Ex-CEO who oversaw a doomed nuclear project | South Carolina News


By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – The executive that oversaw a $ 9 billion plan to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina is preparing to go to jail, more than four years after announcing that the gigantic project had failed without never generate a watt of electricity.

The former CEO of SCANA Corp. Kevin Marsh has agreed with prosecutors that he should spend two years in prison. On Thursday, the former head of a public service faces a federal judge who will decide whether to accept the deal and make him the first leader put behind bars for the debacle of the nuclear power project.

Marsh decided to go ahead and ask to serve his sentence, saying his 46-year-old wife has incurable breast cancer and that he hopes she is still there and can be cured. of her on her release from prison.

A second former SCANA executive and an official from Westinghouse Electric Co., the main contractor for the construction of two new reactors at the VC Summer plant, also pleaded guilty. A second Westinghouse executive has been charged and is awaiting trial.

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Marsh pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to commit wire-and-mail fraud in federal court and to obtain property under false pretenses in state court. Prosecutors accepted his request to serve his full sentence on both sets of charges in a federal prison.

He has already paid $ 5 million in restitution. SCANA paid Marsh $ 5 million in 2017, the year the utility abandoned the hopelessly overdue project.

For sentencing, Marsh’s attorneys also submitted 10 letters from friends, colleagues and church pastors detailing his good deeds, such as helping the family of an employee killed on the job get financial and legal aid, obtaining an air conditioner for a women’s home and take a week. from her busy schedule volunteering for vacation Bible school.

The letters also detailed his relationship with his wife, Sue, whom he married when they were both teenagers. She has terminal, incurable metastatic breast cancer and may not be able to visit her husband in prison due to COVID-19 fears and her debilitated state, defense lawyers have said .

Federal regulatory documents documented the history of the doomed nuclear project that began in 2008. These documents indicated that Marsh had never hesitated to say that the two reactors under construction at VC’s summer site north of Columbia would be completed by the end of 2020 – a deadline that had to be met to receive the $ 1.4 billion in federal tax credits needed to keep the $ 10 billion project from overwhelming the utility.

Prosecutors said Marsh lied and presented optimistic projections about the progress of reactors he knew were wrong by winning calls, presentations and press releases. The CEO wanted investors to pump money into the project and keep the company’s stock price high, they said.

His actions took more than $ 1 billion out of the pockets of taxpayers and investors, authorities said in an 87-page Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit filed against him and a second executive in 2020.

SCANA and its subsidiary, South Carolina Electric & Gas, were destroyed by debt and mismanagement and were acquired by Dominion Energy of Virginia in 2019. State-owned Santee Cooper, which held a 45% stake in the project , ended up with $ 4 billion in debt while SCANA controlled the management of the project.

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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