(The Center Square) – An Ohio grand jury indicted the former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and two former FirstEnergy Corp. executives for their role in the House Bill 6 scandal.
Attorney General Dave Yost announced the indictments by a Summit County grand jury Monday.
“This indictment is about more than one piece of legislation,” Yost said. “It is about the hostile capture of a significant portion of Ohio’s state government by deception, betrayal and dishonesty. Shout it from the public square to the boardroom, from Wall Street to Broad and High: Those who perversely seek to turn the government to their own private ends will face the destruction of everything they worked for.”
Former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo, former FirstEnergy CEO Charles Jones and former FirstEnergy Senior Vice President of External Affairs Michael Dowling were indicted on a combined 27 felony counts.
Randazzo also controlled two companies – the Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU-Ohio Administration Co. Both were named in the indictment, with prosecutors saying they are shell companies created to further Randazzo’s criminal activities, the indictment said.
Randazzo’s 22 felony counts are:
• Eight counts of money laundering.
• Six counts of tampering with records.
• Three counts of telecommunications fraud.
• Two counts of aggravated theft.
• One count each of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, grand theft, and bribery.
Jones faces 10 felony counts, including engaging in corrupt activity, theft of $1.5 million or more, bribery, telecommunications fraud and money laundering.
Dowling was indicted on 12 felony counts, including engaging in corrupt activity, theft of $1.5 million or more, bribery, telecommunications fraud, money laundering and tampering with records.
The billion-dollar bailout of Ohio’s nuclear energy companies from House Bill 6 resulted in the largest corruption scandal in state history. Former House Speaker Larry Householder was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for his involvement. Former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges is also in prison for his involvement.
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 and 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. 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 the legislation.