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JEA Investigation Update: Federal Grand Jury Indicts Former JEA Executives

Aaron Zahn and Ryan Wannemacher (JEA)

A federal grand jury has indicted former JEA Chief Executive Officer Aaron Zahn and former JEA Chief Financial Officer Ryan Wannemacher on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud in connection to a months-long Department of Justice investigation into failed attempts to privatize the city-owned utility.

Zahn and Wannemacher face criminal charges for their role in developing a controversial Performance Unit Plan (PUP) that could have awarded millions in taxpayer-funded bonuses to JEA’s senior executives in the event of a sale. The Jacksonville City Council’s Special Investigatory Committee on JEA Matters released its report in January 2021.

Smith Hulsey & Busey chairman Steve Busey led the City Council’s investigation and development of the report as special counsel to the Committee. He was assisted by attorneys Lanny Russell, Chris Dix, Kevin Blodgett and James Edgar.

The firm established a dedicated website ( ) to host the 138-page report, together with its appendices and a 242-page chronology of supporting documents. The report summarizes what happened, how it happened and recommends legislative action to prevent such an effort in the future.

Busey commended the City Council for bringing about Monday’s indictments.

“The real credit belongs to the Jacksonville City Council. The Council sensed something was amiss in our community and had the courage and vision to commission and invest in the investigation,” he said. “The investigation revealed the facts relied on by the Department of Justice to bring these indictments. But for the Council, the indictments would not have occurred.”

Learn more about the firm’s work and role in the investigation in this case study.

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