Ex-CFO of SACE pleads guilty to fraud

Ex-CFO of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy pleads guilty to fraud

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NASHVILLE (WATE/AP) - The former chief financial officer of a Knoxville non-profit group that promotes energy from renewable sources has pleaded guilty to skimming funds.

Cameron J. Potter worked for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Dale told U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips on Tuesday that Potter concocted a scheme in 2006 to skim $400,000 in Department of Energy grant money by creating phony invoices, a plot that he carried out for three years.

In a plea agreement, Potter pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering.

Potter must also reimburse the government with money from him personal and retirement accounts. He will be sentenced in January.

An internal investigation by SACE uncovered the scheme and resulted in Potter being fired more than two years ago, according to Executive Director Stephen Smith. He says SACE took its findings to federal prosecutors.

SACE cooperated fully with the process, Smith says, and has already recovered a significant amount of the money. He adds that they hope to get all of it back.

Southern Alliance is a critic of TVA's coal-fired power plants.

Some portions of this report copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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