Fired JEA CEO’s testimony revealed: Aaron Zahn questioned over bonus plan

Fired JEA CEO's testimony revealed

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax Investigates is hearing from former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn for the first time under oath.

Our team of investigators went through thousands of pages of documents detailing sworn testimony from Zahn for hours Monday.

The disgraced CEO, who was fired for cause last week, gave his sworn testimony to Jacksonville’s Office of Inspector General on Jan. 21 and 22.

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Here’s some of what Action News Jax found:

  • Zahn’s contract made him CEO of JEA forever, until he was terminated or resigned.
  • The JEA senior leadership used an app called GroupMe to communicate.
  • Zahn and members of the executive team went on a retreat where hotel rooms cost $700 per night. Zahn expensed $4,300 to JEA for current interim CEO Melissa Dykes and ex-Chief Financial Officer Ryan Wannemacher among others, all at taxpayer expense.
  • Zahn’s iPhone was set to automatically delete text messages, a possible violation of Florida public records laws. Zahn said his phone was set to delete messages after 30 days; he blamed it on an iPhone 11 update that happened near a Dec. 17 board meeting.
  • Zahn said he understood the potential for the performance unit plan bonus plan could possibly result in massive payouts when he responded to a question by saying “uh-huh," which is how he answered the inspector general’s questions 18 times.
  • Zahn’s attorney objected to questions 121 times.

The JEA board and city officials blame Zahn for leading JEA’s failed attempt to go private.

In addition, one document reveals that a member of the executive team said they witnessed Zahn dropping an "F" bomb toward another member of the team. It was over an argument about revealing information in public records.

Action News Jax continues to go through the documents and will have more on FOX30 Action News Jax at 10 and CBS47 Action News Jax at 11.