MLGW board to pay Joseph Lee's legal bill

Former MLGW head Joseph Lee
Former MLGW head Joseph Lee

MLGW officials said Thursday the utility will pay off former utility president Joseph Lee's controversial legal bills.

MLGW Interim Chief Counsel Charlotte Knight-Griffin told the utility's board that Lee should be reimbursed for his $61,000 legal bill.

"I would recommend to the board approval of the legal fees in this particular case," Knight-Griffin said. "It has been the practice in the legal department for MLGW to represent employees."

Knight-Griffin said Lee's expenses were appropriate. Lee used his own attorney, Robert Spence, during an investigation into why he allowed City Councilman Edmund Ford to delay payment on a $16,000 utility bill.

The fees covered grand jury subpoenas and expenses related to a city council audit.

City Attorney Allan Wade supports the legal decision.

"If you have a policy that if somebody's indicted or goes to the grand jury, they're entitled to indemnification until they're proven guilty," Wade said, "I think you follow it and you follow it for everybody."

At their next meeting in July, the board plans to discuss tightening up their policies so that there is no confusion in the future.

to e-mail Kontji Anthony.