Bribery trial of ex-Ohio House speaker to begin in earnest

CINCINNATI (AP) — Opening statements are scheduled Monday in former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder ’s bribery trial in what federal prosecutors believe is the largest

corruption case in state history. Lobbyist Matt Borges, a former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, also is being tried. A jury selected in Cincinnati must now

decide whether Householder, 63, and Borges, 50, are guilty of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise involving bribery and money laundering. They pleaded not

guilty and maintain their innocence. Each faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The trial could last six weeks. An indictment alleged Householder, Borges,

three other people and a dark money group called Generation Now orchestrated an elaborate scheme, secretly funded by FirstEnergy, to secure Householder’s power, elect his allies,

pass legislation containing a $1 billion bailout for two aging nuclear power plants, and then vex a ballot effort to overturn the bill with a dirty tricks campaign. The arrests

happened in July 2020. Under a deal to avoid prosecution, Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. admitted to using dark money groups to fund the scheme and to bribing the state's top

utility regulator. Then-Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair Sam Randazzo resigned after an FBI search of his home. He has not been charged and denies wrongdoing.

Two Householder associates and a related nonprofit have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme described by prosecutors and await sentencing. A third defendant who pleaded

not guilty died by suicide.