Two former top executives at a city-owned utility company in north Florida have been charged with conspiring to steal millions of dollars from the city of Jacksonville through an attempt to sell the utility, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday.
Aaron Zahn, the former CEO of the Jacksonville Electric Authority, and Ryan Wannemacher, its former chief financial officer, were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy. If convicted on all counts, each could face up to 25 years in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the grand jury indictment, the top officials at the Jacksonville Electric Authority worked together to devise a lucrative bonus plan that would have paid them millions of dollars if the city-owned utility were sold.
In 2019, they falsely projected to the utility’s board that the Jacksonville Electric Authority was in a “death spiral” that would lead to mass layoffs, rate hikes and reduced revenues unless it was sold or privatized, according to the indictment.
Under one calculation, if the utility sold for $3 billion, Zahn, Wannemacher and other officials stood get tens of millions of dollars in payouts, the indictment said.
Online court records showed no attorneys listed for Zahn or Wannemacher. As of Monday, no plea had been entered.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.