ATLANTA (AP) — More than two years after he was accused of defrauding his former employer of more than $2 million and indicted on federal charges, Georgia's suspended insurance commissioner is set to stand trial.
Jim Beck, a Republican, was elected insurance and safety fire commissioner in 2018 and then was indicted in May 2019, just months after taking office, on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. The charges stem from Beck's time as general manager of the Georgia Underwriting Association, or GUA, before he was elected insurance commissioner.
Jury selection is set to begin Monday for his trial, which is expected to take about two weeks.
Prosecutors say Beck had friends and family members create fake companies that billed GUA for hundreds of thousands of dollars for work that hadn't been done. Then, as general manager of GUA, he approved payment of the invoices and had most of the money transferred to two businesses that he controlled. Prosecutors declined through a spokesman to comment beyond what is in court filings.
Lawyers for Beck declined to comment, but they wrote in a court filing that he disputes that he intended to defraud GUA or cause it any harm. They also wrote that evidence exists that “tends to place the story presented by the prosecution in a significantly different light.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a fellow Republican, called on Beck to resign a day after his indictment. Beck voluntarily suspended himself from office the next day, saying he was innocent of the charges, and it would be inappropriate for him to resign. Beck has continued to collect his state salary even as the state has also been paying John King, who was appointed by Kemp to serve as commissioner during Beck's suspension and who has announced a 2022 run to keep the job.
GUA was created to provide high-risk...