State pays out nearly $900K to employees fired by former Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck

More controversy surrounding convicted former State Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck.

The state of Georgia has settled a whistleblower lawsuit filed by three long-time Insurance Department employees who claimed then Commissioner Beck fired them because he believed they leaked information to Senior I-Team reporter Dale Russell.

"I think the primary lesson here is that these ladies are heroes or should be heroes," says the employee's lawyer Ed Tarver.

The three women, attorney Ed Tarver calls heroes, are Loranda Allen, Candice Sprague, and Sherry Mowell. Between them, they worked 60 plus years for the state Insurance Commissioner's office. 

Until 2019, when then-newly elected Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck fired them all. 

"People shouldn't be damaged financially or otherwise, for just doing their jobs. And, doing them well," said Tarver.

This is the same Jim Beck who was recently found guilty of 37 federal counts of wire and mail fraud, money laundering, and aiding in the filing of false tax returns. 

A jury found Beck stole some two and half million dollars from a state-created Insurance Company he managed before being elected Insurance Commissioner. 

Beck is no longer Insurance Commissioner. A judge sentenced him to seven years and three months in federal prison.

"We are a little disappointed we didn't get the five years, we're gratified we didn't get the 10 as well," said Beck's attorney Randy Chartash.

Now, just three months after his conviction, the nearly two-year-old whistleblower lawsuit against Beck has been settled. The state agreed to pay a total of $870,000 to the three employees and their attorneys. 

"This $870,000 does not allow these ladies to fully recover what they lost," said Ed Tarver.

The lawsuit highlighted numerous FOX 5 I-Team reports on Jim Beck dating back to 2018. The suit claimed Beck blamed the female employees for leaking information to the I-Team.

The lawsuit spells out how FOX 5 reported on the 2017 arson of a Carrollton property owned by Jim Beck.  

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

Beck said it was because of renovations he was doing. 

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

No one was ever charged with the arson. 

The lawsuit also mentioned another I-Team investigation involving Beck.

Our investigation found in 2012, when Beck took over as GM of the state-created insurance company Georgia Underwriting Association, he also took a full-time state job as a victim-witness advocate for a district attorney's office in west Georgia.

"It's just important to have the availability of insurance," Beck told us at the time.

Following our report, Beck resigned from the Georgia Underwriting Association job and ran for Insurance Commissioner. 

 According to the suit, Beck told the Deputy State Fire Marshal that he blamed Plaintiffs for "providing the information" for the "reporting by Fox News." And Beck allegedly said he was going to "clean the place up" and "get rid of" Plaintiffs. 

The settlement will cost the state nearly $900,000.

 "I'm pleased that I was able to retain some resolution for these ladies, I'm disappointed I won't be able to compensate them for all that they lost as a result of Jim Beck's activities," said Tarver.

The three women issued a joint statement saying:  "We hate that this convicted felon destroyed so many careers when he came into office. That is sad for all Georgians." 

FOX 5 reached out to several lawyers working for Jim Beck and didn't hear back from anyone.