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Lindberg Convicted in Second Trial on Attempting to Bribe NC Insurance Commissioner

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A federal jury on Wednesday convicted Greg Lindberg, who once controlled two life insurance companies, a reinsurance company and multiple other businesses, and his co-defendant John Gray, of attempting to bribe the North Carolina insurance commissioner in 2018.

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It was the second trial on the bribery charges for Lindberg and Gray, a former political consultant, after an appeals court in 2022 overturned the men’s first conviction. They both could face a maximum of 30 years in federal prison, plus fines.

The Durham-based Lindberg, once considered a multi-millionaire and a heavy campaign donor to Carolina politicians, also faces lawsuits over his business dealings, along with a separate criminal trial on fraud charges. A grand jury in 2023 indicted Lindberg and two associates on charges that he concealed the financial condition and investments of his insurance companies while skimming millions of dollars from the carriers. That trial was delayed while the bribery re-trial was pending.

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Lindberg in 2023 (from Lindberg press release)

“The defendants planned and executed an intricate scheme involving substantial campaign contributions to an elected official in exchange for favorable treatment,” U.S. Attorney Dena King said in a statement Wednesday after the jury verdict was announced. “This was not a lapse in judgment. It was a calculated bribery attempt and a blatant violation of federal law.”

Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey helped launch the investigation after Lindberg approached Causey about relaxing oversight on Lindberg’s insurance companies, including top regulators and rules on surplus levels. Causey alerted the FBI, then wore a hidden recording device during multiple meetings with Lindberg and Gray in 2017 and 2018.

Court documents and prosecutors said that Lindberg promised Causey millions in anonymous campaign contributions in exchange for removing the state’s senior deputy commissioner. Lindberg at the time controlled Global Bankers Insurance Group, Southland National Insurance, Southland National Reinsurance, Bankers Life Insurance, and Colorado Bankers Life Insurance, as well as Eli Global LLC investment firm.

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To conceal the bribery scheme, two corporate entities and independent expenditure committees were set up to support Causey’s reelection campaign, and Lindberg funded the entities with $1.5 million, prosecutors said. Also, at Lindberg’s and Gray’s direction, the chair of the North Carolina Republican party transferred $250,000 from funds Lindberg had previously contributed to the party, King explained. The party chairman pleaded guilty to related charges in 2019.

Lindberg and Gray were convicted in 2020 on the bribery charges. But an appeals court two years later ordered a new trial because of jury instructions from the trial court judge. The court found that the lower court judge had erred when he told the jurty that replacing a deputy insurance commissioner with one more favorable to Lindberg’s business investments was an official act. Only a jury, not a judge, can decide what is considered an official act, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in June 2022.

At the second trial, held in Charlotte, the jury convicted Lindberg and Gray of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bribery.

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“Greg Lindberg and John Gray knowingly ignored the difference between legal political donations and felonious bribery,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert DeWitt. “They thought they could buy changes to North Carolina Department of Insurance personnel to benefit Lindberg’s businesses.”

A sentencing date has not been set.

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The 2019 indictment can be seen here.

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North Carolina

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