PG&E officially sentenced for causing deadly Camp Fire

A judge found PG&E guilty of causing the deadliest fire in California's history.

Posted: Jun 18, 2020 6:32 PM
Updated: Jun 19, 2020 10:42 AM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - There was a tearful testimony during PG&E's sentencing in Chico on June 18. The company was found guilty of 85 felony charges stemming from the Camp Fire.

The judge found PG&E guilty of causing the deadliest fire in California's history, and for some, it brought back a lot of strong emotions.

Michael Hanko, who lost his brother in the Camp Fire, got emotional as he testified before the judge, saying it changed his life forever.

"I thought I was going to live my life in Paradise, but now I want nothing to do with it," said Hanko.

Thursday morning, Butte County Judge Michael R. Deems delivered a powerful statement.

"If there was ever a corporation that deserved to go to prison, it's PG&E," he said.

Judge Deems found the utility guilty of 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count for causing the Camp Fire. The company now has to pay around $4 million in fines and fees -- $3.4 million in fines and $500,000 in attorney fees.

"This is the most counts of homicide by any major corporation in the history of the United States, we take pride that we brought a corporation to this point but we don't take pride in it being such a small sentence," said District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

Action News Now spoke with PG&E's interim CEO Bill Smith after the sentencing.

VIEW: PG&E fine structure chart

"It was the maximum sentence available to the judge, we understand that, we accept it and we are focused on moving forward," said Smith.

D.A. Mike Ramsey says the company will be monitored to make sure they are doing everything they are supposed to.

"The next time is murder, the next time is personal liability because they are on notice at this time," said Ramsey.

"This company is committed to addressing the problems that led to this fire and to do it as quickly and safely as possible," said Smith.

The judge also set a restitution hearing for January 15th to decide how the $13.5 billion lawsuit money will be distributed.

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