Corruption doesn’t pay

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In the space of two days, two leading figures in nuclear corruption scandals paid the price for their criminal actions.

On March 8, former SCANA COO, Stephen Byrne, who had pled guilty for his part in the fraud and corruption surrounding his company’s failed V.C.Summer new nuclear construction project in South Carolina, was sentenced to 15 months in prison. The penalty might have been more severe, but Byrne had turned state’s evidence and cooperated with federal investigators. For more on the SCANA scandal, read here.

Byrne was also ordered to pay back the $1 million he accrued in lucrative personal bonuses while defrauding South Carolina electricity customers. SCANA CEO, Kevin Marsh, pled guilty earlier to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and is due to complete his two-year prison sentence in August this year. The two Westinghouse executives implicated were also charged. Senior Vice President, Jeffrey A. Benjamin, faces 16 felony counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly-traded company to keep a false record. Carl Churchman, the Westinghouse project’s director, has pled guilty to lying to federal authorities.

A day after Byrne’s sentencing, on March 9, 2023, former Ohio Speaker of the House, Larry Householder and fellow conspirator, former GOP Chairman, Matt Borges, were both found guilty of racketeering conspiracy after a seven-week trial and nine hours of jury deliberation. Sentencing will follow in the coming months but both could face 20 years in prison, although Householder said he would appeal. For more on the Ohio-FirstEnergy scandal, the biggest criminal racketeering conspiracy in Ohio history, read here.

Householder was the ringleader behind a nefarious scheme that involved the funneling of $61 million in dark money from nuclear plant owner, FirstEnergy, to Householder and others to secure passage of  Ohio bill HB 6, that would award FirstEnergy $1.3 billion in subsidies to bail out its failing Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. The arrest of Householder and four others came after a year-long investigation by the FBI and the US Attorney’s office.

Meanwhile, in a third scandal involving a nuclear power company, former Illinois Speaker of the House, Mike Madigan, is set to go to trial in April 2024. Madigan was indicted on 22 counts of racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and extortion. He is accused of leading an extortion campaign that saw Commonwealth Edison — a subsidiary of the country’s biggest nuclear power plant owner, Exelon — fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars to Madigan and associates, including for work never actually carried out, in return for legislation favorable to the energy company. Read the latest here.

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