Three former leaders of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Corporation (CMEEC) have been sentenced to prison for misusing the corporation’s funds.
Drew Rankin, 62, the former CEO, was sentenced to a year behind bars in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, the first to face sentencing in the case. Former CMEEC Board Chairperson James Sullivan and Norwalk Board Representative John Bilda will each serve six-month sentences.
Following those prison terms, each will also face three years of supervised release.
CMEEC, a Norwich-based company, was established by its six member utilities almost 50 years ago, in 1976. The company acts as a supplier for the municipal utilities in “the City of Norwich, the City of Groton, the Borough of Jewett City, the Second Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, the Third Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, and the Town of Bozrah.”
Under the terms of the agreement, excess revenues from CMEEC are to be returned to the towns “to help keep electricity costs stable for ratepayers.”
In addition to electricity rates, the CMEEC received $9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy between 2010-2015, and member towns also received various federal grants.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, evidence presented at trial in 2021 showed that Rankin, Sullivan, and Bilda used funds from CMEEC for personal trips and lavish airfare and accommodation. Those trips totaled more than $800,000 and “included travel expenses, private chartered airfare, first-class hotel accommodations, meals, tickets to sporting events, golf fees, souvenirs and gifts.” The trips were determined to be unrelated to CMEEC business.
Additionally, Rankin was found to have made false statements to reporters when asked about the trips, underreporting costs and omitting the names of people who were not CMEEC staff or board members.
The men were found guilty in December 2021 of one count of “theft concerning a program receiving federal funds” each.
Rankin was released on $100,000 bond and will be expected to report to prison on July 11th. Sullivan and Bilda will report to prison the next day.
jeanette d royster
May 21, 2023 @ 2:02 pm
Ine reporting @ Inside is TERIFFIC! Thanks for keeping mr up to dare on important issues!