FirstEnergy: AG plans to resume civil suit in racketeering case

Larry Limpf

News Editor

With the federal case complete against two men involved in the House Bill 6 scandal, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he is preparing to resume a civil racketeering lawsuit he initiated in the case.
Yost said last week he’s asked Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Brown to lift the stay on discovery in the state’s civil case now that the federal trial has ended with the conviction of Larry Householder, a former Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, and Matt Borges, former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. The two were convicted of participating in a racketeering conspiracy.
House Bill 6 was passed by the state legislature in 2019 but was later linked to a $61 million bribery and corruption scheme that centered around Householder to help secure the bill’s passage. The bill included bailout funding for financially strapped nuclear power plants operated by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy. Company executives had argued that without a ratepayer subsidy, the power plants, including the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, would be closed.
Yost said lifting of the stay would allow his office to continue “collecting documents and to depose key witnesses in our ongoing effort to remedy the harm done.”
The discovery process may yield additional information that will reveal an “expanded number of defendants who participated in the Householder enterprise,” he said.
According to court documents and testimony in the Householder trial, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise controlled by him 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 ensure the bill went into effect by helping defeat a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation.
Householder has said he will appeal the federal court decision.
In particular, Yost plans to focus on the role of FirstEnergy executives who were instrumental in funding the enterprise, saying they “cannot be permitted to escape scot free.”
Even before Judge Brown imposed the stay on the state lawsuit, it had an impact on the FirstEnergy case, Yost said.
For example, a “decoupling rider” in the bill that would have allowed FirstEnergy to collect about $355 million in unearned revenue through 2024 was dropped as a result of the state’s lawsuit, according to Yost.
“Our work has already ended the nuclear subsidy and the decoupling rider that enshrined in Ohio law FirstEnergy’s profitability,” he said.
In addition, his office froze the assets of Sam Randazzo, a former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. An appeals court overruled a lower court that imposed the freeze and the matter is now before the Ohio Supreme Court.
Randazzo is not charged in relation to the FirstEnergy/Householder case.
FirstEnergy Corp, in a deferred prosecution agreement, said Randazzo accepted about $4.3 million through his company, Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio, Inc., “for favorable regulated treatment by Randazzo as chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio,” according to Yost.


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association