Ruling lets case against ex-Cobb EMC chief proceed

The Georgia Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the indictment of the former CEO of Cobb EMC, clearing the way for his prosecution to proceed.

In 2011, former Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown was indicted for allegedly operating the utility as for-profit company that benefited its leaders. He was charged with 31 counts including theft, false swearing, conspiracy to defraud the state and racketeering.

However, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy granted a defense motion to dismiss the indictment on a legal technicality, ruling that the indictment was not returned in open court. The ruling was based on a complaint from one of Brown’s lawyers that he was delayed and impaired from reaching the courtroom on Jan. 6, 2011, while the new courthouse was in the final stages of construction.

The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments on an appeal of that decision in April. It is expected to rule on the matter in coming days.

Meanwhile, prosecutors reindicted Brown in July 2012 on the same 31 counts, plus four new charges of witness intimidation.

Brown’s defense lawyers also appealed the second indictment. They argued that because an appeal of the first indictment was still pending, the trial court does not have jurisdiction to consider a second indictment.

The Court of Appeals disagreed.

However, the appeals court did throw out the four witness intimidation charges. Brown was accused of threatening to file a lawsuit against customers who cooperated with the prosecution.

But the judges wrote in their ruling that a threat of a lawsuit does not constitute a threat of injury or damage under Georgia law.

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