Chesapeake CEO’s Fatal Crash Called Accident

     OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – Oklahoma’s medical examiner said Wednesday the single-car crash that killed former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon was accidental, quelling suspicions that he committed suicide after a federal conspiracy indictment.
     McClendon was killed when his Chevrolet Tahoe slammed into an Oklahoma City highway embankment on March 2. Police said he was not wearing a seat belt and was traveling as fast as 88 miles per hour before impact.
     His death came a day after federal prosecutors charged McClendon with one count of conspiring to rig bids in oil and gas leases, in violation of the Sherman Act. If convicted, he could have faced up to 10 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine. Prosecutors dropped the case after this death.
     The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner concluded Wednesday that McClendon died from “multiple blunt force trauma” to his torso and extremities and that his body had charring and “burns, according to news reports. Toxicology testing concluded there was no evidence of carbon monoxide or alcohol in his body. Doxylamine, an ingredient in cold and allergy medicine, was reportedly detected but not confirmed in McClendon’s liver.
     The report comes one day after police concluded their investigation, saying they also found no indication the crash was anything other than an accident.
     McClendon “orchestrated a conspiracy” with another oil and gas company “to not bid against each other” for leases in northwest Oklahoma from December 2007 to March 2012, according to the indictment against him. McClendon had steadfastly denied the allegations against him the day before his death.
     More than 800 civil lawsuits have been filed against Chesapeake in the past three years, most of them accusing the company of underpaying property owners for oil and gas royalties, according to the Courthouse News database.
     Founded by McClendon in Oklahoma City in 1989, Chesapeake is the second-largest natural gas producer in the country. It expanded its business through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in major domestic shale formations, including the Marcellus Shale, spanning from West Virginia to New York, and the Barnett Shale in North Texas.
     McClendon also co-owned the National Basketball Association’s Oklahoma City Thunder, which plays its home games at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
     Two weeks ago, Chesapeake and French energy partner Total agreed to pay over $52 million to settle hundreds of lawsuits filed by 13,000 North Texas landowners who claimed they were cheated out of natural gas royalties.

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