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CMEEC special committee not ready to release investigation findings

January 5, 2019

Norwich — The special committee investigating actions by Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative top staff cited in two federal indictments in connection with CMEEC hosting trips to the Kentucky Derby met behind closed doors for 2½ hours Friday but took no action regarding two officials currently on unpaid leave.

The committee set two future meetings dates, 1 p.m. Jan. 23 and 10 a.m. Feb. 14, at the CMEEC office at 30 Stott Ave. in Norwich.

The committee “expects and intends that its findings and recommendations in connection with the independent investigation be available to the CMEEC board of directors as promptly as possible thereafter,” committee Chairwoman Debora Goldstein read in a resolution approved by the committee in open session Friday.

The CMEEC board of directors placed CEO Drew Rankin and Chief Financial Officer Edward Pryor on unpaid leave Nov. 9, one day after they were indicted on four federal corruption charges each, along with Norwich Public Utilities General Manager John Bilda and former board members James Sullivan of Norwich and Edward DeMuzzio of Groton. Rankin and Sullivan face four additional charges in a second indictment based on Sullivan having received nearly $100,000 in reimbursement for personal and travel expenses from CMEEC.

The board established the committee in November and hired labor specialist attorney Eileen Duggan to investigate Rankin’s and Pryor’s actions based on the federal indictments. The committee is expected to make recommendations to the full board regarding their status. Rankin was listed as the CEO for 2019 in a list of top staff approved at the CMEEC annual meeting Nov. 15, but Pryor had announced months before the indictments that he planned to retire as of Jan. 1.

Newly named CMEEC Chief Financial Officer Mike Lane has been serving as interim CEO since Nov. 9.

The Norwich Board of Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday with a closed-door session to discuss “personnel matters on an Employee and/or public official.” The board met last Friday with attorney Tony Palermino and emerged with an undisclosed approved “term sheet” that Palermino said would “resolve all issues regarding the status” of Bilda’s employment.

c.bessette@theday.com

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