Former Power Cooperative CEO Could Get Jail Time

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The former chief executive officer of a local electric utility is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud. The Office of U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler says Donnis Mizelle is accused of stealing $500,000 from Avon-based Hendricks Power Cooperative over the course of six years.

Mizelle is alleged to have "routinely" used company funds like a personal expense account, racking up charges that were tabbed as business expenses, but included purchases such as a $650 bracelet and pen from a local jewelry store and $1,250 for train travel on a family trip to Europe. In all, the charges accuse Mizelle of dozens of fraudulent transactions dating back to at least 2009.

Minkler says "CEOs hold positions of special trust and authority, not only in the companies they serve but as leaders in society. We expect them to act with integrity. Exploiting that special trust for personal gain is an egregious crime, especially when those defrauded are friends and neighbors in a community that the CEO was hired to serve."

The filings accuse Mizelle of submitting false expense reports "on an almost monthly basis," receiving reimbursements for such things as iPhones and iPads, sports tickets, clothing, meals and groceries.

A formal plea is set for a future court hearing. In addition to the potential prison term, Mizelle also faces a fine and could be ordered to pay restitution.

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