SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – A Sullivan County grand jury found no criminal behavior and no criminal intent by the CEO of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services following a scathing state investigative audit, according to District Attorney Barry Staubus.
Staubus confirmed grand jurors met and considered the case yesterday, but took no action. He says the case is now closed.
“I was always pretty confident of the result but it was hard not to be a little concerned,” BTES CEO Dr. Mike Browder said by email. “After all, this is a complicated series of transactions and I was not sure how well other people not familiar with our business would understand. Our customers continue to reap the benefits of this technology.”
The grand jury’s decision comes nearly a year after the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Office raised questions about whether Dr. Browder had ratepayers’ best interests in mind when he arranged a multi-million dollar deal with Carina Technology to buy a water heater switch. At the time, his name was on the patent for that switch.
Auditors found Dr. Browder did not disclose that conflict of interest to the entire BTES board, along with payments to Carina that helped keep the financially struggling company afloat.
Dr. Browder apologized last year, but maintained the deal continues to save BTES ratepayers money, saying that was his intent all along. He has since transferred the patent to BTES’ name.
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