RALEIGH — A Durham businessman, convicted of attempting to bribe the state’s insurance commissioner, remains confident he will get a new trial or overturned conviction.
In a letter sent this week to his company’s executives, employees and customers, Greg Lindberg said he “never asked for any favors” from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. Lindberg said said he “tried my best at all times to follow the law.” The insurance executive said in his letter that he was careful to run decisions by his lawyers to insure compliance. In his letter, Lindberg said that Causey had asked for a ride on his airplane but Lindberg’s lawyer said “it was complicated, so we decided not to do it.”
Lindberg, who was sentenced last week to more than seven years in prison, plans to appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He’ll have to report to prison soon.
A 2019 federal indictment accused Lindberg and three others of trying to give over $1.5 million to help Causey’s 2020 campaign, in exchange for Causey removing an official from the department that regulated Lindberg’s business, in particular Global Bankers Insurance Group.
Jurors in March found Lindberg and company consultant John Gray guilty of two counts each. Gray got a 2 1/2-year sentence. Then-state Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes was among those indicted and pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents. He received probation. The fourth person was acquitted.
Prosecutors called the scheme “brazen” and “dangerous” and accused Lindberg of attempting “to buy his regulator, plain and simple” and expressing no remorse. Lindberg, who kept a low public profile before his indictment, offered a different narrative.
“I asked for stringent regulation and tough regulatory scrutiny,” Lindberg wrote in a 2,000-word letter, which is also getting printed in state newspapers later this week, according to a company spokesperson. “How could that be a crime? How does democracy work if you can’t ask your elected officials for ‘stringent regulation from an unbiased regulator’ as I did?”
Lindberg also repeatedly accused Causey, the government’s star witness, of lying under oath at the trial. Causey wasn’t accused of wrongdoing. He alerted authorities and recorded conversations that served as the basis of the indictments.
Lindberg wrote that Causey, a Republican, went after him as political retribution because Lindberg had supported then-Democratic Commissioner Wayne Goodwin in the 2016 election. Causey and Goodwin are running again in November.
With Causey’s help, Lindberg said, the FBI spent eight months and hundreds of hours trying to unlawfully entrap him. “He was concerned about the threat that I posed to his 2020 re-election campaign,” Lindberg wrote.
Causey declined to comment on the letter, an Insurance Department spokesperson said on Tuesday, citing ongoing litigation. Lindberg and his companies sued Causey two weeks after his conviction, alleging Causey abused his power as commissioner, resulting in over $500 million in damages. Causey has previously defended his actions.
Lindberg, the sole owner of the company now known as Global Growth, had quickly become the largest individual political donor in North Carolina a few years ago. He had given more than $5 million to state and federal candidates and committees since 2016, favoring Republicans but also giving to Democrats.
Lindberg wrote that he had been a “political neophyte” and looked to Hayes, Gray and others for advice.
“Had any one of these people with decades of political experience given just a simple warning, none of this mess would have occurred,” he wrote. “I would have stopped everything immediately with just the slightest warning. I am a careful and conscientious person.”
Earlier this week, Lindberg’s attorney Brandon N. McCarthy of the firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, issued a statement expressing confidence in the pending appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. “A political contribution is not a crime. Seeking fair regulation is not a crime. The bribery investigation started before any alleged bribe occurred. Certainly when you consider that it took officials 108 attempts to find an action thought to be convincing enough to label it a crime, it was surely not a crime,” said McCarthy. “The 107 failed attempts underscore the fact that Greg Lindberg is not a criminal. We are optimistic that the verdict will be overturned on appeal.”
North State Journal staff contributed to this report.