CINCINNATI (WCMH) — After weeks of testimony, the trial for Ohio’s largest corruption case is coming to an end.
The case against former Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges played out in court, with both sides now having rested their case.
Uninvolved attorneys on both sides agree on one thing: Householder taking the stand in his own federal trial was not typical. They have different perspectives in how it impacted his case.
“What he tried to do is convince the jury that he’s a good old boy from Appalachia,” attorney Mehek Cooke said. “And he needed to get on the stand to try and discount what the prosecution has set up, which is a very strong case.”
Attorney Scott Pullins disagreed. “During his examination, I think the jury was able to see, he’s just an average, common, honest person,” Pullins said.
Text messages, emails and wiretaps all surfaced in the six-week federal corruption trial, but the defense rested its case after Householder took the stand for two days.
At times, the prosecution poked holes in Householder’s testimony.
“A lot of prosecutors will use character just to discount a witness, but at the end of the day, they have to pivot to the crux of the crime that Larry committed,” Cooke said.
Householder said that in a 2017 trip to Washington D.C., he never went to a steak dinner where many of the pay-to-play talks allegedly happened, but the prosecution had photos and call logs that suggested otherwise.
“Whether or not Larry Householder was in the limo or at the restaurant, that’s not what he’s on trial for,” attorney Ryan Stubenrauch said. “He’s on trial for bribery and political corruption.”
Some think that if Householder and Borges are found guilty, it will help show that Ohio does not tolerate pay-to-play schemes.
“Hopefully it starts to rebuild the trust in all institutes of government for people who say, ‘Yeah, people like to cheat, some people like to steal,’ but they got caught and they went to prison,” Stubenrauch said.
Pullins said the defense needs to emphasize what he called “normal” for politicians.
“Most of the things that happened throughout are normal political practices,” Pullins said.
The defense and prosecution are scheduled Tuesday to present their closing statements to the 14-person jury. The jury will then deliberate and deliver a verdict for both defendants.