Oxendine Asks Judge to Go Easy on Sentencing. Former Commissioners Weigh In

July 10, 2024 by

Federal prosecutors want former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine to serve 44 months in prison and pay $700,000 in restitution after his guilty plea to health care fraud conspiracy. But Oxendine is urging the judge to reduce the penalty.

“Mr. Oxendine is not able to pay a $700,000 fine, and to require as much would constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Oxendine’s attorneys, Drew Findling and Marissa Goldberg, wrote in a sentencing memorandum to the judge last week.

The prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations are “factually and legally incorrect,” resulting in a longer sentence than federal guidelines provide, the lawyers said.

Oxendine, who served as insurance commissioner from 1995 to 2011, pleaded guilty in March to the fraud and money laundering charges. He had been indicted in 2022 in connection with a 2015 scheme with a physician to order hundreds of unnecessary lab tests and defraud health insurance companies.

His lawyers’ 92-page memo asked the court to consider Oxendine’s track record as insurance commissioner: He revamped the state arson unit, placed units around the state and created a division to educate school kids about fire safety. He also set up claims-assistance centers after tornadoes ripped through part of the Atlanta area one year, and oversaw efforts to lower insurance rates, the memo notes.

The filing also includes character-reference letters from dozens of people, including current and former insurance executives, former insurance commissioners in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Tennessee; a former Congressman, a fire chief and former state fire marshal, a minister, attorneys, doctors and other health care providers, business people, an architect, friends, neighbors, relatives, a retired professor and others.

“It is my belief that John can become, as in the past, a most positive member of society and make valuable contributions to the state of Georgia,” wrote former Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Douglas Sizemore. “I think he has much to contribute to the insurance industry, especially in the area of state regulation.”

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, recently elected president of the National Rifle Association, also weighed in, noting that he had always found Oxendine to be personable, professional and considerate.