Police: OKC Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon dies in crash

Mar 2, 2016, 12:41 PM | Updated: 12:49 pm
Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon, left, was a key figure in the franchise's relocation from Seattle. (AP)
(AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Aubrey McClendon, a natural gas industry titan, was killed in a fiery single-vehicle crash in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, a day after he was indicted on a charge of conspiring to rig bids to buy oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

Police Sgt. Ashley Peters said 56-year-old McClendon, also a part-owner of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, was the only occupant in the sport utility vehicle when it slammed into a concrete bridge pillar shortly after 9 a.m.

McClendon’s death follows an announcement Tuesday that he had been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Police say it’s too early to tell if the collision was intentional.

McClendon stepped down in 2013 at Chesapeake and founded American Energy Partners, where he was chairman and CEO.

The Department of Justice said in a statement Tuesday that McClendon was suspected of orchestrating a scheme between two large energy companies, which are not named in the indictment, from December 2007 to March 2012. The companies would decide ahead of time who would win bids, with the winner then allocating an interest in the leases to the other company, according to the statement.

In a statement released Tuesday after his indictment, McClendon denied violating antitrust laws.

“The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented,” McClendon said. “Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws. All my life I have worked to create jobs in Oklahoma, grow its economy, and to provide abundant and affordable energy to all Americans. I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.”

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Police: OKC Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon dies in crash