COLUMBUS (AP/WCMH) — Court documents are indicating that two Ohio political operatives have reached plea deals in a $60 million bribery case that investigators allege helped prop up two aging nuclear power plants.
Jeffrey Longstreth is a longtime political adviser to ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Juan Cespedes is a lobbyist who’s been described by investigators as a “key middleman.”
A federal court docket shows that “plea agreement” documents were filed for both Longstreth and Cespedes on Thursday.
During hearings by video conference Thursday afternoon, Cespedes and Longstnreth agreed to change their pleas to guilty to count 1 of the indictment, RICO conspiracy.
Cespedes and Longstreth admitted to conspiring with Larry Householder, Neil Clark, Matthew Borges and Generation Now to orchestrate payments to help guarantee passage of legislation affecting the operation of the two nuclear power plants.
Federal prosecutors have proposed sentencing recommendations for Cespedes and Longstreth, but the judge is not bound by those recommendations. They face up to 20 years in federal prison.
NBC4 spoke with Case Western Reserve Law Professor Jonathan Entin who believes they may now testify for the prosecution.
“I expect that these guilty pleas will carry with them some kind of a cooperation agreement,” said Entin.
Householder has also been charged and has pleaded not guilty, saying he’s innocent. Entin says he believes the former House Speaker will go to trial.
“Generally, when leaders of his rank, house speakers, senate president, when people like that are charged, they usually will go to trial,” said Entin.