Fatal Subtraction

Was the crash that killed a Gulf Power executive an accident?

The case did not seem to add up to a big-league corporate scandal. For more than three years, the IRS and the FBI investigated kickback schemes at Gulf Power, an electric utility based in Pensacola, Fla., and all they produced were the convictions of two former managers. But last month the affair took a sudden, dramatic turn. Moments after taking off from Pensacola, a company plane caught fire and crashed, killing its two-man crew and the only passenger.

The passenger was Jacob F. (Jake) Horton, 57, a Gulf Power vice president who had hastily arranged to fly to Atlanta, headquarters of...

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