Federal grand jury hears more testimony in probe of JEA

Mike Weinstein, Joe Orfano testify Thursday

Mike Weinstein, Joe Orfano testify Thursday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A federal grand jury on Thursday heard more testimony in the investigation of the attempted sale of JEA that could have led to millions of dollars in bonuses for top management.

The sale efforts were stopped at the end of 2019, and major management changes began. The grand jury is now working to determine if a crime was committed.

Mike Weinstein was one of the witnesses called Thursday. News4Jax caught up with him after his testimony.

“They just wanted to history, the relationship between the city and JEA. I can’t get into specifics, but it was wide-ranging,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein was the city’s chief financial officer prior to retiring in 2018 -- before the latest sale effort began. But after that, he was a consultant for one of the groups that bid on the utility.

Weinstein said he couldn’t comment about specifics, but he was ready for this to be in the past.

The grand jury also heard from Joe Orfano on Thursday. He didn’t have anything to say leaving court.

Orfano served as JEA’s interim chief financial officer during the management shake-ups and then became the utility’s treasurer.

Thursday’s testimony comes after three people went before the grand jury last week.

On March 25, former JEA board member Husein Cumber testified, as did former JEA manager Mike Brost and Paul McElroy, who was CEO before the sales talks began and also served as interim CEO last year, after Aaron Zahn was fired with other managers for their role in the attempted sale.

It’s expected the grand jury will look at the controversial bonus plan, as well as who knew what, and when, during the sales negotiations.

It’s not known how many more witnesses the grand jury will call to testify, but they have been looking at documents in the case since May.

This can be a long process. It’s secret until criminal charges are announced -- if anyone is charged with a crime.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.