Court Upholds Conviction of Former Alabama Insurance CEO Goff

October 25, 2010

A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a former Montgomery insurance executive who was once a major supplier of workers compensation insurance in the Southeast.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta issued a 3-0 decision affirming John Goff’s conviction on one count of embezzling from another insurance company, 23 counts of mail fraud and one count of making a false statement to an insurance regulatory agency.

Goff headed the now-defunct Goff Group, which supplied workers compensation insurance in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. He was convicted in 2009, sentenced to 12 years in prison, and ordered to pay $5 million in restitution.

At trial, federal prosecutors said Goff stopped paying premiums to XL America in order to support a lavish lifestyle that included a $1 million annual salary, a large Montgomery home, condos on the Gulf coast and a jet plane.

Goff’s attorneys argued on appeal that the government lacked the evidence to convict him. The 11th Circuit said there was sufficient evidence that Goff spent money he held in trust to support his lifestyle and that he directed his chief financial officer to withhold payments because the Goff Group “was in grave financial difficulties.”

The appeals court also rejected Goff’s claims that prosecutors intimidated one of his witnesses, Montgomery attorney Tommy Gallion.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Feaga said that Goff’s claims were outrageous and that he was pleased the appeals court rejected them unanimously.

“This decision is a vindication of the actions of the United States in enforcing the law and seeing that justice is done equally and fairly,” he said.

Two of Goff’s defense attorneys were out of their offices Wednesday and could not be reached immediately for comment.

Goff has been free on bond pending his appeal. Feaga said the court’s ruling means a judge can now set a date for Goff to report to prison.

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