ATLANTA (AP) — Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck will learn on Tuesday how long he will be imprisoned after jurors convicted him in July on 37 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax fraud.
U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen is scheduled to impose Beck's sentence in a hearing in federal court in Atlanta.
Prosecutors last week asked Cohen to send Beck, 60, to prison for 10 years, citing federal sentencing guidelines. Beck's lawyers argue that the presentencing report prepared by a federal probation officer seeks to add too much time to Beck's sentence, saying the correct recommendation should be between 5 years, 10 months and 7 years, 3 months. Beyond that, they argue that Beck's abusive childhood and lifetime of good works argue for a sentence even shorter, citing 85 letters attesting to Beck's character that were submitted to Cohen.
“Until his recent conviction, Mr. Beck has led an unblemished life of public and private service,” defense lawyer Randy Chartash wrote to Cohen, arguing the judge should give a sentence below federal guidelines. Those guidelines don't bind judges but are influential.
Cohen on Friday argued Beck to forfeit more than $2 million, including $426,000 held in various accounts and two pieces of property worth almost $200,000.
Beck’s trial detailed a scheme that channeled more than $2.5 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association through a series of companies to his own bank accounts. Beck managed the state-chartered private insurer of last resort for years before he took office.
Federal officials began investigating Beck as he was elected statewide in 2018 as Georgia’s chief insurance regulator, indicting him weeks after the Republican took office in 2019. The investigation was capped by an eight-day trial that ended with jurors convicting Beck on 37 counts after less than two hours of deliberation.
Beck has remained free on bail after his conviction, although mostly confined to his home in Carrollton, west of Atlanta. Beck was automatically removed from office on conviction. He had been suspended after his indictment, but kept drawing a $195,000 yearly salary.
Gov. Brian Kemp has appointed John King to run the office and the Republican is seeking a full term in 2022.
Beck claimed during trial that the money went to pay for important data that allowed GUA to charge higher premiums and pay less to reinsurers to share its risks. He claimed a man named Jerry Jordan wrote computer programs that collected the data. Prosecutors dismissed those claims as fictions, though, saying that while a fraction of the money went to contractors who provided actual services, most of the money went straight to Beck.
“Beck did not simply advance a different interpretation of the facts,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sekret Sneed wrote in a motion arguing for a 10-year sentence. "He invented a complicated series of lies in his desperate effort to escape liability. And, in doing so, he invented Jerry Jordan.
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