The project, Beck said, was to help the association verify that customers were properly insured. This was supposed to be done by verifying various data points — does the house have a pool, a basement? — on customers’ policies, as well as filling in missing data points.
A lot of work needed to be done, which meant plenty of help was needed, Beck said.
“I was notorious for finding people at the carwash and saying, ‘Hey, do you want an opportunity?’” Beck testified.
One person he offered an opportunity to was Donna Akins. They met in 2016 when Beck was speaking to the Marietta Kiwanis Club, she testified, and she later made 1,500 signs for Beck’s campaign. The bill came to $4,000, Akins testified.
The money used for the signs was stolen from his employer, the government contends.
Steve and Sonya McKaig were close friends with Beck and his wife for decades when Beck approached them, proposing they set up companies that could do contract work for the Georgia Underwriting Association. This was part of Beck’s mission to bring costs down, he said.
The McKaigs are veterans of the insurance industry. Beck brought up the project on vacations the Becks and McKaigs took together, including one to Mt. Airy, N.C., Andy Griffith’s hometown, to celebrate Beck’s birthday.
Steve McKaig testified that he was happy for the opportunity — until he went to testify before the grand jury and saw evidence that Beck had lied to him repeatedly.
“I believed in Jim Beck,” McKaig said.
McKaig said Beck never revealed that he had an interest in Green Technology Solutions, the company Beck encouraged his cousin to start to help with the data project. The company was used, the government alleges, to funnel money from Georgia Underwriting Association to Beck.
Beck acknowledge receiving “profit for me” off the data project and said he didn’t mention this to Steve McKaig because it didn’t seem relevant.
“I don’t think it occurred to me until all this,” he said, referring to the case against him.