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A utility executive who repeatedly lied to keep investors pumping money into South Carolina’s $9 billion nuclear reactor debacle will spend two years in prison for fraud, a federal judge decided on Thursday.

Former SCANA Corp. CEO Kevin Marsh agreed with prosecutors that he should serve the sentence and the judge approved the deal, making him the first executive put behind bars for misleading the public on the project, which failed without ever generating a watt of power.

Marsh said he wants to serve his time now because his wife of 46 years has incurable breast cancer, and he hopes to care for her after leaving prison.

U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis cited Marsh’s remorse and expansive cooperation with federal authorities as she reluctantly accepted the plea deal, which is well below the federal sentencing guidelines of five years. She said the prosecution and defense depiction of the crime Marsh committed is a “vanilla way to describe it,” adding that it understates “the seriousness of this non-disclosure.”

“Your crime was committed with a little more elegance and sophistication than many I see,” Geiger told Marsh. “But you don’t get credit for that.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brook Andrews said imprisoning Marsh sends a message of public responsibility to powerful executives.

“It is a failure of judgment,” Andrews said. “It is a failure of conscience. It is a failure to tell the truth when telling the truth would bring dire financial consequences.”

A second former SCANA executive and an official at Westinghouse Electric Co., the lead contractor to build two new reactors at the V.C. Summer plant, have also pleaded guilty. A second Westinghouse executive has been indicted and is awaiting trial.

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