Georgia Insurance Commissioner wants board members' resignations

There is a major shake-up underway at the Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commission. After six weeks on the job, Georgia's new Insurance Commissioner, John King, has requested the resignation of the entire board of directors of the Georgia Underwriting Association.

The Georgia Underwriting Association, or GUA, is an insurance company, created by the legislature, to provide coverage for Georgians that cannot find insurance anywhere else.

The little-known association splashed into the spotlight following the arrest of former Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck. A federal indictment accuses Beck, the long-time general manager of GUA, of stealing more than $2 million from the association.

"I'm asking for the board of director to resign. I'm going to look at bringing in a new board," said King in an exclusive interview.

Insurance Commissioner John King has lead Georgia National Guard combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says asking GUA's board of directors to step down, so he can start fresh, was no problem.

"What if they say no?" I asked.

"I'll thank them for their service," he replied.

GUA is an insurance company created by the legislature for Georgians who cannot find insurance anywhere else.

In May, a federal grand jury indicted Beck on 38 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.  The indictment states Beck set up a web of companies with friends and fraudulently billed GUA more than $2 million.

Beck was the head of GUA at the time of the alleged theft. Later, he ran for Insurance Commissioner as a Republican and won the election.

Governor Kemp suspended the newly elected Beck after the indictment was unsealed. The Governor appointed John King as the new commissioner. Beck pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"Those are one of the first tasks the Governor has asked me to work really hard to re-establish that confidence in the public of Georgia in the leadership of this agency," said King.

King, former police chief of Doraville and a Major General in the Georgia National Guard, comes to the job with no background in insurance, but with a sharp eye for potential trouble.

"Looking at some of the folks that got brought in, they have no business in government service," said King.

King has fired some employees and reassigned others.  He plans to examine GUA's operations and financial stability, but he is not going to investigate a now two-year-old arson of a property owned by Jim Beck.

Earlier the I-Team reported on a number of troubling issues involving the 2017 arson of a Carrollton property owned by Jim Beck. 

The FOX 5 I-team obtained a copy of Beck's insurance application that showed Beck nearly doubled his insurance coverage, from $95,000 to $186,000 just two weeks before the arson.

Beck told us the increase was because of renovations he was doing.

"So, because, if for example, if you have an unfinished basement in your home and you finish it you really are under an obligation to tell the insurance company you've done it because you've materially changed what they are insuring," said Beck.

 An internal memo written by an Insurance Department lawyer at the time, obtained by the I-Team, stated:

"We are concerned the insurance could have been obtained under false pretenses" and "GUA did not report suspected insurance fraud."

"The allegations are disturbing; the way the case rolled out," said King.

King says his Fire Marshal's office, by law, cannot investigate the arson unless they are requested to do so by local law enforcement. He says he believes the Carroll County district attorney and the FBI know the facts of the case. 

"I'm pretty sure they are aware of those circumstances," said King.

Beck has declared his innocence and could return to his old job if a jury finds him not guilty. King says he will be ready to step aside if that happens.

"Would you run against him?" I asked.  "Absolutely. No doubt in my mind.  This agency touches so many Georgians in so many ways, they deserve an ethical, moral leader who will do the right thing every day," said King.