On Monday, ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder expressed optimism ahead of his approaching federal trial for racketeering, a case that has been declared by prosecutors to be the largest corruption trial in state history.
Speaking to reporters he said, “It should be a very good six weeks for me.”
Householder, 50, once a leading political figure in Ohio, says he has no anxiety over the trial and is looking forward to telling his side of the story. “For a guy like me, who likes to talk? It’s been frustrating,” he said about having had to remain silent for the past two and a half years.
Also on trial in the U.S. District Court of Cincinnati, is lobbyist Matt Borges, 63, former chairperson for the Ohio Republican Party.
Householder and Borges are charged with conspiracy to run a racketeering enterprise, one that involved bribery and money laundering. If found guilty, each could face a sentence of 20 years in prison.
An indictment has been filed alleging Householder, Borges, three other individuals, and a dark money organization called Generation Now, of covertly engineering a plan surreptitiously financed by FirstEnergy. This scheme was said to guarantee Householder’s power and elect his allies, to pass legislation with a $1 billion bailout for two aging nuclear plants, and to prevent opposing any ballot effort that sought to reverse this bill.
To prevent criminal prosecution, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. admitted to using dark money organizations to finance their scheme and also to bribing the state’s leading utility regulator, Sam Randazzo. After a search of his home by FBI agents, Randazzo resigned from his post at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio while maintaining his innocence. No charges have been brought against him.
Another two Householder associates, and a related nonprofit, have also pleaded guilty. They await sentencing. A third individual died by suicide after pleading not guilty.
Prosecutors have gathered an array of evidence, including taped phone calls, emails, texts messages, and witness testimony to demonstrate that Householder engaged in an illicit “unholy alliance” with FirstEnergy. They plan to also present additional documents as proof that Borges was heavily involved in a racketeering enterprise.