-- Eight former executives at Marsh & McLennan Cos. were charged with felonies in indictments unsealed Thursday in New York state Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer's investigation of bid-rigging and price-fixing in the insurance industry.

The former executives were accused of colluding with brokers and executives at major insurance companies to arrange noncompetitive bids for corporate customers of Marsh & McLennan, the nation's largest brokerage.

"These are very senior executives within the Marsh hierarchy," Spitzer said. "Not only was it wrong, it was harmful to the economy."

Five former executives were indicted on charges of first-degree scheming to defraud, restraint of trade and competition, and grand larceny: William Gilman, executive marketing director; Joseph Peiser, head of the global broking excess casualty department; Edward McNenney, global placement director; Thomas T. Green Jr., senior vice president; and Greg J. Doherty, senior vice president.

Three others were indicted on charges of scheming to defraud, restraint of trade and grand larceny: Kathleen M. Drake, managing director; William L. McBurnie, senior vice president; and Edward J. Keane Jr., assistant vice president.

The defendants pleaded not guilty in arraignments. Robert Cleary, the attorney for Gilman, said, "We look forward to proving his innocence at trial."

Peiser's attorney, Jerry Bernstein of New York, said his client will fight the charges at trial. Other attorneys did not respond to requests for comment or could not be reached.

Previously, 17 executives at five companies -- including eight former Marsh employees -- pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the insurance investigation. Spitzer said the investigation continues into the actions of other Marsh employees. He is also negotiating with other insurers to eliminate anticompetitive practices.

In a statement about Thursday's action, Michael G. Cherkasky, president and chief executive of Marsh & McLennan, said, "This indictment is about the past."

William Gilman is one of eight former Marsh & McLennan executives indicted in a bid-rigging investigation.