had orchestrated a scheme to embezzle more than $2 million from the GUA. Prosecutors claimed Beck used the money to finance his successful campaign for office in 2018, as well as to pay credit card bills and taxes.
Four months after assuming the state insurance commissioner’s role, Beck was indicted and charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, and tax fraud. He would be suspended by Gov. Brian Kemp in May 2019. Kemp then tapped former Doraville police chief and longtime Georgia National Guard General John King to serve as interim as Beck awaited trial. As he waited for his day in court, Beck received about $200,000 in salary and benefits a year, the same as King.
During the trial, prosecutors pointed to evidence which showed Beck stole more than $2 million from the state chartered private insurer of last resort that he managed. They accused Beck of dreaming up schemes to funnel money to himself through a series of companies which did not perform the services he claimed. “The evidence makes completely clear that Jim Beck … is a thief,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Gray had said at trial. “He is an ordinary, plain, fast talking — and rich — fraudster.” In his own defense, Beck took the stand and testified that subcontractors he controlled provided valuable data that helped GUA increase its profits. In closing arguments, prosecutors went back to attacking Beck’s credibility and his concealment of his financial interest in two companies, Green Technology Services and Paperless Solutions, that were doing work for GUA. They pointed to an email that Beck drafted laying out how the trail of payments ultimately reached him. Beck’s testimony did not sway the jury who agreed with the prosecutors and convicted him after nine days of testimony and a few hours of deliberation.
If Beck had been successful in beating the charges against him, he would have been immediately returned to his state level position for Georgia. However, his conviction now opens the door for Republican King and Democratic contenders to run for the seat. Already in the running to challenge King is trial lawyer and State Rep. Matthew Wilson, D-Brookhaven, who is seeking to become the first openly LGBTQ statewide elected official.
As he awaits sentencing, the judge ordered Beck confined to his home in Carrollton except to attend court and to receive medical care.
The former insurance commissioner will be sentenced Oct. 8.