(The Center Square) — Former top North Carolina political donor Greg Lindberg will remain on GPS monitoring as he awaits a new federal bribery trial.
U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn Jr. last week denied Lindberg’s request to be released from location monitoring, citing previous hearings on the matter and the billionaire’s personal assets.
“Counsel for the Government pointed out that, (in August 2019), Lindberg had a private aircraft, a 214-foot ocean-going yacht registered in the Cayman Islands, and 115 foreign bank accounts, including accounts in Canada, India, Ireland, Malta, the Philippines, England, and the Cayman Islands,” Cogburn wrote.
“Counsel for the Government continued that Lindberg purchased his vessel within 30 days of being contacted by the FBI in connection with this case and that he shortly thereafter appeared to be liquidating his assets by listing his residences in North Carolina, Key West, and Idaho for sale.”
Cogburn wrote that “concerns previously expressed by the Government continue to exist. Mr. Lindberg now lives in Tampa, Florida, where, according to the Government, he has ready access to both his ocean-going yacht and airplane.”
Lindberg, once North Carolina’s top political donor, was released this summer from a minimum-security prison in Alabama, where he was serving seven years for an alleged attempt to bribe North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey.
An appeals court panel in June overturned his 2020 bribery and fraud convictions over mistakes made by the trial judge in delivering jury instructions. Causey worked with the FBI to record and later testified a Lindberg associate promised a large donation for Causey’s campaign in exchange for a request to replace a state insurance official involved in regulating Lindberg’s businesses.
Lindberg won a new trial when the appeals court agreed the trial judge’s jury instructions about whether the request constituted an “official act” went too far.
“Here, although the district court properly defined the term ‘official act,’ … it then instructed the jury in no uncertain terms ‘that the removal or replacement of a [S]enior [D]eputy [C]ommissioner by the [C]ommissioner would constitute an official act,'” Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote, according to The Carolina Journal. “In doing so, we find that the district court impermissibly took an element of the crime out of the hands of the jury and violated the defendant’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.”
“Here, we cannot conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury verdict would have been the same absent the error,” according to the appeals court order.
Former North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes pleaded guilty in 2019 to lying to federal investigators about facilitating Lindberg’s transaction, but was pardoned by former President Trump in January 2021.
Lindberg argued in a Nov. 8 court filing that he’s not a flight risk while awaiting a new trial because he “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.”
But Cogburn was “not persuaded,” he wrote, citing the potential for prison time and another federal complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that accuses Lindberg of a “massive fraudulent scheme” involving his insurance companies.
“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,” Cogburn wrote. “The Court finds that location monitoring is a reasonable restriction in light of Lindberg’s motivation and ability to flee.”
Cogburn previously scheduled Lindberg’s retrial for March.