Ex-Chesapeake CEO and former Saugatuck developer dies in crash day after conspiracy charges

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Police in Oklahoma have confirmed a man killed in a fiery car wreck early Wednesday is Aubrey McClendon, the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, according to KFOR.

McClendon was the central figure in development proposals and controversies in the Saugatuck area on Lake Michigan in 2006 which were settled in 2012.

On Wednesday, firefighters were called to a car wreck in which one person died at the scene when the vehicle hit a bridge.

Photo from Midwest Blvd. accident

Photo from Midwest Blvd. accident

KFOR learned that the driver of that vehicle was Aubrey McClendon, the former CEO of Chesapeake.

Officials with the Oklahoma City Police Department held a news conference on Wednesday afternoon and confirmed the fatality is McClendon.

Capt. Paco Balderrama says police are still investigating the crash but added that he was traveling at a "high rate of speed," well over the posted speed limit. The 2013 Chevy Tahoe caught fire.

fatal crash

Balderrama says McClendon died instantly from the crash.

"He pretty much drove straight into the wall," Balderrama said. "The information out there at the scene is that he went left of center, went through a grassy area right before slamming into the embankment. There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway, and that didn't occur."

The accident occurred less than 24 hours after McClendon was indicted by a federal grand jury.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced that Aubrey McClendon was charged with conspiring to rig bids for the purchase of oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

The indictment claims that McClendon orchestrated a conspiracy between two large oil and gas companies to not bid against each other for oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

The conspiracy allegedly ran from December 2007 to March 2012, during which time he was CEO of Chesapeake Energy.

In Michigan, Chesapeake paid a $25 million fine to the state in 2015 to settle allegations of conspiring with a Canadian company to rig auctions for drilling rights. Chesapeake also pleaded “no contest” to two misdemeanor criminal antitrust violations in Michigan.

McClendon released the following statement on Tuesday regarding the indictment:

“The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented. I have been singled out as the only person in the oil and gas industry in over 110 years since the Sherman Act became law to have been accused of this crime in relation to joint bidding on leasehold.  Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws.  All my life I have worked to create jobs in Oklahoma, grow its economy, and to provide abundant and affordable energy to all Americans. I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.” – Aubrey McClendon

 

Aubrey McClendon

Aubrey McClendon

McClendon, 56, retired from Chesapeake in 2013 and became the CEO of American Energy Partners.

"It is with deep sadness that AELP confirms that earlier today, its founder, Aubrey K. McClendon died in a car accident on Midwest Boulevard in Oklahoma City. Aubrey's tremendous leadership, vision, and passion for the energy industry had an impact on the community, the country, and the world. We are tremendously proud of his legacy and will continue to work hard to live up to the unmatched standards he set for excellence and integrity. We will deeply mourn his loss and please join us in expressing our condolences to his family," a statement from American Energy Partners read.

McClendon was also a part owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In Michigan, Chesapeake paid a $25 million fine to the state in 2015 to settle allegations of conspiring with a Canadian company to rig auctions for drilling rights. Chesapeake also pleaded “no contest” to two misdemeanor criminal antitrust violations in Michigan.

 

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