The Ohio attorney general is urging a state court to resume his racketeering lawsuit over FirstEnergy’s $61 million bribery scheme after two political insiders were found guilty in a $900 million nuclear bailout corruption scandal.
The motion Thursday to lift the civil case’s pause is the latest fallout from the state’s largest public corruption scandal. A Cincinnati jury earlier on Thursday found former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former state GOP Chairman Matthew Borges guilty of the scheme—convictions which could set the tone for similar “dark money” bribery cases going forward.
FirstEnergy admitted to federal prosecutors that it bribed Householder to push through the bailout (H.B. 6) for two of its nuclear plants in return for financial support Householder would use to bolster his bid for House Speaker. Borges was found guilty of attempting to bribe someone on an anti-bailout ballot campaign.
“Yesterday’s guilty verdicts in federal court against Larry Householder and Matt Borges mark only the beginning of accountability regarding House Bill 6,” Attorney General Dave Yost (R) said in a statement. “With the federal prosecution complete, the state of Ohio’s racketeering lawsuit, which already stopped the implementation of HB 6, should now be able to resume.”
Yost’s case is civil, looking to extract money from FirstEnergy and Sam Randazzo, a former head Ohio utility regulator who took more than $4 million in payments from FirstEnergy. The Ohio attorney general can’t file criminal indictments in the matter, but Yost said local county prosecutors could consider it.
“Other wrongdoers in this scandal—especially and including the First Energy executives who funded the corrupt Householder Enterprise—cannot be permitted to escape scot-free,” he said. “Money is the oxygen that fuels the fire of corruption.”
Yost’s case is Ohio v. FirstEnergy Corp., Ohio Ct. Com. Pl., No. 20-CV-6281. The federal criminal case is United States v. Householder, S.D. Ohio, No. 1:20-cr-00077-TSB, Guilty verdicts reached 3/9/23.
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