October s split-decision verdict in the conspiracy case involving former Davis-Besse engineer David Geisen seemed to indicate the jury struggled in reaching a consensus about his role in FirstEnergy Corp. s cover-up, U.S. District Judge David Katz said while addressing a federal prosecutor in a South Florida courtroom yesterday.
You have to admit it would seem that by not finding Mr. Geisen guilty on two counts, the jury was showing how close its decision was and perhaps was throwing Mr. Geisen a bone, Judge Katz told Thomas Ballantine, one of three U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors who tried the month-long case in Toledo against Geisen and his co-defendant, Rodney N. Cook, of Millington, Tenn.
Geisen was a FirstEnergy supervisor who oversaw Davis-Besse s old reactor head. Mr. Cook was a contractor the utility hired to write reports it submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Geisen of DePere, Wis., was convicted Oct. 30 on three of five deception charges by a jury that deliberated more than 26 hours. Mr. Cook was acquitted on all four counts against him.
Geisen, who faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, was scheduled to be sentenced April 17.
But Judge Katz said after yesterday s hearing that he likely would push back the sentencing date into May or June to consider yesterday s arguments.
They center around a defense motion for an acquittal or a new trial.
Geisen s attorneys claimed the jury verdicts were inconsistent with evidence the government submitted during the trial. Prosecutors disagreed, urging the judge to uphold the convictions.
Judge Katz heard arguments for nearly two hours at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in West Palm Beach while temporarily in Florida.
The proceeding was simulcast in a room of the Toledo courthouse.
Prosecutors have claimed Geisen, Mr. Cook, and a third accused co-conspirator, Andrew Siemaszko, of Spring, Texas, were part of a FirstEnergy Corp. cover-up in the fall of 2001 that kept the NRC from finding out that Davis-Besse s old reactor head was about to burst.
Mr. Siemaszko s trial is set to begin Aug. 11.
A breach in Davis-Besse s old reactor head would have allowed radioactive steam to form in containment for the first time since the half-core meltdown of Three Mile Island Unit 2 in Pennsylvania in 1979.
Leaky acid had melted away everything but a fraction of an inch of steel in one part of the lid, which is supposed to be six inches thick.
The NRC has said it relied on information FirstEnergy provided when it allowed Davis-Besse to continue operating until Feb. 16, 2002, six weeks later than some agency officials had wanted.
FirstEnergy has paid a record $33.5 million in fines for its corporate role in the scandal.
Contact Tom Henry at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6079.