Grand jury indicts Householder, 4 others in corruption case

Federal grand jury indictments were unsealed today against Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Generation Now and four co-conspirators who are facing racketeering charges in a public corruption case.

The indictments are the next step in what David DeVillers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, has called the biggest public bribery scheme in Ohio history.

Householder, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, political strategist Jeff Longstreth, and lobbyists Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark are each charged with racketeering, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

The indictments were unsealed shortly before House Republicans are slated to take a vote on removing Householder as speaker on Thursday morning.

After a criminal complaint is filed, prosecutors present evidence to a grand jury, which can indict if it finds probable cause. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Aug. 6.

Householder and the other four are accused of a scheme that involved taking $60 million from a energy corporation sources in exchange for pushing through a controversial energy bill that bailed out FirstEnergy affiliates and cost Ohioans $1.5 billion.

The money was used to elect pro-Householder candidates to legislative seats so he could regain power as House speaker, according to an 82-page criminal complaint filed last week. In turn, Householder then helped pass House Bill 6 and orchestrated a campaign to defeat a referendum against the new law, federal prosecutors allege.

In addition to using the money for pay-to-play politics, prosecutors say $500,000 personally benefited Householder, going to pay off a lawsuit settlement, pay for work done on his condo in Florida and wipe out credit card debt.

The affidavit sworn by FBI Special Agent Blane Wetzel indicates federal agents tapped phones, recorded meetings, got informants to wear wires, subpoenaed bank and phone records and more.

House Republicans are scheduled to vote Thursday to remove Householder as speaker.

Householder has told news outlets that he will not resign his seat. A state lawmaker may be removed through impeachment, a two-thirds vote to expel or upon conviction of a felony.

Householder is unopposed for re-election in November.

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