Ex-SCANA boss pleads guilty to fraud
By Jerry Bellune
Ex-SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh has agreed to plead guilty to federal fraud charges.
He has agreed to at least 18 months in prison and forfeit $5 million in SCANA’s $10 billion nuclear fiasco, according to papers filed in US District Court in SC.
Marsh, 65, now lives in North Carolina.
He helped lead a 2-year cover-up from 2016 to 2018 of the financial nightmare that wrecked the twin nuclear reactor project and SCANA, according to evidence in the case.
SCANA – now owned by Dominion Energy of Virginia – was a publicly-traded utility and only Fortune 500 company in South Carolina.
It had 725,000 electric customers and 350,000 natural gas ratepayers.
Marsh was SCANA CEO from 2011 to 2017.
His guilty plea must be formally accepted by a US District Court judge before it becomes official.
Under the plea agreement, Marsh will likely face a prison term of 18 to 36 months.
Conspiracy and obtaining property under false pretenses charges expose him to a maximum of 10 years, according to court records.
The more he helps an ongoing investigation of others at SCANA, the greater his chances are of a lower prison sentence, according to case documents.
“As construction problems mounted, costs rose, and schedules slipped, Marsh ... hid the true state of the project,” a charging document in the case reads. “Through intentional and material misrepresentations and omissions, the defendant, Kevin Marsh, deceived regulators and customers in order to maintain financing for the project and to financially benefit SCANA,” the information said.
State regulators on the Public Service Commission allowed Marsh and his associates to charge Lexington County and other state ratepayers $2.2 billion for a nuclear project that would never deliver a single kilowatt of electriity.
Marsh’s long cover-up enabled him and other SCANA top officials to continue collecting generous salaries and bonuses and to deceive stockholders, investors and regulatory officials about the true state of the project, according to evidence.
Also hurt were:
• Hundreds of nuclear construction workers who lost their jobs when SCANA abandoned the project.
• Thousands of SCANA’s utility customers who for years had extra fees tacked onto their monthly bills.
• Thousands of SCANA investors - many of them SCANA employees who invested their retirement savings in stock which plunged in value from more than $70 a share to about $40 a share.
SCANA kept PSC regulators in the dark about nuclear construction problems to raise electric rates 9 times to help pay for the project.
Ratepayers paid an additional $2.2 billion in monthly bills over more than 5 years, the information said.
SCANA used $500 million of that $2.2 billion to pay its shareholders. On Wall Street, the company became known for a reliable stream of increasing dividends and rising stock prices.
Wacth this site for further investigation developments.