COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The arrest of Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder and four others is the first time ever an elected official has faced a RICO, or racketeering, charge.
The federal prosecutor in the case compared the scandal to something usually seen in organized crime.
Householder, Mathew Borges, 48, of Bexley; Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, of Columbus; Neil Clark, 67, of Columbus; and Juan Cespedes, 40, of Columbus are all accused of funneling money from an unnamed power company into a corporation that then used those funds – more than $60 million – to help ensure the passage of House Bill 6, a billion-dollar law that included money to bail out two nuclear power plants in the state.
High-profile criminal attorneys said targets of white-collar crimes usually receive a target letter, which informs them they are the targets of an investigation and should consult with an attorney. In this case, none of the defendants received a target letter and all five were arrested at the same time.
According to sources, FBI agents were handing out subpoenas and executing warrants to gather evidence while those arrests were being made.
That evidence includes telephones, which indicates a federal wiretap indictment may be at play in the case, meaning a judge at the federal level approved getting electronic communications from telephone and emails.
FirstEnergy was the original operator of both plants until its subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions, filed for bankruptcy. But thanks to House Bill 6, FirstEnergy Solutions survived and renamed itself Energy Harbor, which operates independently from FirstEnergy Corp.
No person at FirstEnergy or Energy Harbor has been charged or arrested and the company was not mentioned specifically in the affidavit or the press conference held by David DeVillers, U.S. Attorney for Ohio’s Southern District. However, FirstEnergy benefitted from HB6, no other nuclear power plant operator received a bailout and FirstEnergy was the subject of a campaign to have the bailout overturned.