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Report: PG&E prosecution will not call ex-CEO as witness in San Bruno trial

The prosecution in the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. criminal trial may not callseveral of its potential high-profile witnesses, an NBC affiliate in Californiareported recently.

Federal prosecutors said they plan to conclude their casebefore the end of July and that they would not call some witnesses who had beenexpected to appear, according to the NBC Bay Area news report.

Those spared include Peter Darbee, PG&E Corp.'s former chairman, president and CEO, and Brian Cherry,PG&E's former vice president of regulatory relations, NBC reported. Darbeewas at the helm when the 2010 San Bruno, Calif., pipeline explosion leveledpart of a neighborhood and killed eight people. Cherry'sillicit correspondencewith California Public Utilities Commission officials and employees becameinfamous when roughly 65,000 PG&E-CPUC emails were made public in early2015.

The emails showed that Cherry had insight into the state ofPG&E's record-keeping. In the aftermath of the explosion, Cherry privatelytold Paul Clanon, then the CPUC's director, that PG&E had more than 1,000 milesof pipe with critical characteristics that did not show up on the company'sschematic diagrams, adding, "Godknows what is underground."

Former PG&E employee Leslie McNiece will be skipped too, the report said.McNiece, hired in 2012 to help address the company's record-keeping problems,told prosecutors that she found discardedin a dumpster critical documents related to the San Bruno rupture. Theprosecution noted in a January court filing that the documents showed thatPG&E's geographical information system was deficient, PG&E was aware ofthe deficiency, and, by throwing away the documents, PG&E was failing toproperly maintain pipe records.

The prosecution team did not explain why these witnesseswould not be called, NBC reported.

U.S. attorneys did, however, continue to drive home theircase that PG&E documents show the company knew more about the system'sdeficiencies than the utility claims, the San Jose, Calif., Mercury News reported July 15.Calvin Lui, a supervising engineer in pipeline risk management who beganworking at PG&E in 2008, testified that utility employees did not tell CPUCauditors during a May 2010 assessment about documented manufacturing defects on84 miles of pipe, the report said. Lui also testified to confusion within thecompany about certain pipeline pressure test requirements, the report noted.