CINCINNATI, Ohio (WCMH) — The trial of the largest bribery scheme in Ohio political history will have to wait one more day.
The trial against former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder and lobbyist Matt Borges, a former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, which has seen only two days in the courtroom since beginning last Monday, was postponed by Judge Timothy S. Black Sunday.
Originally, the trial was supposed to resume Monday after it was recessed last Wednesday when a juror tested positive for COVID-19. In an order announcing Monday’s postponement, Black wrote, “As of 1/29/2023, the Court is still awaiting confirmation that all jurors have tested negative and are fit to proceed.”
The trial is currently scheduled to resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
An indictment alleges Householder, Borges, three other people, and a dark money group called Generation Now orchestrated an elaborate scheme, secretly funded by FirstEnergy, to secure Householder’s power, elect his allies, pass legislation (House Bill 6) containing a $1 billion bailout for the two nuclear plants and then sabotage an effort to overturn the bill by placing a referendum on Ohio’s statewide ballot. The arrests came in July 2020.
Under a deal to avoid prosecution, Akron-based FirstEnergy admitted to using a network of dark money groups to fund the scheme and to bribing the state’s top utility regulator. Sam Randazzo, at the time the chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, resigned after an FBI search of his home. He has not been charged and denies wrongdoing.
Two Householder associates, Jeff Longstreth and Juan Cespedes, and Generation Now have pleaded guilty. Longstreth and Cespedes are among the witnesses scheduled to appear in the trial, which could last six weeks. A third defendant who pleaded not guilty died by suicide.
During testimony last week, Steven Staub, vice president and treasurer of FirstEnergy Corp., testified that without House Bill 6, the Davis-Besse and Perry power plants in northern Ohio couldn’t cover costs, let alone make a profit.