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NY AG Looking to Dismiss Some Criminal Charges in Bid-Rigging Case Against Former Marsh Execs

Source: Business Insurance

Posted on 20 Jan 2010

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According to those familiar with the matter, the New York attorney general's office is seeking to dismiss criminal charges against a group of former insurance executives who pleaded guilty to charges in connection with New York's investigation of bid-rigging and broker compensation practices.

The source said that at a sentencing hearing Wednesday, prosecutors will ask New York County Supreme Court Judge James Yates to dismiss charges against the individuals, who in 2004 and 2005 had pleaded guilty to criminal charges that they helped broker Marsh Inc. rig bids on client insurance placements.

The charges were originally brought by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who had secured 21 guilty pleas as part of his probe into contingent commission practices in the insurance industry. The individuals had accepted plea agreements with prosecutors and cooperated in the state's investigation. Eight other executives were indicted in 2005 and later faced trial.

It's unclear how many of the cooperating individuals—who have been awaiting sentencing—will have their charges dismissed entirely. Some individuals in the group may have their felony charges reduced to misdemeanors and would likely be sentenced to probation, the source said.

Another sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29.

Judge Yates in November dismissed criminal charges against three other individuals: former Marsh Senior Vps Thomas T. Green Jr. and William L. McBurnie, and Geri Mandel, former senior vp at Zurich American Insurance Co.

Previously, Judge Yates acquitted three other Marsh executives of all charges in the case. They are: Joseph Peiser, former managing director and head of Marsh's global broking excess casualty unit; Greg J. Doherty, former Marsh senior vp and ACE USA local broking coordinator team leader; and Kathleen M. Drake, former Marsh managing director and local broking coordinator team leader.

Prosecutors on Wednesday are expected to cite the “interest of justice” in asking the court to allow the individuals to withdraw their guilty pleas, effectively dismissing the charges, the source said.

The individuals include former executives at Marsh, Zurich American, ACE USA, AIG's American Home Assurance Co. and others.

In February 2008, former Marsh Managing Directors William Gilman and Edward J. McNenney were found guilty of an antitrust charge but acquitted of other charges and were sentenced to 16 weekends in jail.

Marsh itself did not face any criminal charges in the case but paid $850 million in January 2005 to end officials' bid-rigging and fraud probes.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office did not respond to a request for comment.