Ex-Chesapeake Energy CEO Dies in Car Accident Shortly After DOJ Indictment

Friday, March 11, 2016
By Miles Indest, J.D./M.B.A candidate

On March 2, 2016, Ex-Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon was killed in a car wreck—one day after he was indicted by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegations regarding antitrust and conspiracy violations. Police are still investigating how the crash occurred, and many are saddened to hear of the death of “one of the greatest oil and gas wildcatters of his generation,” stated Forbes.

The DOJ indictment alleged 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 Oklahoma. The alleged conspirators decided ahead of time who would win the oil and gas leases and would then allocate an interest in each lease to the other company.

DOJ Indictment Affirms Focus On Individual Accountability.

Recently, we discussed the Yates memorandum and the DOJ’s increased attention to individual criminal accountability for corporate wrongdoing. The Yates memo outlined six measures to strengthen the DOJ’s pursuit of individuals engaged in fraud, two of the most important being:

(1) to be eligible for any cooperation credit, corporations must provide the DOJ with all relevant facts about the individuals involved in corporate misconduct; and
(2) absent extraordinary circumstances, no corporate resolution will be allowed to provide protection from criminal or civil liability for any individuals.

The indictment against the late McClendon followed this trend. According to the DOJ release, McClendon’s actions as CEO “put company profits ahead of the interests of leaseholders.” The DOJ emphasized that “[e]xecutives who abuse their positions as leaders of major corporations to organize criminal activity must be held accountable for their actions.”

Chesapeake, however, does not expect to face criminal prosecution relating to McClendon’s actions, according to company spokesman Gordon Pennoyer. The company cooperated with the DOJ and has received conditional leniency. "Chesapeake has taken significant steps to address legacy issues and enhance legal and regulatory compliance throughout the organization," stated Pennoyer.

To read the full press release issued by the DOJ regarding the antitrust conspiracy, click here.

Healthcare Executives Face Similar Indictments for False Claims and Medicare Fraud.

The DOJ’s emphasis on individual accountability will certainly impact healthcare organizations, illustrated by recent charges against the former executive of pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott. Hospitals, nursing home chains, and other healthcare entities that settle with the government will no longer automatically get a “pass” from criminal prosecution for their employees.

In fiscal year 2015, the DOJ collected approximately $1.9 billion solely from settlements and judgments in cases that involved allegations of healthcare fraud. Moving forward, healthcare executives will face an increased number of DOJ indictments for allegations regarding false claims and Medicare Fraud. Because the Yates memo strongly encourages that corporations provide the DOJ with information about individual misconduct, executives must prepare for investigations from both the DOJ and their own companies.

Criminal investigations and accusations against a healthcare executive, even if later proven to be unfounded, may unfairly tarnish the personal and professional reputation of that individual. In order to combat such destructive accusations and avoid major punishments, it is critical to have an experienced legal representative present on your behalf in an effective manner.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other healthcare provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing physicians in investigations and at Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine hearings. We represent physicians accused of wrongdoing, in patient complaints and in Department of Health investigations.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.ThehealthLawFirm.com.


Helman, Christopher. “Updated: Aubrey McClendon Dead In Car Crash; Chesapeake Co-Founder Was 56.” Forbes (March 2, 2016). Web.

Horney, Benjamin. “Ex-Chesapeake CEO Dies in Car Wreck A Day After Indictment.” Law360 (March 2, 2016). Web.

About the Author: Miles Indest, J.D./M.B.A. candidate, will graduate in May 2016 from Tulane University Law School and the Freeman School of Business.

KeyWords: antitrust, conspiracy, healthcare industry, Yates memo, Department of Justice (DOJ), healthcare fraud, False Claims Act, indictment, healthcare executives, individual accountability, pharmaceutical, misconduct, settlements, judgments, healthcare fraud, health law, Florida health law attorney, The Health Law Firm, health defense attorney, health defense lawyer, legal representation

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