A federal grand jury formalized racketeering conspiracy charges against ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four allies on Thursday, and demanded the forfeiture of $60 million the speaker and his team allegedly received from FirstEnergy to pass a $1.3 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants.
Householder, chief political aide Jeff Longstreth, and lobbyists Matt Borges, Neil Clark, and Juan Cespedes are accused of using FirstEnergy bribe money to expand the speaker’s political power and enrich themselves by millions of dollars through a “web” of dark-money groups and bank accounts, including the non-profit Generation Now.
If convicted, each could face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine, in addition to any money they must forfeit. The indictment specifically seeks the forfeiture of money in two Generation Now bank accounts and two brokerage accounts in the name of Longstreth and Exchange Investment Realty.
Each of the five are scheduled to be arraigned next Thursday afternoon by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz.
David DeVillers, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, said after their arrests last week that the Householder’s enterprise “is likely the largest bribery, money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people in the state of Ohio.”
In all, Householder — who was removed as House speaker on Thursday — received more than $500,000 for his personal benefit, according to DeVillers.
More than $100,000 of the bribe money from FirstEnergy Corp. was used to pay costs associated with Householder’s Florida home, and at least $97,000 was used to pay expenses for Householder’s 2018 House campaign, the complaint stated.
The indictment does not mention FirstEnergy Corp. by name. Nor does it name FirstEnergy Solutions — FirstEnergy Corp.‘s then-subsidiary which operated the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants (and continues to operate them under the name Energy Harbor after splitting from FirstEnergy earlier this year).
Instead, the complaint refers to them both under the collective name “Company A.” There are numerous giveaways that FirstEnergy is “Company A,” including that the complaint quotes public comments from former FirstEnergy Corp. President/CEO Charles Jones, labeling him “Company A Corp. president and CEO.”