Ex-Ohio House Speaker sentenced to 20 years for racketeering

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(The Center Square) – A federal judge sentenced former Ohio Republican Speaker of the House Larry Householder today to the maximum 20 years in federal prison Thursday for his involvement in the largest bribery scandal in state history.

Prosecutors asked federal judge Timothy Black to sentence him to 16-20 years. The 64-year-old Householder asked for less than two years. Householder was remanded to the custody of U.S. marshals following Thursday’s hearing.

Former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges is expected to be sentenced Friday.

In March, a federal jury found Householder and Borges guilty of racketeering conspiracy. The two each faced up to 20 years in prison.

The two men were convicted in the bribery and racketeering scheme surrounding $61 million in bribes regarding House Bill 6, the state’s billion-dollar FirstEnergy nuclear power plant bailout.

Householder lost his speakership and was expelled from the House in June 2021.

As previously reported by The Center Square, FirstEnergy agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their investigation, admitting it conspired with public officials, others and entities to pay millions of dollars to public officials in exchange for specific official action to help FirstEnergy.

Householder, along with four co-conspirators, were charged in 2020. Also charged were Borges, lobbyist Neil Clark, the Oxley Group co-founder Juan Cespedes and strategist John Longstreth.

HB6 created a new Ohio Clean Air Program to support nuclear energy plants and some solar power facilities. Electricity consumers were to fund the program with the surcharge that ran through 2027.

The fee, which was scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2021, was stopped by the Ohio Supreme Court in late December 2020. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost also reached a deal with FirstEnergy to stop what would have been a $120 million windfall for the company this year based on another part of HB6.

The $60 million bribery scandal led to several attempts in the General Assembly to repeal HB6 completely, but none have passed.

An Indiana coal plant continues to receive subsidies from Ohio due to HB6. Clifty Creek is in Madison, Indiana, an hour from the Ohio border. Ohio Valley Electric receives $232,000 in ratepayer subsidies per day, part of which goes to Clifty Creek. Efforts to repeal that part of the legislation failed in 2021.

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