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Less than 24 hours after he was handed an indictment from a federal grand jury over an alleged oil and gas lease rigging conspiracy, former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon was found dead early Wednesday morning in an apparent car wreck.
Capt. Paco Balderrama with the Oklahoma City Police Department said the 2013 Chevy Tahoe, with McClendon behind the wheel, was traveling well over the speed limit when it plowed into a bridge underpass and caught fire, Oklahoma City’s KFOR reports.
“He pretty much drove straight into the wall,” Balderrama said. “The information out there at the scene is that he went left of center, went through a grassy area right before colliding into the embankment. There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway and that didn’t occur.”
McClendon, 56, was a part-owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the founder of Chesapeake Energy, a company he led for two decades to become the second biggest natural gas producer in America. In 2013 he left Chesapeake following a high profile split with the Board of Directors in a departure treated as “termination without cause” that was estimated at the time, according to the Wall Street Journal, to have netted him $53 million in salary and benefits payout. He went on to become the CEO of American Energy Partners.
In the federal indictment handed down Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced that McClendon had been charged with conspiring between December 2007 and March 2012 to rig the bidding process on oil and gas leases in northwest Oklahoma by orchestrating an agreement between two large oil and gas companies not to bid against each other. Following that announcement, McClendon released a statement defending his record and vowing to fight the charges.
“The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented,” he said in a statement. “I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.”