The Utilities District of Western Indiana is countersuing former CEO Brian Sparks.
Sparks filed a suit in December accusing the rural electric utility of breach of contract and unpaid wages.
UDWI filed its counterclaim Wednesday. It alleges Sparks abused his position and “put his and his family’s interests above those of the Cooperative and its members.”
UDWI issued a statement Wednesday morning:
“Included in the filing, are allegations that Sparks caused UDWI to incur improper and personal expenses for him and members of his family, and that he did not follow appropriate procedures for documentation, reimbursement and did not demonstrate legitimate business purposes for expenses. The claim states that Sparks’ conduct constituted malicious, fraudulent and, in some cases, blatant theft or conversion of UDWI funds.”
In court documents, UDWI says Sparks used REMC funds to purchase tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of tickets to sporting events, hiding the personal use of funds by coding the purchases as “Key Accounts Maintenance.” The UDWI counterclaim says Sparks made checks payable to cash that were coded as political contributions. But, the complaint says, no contributions are recorded in state or federal records.
“Sparks routinely, repeatedly, and over a long period of time utilized his position of power, authority, trust and confidence to divert funds and resources that were supposed to be used for the sole benefit of the REMC’s members to his own personal purposes and concealed these actions from the Board of Directors,” the counterclaim says.
UDWI is asking for an award for damages including reimbursement of attorneys fees and the cost of an internal investigation into Sparks’ action.
The co-op fired Sparks in June. He worked for the company for 33 years, serving about 10 years as CEO. During Sparks’ tenure there were multiple claims of money mismanagement.
In his complaint, Sparks says he did not engage in any fraudulent activity.
Read the complete counter claim below: