Friday, June 25

Political group with close ties to Larry Householder to enter plea to racketeering in Ohio House Bill 6 corruption case

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A political nonprofit with close ties to former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder is expected to soon enter a guilty plea to a federal racketeering charge, making it the third person or entity to admit to corruption as part of a sweeping federal bribery investigation into the passage of House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout law.

As part of a plea agreement signed last week and filed Friday in federal court, Generation Now admitted it was used to funnel $61 million in bribes from FirstEnergy and its affiliates to Householder, in the form of largely anonymous political contributions. The money then was spent to benefit Householder’s political career, including helping him become speaker by supporting state legislative candidates who supported him, as well as to help secure the passage of HB6, which green-lighted more than $1 billion in subsidies for two nuclear plants owned by a former FirstEnergy subsidiary. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine in July 2019.

Prosecutors have said Householder secretly controlled the group.

As part of its plea agreement, Generation Now agreed to forfeit nearly $1.5 million to the federal government, as well as any other assets it may have received as part of the bribery scheme, according to court records. The agreement was signed by Jeff Longstreth, a former top Householder aide who previously has pleaded guilty to racketeering as part of the case, and Longstreth’s attorney, Robert Krapenc.

Court records do not indicate when the plea hearing will take place. Under federal law, corporations, like people can be criminally charged and forced to pay a fine or forfeit assets.

Householder and four others were arrested last summer and charged with racketeering as part of the case. Householder has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing. Two other Ohio political operatives, Jeff Longstreth and Juan Cespedes, have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.

FirstEnergy hasn’t been officially named or charged in the case, but federal court records make it clear the company is at the center of the federal probe.

This breaking story will be updated.

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