A second utility executive in South Carolina has agreed to plead guilty to fraud related to the costs and schedule of a failed nuclear construction project.
Former SCANA Corp. Chief Executive Kevin Marsh will plead guilty to federal charges of committing mail and wire fraud related to the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project, according to a plea agreement filed Nov. 23 in federal district court in South Carolina.
SCANA and South Carolina Electric & Gas announced in July 2017 that they were abandoning the project due to cost overruns.
The federal mail-fraud charges could bring up to five years in prison for Marsh, along with a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release. The plea agreement also notes that Marsh will plead guilty In South Carolina state court to obtaining property by faIse pretenses, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
A substantial financial penalty will also be imposed, with federal and state authorities agreeing that “the appropriate amount of federal-criminal forfeiture and/or state criminal restitution is $5 million,” with $3 million of that amount to be paid by Marsh prior to sentencing.
Marsh’s prison time could be decreased significantly if he is “fully truthful and forthright” with federal and state officials “about all criminal activities about which he has knowledge.” In that case, prosecutors instead will recommend a range of 18 to 36 months imprisonment, according to the agreement.
The Marsh agreement comes roughly four months after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina announced a plea deal with Stephen Byrne, a former SCANA executive vice president who reported to Marsh. Byrne was also charged with mail and wire fraud.
A complaint filed Feb. 27 by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission noted that both Marsh and Byrne, as SCANA’s senior management, “publicly touted the construction schedule and the company receiving $1.4 billion in federal tax credits” for the roughly $10-billion nuclear expansion project, “despite knowing that the schedule was unreliable and the tax credits were at risk.”
The SEC’s complaint also alleged that Marsh knowingly misled the state Public Service Commission about the project’s construction schedule.