Monday, December 12, 2011

Former IURC Chairman Indicted For Official Misconduct

Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry today announced that a grand jury his office convened has returned three counts of official misconduct against former IURC Chairman, David Hardy, for his role in permitting the agency's former general counsel, Scott Storms, to accept a new position at Duke Energy despite Storms' direct role in deciding matters Duke Energy had pending before the Commission. The Star's John Russell details the three counts of the indictment:

The first count of the indictment accuses Hardy of knowingly aiding and abetting Storms by communicating with employees of Duke Energy regarding Storms' prospective employment while allowing Storms to continue to participate in proceedings involving the utility.
The second count accuses Hardy of failing to disclose a secret, ex parte communication with Duke Energy that occurred on March 17, 2008 with an employee of Duke concerning cost overruns at the utility's Edwardsport coal-gasification plant.

The third count accuses Hardy of failing to disclose a secret, ex parte communication with Duke Energy that occurred on Feb. 24, 2010, concerning cost overruns at the Edwardsport power plant.
Gov. Mitch Daniels fired Hardy last year after the Star began an investigative series that detailed numerous e-mail communications between Hardy and Storms with Duke Energy officials concerning the hiring of Storms by the giant energy company. Duke later fired Storms and two other high-ranking officials at the company instrumental in Storms' hiring. According to the Star, even Gov. Mitch Daniels may be guilty of having inappropriate meetings with Duke's CEO, Jim Rogers, discussing cost over-run problems with construction of its Edwardsport plant.

Each count of official misconduct against Hardy represents a Class D felony under I.C. 35-44-1-2, which reads:
Sec. 2. A public servant who knowingly or intentionally:

(1) commits an offense in the performance of the public servant's official duties;

(2) solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from an appointee or employee any property other than what the public servant is authorized by law to accept as a condition of continued employment;

(3) acquires or divests himself or herself of a pecuniary interest in any property, transaction, or enterprise or aids another person to do so based on information obtained by virtue of the public servant's office that official action that has not been made public is contemplated; or

(4) fails to deliver public records and property in the public servant's custody to the public servant's successor in office when that successor qualifies;

commits official misconduct, a Class D felony.
Hardy is unlikely to face much jail time, if any, if he is found guilty of the charges because he has no prior criminal record. Surprisingly, this statute is used very little by prosecutors in Indiana to punish public officials who betray the public's trust.

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