Georgia Settles With 3 Former Insurance Employees Over Leaks

October 27, 2021

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia state government has settled a lawsuit filed by three former Insurance Department employees who said they were fired by ex-Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck because they had leaked information to a television reporter.

The state is paying $870,000 to Loranda Allen, Candice Sprague, Sherry Mowell and their attorneys, WAGA-TV reported.

Jurors convicted Beck in July on 37 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax fraud. The charges stemmed from Beck’s scheme to channel more than $2.5 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association through a series of companies to his own bank accounts. Beck managed the state-chartered private insurer of last resort for years before the Republican was elected insurance commissioner.

A judge earlier this month sentenced Beck to more than seven years in prison and ordered him to pay $2.6 million in restitution.

Federal officials began investigating Beck as he was elected statewide in 2018 as Georgia’s chief insurance regulator, indicting him shortly after the Republican took office in 2019. The investigation was capped by an eight-day trial that ended with jurors convicting Beck after fewer than two hours of deliberation.

The lawsuit stemmed not from the charges Beck was indicted on, but a story from Fox affiliate WAGA-TV about a 2017 arson that burned down a Carrollton rental property that Beck owned. The television station obtained a copy of Beck’s insurance application that showed two weeks before the fire, Beck nearly doubled his insurance coverage, from $95,000 to $186,000. Beck said he increased the insured value because of renovations. No one was ever charged with arson.

The television station also reported that Beck was managing the Georgia Underwriting Association at the same time that he had a full-time state job as a victim-witness advocate for a district attorney’s office.

The lawsuit alleged that Beck told another department employee that he blamed the women for “providing the information” for the “reporting by Fox News.” and said he was going to “clean the place up” and “get rid of” the three women after taking office in 2019.

“People shouldn’t be damaged financially or otherwise, for just doing their jobs. And, doing them well,” said Ed Tarver, a lawyer for the women.

The three women issued a joint statement saying: “We hate that this convicted felon destroyed so many careers when he came into office. That is sad for all Georgians.”

Lawyers for Beck did not respond to requests for comment.

Beck was automatically removed from office on conviction. He had been suspended after his indictment, but kept drawing a $195,000 yearly salary.

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