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Ex official who pleaded guilty to lying to feds in nuclear project failure probe gets home detention

The Associated Press
Ex official who pleaded guilty to lying to feds in nuclear project failure probe gets home detention

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A former official for the contractor hired to build two never-completed nuclear reactors who pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities was sentenced Tuesday to six months’ home detention.

Carl Churchman, 72, must wear a monitoring device, pay a $5,000 fine and serve a year on probation overlapping with his home detention, The State reported. Churchman and his lawyer declined to say where he will serve his home detention.

Churchman was the project director for Westinghouse Electric Co., the lead contractor to build two new reactors at the V.C. Summer plant. South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. parent company SCANA Corp. and state-owned utility company Santee Cooper spent nearly $10 billion on the project before halting construction in 2017 after Westinghouse’s bankruptcy.

The failure cost ratepayers and investors billions and left nearly 6,000 people jobless.

Churchman pleaded guilty in 2021 to making a false statement to federal officials and faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Churchman apologized to the judge, federal agents, the community and his family during the hearing.

Attorney Lauren Williams told Judge Mary Geiger Lewis that Churchman agreed to be a prosecution witness in any future cases and already has a job offer.

Churchman lied to an FBI agent in 2019, saying that he had not been involved in communicating the project timeline with utility executives, authorities said. But, according to officials, Churchman repeatedly emailed colleagues at Westinghouse about project completion dates, which he reported to executives in 2017.

In a 2021 interview, Churchman admitted his initial statements had been lies, according to prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday agreed with the lenient sentence, saying Churchman confessed immediately after he was caught lying, then became a source for the investigation.


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