Court denies broad subpoena in political bribery case

Posted December 20, 2019 5:59 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2019 7:15 p.m. EST

— A federal judge dismissed a broad subpoena request from North Carolina's largest political donor as a fishing expedition late Friday and said the state Department of Insurance won't have to turn over a wide swath of documents.

Greg Lindberg, who faces federal bribery charges, had hoped to force state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and key deputies to turn over reams of internal communications. His defense team is trying to prove that Causey and others at the department set Lindberg up when he and his associates offered millions in campaign contributions for changes at the department, which regulates several of his companies.

The U.S. Attorney's Office had opposed the subpoena request.

"The sheer breadth of the subpoena requests indicates that defendant is engaging in a 'fishing expedition,' which is simply not allowed," U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn wrote in his order Friday.

"Defendant argues that the documents would enable him to prove that the government induced him to commit the crime charged and that he lacked the predisposition otherwise to commit the crime," Cogburn wrote. "Defendant fails to explain, however, how the DOI’s internal regulatory documents are relevant to his own intent to commit the charged crimes."

Cogburn noted that, under regular rules of evidence, the Department of Insurance has to turn over anything that would help Lindberg's case, but he said Lindberg "has not shown that the requested documents are relevant to his anticipated entrapment defense."

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