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Insurer owner files motion to dismiss bribery charges

North Carolina

North Carolina businessman and insurer owner Greg E. Lindberg on Wednesday filed a motion asking a federal district court to dismiss corruption charges against him in a case that alleges he, along with the chairman of the state Republican Party and two others, attempted to bribe state insurance commissioner, Mike Causey.

According to the motion for dismissal, the government’s case against Mr. Lindberg, chairman of investment firm Eli Global LLC and owner of Global Bankers Insurance Group, is “legally flawed” and does not justify the bribery charges against him.

The April 2 federal indictment had alleged that Mr. Lindberg, along with Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, John Gray, a consultant for Lindberg, and John Palermo, vice president of special projects at Eli Global and chairman of the Chatham County Republican Party, had conspired to bribe the commissioner by offering “millions of dollars in campaign contributions” in return for the commissioner to replace a senior insurance department official whom they believed was curbing efforts to expand Mr. Lindberg’s business.

But the motion for dismissal argues that the government’s entire case against Mr. Lindberg turns on a legally flawed understanding of what constitutes an “official act.”

“According to the government, requesting a personnel move is an official act giving rise to federal criminal liability even when the defendant in no way requested an ultimate outcome on any matter or proceeding that may in the future be pending before the government,” the motion states.

The motion cites two recent Supreme Court decisions in McDonnell v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2355 (2016), and Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. 358 (2010), in support of its stance.

In McDonnell, the Supreme Court narrowed the definition of an “official act” in the scope of federal bribery laws, the motion states.

While the motion confirms that the Commissioner of Insurance demanded, and Mr. Lindberg ultimately agreed to provide, a campaign contribution in exchange for reassigning a new deputy commissioner to assume responsibility for future regulatory oversight of Mr. Lindberg’s business, it goes on:

“A staffing change is not an official act within the meaning of McDonnell’s first step — because a personnel move is not like a “lawsuit, hearing, or administrative decision”.”

A spokeswoman at the North Carolina Department of Insurance declined to comment. “This is a federal case. The commissioner has no comment,” she said.

The motion for dismissal was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.





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