The former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission won’t face trial on felony charges stemming from an ethics scandal at the agency, a judge ruled Monday.
Marion Superior Judge William Nelson ordered official misconduct charges dismissed against former IURC Director David Lott Hardy, who was fired by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels when allegations surfaced.
Hardy was accused of allowing former IURC administrative law judge and general counsel Scott Storms to work on a number of Duke Energy cases pending before the commission at the same time Storms was trying to land a job with Duke.
Hardy in 2011 was indicted by a Marion County grand jury. Hardy also was accused of improper ex parte communications with Duke employees in 2008 and 2010 regarding cost overruns at the on Duke Edwardsport coal gasification plant.
Nelson wrote that the official misconduct statute under which Hardy had been charged was amended by the Legislature in 2012 to clarify that it applies to a public servant who “knowingly or intentionally commits an offense” in the performance of duties.
Nelson noted in the order that “the quick action of the Indiana Legislature in responding to Inspector General (David) Thomas’s request to clarify the application of the Official Misconduct is indicative of the legislative intent to apply the amendment retroactively.”
Peg McLeish, spokeswoman for Marion County Prosectuor Terry Curry, said the office had “received the order and will be reviewing any possible action we might take,” which could include appealing Nelson’s order.
Hardy’s attorney David Hensel, of Pence Hensel LLC, said after the ruling, “It was clearly the right decision.
“What (Hardy) did was not a crime,” Hensel said. “If we’d gone to trial, we would have proved that even what he was alleged to have done didn’t happen the way the state alleges it did.”