Bennie Fuelberg, former Pedernales Electric Co-op GM - AAS Photo
With last week’s conviction of Tom Delay, is it too much to hope that another Texas scoundrel gets justice, too?
Less politically charged but no less important, for PEC Director Bennie Fuelberg will go on trial in Fredericksburg, where the trial was moved because the judge decided Fuelberg was unlikely to get a fair trial if tried in Pedernales territory. He was probably right.
Patrick George of the Austin American Statesman wrote extensively about the trial and the actvities leading up to the trial this morning.
From the Austin American Stateman article:
In what is arguably the climax to more than three years of lawsuits, grand jury indictments, legislation, allegations of corruption, congressional hearings, reforms and resignations at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative not to mention newspaper stories detailing it all the utility’s former chief executive will go on trial today in Fredericksburg.
Before his June 2009 indictment on felony theft and money laundering charges, former Pedernales General Manager Bennie Fuelberg was one of the Hill Country’s most prominent citizens. Now, his name is often tossed about by co-op leaders and employees as synonymous with scandal and cronyism.
The trial, prosecuted by the Texas attorney general’s office after a Hill Country district attorney stepped aside, could be the completion of Fuelberg’s fall from grace — or it could result in his exoneration.
Fuelberg, who ran the nation’s largest member-owned electric utility for more than 30 years, is charged with misapplication of fiduciary duty in excess of $200,000, theft of property in excess of $200,000 and money laundering between $100,000 and $200,000. The first two charges are first-degree felonies that carry a penalty of up to 99 years in prison if convicted; the last charge is a second-degree felony that carries up to 20 years.
Fuelberg and the co-op’s former outside counsel, Walter Demond, were indicted on identical charges last year after a five-month grand jury investigation. Demond will be tried after Fuelberg. Both have pleaded not guilty. The grand jury’s term has since expired, and no other indictments have been handed up.
The criminal charges stem from accusations that the men arranged for thousands of dollars of co-op money to be paid to relatives of Pedernales executives. According to the indictments, payments exceeding $200,000 went to Curtis Fuelberg, Bennie Fuelberg’s brother, and William Price, the son of former Director E.B. Price. (more…)
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