Utility company to discuss Nakamoto reports with state regulators; Vows changes
BATON ROUGE – The Public Service Commission will discuss an audit of an area electric co-op following a series of reports by the WBRZ Investigative Unit.
DEMCO provided the hired auditors with more than 70,000 company documents. Auditors also interviewed company executives, employees and vendors. The audit will be made available and discussed next week, WBRZ learned late Friday.
DEMCO said as a result of the audit, it will begin an “aggressive plan to enforce all existing policies and craft new policies with the goal of new policies being in place by the end of the year.” It will also retrain employees on corporate codes and ethics.
Members of the board of directors will also adhere to new policies. The entire company will follow strict checks and balances, an official told WBRZ. It will be “at all levels” - from management to the board of directors, WBRZ was told.
Auditors said it reviewed a specific case following a WBRZ report highlighting DEMCO paid for work on a communications tower owned by then-board president Richard Sitman. Work on Sitman’s tower was $870, auditors said, disputing the report of nearly $3,400. Auditors said the higher amount was the total cost of work at Sitman’s tower and a corporate tower but work was billed together and it shouldn’t have.
Sitman was removed as board president after the incident and has reimbursed the company, auditors said.
Auditors also revealed Friday there were two other incidents where a DEMCO employee received what was labeled a “perk” in violation of the company’s policies.
In June, the long-time head of the utility company, John Vranic, resigned after WBRZ reported he had a company-purchased $14,000 generator installed at his house following Hurricane Gustav. The generator was purchased with two others at the time to power service towers and critical infrastructure. It was revealed only two of the generators were accounted for – the third was set up along the side of Vranic's large home.
Following the WBRZ reports, DEMCO vowed to correct issues.
"The board of directors made it clear to me and before I was hired, that look, we are committed to getting to the bottom of all of it, whether it's a director, employee whoever it may be," new CEO Randy Pierce said previously in response to problems. "That's my edict. That's how it was told to me, and that's how it will be carried out."
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