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20Dec

Last week a grand jury indicted Scott Storms’ former boss for helping Storms set up a new job with Duke Energy Corp. while he still worked on Duke cases before the commission.  The grand jury in Indianapolis indicted David Lott Hardy, Storms’ ex-boss, on three felony counts. The first count involved Storms.  The indictment states that Hardy knowingly aided and abetted Storms by communicating with Duke employees about Storms’ prospective employment as in-house counsel, “while allowing Storms to continue to participate in [commission] proceedings involving Duke Energy.”

The other two counts concern Hardy’s alleged failure to disclose huge cost overruns at a new plant Duke was building.

In April 2011, an ethics panel ruled that the former top lawyer for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, Scott Storms, violated state law when he presided over cases involving a utility with which he was trying to secure a more lucrative job.

The Indiana State Ethics Commission found that Storms, the regulatory agency’s former general counsel and chief administrative law judge, twice participated in matters involving Duke Energy Indiana, Inc., while he was negotiating a position as its assistant general counsel.

Kelly Karn, deputy general counsel for Duke Energy, testified that she and Storms communicated approximately 10 times about the position between April and July of 2010. Storms said he didn’t actually apply until August, but e-mails exchanged between Storms and Michael Reed, the president of the Indiana unit that hired him, show a different side to the story.

The Ethics Commission found that Storms violated two state codes by participating in decisions in which he had a financial interest and by failing to notify his appointing authority of the potential conflict.

Storms was fined $12,120 and barred from ever working for the state again.

Storms said there was no conflict of interest in how he handled cases involving Duke while he was seeking a job with the company.  The inspector general presented the commission with subpoenaed evidence showing Storms had dated his online application cover letter in late April, according to news reports. But Storms argued that he didn’t hit the “submit” button on his computer until August.

Storms’s criminal defense attorney, Thomas Farlow said,”[Storms] is a bright, experienced lawyer who was sought after because of his expertise in utility law… we maintain he did nothing wrong.”

Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Lawyer Carl Barkemeyer handles Ethics Board complaints for contractors, nurses, and doctors in Louisiana.  He also defends those accused of white-collar crimes such as fraud, money laundering, bribery, extortion, corruption, conspiracy, healthcare fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, tax fraud, and securities fraud.  If you or someone you know has a case involving either of these legal matters, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Attorney Carl Barkemeyer for a free consultation.

Source: www.law.com, “Ethics Panel Rules That Storms Broke the Law,” “Scott Storm’s Boss Indicted in Duke Energy Ethics Case,” December 15, 2011.

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