Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney, for the District of Connecticut, announced that DREW RANKIN, 62, the former chief executive officer of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Corporation (“CMEEC”), was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to 12 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for misusing CMEEC funds.
CMEEC is a cooperative public corporation that permits municipal electric utilities in Connecticut to join together to furnish electric power in the municipalities’ areas of operation. CMEEC’s members included the City of Norwich, the City of Groton, the Borough of Jewett City, the Second Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, the Third Taxing District of the City of Norwalk, and the Town of Bozrah. As the owners of CMEEC, each member town executed an agreement through its respective municipal electric utility outlining the terms and conditions under which the CMEEC members participated together in CMEEC. The CMEEC membership agreement provides that excess revenues are designated as “CMEEC Margin,” and that the excess revenues are to be returned to the member towns to help keep electricity costs stable for ratepayers.
Between 2010 and 2015, CMEEC received more than $9 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Energy. CMEEC member towns also received funds from federal grants.
According to the evidence and testimony presented during a trial in 2021, Rankin and certain members of the CMEEC Board of Directors others planned, organized, and directed lavish trips outside of Connecticut, including trips to the Kentucky Derby in 2015 and 2016, and to a luxury golf resort in West Virginia in 2015. These trips did not relate to CMEEC business, but were intended to personally benefit, compensate and reward Rankin, CMEEC Board members, their family members, friends, and associates. Costs for the trips, which totaled more than $800,000, included travel expenses, private chartered airfare, first-class hotel accommodations, meals, tickets to sporting events, golf fees, souvenirs and gifts.
In response to reporter inquiries about the Kentucky Derby and golf trips, Rankin underreported the costs of the trips, omitted the names of attendees who were not CMEEC employees or board members, and made other false statements related to how the trips were funded. After the trips were known to the general public, CMEEC canceled a reservation it had made for the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and was refunded only approximately $90,000 of the $298,960 it had prepaid for the trip in May 2016.
Restitution will be determined after additional court proceedings.
On December 10, 2021, a jury found Rankin; James Sullivan, former chairperson of the CMEEC Board of Directors; and John Bilda, former City of Norwich representative on the CMEEC Board of Directors; guilty of one count of theft concerning a program receiving federal funds.
Rankin, who is released on $100,000 bond, is required to report to prison on July 11.
Sullivan is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow, and Bilda is scheduled to be sentenced on May 18.
This matter has been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Energy. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah P. Karwan, Michael S. McGarry and Tara E. Levens.