Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $2 million in a scheme that occurred before he was elected in 2018.
The 38-count indictment, returned Tuesday, accused Beck of devising a scheme to defraud the Georgia Underwriting Association in Suwanee, where he served as the general manager of operations. It alleges wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.
“The FBI investigation found that Beck abused the trust of friends and his employer, in an elaborate scheme to enrich himself at GUA’s expense,” Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta, said. “The indictment is a testament to the fact that the FBI will expend all resources necessary to hold those who seek to enrich themselves through fraud and deceit, accountable for their actions.”
The Georgia Underwriting Association is an insurance association created as part of the Georgia Fair Access to Insurance Requirements law to provide high-risk property insurance to homeowners located throughout Georgia. In addition to premiums collected from its customers, GUA is also funded by issuing assessments to the association members, which include every insurer authorized to write any form of property insurance in the state, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office
The indictment alleges Beck embezzled in excess of $2 million between 2013 and 2018. It said Beck used some of the proceeds from the schemes for his campaign for insurance commissioner last year, as well as spending thousands on personal expenses and investments. Some of the money was also used to pay his state and federal income taxes to make improvements on rental property he owned.
According to the indictment, Beck defrauded the association by helping set up fake companies which then produced fraudulent invoices. Beck is also accused of involving the Georgia Christian Coalition, which he once represented, in the fraud scheme.
Early in his career, Beck worked as an independent insurance agent. He has served many years at the state capitol as a representative of the Georgia Christian Coalition and as an insurance industry lobbyist. He has also worked for state government, serving as deputy insurance and fire commissioner and, just prior to his election, chief of staff for then-Insurance Commissioner Ralph T. Hudgens.
He was elected insurance commissioner in November and sworn in in January.