Judge grants request to delay Lindberg trial in insurance-related case to 2024

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  • A federal judge has agreed to delay one trial for former N.C. political donor Greg Lindberg while he prepares for a retrial on bribery and fraud charges.
  • Lindberg's retrial is scheduled for Nov. 6. Judge Max Cogburn has set a status conference in the second case three months after the conclusion of the retrial.
  • Federal authorities argue that Lindberg attempted to bribe state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey with “more than $2 million” after Causey’s 2016 election. Lindberg was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out that conviction.

A federal judge has agreed to delay one trial for former N.C. political donor Greg Lindberg until after his retrial on separate bribery and fraud charges. Lindberg’s retrial is scheduled for November.

Judge Max Cogburn issued an order Friday placing a stay on a separate case linked to a 13-count federal indictment. Charges include wire fraud, money-laundering conspiracy, and false entries about insurance business finances. That case had been scheduled for July.

Now a status conference in the case will take place in “the trial term commencing three months after the conclusion” of Lindberg’s retrial, according to Cogburn’s order. Lindberg requested the delay. The federal government agreed to the delay.

“As of May 26, 2023, Defendant has received three discovery productions from the Government (the most recent of which was received on May 19, 2023) totaling over one million documents, which run to over 7.5 million pages and are nearly 2.5 terabytes in size,” Lindberg’s lawyers wrote in late May.

“This case is ‘complex’ within the meaning of the Speedy Trial Act, due to the nature of the prosecution, specifically, the complexity of the facts and laws related to the substantive offenses alleged in the indictment, as well as the voluminous nature of discovery materials electronically stored and acquired from searches, subpoenas, voluntary disclosures, and other investigative methods,” Lindberg’s motion continued. “As of the filing of this Motion, the Government has informed defense counsel it expects to provide further productions of documents.”

“The discovery in this case includes, but is not limited to, significant amounts of highly technical restructuring transactions, financial records, advisory agreements, and insurance information,” Lindberg’s lawyers wrote. “The complexity of the charges, and the severity of the potential sentence, along with the volume and nature of discovery make it highly likely that this case will involve significantly more attorney time than the average criminal case.”

The same legal team is representing Lindberg in both cases.

Cogburn set Nov. 6 as the date for a new bribery and fraud trial for Lindberg. The case had been scheduled for March. It was delayed because of issues related to co-defendant John Gray.

Uncertainty late last year about Gray’s legal representation helped lead to the delayed retrials for both Gray and Lindberg.

Carolina Journal reported on Dec. 5 that court documents had pointed toward a March 2023 retrial date for Lindberg, who was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to seven years in prison. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out that conviction in June 2022.

Court filings in December showed that Gray recently had hired a new attorney. That lawyer filed a motion on Dec. 30 to delay Gray’s retrial.  

Cogburn agreed with that request. “[F]ailure to grant such a continuance would deny counsel for defendant the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence,” the judge wrote in January. “Further, the ends of justice served by granting such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and defendant in a speedy trial. Specifically, Defendant and counsel have shown a need for additional time to review discovery and other materials in preparing for trial or other resolution of this matter.”

Cogburn also ruled that “this matter is continued as to the remaining co-defendants,” including Lindberg. “[S]uch defendants are joined with a co-defendant whose case has been continued from the term and as to whom the time for trial has not run and no motion for severance has been granted.”

Federal authorities argue 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 to collect evidence against Lindberg and associates.

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

A court filing in December signaled the large number of documents associated with the case. “On November 21, 2022, … the United States made a discovery production to Defendant Lindberg which consisted of over 6.4 million pages of documents.” according to the motion.

Gray was expected to receive the same volume of documents. He did not get them in November because of the uncertainty about his legal representation.

In November Cogburn rejected Lindberg’s attempt to end GPS monitoring while he awaited his new trial.

“The concerns previously expressed by the Government continue to exist,” Cogburn wrote in a Nov. 10 order. “Mr. Lindberg now lives in Tampa, Florida, where, according to the Government, he has ready access to both his ocean-going yacht and airplane.”

“The Government has also indicated that Lindberg continues to have significant overseas business interest and assets available to him outside of the United States,” Cogburn added. “As for Defendant’s contention that he has no incentive to flee because he has a growing family with an additional child on the way, the Court is not persuaded.”

“Here, Lindberg’s knowledge of an ongoing criminal investigation into his business practices and the potential for additional criminal charges, as well as the knowledge that he was previously convicted by a jury which resulted in his going to federal prison to serve an 87-month sentence, and the recent civil action filed against him by the SEC provide an incentive for him to flee,” the judge concluded. “The Court finds that location monitoring is a reasonable restriction in light of Lindberg’s motivation and ability to flee.”

A Nov. 8 court filing from Lindberg had disputed the government’s argument that he’s a flight risk.

“Mr. Lindberg lives in a permanent home in Tampa with his significant other and five of his children — all under the age of three, and two under the age of one,” according to the brief. “He regularly sees his other children in Tampa when they visit him on a monthly basis. He is also expecting another child in March of 2023.”

In addition to the fraud and bribery charges, Lindberg learned last August about a new federal complaint from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC accused Lindberg of raiding his own insurance companies in a “massive fraudulent scheme.”

In February a federal grand jury indicted Lindberg on the 13 counts unrelated to the bribery case. Lindberg pleaded not guilty to those charges in March. He was released on an unsecured $100,000 bond after appearing in court in Charlotte.