RALEIGH:23 Duke Energy, 18 DENR employees subpoenaed - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Fed grand jury subpoenas 23 Duke Energy, 18 DENR employees

Posted: Updated:
A criminal probe was triggered after the massive Duke Energy coal ash spill on Feb. 2 that contaminated around 70 miles of the Dan River. (DENR) A criminal probe was triggered after the massive Duke Energy coal ash spill on Feb. 2 that contaminated around 70 miles of the Dan River. (DENR)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Wednesday marked the second day of a scheduled three-day grand jury hearing centered around the state's environmental regulation agency.

The proceeding is part of a federal criminal investigation involving employees from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The probe was triggered after the massive Duke Energy coal ash spill on Feb. 2 that contaminated around 70 miles of the Dan River.

The focus of the investigation is on DENR's relationship with the nation's largest public utility, Duke Energy. Since the spill, environmental and watchdog groups have questioned Duke Energy's influence on DENR's regulatory actions.

Federal prosecutors have issued at least 23 grand jury subpoenas to Duke executives and state employees, including 18 from DENR and N.C. Utilities Commission Chairman Ed Finley.

These are the DENR employees who received a subpoena:

  • Sergei Chernikov  - Engineer, NPDES wastewater permitting
  • Matt Mathews - Division of Water Quality, section chief for surface water protection
  • Corey Basinger - Division of Water Quality, Winston-Salem Surface Water Protection Supervisor
  • Debra Watts - Branch Supervisor, ground water protection unit, Division of Water Quality
  • Sherri Knight - Division of Water Quality Winston-Salem, aquifer protection supervisor
  • Michael Parker - Division of Water Quality, surface water protection Environmental Engineer II, Mooresville regional office
  • Andrew Pitner - Division of Water Quality, aquifer protection supervisor, Mooresville regional office
  • Chuck Cranford - Division of Water Quality, assistant regional office supervisor Asheville
  • Landon Davidson - Water Quality Supervisor, Asheville
  • Jim Gregson - Division of Water Quality, surface water protection supervisor, Wilmington
  • Morella Sanchez King - Division of Water Quality, surface water/aquifer protection Wilimgton
  • Belinda Henson - Water Quality Reg Ops Section Fayetteville
  • Stephen Art Barnhard - Regional Supervisor, aquifer protection, Fayetteville // Section Chief, Waste Management Underground Storage Tanks Section
  • Danny Smith - Regional supervisor, surface water, Raleigh
  • Charles "Chuck" Wakild - retired, former director of the Division of Water Quality
  • Coleen Sullins - Former Deputy Director Division of Water Quality
  • David May - Division of Water Quality, Water Resources/Environmental Regional Supervisor, Washington
  • Rick Bolich - Division of Water Resources RRO APS Supervisor, Water Quality/ Aquifer protection, Raleigh

Thomas Walker, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, declined to comment, citing the secrecy of grand jury investigations that are protected by federal law.

WNCN Investigates obtained copies of the subpoenas through a public records request. The documents show investigators are interested in records from Duke, the DENR and the state Utilities Commission.

The records include any documents, emails and reports related to the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River, and the state's oversight of the company's nearly three dozen other coal ash dumps spread out at 14 power plants.

The subpoenas also demand any documents involving any money, gifts or items of value the employees received from anyone at Duke Energy.

Read the subpoenas here:

Jamie Kritzer, a spokesman for DENR, declined to comment beyond saying the agency is cooperating with the federal investigation.

Duke also declined to comment beyond saying it is cooperating with the federal investigation.

Despite that grand jury investigation, Gov. Pat McCrory is keeping faith in DENR. On Wednesday, he deferred comment to the environmental agency on what actions the state should take next against Duke.

"I'm going to let DENR answer all those questions," McCrory said. "I'll just say this: We've stated two or three weeks ago it's time for Duke to come out of the shadows and give much more detail on their plans."

Last week, DENR called Duke Energy's coal ash cleanup plan "inadequate."

RELATED STORIES

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez is an investigative reporter and member of the WNCN Investigates team. His storytelling specialty is connecting the dots to get to the truth, with a goal of delivering results for our community. If you have something you’d like WNCN to investigate, contact Jonathan.

More>>

  • Coal Ash SpillMore>>

  • Environment group says public 'mislead' to think Dan River is clean

    Environment group says public 'mislead' to think Dan River is clean

    Friday, July 18 2014 2:06 PM EDT2014-07-18 18:06:07 GMT
    Waterkeeper Alliance says photos show coal ash is still present in the Dan River. (Waterkeeper Alliance)Waterkeeper Alliance says photos show coal ash is still present in the Dan River. (Waterkeeper Alliance)
    Waterkeeper Alliance provided photos it says show deposits of coal ash still in the Dan River despite claims to the contrary.
    Waterkeeper Alliance provided photos it says show deposits of coal ash still in the Dan River despite claims to the contrary.
  • NC, Va. groups to monitor coal ash in Dan River

    NC, Va. groups to monitor coal ash in Dan River

    Friday, July 18 2014 9:59 AM EDT2014-07-18 13:59:45 GMT
    A collapsed pipe at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station dumped coal ash into the Dan River.A collapsed pipe at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station dumped coal ash into the Dan River.
    Two water protection groups will continue to monitor the Dan River to identify coal ash from a massive spill in North Carolina that flowed into Virginia.
    Two water protection groups will continue to monitor the Dan River to identify coal ash from a massive spill in North Carolina that flowed into Virginia.
  • Feds: Duke Energy has finished moving coal ash from Dan River

    Feds: Duke Energy has finished moving coal ash from Dan River

    Thursday, July 17 2014 3:03 PM EDT2014-07-17 19:03:48 GMT
    Duke has dredged up about 2,500 tons of ash and contaminated sediment, as well as another 500 tons that had accumulated in settling tanks at downstream municipal water treatment plants.
    Duke has dredged up about 2,500 tons of ash and contaminated sediment, as well as another 500 tons that had accumulated in settling tanks at downstream municipal water treatment plants.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Sheriff's Office showcases "Faces of Meth" program as a lesson to all

    Sheriff's Office showcases "Faces of Meth" program as a lesson to all

    Monday, July 21 2014 11:33 AM EDT2014-07-21 15:33:26 GMT
    Faces of Meth™ is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Oregon. This project began when a deputy in the Corrections Division Classification Unit, Deputy Bret King, put together mug shots of persons booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. Deputy King worked with his co-workers in the Classification Unit to identify people who had been in custody more than once. He then worked to verify criminal records and files to determine and assure a history of methamphetamine re...
    Faces of Meth™ is a project of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Oregon. This project began when a deputy in the Corrections Division Classification Unit, Deputy Bret King, put together mug shots of persons booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. Deputy King worked with his co-workers in the Classification Unit to identify people who had been in custody more than once. He then worked to verify criminal records and files to determine and assure a history of methamphetamine re...
  • Local Flooding and Weather Damage

    Local Flooding and Weather Damage

    Friday, July 11 2014 2:44 PM EDT2014-07-11 18:44:14 GMT
    These are pictures and videos of local flooding and weather damage from around the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
    These are pictures and videos of local flooding and weather damage from around the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
  • Snakes Of SC, NC And GA

    Snakes Of SC, NC And GA

    Thursday, July 10 2014 2:35 PM EDT2014-07-10 18:35:00 GMT
    All photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted. Details from the University of Georgia.
    All photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted. Details from the University of Georgia.
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Parts of Durham once again flood as business owner looks for relief

    Parts of Durham once again flood as business owner looks for relief

    Monday, July 21 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-22 02:20:30 GMT
    Several inches of rain created flooding in parts of Durham on Monday.
    Several inches of rain created flooding in parts of Durham on Monday.
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • Durham worker says he was let go after receiving back pay

    Durham worker says he was let go after receiving back pay

    Monday, July 21 2014 10:32 PM EDT2014-07-22 02:32:25 GMT
    Michael David said Dayeco Construction owed him a paycheck for more than six weeks of work.Michael David said Dayeco Construction owed him a paycheck for more than six weeks of work.
    A Durham man said he was let go by his employer after finally getting a paycheck that he'd waited six weeks to receive.
    A Durham man said he was let go by his employer after finally getting a paycheck that he'd waited six weeks to receive.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.