A former federal energy official charged with obstruction of justice pleaded not guilty today, and his attorney suggested that the Department of Energy probe which led to the charges is over.
Anthony Cugini, 54, of Upper St. Clair, led the National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park until his resignation in late October. He was charged last month with obstruction and accused of telling others to delete and redesignate computer files and provide false answers to investigators’ questions in order to “protect him” during a Department of Energy inspector general’s probe into the lab.
Sources have said that the investigation dealt with Mr. Cugini’s use of industry contacts to help the Holy Family Institute to raise money toward a possible new school for underprivileged youth.
Asked whether the underlying probe was complete, Mr. Cugini’s attorney, Jerry Johnson, said: “I would have no reason to believe it’s not over.”
He declined to comment on the nature of the underlying investigation, but said he didn’t expect that additional charges would be filed against Mr. Cugini. He said he suspected that the former energy official’s charity work “certainly could” continue, and added that he was working for a family business.
“He’s a strong person going through a difficult time,” Mr. Johnson said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Dillon did not detail the accusations against Mr. Cugini at his arraignment today, other than to say that the alleged obstruction occurred in September. A Department of Energy investigator attended the hearing, but did not speak and declined comment afterward.
Both sides have 45 days to file pretrial motions in the case, which has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.
Mr. Cugini was a driving force behind NETL’s commercialization alliance, a collaboration between Oakland-based Innovation Works, several other startup groups and NETL researchers, to get products to market. That has been discontinued in recent weeks.
Rich Lord: email@example.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter: @richelord.