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Key Witness NC Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey Reacts To Lindberg Guilty Verdict

Mike Causey
NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE
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Mike Causey, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner

On Thursday, a jury in Charlotte convicted Durham businessman Greg Lindberg and his associate John Gray on conspiracy and bribery charges in an attempt to bribe the state’s insurance commissioner Mike Causey. Another Lindberg associate, John Palermo, was found not guilty. Joining WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn for reaction is North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Thanks for being with us. So Mr. Causey what did you think of Thursday's verdict?

Mike Causey: Well, I was relieved to get this phase of the trial over, and people don't realize there's a there's still an ongoing federal investigation and other federal investigation dealing with the financials. So I can't really talk about any of the specifics, but I do respect the process and believe the jury followed the correct process that came with the correct verdict. So I think the evidence spoke volumes. 

Glenn: What did you think of the defense argument that he never asked for anything specific in return for the bribe?

Causey: Well, I can't comment on any of the questions they asked. I believe there are transcripts available on some of the court websites. But as far as anything that was said in testimony in court, I'm not allowed to make those comments.

Glenn: OK. Well, there were two associates on trial along with Lindberg. One was found not guilty. Were you disappointed in that?

Causey: No, I wouldn't say that. I think that’s up to the jury. They heard the evidence. They made the decision. I respect that decision. 

Glenn: Well, let's go back a bit. In terms of when you wore a wire, could you go back to that and explain how all of that played out? 

Causey: When I took office when I was sworn in, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I did pledge to root out insurance fraud and corruption. And so I look at it as doing my job.

Glenn: Did it make you feel, I guess, surprised? Or how did you feel when you were approached with this and even before you started wearing the wire? How are you feeling about that? 

Causey: It was described in court. And I believe people could go look at the transcripts and see what all was discussed there. But again, everything I did, I was walking to the direction of the federal agents. And as I mentioned before, this is not over. This was one part of it. This was a criminal trial. And there will be another trial that this pertaining to financials. 

Glenn: Can you comment on your top deputy (Jackie Obusek) (and) them trying to get her replaced? She was one of the ones overseeing the regulation of Lindberg's businesses. 

Causey: Well, I'll just say that I've never met a more dedicated employee. Never met a more capable, dedicated employee, certified public accountant. Lots of credentials and very dedicated to protecting the policyholders in North Carolina. So I backed her 100%.

Glenn: And what kind of message do you think all of this will send to the public at large and to others who deal with your office?

Causey: I believe that if you look at my record on going after insurance fraud -- we know this is trivia, but North Carolina was the first state in the nation to put sworn law enforcement officers in a Department of Insurance. And that was back in 1945. So this year is the 75th anniversary of our criminal investigations division. And every week these agents are making arrests for insurance fraud. So you'll see in different newspapers every week four or five arrests for different types of insurance fraud.

So I think our office is sending a message that we are looking for insurance fraud. It won't be tolerated. And we know people do get by with it. But hopefully, when they see the actions that were taken from a law enforcement standpoint, they'll think twice before committing insurance fraud. 

Glenn: Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. 

Causey: Thank you. 

Glenn: North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey.