Court filing suggests possible delay of Lindberg bribery retrial to 2024

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  • A motion filed this week in federal court could indicate another delay in the federal retrial of Greg Lindberg on bribery and fraud charges.
  • The retrial is scheduled for Nob. 6. Lawyers for Lindberg's co-defendant, John Gray, have asked to delay his retrial to April 2024.
  • That motion does not apply to Lindberg, but US District Judge Max Cogburn already has delayed the retrial once for both men. In both cases, the delays are linked to changes in Gray's legal representation.
  • Gray's motion indicates the federal government has raised no objections to delaying his trial to 2024.

A federal court filing this week points to a possible delay in the retrial of former top NC political donor Greg Lindberg on bribery and fraud charges. The trial is scheduled now to begin on Nov. 6.

But lawyers for Lindberg’s co-defendant, John Gray, filed a motion Wednesday asking for his case to be delayed until April 2024. The motion indicates that the federal government “does not object to this motion and agrees to a trial date no sooner than April 2024.”

Gray has faced multiple changes in lawyers since the case started. His current legal team, two Asheville-based attorneys, officially joined the case on Sept. 26.

“Discovery for the initial trial was voluminous, including more than 80 hours of recorded conversations between the defendants and witnesses cooperating with the government,” according to Wednesday’s motion. “In December, 2022, the government provided six million pages of supplemental discovery in a related case involving Mr. Lindberg. It is unclear how much of the additional discovery counsel for Defendant Gray will be required to review prior to trial.”

“Counsel, new to the case, will need time to review the discovery and discuss it with their client,” Gray’s attorneys wrote. “Requiring Defendant Gray to be tried before April, 2024 will unreasonably deny him continuity of counsel and deny replacement counsel the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence.”

The federal government would not need to retry Lindberg and Gray at the same time. But US District Judge Max Cogburn already has delayed the retrial once for both men because of earlier issues related to Gray’s legal representation.

A status conference in the case is scheduled for Oct. 13.

Gray’s latest motion arrived on the same day that a lawyer for Lindberg appeared at the state Court of Appeals in a separate case. Lindberg is challenging a state Superior Court ruling related to a $600 million judgement against him. The Universal Life Insurance Company, or ULICO, argued to a three-judge appellate panel Wednesday that Lindberg is trying to delay paying the debt.

In a court filing in another case, ULICO claimed that Lindberg owes at least $1.9 billion to his top creditors.

The retrial is tied to federal charges that Lindberg attempted to bribe state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey with “more than $2 million” after Causey’s 2016 election. Causey worked with federal law enforcement officials, including wearing a surveillance wire, to collect evidence against Lindberg and associates.

Lindberg was convicted in March 2020 and was sentenced to a seven-year federal prison term. But the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out that conviction in June 2022. Appellate judges ruled that mistakes in Cogburn’s jury instructions had “infected” Lindberg’s convictions.

A second federal trial related to a separate 13-count indictment against Lindberg already has been delayed. Originally scheduled this summer, that case will now be pushed back until after the bribery and fraud retrial.

Before the legal action against him, Lindberg had attracted attention in the last decade as a top donor to political campaigns in North Carolina. He supported Democratic Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin’s unsuccessful 2016 re-election bid. Goodwin lost to Causey.

Later Lindberg became the largest financial contributor in 2017 to the NC Republican Party and two groups supporting then-Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican. Forest lost the 2020 governor’s race to the incumbent Democrat, Gov. Roy Cooper.