State District Judge Dan Mills handed down the sentencing for Bennie Fuelberg, former Pedernales Electric Cooperative General Manager, on Monday, February 7.
Fuelberg received five years probation, 300 days in county jail, 1,000 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $126,000 in restitution.
The jail time will be served in 30 day increments beginning this summer, in order to allow Fuelberg to care for his terminally ill wife.
The restitution will not be paid to PEC, but was ordered to be paid to PEC’s former law firm, Clark, Thomas and Winters and its insurance company, which paid a $4.1 million settlement for the co-op last year.
In December, a jury in Fredericksburg found him guilty of third-degree felony theft of co-op funds, money laundering and misappropriation of fiduciary property. These charges carry maximum prison terms of 10 years. The jury sentenced him to probation and assessed a $30,000 fine, but the terms of the probation, including whether or not he received jail time, were left up to Judge Mills.
PEC board of directors announced in January plans to seek $8.8 million in restitution from Fuelberg.
On Monday afternoon, the board received a proposed deal from the Texas attorney general’s office which would have sentenced Fuelberg to 120 days in jail, called for a payment of $100,000 to PEC and 1,800 hours of community service. Fuelberg would have also been compelled to testify against Walter Demond, former attorney with Clark, Thomas & Winters. Demond will face trial later this year on the same theft and money laundering charges as Fuelberg.
The PEC board met in an emergency session and rejected the deal.