Stephen A. Byrne is scheduled to plead guilty to at his hearing scheduled at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Matthew J. Perry Federal Courthouse in Columbia, a news release from McCoy’s office said.
Judge Mary G. Lewis. will preside over the hearing.
In addition to the federal charges, a state investigation is also underway, which is led by S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
Byrne will plead guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
FITSNews founding editor Will Folks reported in June that this is the first criminal plea aggreement in connection with Nuke Gate.
In Will’s words….
For those of you in need of a refresher on this disaster, here it is: State lawmakers – led by senator Luke Rankin – allowed state-owned utility Santee Cooper to amass billions of dollars in debt on the botched construction of two since-abandoned nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. Additionally, lawmakers socialized more than $2 billion of the investment risk related to the project for Byrne’s former company.
In June, a federal judge granted a motion “to put the brakes on a civil complaint related to the South Carolina NukeGate fiasco,” our founding editor Will Folks also reported. “This decision clears the way for McCoy’s office to ramp up its criminal probe of this command economic disaster – which cost ratepayers and taxpayers in the Palmetto State more than $10 billion (and counting).”
That complaint accused these executives of “defrauding investors by making false and misleading statements about a nuclear power plant expansion that was ultimately abandoned.”
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SCANA – which has since been sold to Virginia-based Dominion Energy – and government-run utility Santee Cooper were partners on the NukeGate project, a definitional command economic failure. Spurred on by the S.C. General Assembly, SCANA and Santee Cooper spent (or borrowed) $10 billion on the construction of a pair of next-generation reactors in Jenkinsville, S.C. that were supposed to have been operational in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Despite the massive cash outlay, the project was never finished – and the two utilities couldn’t afford the estimated $10-16 billion price tag necessary to complete it. On July 31, 2017 Santee Cooper pulled the plug on the reactors. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed executives at both utilities knew the project was doomed for years and didn’t warn the public.
Instead, they allegedly concealed this critical information from regulators while continuing to raise rates and rack up additional debt.
In fact, Santee Cooper was caught telling blatant mistruths on bond documents – and attempted to raise rates on its consumers related to the project just eight days before it announced the abandonment.
–Founding Editor Will Folks contributed to this report.
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