September 24, 2022
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New trial set in NC politics bribery case :: WRAL.com

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A wealthy North Carolina businessman, whose political bribery conviction was overturned earlier this year, will get a new trial in March, a federal judge said Monday.

Greg Lindberg served some 20 months at a minimum-security prison camp in Alabama after he was convicted of trying to bribe North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. Causey wore a wire and cooperated with the FBI in the case. The scandal also took down the then chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes.

But U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn gave the jury poor instructions on a key element of the 2020 case, according to panel of 4th Circuit Court of Appeals judges, who unanimously threw out Lindberg’s conviction in June. Cogburn set an initial schedule for the new trial Monday, with a start date of March 6, 2023.

As before, the trial will be held in a federal courtroom in Charlotte. The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina will again prosecute on bribery charges, and Causey is expected to testify, as he did before. The case will also proceed against John Gray, a Lindberg consultant found guilty in the initial case.

Hayes cut a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to lying to federal agents. He received no jail time and was later pardoned by President Donald Trump. A fourth defendant in the first case, John Palermo, was found not guilty.

Lindberg spokeswoman Susan Estrich said in a statement Monday that Lindberg looks “looks forward to the opportunity to clear his name in the court of law as well as the court of public opinion.”

“We hope that by the end of the trial, it will be apparent that Mr. Lindberg is a law-abiding, character-driven person who has led a life in which doing good takes an equal role to doing well,” Estrich said in an emailed statement.

Lindberg was sentenced to more than 7 years prison the first time around, with a jury finding that he tried to bribe Causey with campaign donations in exchange for a softer regulatory touch on insurance companies that he owned in North Carolina. Those companies have since been taken over by the state, and the legal team unwinding the companies’ investment strategies, which involved hundreds of smaller companies, say Lindberg and the entities he funneled money to owe the insurers more than $1 billion.

A North Carolina Superior Court judge agreed with that assessment earlier this year, ruling in a separate civil case that Lindberg defrauded his own companies. Lindberg disputes that, and the executive team he left in place at those insurance companies has pushed back against the state’s plan to rehabilitate the insurance companies.

There may be a second FBI investigation into Lindberg’s business practices. It’s existence was revealed in early 2020 because the state-hired rehabilitator for Lindberg’s insurance companies was subpoenaed in the case, but the status is not known, and federal investigators have repeatedly refused comment.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina did not immediately comment Monday on plans for Lindberg’s new trial.



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