June 17, 2024

Former Ohio House Speaker sentenced to 20 years for one of state’s largest bribery and corruption scandals

Larry Householder when he was elected Speaker of the House. File photo.

Former Ohio House Speaker sentenced to 20 years for one of state’s largest bribery and corruption scandals

CINCINNATI, Ohio – One of the largest bribery and corruption scandals in the state’s history lands a former Ohio Speaker of the House in prison.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, 64, of Glenford, Ohio, was sentenced in federal court 240 months (20 years) in prison for leading a racketeering conspiracy to receive nearly $61 million in bribes to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.

The Court remanded Householder to the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the conclusion of sentencing.

“Larry Householder led a criminal enterprise responsible for one of the largest public corruption conspiracies in Ohio history,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “Elected officials owe a duty to provide honest services to their constituents – transparency, integrity and accountability are foundational principles of democracy. Householder once held one of the three most powerful offices in the State of Ohio. Now, because of his corruption, he will serve a substantial prison sentence.”

“The people of Ohio are the true victims of Larry Householder’s corrupt scheme to increase his power and pass a billion-dollar corporate bailout,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers. “While we hope this sentence clearly demonstrates that corruption does not pay, the FBI will continue to investigate and pursue those who abuse their positions and take advantage of the public.”

A jury found Householder and former Ohio Republican Party chair Mathew Borges, 50, of Bexley, Ohio, guilty of participating in a racketeering conspiracy. The verdict was announced in March, following a six-week trial that included more than 1,000 exhibits and 25 witnesses.

The government proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that Householder and his enterprise conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering, according to a statement from the Southern District of Ohio U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Householder and his conspirators exploited the lack of transparency in 501(c)(4) entities to bury their corrupt and complex scheme to accept nearly $61 million in bribes to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.

According to court documents and trial testimony, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise traded millions of dollars in bribery campaign donations in exchange for Householder’s and the enterprise’s help in passing House Bill 6. The defendants then also worked to corruptly ensure that HB 6 went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation.

In March 2017, Householder began receiving quarterly $250,000 payments from the related-energy companies into the bank account of his 501(c)(4), Generation Now. Team Householder spent millions of the company’s dollars to support Householder’s political bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.

The United States detailed that Householder spent more than half a million dollars of the dark money to pay off his credit card balances, repair his Florida home and settle a business lawsuit.

Borges used approximately $366,000 for his personal benefit.

Borges was budgeted $25,000 to bribe an Ohio Republican operative to try to save House Bill 6. Borges gave the man a $15,000 check in exchange for information on the number of signatures collected on the anti-House Bill 6 ballot referendum. Borges is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow.

Householder’s longtime campaign and political strategist, Jeffrey Longstreth, and lobbyist Juan Cespedes, both of Columbus, Ohio, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. FirstEnergy Corp. signed a deferred prosecution settlement in July 2021, agreeing to pay a $230 million penalty for conspiring to bribe public officials and others. Longstreth and Cespedes await sentencing; their hearings have not yet been scheduled.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the sentence imposed today by Senior U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black. Deputy Criminal Chief Emily N. Glatfelter and Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew C. Singer, Megan Gaffney Painter and Timothy S. Mangan represented the United States in this case.