CMEEC officials indicted on federal charges

New London

Five officials with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative are indicted on federal charges.

FBI investigators say they used funds, which were meant to save ratepayers money, on lavish trips and tried to hide it.

“At times you’re at a loss for words and there are times you want to say things you can’t show on TV,” said Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom.

CMEEC reportedly received $9 million dollars in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy from 2010 to 2015 and spent more than a $1 million on Kentucky Derby trips from 2013 to 2016.

“This in of itself is a betrayal and it’s’ not right and obviously we found now it’s criminal,” said State Senator Heather Somers, R-Groton.

Somers sponsored legislation two years ago seeking more transparency and even the disbanding of CMEEC which was formed in the 1970’s to help municipal utilities get the best electric rates in the market. 

“I want to make sure because they are criminal federal charges that any money that is used to defend them is not ratepayer dollars,” said Sen. Somers.

Among the charges each official faces are conspiracy and theft from a program which receives federal funding. Conspiracy can get them as many as five years in prison and theft a maximum ten years.

Among those indicted is Norwich Public Utilities general manager John Bilda who plans to retire next year.

NPU released a statement saying, “While we cannot comment on this pending legal matter, for more than two years, NPU has cooperated completely with the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).”

Mayor Peter Nystrom says NPU is among the best local utilities.

“That needs to be said. This is not about them,” said Mayor Nystrom. “It’s about five individuals that really crossed the line.”

Many wonder how many times that has happened before.

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