Johnson Utilities, a water company in San Tan Valley has been in news in recent years for violating the environment in San Tan has been found bribing regulator in San Tan with an aim to defraud customers.
The Johnson Utilities’s owner, George Johnson bribed Gary Pierce who is the former Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman with about $400,000.
The court has alleged Pierce, Sherry Pierce, Pierce’s wife; George Johnson; and his Lobbyist, Jim Norton for their engaged in a fraudulent scheme which involved cash and land directed to the Pierces.
In return favour, Pierce casts votes which helped Johnson in passing the costs of his company’s wastewater plant and his personal income taxes upon his utility customers.
The crime was accomplished when Pierce who is a Mesa Republican, was appointed as the chairman of the Corporation Commission, a body which is responsible to decide how much Arizonans pay for water, electricity and natural gas.
As Johnson Utilities is regulated by the corporation commission, it became easy to operate the crime.
In 2014, Pierce retired. It is the same year when FBI was investigating about Gary Pierce for his involvement in steering campaign donations in the 2014 elections.
However, FBI has not disclosed anything about the investigation. This scandal is the second one in last three years.
Commissioner Susan Bitter Smith resigned in 2015 after the possible ouster amid conflict-of-interest allegations.
Lobbyist Jim Norton who is the managing partner of Axiom Public Affairs, stated “I am innocent and will be entering a plea of ‘not guilty.’ I look forward to my day in court, when I am confident these allegations will be shown to be without merit.”
However, Arizona has spoken on this indictment, “The Commission was made aware at the same time as the general public of an indictment involving a former commissioner and other individuals.”
“The Commission is currently reviewing the allegations, and the Commission believes it would be inappropriate at this time to comment on a pending criminal proceeding.”