Lindberg fraud, bribery retrial officially set for May 6

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  • Former top North Carolina political donor Greg Lindberg's retrial on fraud and bribery charges is officially set for May 6. The retrial has been delayed twice.
  • A court order Thursday set out other deadlines connected with the spring trial.
  • Lindberg was initially sentenced to seven years in federal prison in the case. He was convicted of attempting to bribe state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey with more than $2 million.
  • The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the original verdict and sentence.

Former top North Carolina political donor Greg Lindberg will head back to federal court on May 6 for a retrial on fraud and bribery charges that initially sent him to prison for a seven-year sentence. An Appeals Court later wiped out that sentence. Charges were connected to Lindberg’s interaction with state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey.

A court order issued Thursday set other deadlines in connection with the retrial of Lindberg and co-defendant John Gray. Pretrial motions are due March 25. Briefs are due April 15. Exhibits, witness lists, proposed jury instructions, and a proposed verdict are due April 29.

US District Judge Max Cogburn agreed in October to delay the retrial. It had been scheduled for November.

It’s the second delay for the retrial. In both cases, the delay related to legal representation for Gray.

Gray’s legal team asked for the delay. Federal prosecutors agreed to extend the case for at least five months.

“[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,” Cogburn wrote in October, referring to Gray. “Moreover, the ends of justice served by granting such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and Defendant in a speedy trial.”

The order referenced Lindberg without naming him. “[T]his matter is continued as to the remaining co-defendants and the time is excluded as a reasonable period of delay as such 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.”

A motion filed Oct. 4 signaled the potential delay.

Gray has faced multiple changes in lawyers in the past year. 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 the Oct. 4 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.”

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 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 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.