Prosecutor: Householder criminal case shouldn't be dismissed

Federal prosecutors say former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder's arguments that a racketeering conspiracy charge against him should be dismissed are legally invalid

Via AP news wire
Tuesday 22 February 2022 22:49
Bribery Investigation-Ohio
Bribery Investigation-Ohio

Arguments that a racketeering conspiracy charge in a $60 million bribery scheme should be dismissed against former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder are invalid because they apply the wrong legal standards and ignore the substance of the allegations against him, federal prosecutors argued in a motion filed Tuesday.

The motion was in response to one filed earlier this month by Householder's attorneys, who argued that prosecutors have not provided “essential facts” for an indictment and the alleged bribes were in fact constitutionally protected campaign contributions.

Householder is accused of shepherding the $60 million scheme secretly funded by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. to win legislative approval of a $1 billion bailout of two Ohio nuclear plants. The plants were operated by a wholly-owned FirstEnergy subsidiary when the bailout bill was approved in 2019.

Householder, four associates and a dark money political group were indicted on racketeering charges in July 2020 for their alleged roles in the scheme. Two associates and the dark money group, Generation Now, have since pleaded guilty. Another associate has died since the charges were filed.

Householder's attorneys argued there was no quid pro quo arrangement and that Householder took political positions benefitting FirstEnergy.

Prosecutors wrote the indictment contains 26 pages of facts supporting the allegations against Householder and that he took official action “linked to furthering the nuclear bailout legislation" in return for “specific contributions.”

Steps Householder took to get the bill approved don't qualify as official acts, prosecutors argued.

FirstEnergy and the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced in July the company would pay a $230 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. FirstEnergy in a statement of facts that accompanied the agreement details what company officials did to get the bailout bill approved and to prevent an anti-bailout referendum from reaching the ballot.

A charge of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud will be dismissed against FirstEnergy in three years if the company abides by a long list of reform-minded provisions listed in the agreement.

The House stripped Householder of his speakership in July 2020. He was re-elected to his Perry County seat the following November and became only the second state lawmaker in Ohio history to be expelled by fellow lawmakers last June.

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