We buy our electricity from a electricity cooperative, Cobb EMC. Its mission is to buy and deliver electricity for its members at the lowest price.
Several years ago we noticed that our power costs were rising painfully. Cobb EMC had apparently delegated most of its services to Cobb Energy, a private corporation that was run by the CEO and directors of Cobb EMC — except they didn't have to follow the governing bylaws of Cobb EMC. The salaries and benefits of the top executives and board of directors had increased greatly. Cobb Energy was making so much money that it built a huge entertainment complex "for the community."
About two years ago some concerned Cobb EMC members brought charges against the Cobb Energy management for fraud. On July 8, 2011, I read the following in the Cherokee Tribune, a local newspaper "Former Cobb EMC head indicted again".
A unanimous Cobb County grand jury indicted retired Cobb EMC head Dwight T. Brown on 35 felony criminal counts Thursday. Ironically, the indictments were read in open court before Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy III, who in March threw out a previous criminal indictment against Brown.
The 89-page indictment accuses Brown of a pattern of racketeering activity dating to 1997, when he, "together with directors of Cobb EMC … devised and intended to devise a scheme to acquire and maintain interests in Cobb Energy, consisting of preferred and common stock, control of Cobb EMC and Cobb Energy, and personal property, including United States currency."
But Brown is also now facing charges he threatened and intimidated witnesses by participating in filing a civil suit in February, following his Jan. 6 indictment, against people "who allegedly cooperated with the prosecution with regard to the prosecution of Dwight T. Brown and the investigation of Cobb EMC directors." Brown and the other plaintiffs quickly dropped that lawsuit.
The indictment also lays out multiple charges of theft involving SCANA Energy fees, and making false statements and writings for each year between 1998 and 2007; conspiracy to defraud Cobb County government and the Cobb County School District; theft involving meter-reading fees; theft involving $3 million in loans Brown and his wife used to buy stock in Cobb Energy; and theft of dividends paid on that Cobb Energy stock.
As much as I find Dwight Brown and his cronies despicable, I feel some satisfaction that the legal system has charged him for his behavior. Now, if we just see some convictions with appropriate penalties and jail sentences, I will have regained some confidence in our system of justice that promises "fairness for all."
Note: Dwight Brown's attorney is Roy Barnes, a former governor of Georgia.