Greg Lindberg, the Founder of private equity firm Eli Global and owner of Global Bankers Insurance Group (GBIG) was sentenced to prison for orchestrating a bribery scheme in North Carolina.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn Jr. sentenced Lindberg to 87 months in prison and three years of supervised release. His bribery scheme involved independent expenditure accounts and improper campaign contributions.
Judge Cogburn sentenced Lindberg’s consultant, John Gray to 30 months in prison and two years of supervised release.
The judge also ordered Lindberg and to pay a forfeiture of approximately $1.45 million, which they held in accounts established for funneling bribe payments.
Lindberg’s bribery scheme
On March 5, 2020, a federal jury convicted Lindberg and his consultant John Gray of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.
During an approximately three-week trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Lindberg and Gray attempted a bribery scheme involving independent expenditure accounts and improper campaign contributions. Their purpose was to encourage the North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI) Commissioner to make decisions favorable to Lindberg’s insurance company, GBIG.
Through the evidence, prosecutors established that Lindberg and Gray gave, offered, and promised the Commissioner millions of dollars in campaign contributions and other things of value. In exchange, they asked the Insurance Commissioner to remove the NCDOI Senior Deputy Commissioner, who was responsible for overseeing regulation and the periodic examination of GBIG.
To hide the bribery scheme, Lindberg directed the setting up of two corporate entities to form an independent expenditure committee with the purpose of supporting the re-election of the Insurance Commissioner. Lindberg funded the entities with $1.5 million, the amount he promised during his telephone conversations, and in-person meetings with the Insurance Commissioner.
The Insurance Commissioner reported his concerns with the FBI regarding Lindberg and Gray’s political contributions and their other requests. He cooperated with the federal investigation.
Greed drives defendants to devise a bribery scheme
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray for the Western District of North Carolina, said, “Lindberg and his accomplices, driven by greed, devised an extensive political bribery scheme to illegally funnel millions of dollars to an elected official for the benefit of Lindberg’s business interests. To this day, Lindberg and Gray remain unremorseful and refuse to accept responsibility for their criminal actions. The severity of their brazen conduct is reflected in the Court’s sentence.”
On the other hand, FBI Charlotte Field Office Special Agent John Strong, commented, “When the prison bars close behind Mr. Lindberg and Mr. Gray, they will hear the sound of justice, loud and clear.”
Former NC Carolina GOP Chairman sentenced to a one-year probationary term
Judge Cogburn also sentenced Lindberg and Gray’s co-defendant, former North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robert Hayes.
The judge also ordered Hayes to serve a one-year probationary term. Hayes pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) the investigation into the bribery scheme.
Prosecutors recommended a lenient sentence against Hayes because he agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
According to the DOJ, Hayes caused the transfer of $250,000 from monies previously donated by Lindberg to North Carolina GOP to the Insurance Commissioner’s re-election campaign.
In his guilty plea, Hayes admitted that he spoke to the Insurance Commissioner about Lindberg and Gray and their request to move certain personnel within NCDOI. He initially made false statements with the FBI about his interactions with the Insurance Commissioner and his co-defendants.
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