Appeals Court Upholds Insurance Embezzlement Conviction

The federal appeals court in Atlanta has unanimously rejected a former Alabama insurance company executive’s plea to overturn his embezzlement conviction.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the embezzlement conviction of John Goff, former head of the now-defunct Goff Group, a workers’ compensation insurance firm that supplied coverage in its Alabama home, as well as in Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Goff was convicted last year of embezzlement, as well as 23 counts of mail fraud and a count of lying to an insurance industry regulatory agency. He was sentenced to serve 12 years in federal prison and repay $5 million to victims of his fraud.

In Goff’s trial, prosecutors said Goff funded an extravagant lifestyle with a million-dollar salary, a personal jet plane, Gulf Coast condominiums and a large home by halting premium payments to XL America, the global insurance and reinsurance firm.

In his appeal to the three-judge panel, Goff argued the government simply didn’t have the evidence it needed to convict him. The appeals court found that his lavish lifestyle and order to his chief financial officer to withhold XL premium payments was sufficient for a conviction.

Goff also claimed in his appeal that federal prosecutors had intimidated a witness called in his defense. The court rejected that claim as well.

Goff has been free on bond while his appeal was pending. The U.S. Attorney’s office said now that the convictions have been upheld, a judge will set a date for him to report to prison.

Source: Montgomery Advertiser: “Appeals court upholds fraud conviction”: October 21, 2010