INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Former Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission chairman David Lott Hardy will
not face criminal prosecution despite violating state ethics rules, the
Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The court said in
an 11-page opinion that state ethics law in effect at the time Hardy was
indicted only covered criminal behavior and did not apply to administrative
misconduct such as that of which Hardy was accused.
spokesman for the Indiana attorney generalís office which represented the
state, said the office was reviewing the appellate decision carefully before
deciding whether to ask the state Supreme Court to take up the case.
The crux of the
argument was whether Hardy, who was fired by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels as part
of an ethical scandal that eventually also cost three Duke Energy officials
their jobs, should be charged with felony misconduct when he did not commit
Daniels fired Hardy
as commission chairman in 2010 for ethical violations including that Hardy
failed to disclose private meetings he had with Duke Energy executives about
cost overruns at a coal-gasification power plant that the utility was
building in southwestern Indiana. The 618-megawatt plant that went online
last summer had an original 2007 cost estimate of $1.9 billion, but that
eventually ballooned to about $3.5 billion.
Hardy was indicted
by a Marion County grand jury on four felony counts of official misconduct
in 2011. A Marion County judge later threw out those charges, saying Hardy
couldnít be charged under changes the Legislature made in 2012.
generalís office appealed, but the appellate court sided with the lower
The court said the
revised misconduct law applies only to specific criminal offenses by public
officials in the performance of their duties, not merely to violations of
ethical or administrative rules.
The Indiana General
Assembly narrowed the statute after the state inspector general sought
clarification as a result of the scandal. The appellate court said lawmakers
clearly intended for the change to be retroactive.