OG&E investigation

Saturday, October 16th 2004, 11:59 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State and federal investigators have been called in to help with a probe of possible contractor overbilling and kickbacks at Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., officials have confirmed.

The company, which has done its own investigation, has sought help from the state Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office, said OG&E spokesman Brian Alford.

``After months of intensive internal investigation, the company ... has notified law enforcement authorities and will work with them to determine whether or not some current and former Electric Services members participated in illegal or unethical business practices involving outside contractors,'' OG&E Chairman Steve Moore said in a memo that went out to all employees.

``We've conducted the most thorough investigation in our company's history, but we are unable to completely clear the smoke that surrounds this issue,'' the memo read. ``We uncovered one small fire and addressed it immediately, yet the issue continues to smolder.''

Moore was referring to was an alleged overbilling scheme involving Terra Tech LLC, a local contractor, Alford said.

OG&E sued Terra Tech in January to recover financial losses, which the company estimated at between $100,000 and $200,000. That lawsuit is set to go trial in 2005.

As the lawsuit was being filed, OG&E demoted three employees and cut their pay because executives think the alleged scheme would have been discovered earlier if employees had been doing their jobs properly.

One of the employees was placed on leave with pay while the investigation continues, Alford said. He declined to name the disciplined employees.

OG&E did more than $11 million in business with Terra Tech before the relationship was terminated.