JEA Trial: JEA VP of financial services testifies, said bonus plan was ‘untoward,’ ‘unseemly’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Friday afternoon, JEA’s vice president of financial services took the stand in the trial of former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and former CFO Ryan Wannemacher.


Both men are charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in connection with a plan to sell the public utility and enrich themselves in the process.

Cameras were not allowed inside the federal courthouse, so Action News Jax’s Alexus Cleavenger was inside the courtroom taking notes.

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JEA’s vice president of financial services, Joseph Orfano, testified he raised concerns directly to Zahn about the potential problems with the incentive plan.

Orfano told jurors he expressed to Aaron Zahn that this was not his “first rodeo in a utility.” He recalled that in a conversation with Zahn, he told him that the proposed bonus plan was “untoward” and “unseemly.”

Orfano also told jurors about conversations he had with Ryan Wannemacher. Orfano testified that Wannemacher told him that Zahn’s directions were not to discuss the potential value of the Performance Utility Plan, or bonus plan, with anyone.

He also said Wannemacher told him that if the City Council and the mayor’s administration didn’t approve the performance utility plan, then the senior leadership team was “all out of there because they created the value.”

Read: JEA Trial: Bombshell testimony reveals that former JEA COO promised higher position after sale

Action News Jax Alexus Cleavenger caught up with Aarron Zahn as he was leaving the federal courthouse Friday. She told Zahn to “have a good rest of your day.”

Zahn responded, “Thanks so much for everything you guys do. Have a good weekend.”

Testimony will resume on Monday. Action News Jax will continue to follow the trial until there’s a verdict.

Read: JEA Trial: Former JEA board members say they knew nothing of bonus plan scheme when approving sale

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