Westar exec Wittig guilty of looting company

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, September 15, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Kan.--A former chief executive officer for Westar Energy who played an instrumental role in the utility's one-time ownership of Protection One was found guilty this week of looting the company.
A jury convicted David Wittig of 39 counts, including circumventing internal accounting controls, committing wire fraud and laundering money, according to a report in The Kansas City Star. Codefendent Douglas Lake, former executive vice president and chief strategic officer, was found guilty on 30 counts.
It was under Wittig that Westar Energy initiated an aggressive acquisition campaign in the security market. In 1997 it purchased Protection One at a time when several other utilities were also active in the security market. Those companies included Entergy Corp., Edison and Scana Corp.
Westar Energy sold its 87 percent interest in Protection One to New York-based investment firm Quadrangle Group in early 2004 after the security company racked up more than $500 million in debt.
A jury must now decide whether Wittig and Lake need to repay millions of dollars earned from salaries and stock benefits before they left Westar Energy in 2002.