Jim Beck, who has only been serving as Georgia’s insurance commissioner since January, is accused of embezzling more than $2 million.
That’s according to a recent 38-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, which includes multiple felony charges for Beck including money laundering, wire fraud, and mail fraud. The indictment accuses Beck — who previously worked as a lobbyist for the insurance industry — of defrauding the Georgia Underwriting Association (GUA) in excess of $2 million.
Much of that money allegedly went to renovating Beck’s rental property, paying back taxes, and even toward his campaign for insurance commissioner, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The indictment describes a scheme involving multiple business entities which Beck is said to have encouraged an associate to form collect money through the production of “fraudulent invoices.” Payments were then redirected to Beck through a company Beck had a controlling financial interest in called “Creative Consultants.” Multiple LLCs sent these “fraudulent invoices” to the GUA for reimbursement, and the associates who helped process the payments were allegedly allowed to keep 10% of the money they’re said to have helped embezzle.
Federal prison sentences for money laundering, mail fraud, and wire fraud can vary based on the amount of money an offender defrauded. Given that the alleged fraud resulted in the GUA being defrauded of more than $2 million, it’s possible Beck could face up to decades in federal prison if convicted on all charges.
The Journal-Constitution reports that Beck could be dismissed from his elected position after a 14-day waiting period, assuming he does not resign or ask to be suspended. Should Beck choose to remain in office as the state’s insurance commissioner, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) would then appoint a three-person panel to determine whether or not Beck should remain in his role.
Should the investigative panel find that the charges involved his duties as insurance commissioner after a 14-day deadline, Gov. Kemp would then be compelled to fire Beck and name an interim insurance commissioner until a new one can be elected.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.