Exide Technologies Faces Probable Indictment or Plea Agreement

January 11, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

Exide Technologies (Princeton, NJ) revealed that it will probably face an indictment or a plea agreement with federal prosecutors investigating its dealings as the former supplier of Sears DieHard batteries. The company reports that the plea agreement could include a substantial fine.

The US attorney for the Southern District of Illinois is investigating whether former officials with Exide and Sears knowingly sold inferior batteries under the DieHard label. Sears denies the allegations and has accused Exide in a lawsuit of bribing a buyer for the retailer for inside information on a battery-supply contract.

Exide has had many legal troubles ever since the fallout with Sears and the charges that Exide engaged in financial misconduct, mislabeled batteries, and tried to pass off old batteries as new to customers. Sears alleged in a lawsuit that its former battery buyer had received $20,000 from Exide Technologies.

Exide has replaced its senior management team, paid nearly $2.8 million to settle allegations by the Florida attorney general and agreed to pay more than $10.0 million to resolve a class-action lawsuit. The company faces other lawsuits and state investigations in addition to the federal probe.

“While we are disappointed that the investigation could result in a fine, it does not detract from our accomplishments and is not deterring us from moving forward aggressively with our plans to continue taking advantage of the exciting opportunities in our key markets," commented Exide Chairman and CEO Robert A. Lutz.