February 12 (UPI) — Authorities revealed on Monday that two executives from energy companies and the former head of Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission had been indicted in a massive political corruption case.
The centerpiece of the so-called House Bill 6 scandal is one of two FirstEnergy Corp. facilities, the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. On Monday, the former chief executive officer and vice president of the energy company were charged with public corruption. Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Wikimedia Commons file photo
Former Ohio Public Utilities Commission Chairman Samuel Randazzo and two former FirstEnergy Corp. executives, Vice President Michael Dowling, and former CEO Charles Jones, were charged in connection with the infamous “House Bill 6” scandal, which involved bribing Republican state officials to approve taxpayer-funded bailouts of two nuclear power plants.
Attorney General Dave Yost of Ohio stated that the indictments returned by a grand jury in Summit County, Ohio, deal a serious blow to illegal attempts to influence politics.
Yost stated in a statement, “This indictment is about more than one piece of legislation.” It concerns the hostile takeover of a sizable chunk of Ohio’s state government by treachery, betrayal, and dishonesty.
“Shout it from the public square to the boardroom, from Wall Street to Broad and High: Those who perversely seek to turn the government to their private ends will face the destruction of everything they worked for,” he said.
The indictment includes the first state charges against the former FirstEnergy executives and charges Randazzo, Jones, and Dowling with a total of 27 felonies. Among other things, there are counts of bribery, theft, money laundering, and telecom fraud.
The three are accused by state and federal prosecutors of being involved in a scheme orchestrated in 2018 by former Ohio House of Representatives Speaker Larry Householder to receive $60 million in bribes in return for advancing House Bill 6, a $1.3 billion rescue for FirstEnergy’s two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio.
The defendants, according to the prosecution, allegedly aided the plants by thwarting a ballot initiative to repeal the bailout laws. In the end, the state officials allegedly invested the $60 million in shell corporations under their control, including more than $22 million in a business that Randazzo owned.
“These people broke the law and betrayed the public’s trust using FirstEnergy,” stated Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh. “This indictment is another step toward bringing justice for the residents of Summit County and Ohio.”
In March 2023, Householder was found guilty of racketeering charges and given a 20-year prison sentence.
In January 2023, FirstEnergy consented to pay a $3.9 million punishment for violating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s regulations about the disclosure of lobbying efforts.