Ex-JEA executive Melissa Dykes appears before federal grand jury

Attorney Hank Coxe and former JEA executive Melissa Dykes on Sept. 19, 2021.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Amid the ongoing grand jury investigation into the failed sale of JEA, the utility’s former interim chief operating officer made an appearance Thursday in federal court downtown.

As she walked out of court next to Hank Coxe, her attorney, Melissa Dykes only said “no comment,” when asked if she had anything to say about the ongoing federal investigation of the efforts to sell the city-owned utility and a controversial employee bonus plan.

“We’re here. We’re not unhappy to be here,” Coxe said to reporters. He added, “we’re cooperating with them.”

In April, the JEA Board of Directors voted unanimously to remove Dykes, who took over after former CEO Aaron Zahn was fired. Zahn was ousted in December 2019 after details came to light of a controversial bonus plan that had the potential to pay out hundreds of millions to executives enrolled in the plan in the event the city sold JEA.

One week later, the board voted to formally abandon its invitation to negotiate (ITN), an effort to solicit bids from outside companies interested in buying or operating all or part of the city-owned utility.

After the State Attorney’s Office announced the federal government was taking over the investigation of issues connected to the potential privatization of JEA, Dykes said she welcomed the scrutiny.

The final report by a committee formed to investigate a botched attempt to sell the JEA called the plan greedy and found it cost the city millions of dollars.

As of publication, there has been no word on when or if the grand jury might come back with a report on its findings in the federal investigation.