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Norwich Public Utilities board chair, vice chair resign due to Kentucky Derby trip investigation

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NORWICH — The chairman of the board and the vice chair of the Norwich Public Utilities resigned Monday, citing the fallout of the controversial trip to to the Kentucky Derby.

Board Chairman Dee Boisclair and Vice Chair Bob Groner and Vice Chair Bob Groner announced their resignations from the NPU Board of Commissioners, effective immediately.

“The overwhelming time and attention paid to our participation in last year’s CMEEC trip to the Kentucky Derby have become far too much of a distraction from the important work of NPU. It is in the best interests of NPU and our community for the two of us to step down from the Board of Commissioners at this time,” said Boisclair and Groner in a statement.

“We both regret our involvement in the CMEEC trip last year and sincerely apologize to the residents of Norwich.”

According to information obtained by the Norwich Bulletin, the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative (CMEEC) paid around $343,000 for a trip to the Kentucky Derby for 44 people. It was the fourth year for the trip. Norwich Mayor Deberey Hinchey and several Norwich Public Utilities officials attended.

The federal government has formally requested unspecified information from Norwich Public Utilities and the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative

The inquiry comes on the heels of revelations that the CMEEC funded lavish annual trips to the Kentucky Derby for board members, municipal officials and other guests.

It’s unclear whether the contact from federal authorities is directly related to the trips.

A written statement from NPU spokesman Chris Riley confirmed that the FBI visited the utility’s offices on Oct. 28. Riley said NPU has pledged its full cooperation.

An attorney representing the CMEEC says the organization is responding to a governmental inquiry. Norwich City Manager John Salomone says the city is cooperating.

FBI officials declined to comment.

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