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Former JEA executives indicted on conspiracy and wire fraud charges

Former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and Chief Financial Officer Ryan Wannemacher.
Times-Union photo illustration
Former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and Chief Financial Officer Ryan Wannemacher.

Federal prosecutors on Monday unsealed a grand jury indictment charging former JEA chief executive officer Aaron Zahn and finance chief Ryan Wannemacher with two counts each of conspiracy and wire fraud, casting the two men as the architects of a brazen scheme to secretly extract tens of millions of dollars of personal profit out of the city-owned utility before selling it off to a private operator.

The 30-page indictment accuses the agency’s former top executives of devising a plot to enrich themselves by disguising it as a good-faith exploration of JEA’s financial future, burying their plan beneath layers of legitimate work product provided by consultants and opaque financial forecasting generated by Zahn and his team.

In truth, prosecutors allege, almost every aspect of the failed effort to privatize one of Jacksonville’s largest and most important public agencies — a policy project Mayor Lenny Curry threw the weight of his administration into supporting — was a fraud.

Read the rest of this story at WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.

More coverage from the Times-Union:

Timeline: The failed attempt to privatize JEA and the legal trouble that followed
What Mayor Lenny Curry has said about selling JEA
Prosecutors: Former JEA CEO met with potential buyer before board vote