Austin-based law firm Clark, Thomas & Winters will pay Pedernales Electric Cooperative $4.1 million to settle a law suit over improper payments to relatives of former cooperative officials.
The settlement comes a day after a Blanco County grand jury indicted Walter Demond, formerly attorney at the firm, and former PEC general manager Bennie Fuelberg. Demond was the cooperative’s co-counsel when payments were made to Curtis Fuelberg, a lobbyist and Bennie Fuelberg’s brother, and William Price, son of former board director E.B. Price.
“This settlement represents a prudent business decision that allows us to effectively sever all ties to Clark, Thomas and Winters, recoup damages suffered by PEC and its members, and focus our attention on providing safe, reliable electric service at the fairest price,” said PEC general manager Juan Garza.
The law firm released a statment that said, “The attorney who authorized the payments to outside consultants resigned at the request of the firm earlier this year. When Clark, Thomas & Winters’ management became aware in December of 2008 of the details of the payments to outside consultants and PEC’s reimbursement of some of those payments, it promptly notified both PEC management and the Office of the Attorney General. The firm has cooperated fully with subsequent investigations by both.”