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Johnson Utilities Battles Contempt Charge At Corporation Commission

After two days of hearings, an administrative law judge will decide whether to hold Johnson Utilities in contempt for failing to comply with an order from the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The commission appointed utilities company EPCOR to take over Johnson’s business as interim manager after widespread complaints over poor service.

Commission staff told the judge that Johnson was not complying with requests from EPCOR to access its bank accounts.

Representing the towns of Florence and Queen Creek, attorney Bert Acken said that's what the case came down to. "The interim manager has to have control of the revenues in order to do its job,” he said.

But Johnson is arguing that authority is reserved as a right of ownership under Arizona law. An attorney for the company said even if the commission did have the authority to take over Johnson’s accounts, that provision was not outlined in the order and the company should not face contempt.

The judge will make the final decision.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.