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Suspended insurance commissioner goes to trial over $2 million fraud allegations

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Jim Beck, the suspended insurance commissioner of the state of Georgia, will be going to trial over allegations that he defrauded his former employer of $2 million.

Beck assumed the role of insurance commissioner in January 2019, however, the US attorney’s office announced in May 2019 a 38-count indictment, which charged Beck with fraud and money laundering in a complex scheme to defraud the Georgia Underwriting Association. Beck allegedly used the stolen money to pay for his credit card bills and taxes, as well as fund the 2018 campaign which helped him get into office.

Georgia Underwriting Association is a state-created marketplace of last resort that offers high-risk property insurance to homeowners that have difficulty securing coverage. Beck was a former general manager of operations for the business.

According to the original indictment, Beck is thought to have lied to family and friends to get them to establish companies to send invoices to Georgia Underwriting Association. The invoices were typically for work that was not actually performed, and Beck took the payments for himself.

On top of the initial allegations, a federal grand jury in August 2019 added a count of mail fraud and four new counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns for the 2014-2017 tax years.

If he is convicted, Beck could face multiple years in prison. But if he wins, he would return to being Georgia’s insurance commissioner and could even run for re-election in 2022 against John King – the interim insurance commissioner appointed by Governor Brian Kemp when Beck was suspended.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia had been spending roughly $200,000 a year on Beck’s salary and benefits while he was on suspension. This led legislators to approve a proposed constitutional amendment to drop pay for state officials suspended from office while they face felony indictments.

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