By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on January 27, 2023
An Editorial Opinion
On January 25, 2023, NextEra Energy (NEE) and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) filed a Form 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announcing that “Allegations of violations of law by FPL or NEE have the potential to result in fines, penalties, or other sanctions or effects, as well as cause reputational damage for FPL and NEE, and could hamper FPL’s and NEE’s effectiveness in interacting with governmental authorities.”
The Form 8-K stated that “FPL’s and NEE’s business and reputation could be adversely affected by allegations that FPL or NEE has violated laws, by any investigations or proceedings that arise from such allegations, or by ultimate determinations of legal violations.”
The violations of law referenced in the 8-K stem from the clandestine “dirty tricks” work Joe Perkins' Matrix, LLC, performed for these companies. Some of this work is described in a December 22, 2022 article I published titled, “Joe Perkins and Matrix in Deep Trouble” and a December 19, 2022 article Nation Public Radio published titled, “In the Southeast, power company money flows to news sites that attack their critics.”
In “Dirty Secrets: The Joe Perkins Files,” I detailed additional "dirty tricks" Joe Perkins and Matrix performed for Alabama Power Company and the Southern Company.
On December 26, 2021, I revealed that Alabama Power had paid Perkins $2.5 million, without invoicing. I also published two of Perkins' secret contracts with Alabama Power.
On January 18, 2022, I published an article that identified all of the red flags with the Perkins-Alabama Power contracts.
Perkins/Matrix Scandal in Alabama is Much Bigger Than the One in Florida
The “dirty tricks” scandal that has engulfed NEE, FPL, Perkins, and Matrix in Florida pales in comparison to the scope and depth of “dirty tricks” Perkins and Matrix have performed for Alabama Power and the Southern Company in Alabama and Georgia. The array of people implicated in the Alabama scandal has been mind-blowing for investigators.
I have also confirmed that the Wall Street Journal has been working since December on an in-depth investigative article on the Southern Company, Alabama Power, and their longtime business relationship with Perkins and Matrix. This article is expected to be published soon.
Based upon my experience in successfully representing former CEO Richard Scrushy during the highly-publicized HeathSouth accounting fraud scandal and criminal proceedings from 2003 to 2005, the issuance of NEE’s Form 8-K signals that federal criminal indictments of top executives at NEE and FPL are coming soon.
While a jury found Scrushy “Not Guilty” of the criminal charges against him, 18 other HealthSouth executives were not so lucky. These 18 defendants lost their jobs and went to jail. A nineteenth HealthSouth defendant had all charges against him dismissed after the Scrushy verdict.
Power Company CEOs Ousted
NEE owns FPL, the same way the Southern Company owns Alabama Power Company.
On the same day of NEE’s Form 8-K filing, chief executive officer Eric Silagy was ousted as CEO of FPL.
In November 2022, the Southern Company ousted Mark Crosswhite as Alabama Power’s chief executive officer, effective on December 31, 2022.
The Southern Company has not issued a Form 8-K filing yet, but may do so after an internal investigation by the Atlanta-based King & Spalding, LLP, law firm centering on Matrix’s “dirty tricks” work for the Southern Company and Alabama Power is completed.
As is the case with NEE and FPL, I expect to see several top Alabama Power and Southern Company executives indicted, as well.
I do not expect that Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning will be indicted. Fanning was a victim of one of Matrix “dirty tricks” schemes that was designed to pressure him into resigning so that Mark Crosswhite could take his place as CEO of the SouthernCompany.. Fortunately, this ill-conceived scheme failed.
Criminal lawyers in Birmingham are already getting calls from Alabama Power executives who believe they have criminal exposure in this RICO case.
Southern Company and Alabama Power Seek Deferred Prosecution Agreements
It appears that the Southern Company and Alabama Power are seeking what is called a “deferred or non-prosecution agreement” from the U.S. Department of Justice. If granted, these entities will not be prosecuted, but their former executives may well be charged.
Under Title 9-28.000 of the Department’s Justice Manual, this relief may be available to the Southern Company and Alabama Power if they take certain actions that aid the Department’s investigation. Generally, these actions include: (a) ousting all persons responsible for the violations of law from the company, (b) conducting an internal investigation, (c) refraining from impeding the Department’s investigation by hiring or paying for lawyers for the wrongdoers, (d) voluntarily disclosing the results of the internal investigation to prosecutors, and (e) making restitution to the crime victims adversely impacted by the criminal conduct disclosed by the federal probe.
Matrix is not expected to be offered a deferred or non-prosecution agreement under any circumstance. The company’s “dirty tricks” work has: (a) soiled the reputations of two New York Stock Exchange companies, as well as their wholly-owned affiliates, (b) placed these publicly-traded companies under a multi-state federal investigation at the same time, and (c) may expose these companies to billions of dollars in lost value on the Stock Exchange as the scandal unfolds in the national and international media in the coming weeks.
Investigators Have a Treasure Trove of Incriminating Evidence Against Perkins/Matrix
We have confirmed that federal investigators possess a treasure trove of incriminating evidence against Joe Perkins and Matrix. A lot of this evidence is contained in handwritten notes authored by Perkins himself.
An example of Perkins' handwritten notes is found in the notes he penned regarding his plan to destroy me. Click here to read Perkins’ notes.
The scope of the incriminating evidence and the number of parties involved in the “dirty tricks” Perkins/Matrix performed for Alabama Power and the Southern Company are breathtaking.
The question is not whether individuals will be indicted in the multi-state Matrix scandal, but how many and who will they be.