Insurance agent claims sentence too harsh

Published 1:19 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A federal appeals court has rejected Ecru insurance agent Ken Nowlin’s claim that his 30-month sentence for his role in a kickback scheme was too harsh.

Nowlin was sentenced in February. He pleaded guilty last July to conspiracy charges related to his role in the scheme involving Lafayette County’s health care coverage. Nowlin, a former supervisor, also paid $275,942 in restitution to Lafayette County.

Former county supervisor Gary Massey and Nowlin were charged with conspiracy, public corruption and money laundering. Prosecutors said Massey accepted payments of more than $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.

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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.”

Massey was sentenced to three years in prison.

In his appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nowlin argued that his sentence was too harsh considering he aided the government in its case against Massey and had paid full restitution before pleading guilty.

The 5th Circuit ruled that the sentence was not unreasonable considering the nature of Nowlin’s crime.

The ruling this past week was issued by a panel of three 5th Circuit judges — W. Eugene Davis, Edward Charles Prado and Emilio M. Garza.