Ohio House Speaker Householder charged in $60 million bribery scheme

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COLUMBUS (AP/WJW)– Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others were arrested Tuesday in a $60 million federal bribery probe, a person briefed on the investigation confirmed.

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Householder is charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, and faces up to 20 years in prison along with an up to $250,000 fine.

Former GOP chairman and consultant Matt Borges, lobbyist Juan Cespedes, lobbyist Neil Clark and consultant and Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth are also each charged federally with conspiracy to commit racketeering. They were each released with restrictions. They each face a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine or twice the amount gained through the conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney David DeVillers’ office would not discuss details of the case, which it planned to outline at a briefing later Tuesday.

Also arrested were Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth, longtime Statehouse lobbyist Neil Clark, former Ohio Republican Party chairman and consultant Matthew Borges and Juan Cespedes, co-founder of The Oxley Group in Columbus, the person told The Associated Press. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case. A sixth person was also sought, the person said.

FBI agents were at the farm of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Tuesday morning, hours ahead of the government’s planned announcement.

FBI agents were carrying out “law enforcement activity” on Householder’s property in Glenford in southeastern Ohio, FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren said, without providing details. The Perry County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed it was assisting the FBI at Householder’s farm.

Lindgren noted the upcoming news conference by DeVillers, whose office planned to announce “charges related to $60 million bribe to state official & associates.”

Messages were left with Householder at home and at the House communications office. The Republican is in his second stint as House speaker following his tenure in the same position from 2001 to 2004.

Householder, a veteran lawmaker, returned to state politics in 2016 after leaving more than a decade ago because of term limits.

At the time he left office, he and several top advisers were under federal investigation for alleged money laundering and irregular campaign practices. The government closed the case without filing charges.

After returning to the Ohio House four years ago, Householder won a contentious fight to become House speaker in 2019.

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