Federal jury finds PG&E guilty of obstructing investigators

ByKatie Marzullo and Lyanne Melendez and Katie Marzullo KGO logo
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Federal jury finds PG&E guilty of obstructing investigators
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A federal jury has found California's largest utility guilty of obstructing investigators in the San Bruno explosion.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A federal jury has found PG&E guilty on six charges related to the San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

For some, it's justice. But not everyone is satisfied with the outcome.

Jerry and Carole Guernsey ran for their lives September 9, 2010 as their home and neighborhood burned around them.

Now, PG&E has been found guilty of five counts of violating pipeline safety standards and one count of obstructing the investigation into the San Bruno explosion.

Jerry says it's not enough. "They should have tried the people and put them in prison," he said.

Attorney Frank Pitre who represents multiple homeowners, agrees. He says the executives who ignored safety regulations need to be held personally accountable. "Let's get those people, let's put them under oath, let's cross examine them and let's find out how these decision were made," he said.

Many also take issue with the penalty PG&E faces -- a $3 million fine. "The fine's a joke. They're going to pay max $3 million? I mean, they have that for lunch half the time probably," Jerry said.

State Sen. Jerry Hill is also unimpressed with the penalty, but he says justice has been served. "Our utility, a utility that I grew up with, I think we all have and we all had a great deal of respect for and confidence in, now that utility is a criminal," he said.

San Bruno's city attorney says he's relieved by the guilty verdicts. "When you're convicted of obstructing justice after you do something wrong that certainly sends a message that there was criminal culpability there," San Bruno City Attorney Marc Zafferano said.

PG&E released a video statement saying the company is committed to re-earning trust saying: "We've made unprecedented progress in the last six years since the tragic San Bruno accident and we're dedicated to maintaining that focus," PG&E spokesperson Keith Stephens said.

The next phase of the trial is scheduled for October.

Click here for more stories on the San Bruno explosion.