The accused manager plays in court
A nuclear manager has to trust his lawyers.
Jeffrey Benjamin, Senior Vice President New Plants & Major Projects at Westinghouse Electric, is ready to take his risk in court.
He fights against criminal fraud allegations related to the US $ 10 billion nuclear fiasco for Lexington County-based SC Electric & Gas.
Unlike Westinghouse colleague Carl Churchman and two SCE&G executives, he has chosen not to plead guilty.
“This is a risky move to go to court,” said Tom Clements, guardian of the Savannah River, who spoke out on behalf of the Sierra Club against an increase in nuclear taxes.
“The jury’s selection will be made by those who were ripped off by the failed nuclear project and who are still paying for it with their monthly electricity bills.”
Benjamin is due to appear before Federal Judge Mary Geiger Lewis at a pre-trial conference on November 15 in the Matthew J. Perry Federal Court in Columbia.
A federal grand jury has charged him with fraud for his role in the failed project Westinghouse built for SCE & G and its partner Santee Cooper, a taxable utility company.
The fiasco cost thousands of Lexington County rate payers from SCE&G and Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative millions of dollars in rate increases.
Federal investigators say Benjamin and nuclear engineer Carl Churchman of Westinghouse and Kevin Marsh and Stephen Byrne of SCE & G lied about a conspiracy to hide the failing project for more than 10 years.
Marsh, the former CEO of SCANA, which owned SCE & G, will be tried in federal court in Columbia on Thursday, October 7th at 10 a.m.
Marsh faces 2 years federal prison and a $ 5 million fine if he does not cooperate with federal investigators who bring charges against others who may be involved in the conspiracy.
Westinghouse has agreed to pay $ 21.5 million for its role in the fiasco.
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