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DEMCO pledges changes after allegations of corruption surface

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BATON ROUGE- Before a packed room at the Public Service Commission, commissioners demanded accountability in hopes of restoring some public trust back into the state's largest energy cooperative.

An internal audit was launched earlier this year after allegations of wrongdoing surfaced. Last week, the WBRZ Investigative Unit uncovered the CEO, John Vranic, allegedly took a $14,000 generator that was intended for a DEMCO site. Instead, that generator was found at Vranic's house. Vranic paid restitution when he got caught.

At the PSC today, commissioners imposed a firm deadline of September to hear back from DEMCO about what's going on with the audit into allegations there are more problems.

"What I would like to see from DEMCO, the overall theme being accountability," Dr. Craig Greene, PSC District 2 Commissioner said. "The bigger theme would be honesty, but then trust and verify. Accountability transparency and give us regular updates."

DEMCO's attorney, Jim Ellis told Commissioners an audit that is currently underway is taking place by an independent CPA firm with no ties to DEMCO. The hope is, the results of that audit will prove DEMCO is about doing the right thing and being transparent for its customers.

"Last week at a special board meeting, in addition to the audit that's been commissioned by the company, they also authorized the hiring of a management consulting firm to look at best practices for construction and procurement," Attorney for DEMCO, Jim Ellis said. "The board approved that."

Wednesday, DEMCO's interim CEO said changes are already being made.

"I just want to say DEMCO is moving forward," Ryan Vandersypen said. "We're waiting for the results of the audit, and the board has been very proactive to get to the bottom in all of the things being investigated."

Among some of the allegations that are being looked into is whether or not contracts went to companies with close ties to board members. The next PSC meeting is scheduled for later in the summer.

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