HomeUS News updateFormer Ohio House speaker convicted in $60 million bribery scheme

Former Ohio House speaker convicted in $60 million bribery scheme

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former State House Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges were indicted Thursday in a $60 million bribery scheme that federal prosecutors have described as the largest corruption case in state history.

A jury in Cincinnati found the two guilty of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise involving bribery and money laundering, after nearly 9-1/2 half-hour deliberations over two days.

US Attorney Kenneth Parker said the government’s prosecution team showed that “Householder sold the Statehouse, and thereby ultimately defrauded the people of the great state of Ohio, which he was elected to serve.” He called Borges “a willing co-conspirator”.

“Through its verdict today, the jury reaffirms that the illegal actions committed by both men will not be tolerated and must be held accountable,” Parker said.

Lawyers for Householder and Borges did not immediately respond to messages left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Prosecutors allege that Householder conspired to secure his power in the Legislature, to elect his allies—and then to pass and defend a $1 billion nuclear power plant bailout benefiting the electric utility Akron— Based FirstEnergy Corp. A plan secretly funded by He alleged that Borges, who was a lobbyist at the time, sought to bribe an operative for inside information on a referendum to overturn the bailout.

Householder, 63, was one of Ohio’s most powerful politicians – and twice elected speaker – until the Republican-controlled House ousted him from his leadership post following his impeachment, and then in a bipartisan vote, and The Householder raised a strong objection from the House. , It was the first such eviction in 150 years.

He took the stand in his own defense, contradicting FBI testimony and denying that he attended a lavish Washington dinner where prosecutors allege he and First Energy executives carried out the elaborate scheme in 2017.

Borges, 50, did not testify at the trial but insisted he was innocent. Both men face up to 20 years in prison.

The verdict comes two and a half years after Householder, Borges and three others were arrested in what prosecutors have described as the largest corruption case in Ohio history.

Over the past seven weeks, jurors in the trial were presented with firsthand accounts of the alleged scheme, as well as financial documents, emails, texts and wire-tapped audio.

Prosecutors brought two men — Juan Cespedes and Jeff Longstreth, who pleaded guilty — to testify about political contributions they said were not normal, but were part of the bailout bill known as House Bill 6. intended to pass.

Householder’s lawyers dismissed his activities as nothing more than hardball politics.

Jurors also heard taped phone calls in which Householder and another co-defendant, the late Statehouse super lobbyist Neil Clark, plotted a vicious attack — and, outrageously, contemplated retribution against those lawmakers, Who had crossed the householder.

Householder testified that he never retaliated against those who voted against his will or who donated to his rivals.

Under a deal to avoid prosecution, FirstEnergy admitted to using a network of dark money groups to fund the plan and even bribing the state’s top utility regulator, Sam Randazzo.

Randazzo resigned as chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio following an FBI search of his home, but he was not charged and denied wrongdoing.



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