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Norwich utilities commission explores options on Bilda’s status

November 12, 2018

Norwich — The Board of Public Utilities Commissioners is consulting with its attorney about its options for handling the federal indictment of Norwich Public Utilities General Manager John Bilda and will hold a special meeting Thursday “to take appropriate action,” the commission announced Monday.

Bilda was one of five Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative officials indicted last week on multiple charges in connection with lavish trips the cooperative hosted to the Kentucky Derby and to The Greenbrier golf resort in West Virginia along with luxury gifts and souvenirs for dozens of top CMEEC staff, board members, their family members and guests.

Collectively, the Kentucky Derby trips cost well over 198,000.

“The board is committed to ensure that actions taken will be proper and in the best interests of the City of Norwich, its citizens and NPU,” the commission statement said.

Bilda, Rankin, Pryor and former CMEEC board Chairman James Sullivan of Norwich and former board Secretary Edward DeMuzzio were indicted on one count each of conspiracy and three counts each of theft from a program receiving federal funding. CMEEC had received more than 100,000 in personal and travel expenses using CMEEC funds, falsely calling them lobbying expenses, when Sullivan was not a registered lobbyist for CMEEC.

The conspiracy charges carry maximum penalties of five years in prison and a 250,000.

The Norwich commission’s statement sought to distance the indictment from the everyday operations of the city-owned utility.

“The Board expresses its gratitude to NPU employees who do a great job every day,” the statement said. “We know they will continue to do so. The Board stands behind you and supports you as we seek to ensure a brighter future.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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