Records: ex-CEO will not face charges in nuclear fraud case | New policies
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – The former senior contractor hired to build two South Carolina nuclear reactors that were never completed will not face criminal charges, new court documents have said.
Former Westinghouse CEO Danny Roderick was previously the subject of a federal investigation into the failure of the multibillion-dollar project and is now a government witness, according to documents released last week and reported for the first time by The Post and Courier.
The documents indicate Roderick could testify against his former employee Jeff Benjamin, a sacked Westinghouse vice president who faces multiple federal crime charges related to the 2017 debacle that cost taxpayers and investors billions and left nearly 6,000 unemployed people.
Westinghouse was the prime contractor for the VC Summer site reactor construction project in Fairfield County. The parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. SCANA Corp. and state-owned utility Santee Cooper spent nearly $ 10 billion on the project before stopping construction in 2017 following the Westinghouse bankruptcy.
In the wake, prosecutors targeted senior company officials, claiming they lied to investors, regulators and taxpayers as they sought to raise rates, insisting the expensive project was on time. even as he was desperately late.
So far, three executives have already pleaded guilty to the multi-year federal fraud investigation. Benjamin, the fourth, has claimed his innocence and could stand trial next year. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $ 5,000,000 if convicted.
Roderick gave the FBI compromising information about Benjamin in two interviews earlier this year, prosecutors have said in court records. Roderick said Benjamin lied to him about the project schedule and created a “culture of fear” with an “unbearable” management style.
The documents describing Roderick’s cooperation are part of an effort by prosecutors to disqualify Roderick’s former lawyer from representing Benjamin.
William Sullivan was representing both men at the same time when prosecutors first tried to have him fired last year, arguing it was a conflict of interest because one of the defendants could turn around against each other. Roderick eventually got a new lawyer before he sat down with investigators.
Prosecutors still want Sullivan disqualified from the case, noting that Sullivan “cannot properly expect to cross-examine his own former client in defense of his current client,” they wrote.
Sullivan produced documents showing that Roderick and Benjamin approved the arrangement.
Roderick “explicitly admitted that he was not aware of any criminal guilt of Mr. Benjamin,” Sullivan wrote in an emailed statement to The Post and Courier.
Roderick’s new attorney, Whit Ellerman, declined to comment for the newspaper.
The failure of the nuclear project also sparked multiple lawsuits and an investigation by state lawmakers.
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