TOPEKA A federal judge today sentenced former Westar Energy Inc. head David Wittig to 18 years in prison for looting the company.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson sentenced Wittig's co-defendant, Douglas Lake, the former executive vice president of Westar, to 15 years in prison. Wittig and Lake also were ordered to pay fines of $5 million each, in addition to millions of dollars in restitution.
Wittig, Westar's former president, chairman and chief executive officer, and Lake, were found guilty Sept. 12 of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and circumventing internal controls during their tenures at Topeka-based Westar, the largest electric utility in Kansas. Wittig, 50, was convicted of 39 counts; Lake, 55, was convicted of 30 counts and acquitted of nine.
Prosecutors said the men, who were forced out of Westar in late 2002, engaged in a number of schemes aimed at inflating their compensation and hiding it from the company's board of directors and shareholders.
The U.S. Probation Office had recommended life in prison for both men, but attorneys for both defendants argued their clients' crimes were serious enough to warrant that sentence.
Also Monday, Robinson ordered Wittig to pay $14.5 million in restitution and Lake to pay $2.785 million.
However, a jury already had ordered the former executives to forfeit some of that money, as well as other cash and assets, which jurors had determined were linked to the defendants' crimes.