INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A former power company executive accused of filing false expense reports that cost his former employer a half million dollars asked a federal judge Wednesday if he could go on vacation.
Donnis Mizelle, who is accused of costing the Hendricks Power Cooperative more than $500,000, was released following his hearing on Wednesday.
Mizelle has agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud. As part of a condition of his release, Mizelle, 55, is supposed to remain in Indiana. But his attorney asked a judge if he could leave to go to North Carolina next month on a pre-planned vacation. The judge said that would be up to pre-trial services and offered no decision either way.
Ironically, Mizelle is accused of falsely billing his company for expenses that turned out to be funding a personal vacation for him and his family to Orlando, Florida.
Federal prosecutors say that over a six year period – from 2009 to 2015 – Mizelle “engaged in a scheme to defraud (Hendricks Power) by making numerous false entries on expense reports to obtain fraudulent reimbursement payments for a wide range of personal expenses, including jewelry; flights and lodging for family vacations, tickets to Indiana Pacers; Indianapolis Colts, and Indianapolis Indians games; smartphones, tablets, GPS devices and other electronics.”
Prosecutors also alleged that Mizelle’s expense reports included “false descriptions” of the goods and services he purchased and concealed the personal nature of the purchases.
Asked directly for an explanation on why he misappropriated all that money, Mizelle quickly walked toward the door of the federal courthouse and ignored a reporter’s questions.
While the two sides have not agreed on a prison sentence, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
Hendricks Power Cooperative fired Mizzell as its CEO in March of 2015.
A spokeswoman for the power group said that people have been supportive and that the incident should not affect ratepayers. The cooperative released a statement that read in part:
Hendricks Power has been and continues to fully cooperate with law enforcement and supports the outcome of their investigation. While insurance has covered the majority of losses, it is the cooperative’s intent to recoup full financial restitution to Hendricks Power and our insurance partner.