ATLANTA – Suspended Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck has taken the witness stand for a second day in his federal fraud trial. Beck told jurors his testimony “was my last chance” to persuade them and the world that federal investigators ignored the truth in an ill-advised rush to indict him.
Beck is accused of being the mastermind of a scheme to steal more than $ 2.5 million from the state-created insurance company, Georgia Underwriting Association. Beck led GUA before taking office as the state’s leading insurance regulator in 2019. He was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and tax evasion months after his appointment. input function.
After revealing the name of a mysterious computer scientist at the bar Tuesday during an examination-in-chief, it was an opportunity for the prosecution on Wednesday to try to shed light on who the mysterious Jerry Jordan is.
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Beck told the court he couldn’t find Jordan, a man he called a key witness and could explain the large sums of money exchanged between Beck and his cousin, Matthew Barfield. Barfield testified last week that, under Beck’s leadership, he set up his company to bill GUA for home inspections. He told the jury that he thought Beck’s Creative Consulting company did the actual inspections, he just did paperwork.
Beck testified on Tuesday that a separate company he controlled was doing legitimate extra work for GUA and told the jury that he paid a computer programmer he met at a restaurant named Jerry Jordan large amounts of money. money to write software to skim home inspection data from public databases.
He said he initially paid Jordan $ 40,000 in cash. He said that later he personally manually entered the data Jordan collected into the GUA’s computers for about three years.
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Beck told the jury that he got the green light from GUA board chairman John Houser to set up a company to do home inspection research for GUA. But earlier in the lawsuit, Houser said he knew nothing about Beck’s companies.
The suspended Insurance Commissioner made no comment on Jordan’s identity other than telling the FOX 5 I-Team: “Have a good day everyone,” as he entered the Federal Courthouse for his second day of testimony.
During this testimony, Jerry Jordan’s name kept popping up. Beck said Jordan provided the brainpower for the computer to collect data that GUA used to charge customers more and cut costs that the real estate insurer of last resort was paying others to share its risk. These steps, Beck said, are helping transform the state-chartered insurer from a chronic money loser to a profitable entity.
“The government’s theory on the case is based on the fact that there is harm,” Beck said. “Actually, there was an advantage. So I suggest to you that if there is no harm, there is no crime.”
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But Beck admitted that he didn’t know where Jordan was, that he didn’t know the exact name of Jordan’s business, that he didn’t have a written contract with Jordan, that he didn’t. not the laptop Beck said Jordan gave him, that he didn’t even have a Jordan business card. Beck said he lost track of Jordan after moving “out west” to pursue a woman he met online. He said he and his legal team searched for two years, but couldn’t find him.
“He’s the secret behind Green Tech and Paperless,” Gray said, naming the two companies that prosecutors say Beck invented to embezzle money from his employer.
Beck also said he paid Jordan in cash he accumulated and stored in a safe and at home, explaining why the GUA-related payments from Green Technology Services and Paperless Solutions never left his accounts. banking.
“I agree with you, it’s weird, but at the end of the day I got paid to do the job and the job was done,” Beck said of the cash payments he made. he said he performed.
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Beck admitted during cross-examination that he had no evidence of any work he did with Jerry Jordan. No laptop, skip reader, emails or files. Beck said it was because the business was running years ago and he didn’t keep it.
Beck argued that the fundamental flaw in the case is that FBI agents concluded that “Jerry” only referred to Jerry Luquire of Columbus – another activist of Beck’s Christian Coalition who died in 2014 – instead to believe there could have been another Jerry. Beck said he met Jordan after Luquire ran into Jordan at a restaurant and introduced him to Beck.
“Every statement that you take out of my mouth, you see it as a continuation of a lie, when it is a continuation of the truth,” Beck said. “If people believe you, I’ve been lying for five years.”
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Gray ultimately focused not on Beck’s supposed relationship with Jordan, but on the emails Beck wrote posing as Matt Barfield, the man who prepared the invoices for Green Technology Services, who has collected payments from GUA and a husband and wife set. entrepreneurs at GUA.
“We’re talking about whether you’re telling the truth,” Gray said, wondering why Beck wrote emails signing his name as “Matt,” with “Matt” even at one point, including Beck in the correspondence.
“It didn’t bother me because I was doing business on domain names that I owned and emails that I owned,” Beck said.
Gray explained to Beck why he never told GUA employees or some of his contractors that he had a financial interest in the job. Beck testified that he received more than 10% of the money paid by GUA, and in some cases much more.
“The financial arrangement was irrelevant to the job,” Beck said. “I have a lot of friends who I don’t discuss my financial arrangements with.”
SEE ALSO: Trial begins for suspended Georgia insurance commissioner
Beck said these friends turned on him and testified for the prosecution because they were intimidated by the federal investigation and jumped on the wrong conclusion.
“People do what people do when the federal government starts knocking on their door, and sometimes they put two and two together and get six,” Beck said.
Gray, during the hours of cross-examination, repeated to the jury: “I guess we’ll have to take your word for it.”
Beck became irritable at times during his testimony attacking the government, the FBI, saying that they were caught up in their own narrative and that they had not taken the matter far enough and that at one point he did. said: “The wheels came out of this investigation.” And at one point he looked at the prosecutor and said, “Mr. Gray, I don’t think you understand the insurance industry.” Gray replied, “I probably don’t think I’ll ever understand what you’re saying.”
Other testimonies are expected Thursday.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report