South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)
Former executive faces prison in SC nuke debacle
COLUMBIA, S. C. — The executive who spent billions of dollars on two South Carolina nuclear plants that never generated a single watt of power is almost certain to spend time in prison.
Former SCANA Corp. CEO KevinMarsh signed a deal Tuesday agreeing to plead guilty to felony fraud charges in federal and state court.
In exchange, prosecutors said they agreed with Marsh’s lawyers to ask for 18 months to 36 months in prison — all spent in federal custody instead of a state prison, perMarsh’s request.
Marsh also will have to pay $5 million in restitution, with $3 million of it due before he is sentenced. SCANA had paid Marsh $5 million in 2017, the year the utility abandoned the hopelessly behind-schedule project in Fairfield County and the massive federal investigation began.
Under the plea deal, Marsh will be sentenced when the investigation into the debacle ends.
Marsh admitted presenting false information in earning calls, presentations and news releases, as did former SCANA Executive Vice President Stephen Byrne, who pleaded guilty in July.
They were trying to keep investors pumping money into the project and the company’s stock price up, prosecutors said.
Their actions took more than $1 billion from the pockets of ratepayers and investors, authorities said in an 87-page Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed against them in February.
Marsh, 65, will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud in federal court, and obtaining property by false pretenses in state court, according to the plea. A judge must approve the sentence agreed to by Marsh and prosecutors.
Byrne is also awaiting sentencing. His plea didn’t include a negotiated sentence. Both men have agreed to cooperate with investigators or possibly face more charges and greater punishment.
Marsh’s lawyers did not return emails seeking comment.
Details of the fraud committed by the executives are outlined in the federal regulator’s February filing. The filing documented the history of the doomed nuclear project, which started in 2008. Marsh and Byrne never wavered from saying the two reactors being built at the V.C. Summer site north of Columbia would be finished by the end of 2020— a deadline they had to meet if they were going to receive the $1.4 billion in federal tax credits needed to keep the $10 billion project from overwhelming the utility.