Insurance agent sentenced to 30 months in kickback scheme

Published 11:53 pm Saturday, February 2, 2008

Insurance agent Ken Nowlin has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in a kickback scheme involving Lafayette County’s health care coverage.

Nowlin, of Ecru, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Michael Mills.

Nowlin pleaded guilty in July 2007 to conspiracy charges related to his dealings with former county Supervisor Gary Massey.

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Massey pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy and two counts of public corruption in federal court in Aberdeen. Massey is awaiting sentencing.

Massey and Nowlin were charged with conspiracy, public corruption and money laundering in a 53-count indictment, which alleged Massey accepted payments in excess of $827,000 during his term as supervisor, for the Lafayette County Employee Health Care Contract paid through Nowlin, the agent on record at the time.

Before he became a supervisor in 1995, Massey was the insurance agent of record for Lafayette County. Federal prosecutors claim Massey used his influence to get Nowlin the job as insurance agent of record in exchange for the commission.

Prosecutors said Nowlin would receive payment for services in two checks made out to his office from plan administrator Total Plan Services. Nowlin took the checks and told his office to write a separate one to Massey for a “consulting fee.”

On Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Sanders told Mills that Nowlin has fully cooperated with the investigation by supplying documents and testifying before a grand jury against Massey.

Despite Nowlin’s cooperation, Mills sentenced him to the maximum sentence of 30 months.

“Up until this offense your record was exemplary,” Mills said. “I’ve received many letters from some impressive people on your behalf … But you destroyed the faith of the people in their government.”

Mills also ordered Nowlin to pay $275,942 in restitution to Lafayette County. Nowlin’s attorney, Tony Farese, told Mills that Nowlin had already paid the full restitution.

Mills said Nowlin would remain on bail until his March 31 reporting date.