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Suspended Georgia Insurance Chief Jim Beck Convicted on 37 Counts of Fraud, Money Laundering

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What You Need to Know

  • Beck was elected Georgia's insurance commissioner in 2018 and suspended in May 2019.
  • Prosecutors say Beck controlled companies that billed the GUA for services while he was the GUA's general manager.
  • One of Beck's lawyers said his client is evaluating his options.

A federal jury in Atlanta has found suspended Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim C. Beck guilty on 37 counts of money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud in a five-year scheme prosecutors said drained more than $2 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association, where Beck served as general manager before being elected in 2019.

Beck, 59, remains free on $25,000 bail and is restricted to his home in Carrollton except to attend Sunday church services, doctor’s appointments or visits with his lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen has set sentencing for Oct. 8.

After an eight-day trial, the jury took less than two hours to find Beck guilty on all counts.

The prosecution team includes Brent Gray, deputy chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sekret Sneed.

A Department of Justice spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Beck’s Team’s Reactions

“Mr. Beck and his trial team are obviously disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” lead defense attorney Bill Thomas said in an email. “We believe we presented a strong defense as to why Mr. Beck’s actions benefited the Georgia Underwriters Association and did not constitute fraud as alleged by the government. The jury obviously did not see it our way.”

Before the sentencing hearing, “Mr. Beck along with his trial team will be reviewing this matter, the jury’s verdict, evaluating his options and making a determination as to how to move forward in this matter,” said the W.H. Thomas Firm principal, whose co-counsel includes Randy Chartash of Chartash Law — like Thomas, a former U.S. prosecutor — and political law specialist Douglas Chalmers of Chalmers & Adams.

The History

According to the indictment and other sources, Beck used the Georgia Christian Coalition — which he chaired — and another company he controlled, Creative Consultants, to siphon money from the GUA to four shell companies he set up.

The GUA is a state-mandated residual insurer that provides basic property and liability insurance to property owners that have difficulty finding other coverage, and is governed by a board appointed by the insurance commissioner. It collects premiums from its customers and issues assessments to association members that include every insurer authorized to write property insurance policies in Georgia.

The indictment said Beck’s shell companies billed the GUA for online home inspections, data scans and mitigation services for water damage that never occurred. He was accused of offering other people as much as 10% of every payment processed for assisting in the schemes.

The office of former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak began investigating Beck before his election, and indicted him in 2019.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Beck while the charges were pending, but Beck continued to draw his $195,000 annual salary.

Kemp appointed former Doraville Police Chief John King acting insurance commissioner while Beck’s case was resolved.

“While today is a somber one for our state, I commend the U.S. attorney’s office and our law enforcement professionals for their work bringing this case to a close and ensuring justice for the gross misuse of Georgia Underwriting Association dollars,” said King in a statement following Beck’s conviction.

“When Governor Kemp appointed me to this role, I was tasked with restoring integrity and ethics to this office, and that’s been my priority since day one,” King said. “I look forward to continuing to move this Agency into the future, leaving behind the corruption of the past, and putting Georgia consumers first.”

Sentencing Possibilities

Beck could spend many years in prison: Federal sentencing guidelines for each of the criminal counts he was convicted of range from 46 to 57 months.

The indictment also said the government will seek the forfeiture of all of Beck’s ill-gotten funds and of three Carroll County properties he owns.

Jim Beck (Photo: Emily Haney)