Former utility CEO sentenced to 33 months in prison

The former CEO of Avon-based Hendricks Power Cooperative has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $580,000 from the electric utility cooperative.

Authorities charged Donnis Mizelle, 56, in August. Mizelle pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to having defrauded the utility, the office of U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler announced Friday.

Mizelle falsified his expense reports for six years starting in 2009, authorities said, using money from the electric utility to make hundreds of personal purchases including vacation trips, jewelry, electronic devices, tickets to sporting events, guns and ammunition, clothing, groceries and even a Mother’s Day brunch.

“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 and found over 1,800 personal purchases that Mizelle fraudulently disguised as legitimate business expenses,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. 

In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker ordered Mizelle to pay full restitution and serve a year of supervised release following his prison sentence. Mizelle already has paid $300,000 toward restitution, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Linder, who prosecuted the case.

Mizelle has not been taken into custody, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Within the next few weeks, federal officials will decide where Mizelle will serve his sentence, and he will be expected to turn himself in at that prison.

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