Judge sets deadlines during court hearing for former JEA executives

Court sketch

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A court hearing for two former JEA executives, who have been indicted on federal charges, wrapped up on Tuesday afternoon with a judge setting some deadlines, leading up to a trial next year.

Former JEA Chief Executive Officer Aaron Zahn and former JEA Chief Financial Officer Ryan Wannemacher were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud back in March. The charges grew out of the attempted sale of JEA, which some say was the biggest scheme to defraud the city.

Zahn and Wannemaker were not in court on Tuesday. They were discussing technicalities that play into the defense.

Related: Who is Ryan Wannemacher? | Federal grand jury indicts former JEA executives, accuses them of conspiracy, wire fraud

Both men spoke to city investigators in January 2020, about the scuttled JEA sale. That testimony is not allowed to be used against them, but their attorneys believe that’s exactly what is happening. Prosecutors could have received that information in the indictment without that -- so a judge will take that under advisement.

Federal prosecutors unsealed the indictment in March. It all stems from allegations of an attempt to take millions in personal profits from a proposed sale of the utility through a controversial bonus plan, which would have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Zahn and Wannemaker were fired and several other top executives at JEA left or were let go.

According to United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg, if convicted on all counts, Zahn and Wannemacher each face up to 25 years in federal prison.

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Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.