Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh Minkler announced today that Donnis Mizelle, 56, of Avon, Indiana, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Hendricks Power Cooperative (HPC), a local electric utility, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker following his plea of guilty to having defrauding HPC out of over half a million dollars.
“We place a tremendous amount of trust and responsibility in our business leaders, particularly our CEOs,” Minkler said. “Exploiting that trust for purely personal gain causes more than financial harm. It devastates employee morale, shakes the confidence of customers, and contributes to a belief that the system is rigged in favor of those at the top. This office will vigorously prosecute executives who betray the special trust we place in them.”
HPC is a rural electric membership corporation responsible for bringing electric power to rural areas throughout Hendricks County. Today, HPC provides electricity for approximately 30,000 Hendricks County residents. As a cooperative, HPC is still owned by – and for – the residents its serves.
Mizelle had been the cooperative’s CEO since 2003. Despite his legitimate six figure income, federal investigators found that Mizelle treated HPC’s bank account as if it were his own. FBI agents and forensic accountants investigated Mizelle’s expense report entries dating back to 2009 and found over 1,800 personal purchases that Mizelle fraudulently disguised as legitimate business expenses.
In all, Mizelle falsified nearly every one of his expense reports for over six years and caused HPC to pay for over $580,000 in personal expenses ranging from luxury items to every day expenses: vacations to Europe and Florida, sapphire jewelry, iPhones and iPads, tickets to Colts, Pacers, and Indians games, guns and ammunition, lawn equipment, clothing items, wine, groceries and brunch on Mother’s Day.
Assistant United States Attorney Nick Linder, who prosecuted the case for the government, said that Mizelle must pay full restitution to the victim of the offense and, even before his sentencing, he had paid $300,000 toward it. Additionally, Mizelle must serve 1 year of supervised release following his prison sentence.