NEW LEXINGTON Ohio Speaker of the House and Perry County native Larry Householder was indicted by a federal grand jury in the US District Court Southern District/Western Division on Thursday morning. Charges stem from accusations of federal racketeering conspiracy involving $60 million paid to a 501(4) entity to uphold a billion-dollar bailout for nuclear power.
The indictment contains allegations against Householder and four other individuals, plus Householders social welfare organization.
Along with the federal indictment, the 133rd General Assembly for Ohio congregated at the Statehouse in Columbus on Thursday to vote on the removal of the Speaker of the House, who was voted into office in 2018.
Ohio State Representative Bill Seitz motioned to vacate the office of the current speaker, and the Ohio House of Representatives voted in a 90-0 decision to vacate the Speaker of his duties. Some members of the House chose not to cast a vote.
Two individuals were named to replace Householder as the Speaker including Householders number two, Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Butler, and former Supreme Court Justice Representative Bob Cupp.
In a 55-38 vote, Cupp was voted in the position. After being elected Cupp promised that the House will revisit House Bill 6.
Prior to the indictment, 61-year-old Householder, of Glenford, along with four other individuals and a 501(4), Generation Now, were previously charged in a criminal complaint that was first unsealed on July 21.
The criminal complaint document alleged the enterprise conspired to violate a racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering.
Along with Householder the other four individuals charged in the indictment include Mathew Borges of Bexley, 48; Jeffrey Longstreth of Columbus, 44; Neil Clark of Columbus, 67; and Juan Cespedes of Columbus, 40. Householders social welfare organization, Generation Now, was also charged in the indictment.
According to the indictment, Householder and the other defendants are charged with one count of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Conspiracy which is a federal violation under 18 United States Code (U.S.C.) 1962(d).
In the 43-page document, Householders Enterprise aggregated an ongoing system in which members functioned as a unit for the common purpose of achieving the goals of the enterprise, and the enterprise committed in and affected interstate commerce.
Borges, according to the United States Attorneys Office of the Southern District, is a lobbyist who priorly served as the chair of the Ohio Republican Party. Longstreth was described as Householders longtime campaign and political strategist. Clark is also described as a lobbyist who owns and operates Grant Street Consultants and previously was a budget director for the Ohio Republican Caucus. Further, Cespedes was detailed as a multi-client lobbyist.
According to the courts documents, a timeline from March of 2017 to March 2020 saw Householders Enterprise receiving millions of dollars for the Speakers and his accomplices assistance in the passage of House Bill 6. The passage of the bill gave a billion-dollar bailout to two failing nuclear plants which saved them from closing in Ohio.
The defendants allegedly worked in a corrupt manner to make sure that the Bill would not be affected by defeating any attempt to overturn the piece of legislation. The Southern District Office stated that approximately $60 million was given to the enterprise for Generation Now from an energy company and its affiliate during the period in question.
In February of 2017, Longstreth integrated Generation Now as a 501(4) which is designated for social welfare entities. Householder then secretly controlled the entity, allegedly. Clark has stated on the record Generation Now is the Speakers (4).
As part of the federal law process, the names and addresses of Generation Now are not available to the public for inspection.
In March of 2017, Householder started to receive quarterly payments amounting to $250,000 from companies related to energy corporations into the bank account of Generation Now.
The Southern District Attorneys office stated that the defendants allegedly spent millions of the companys dollars to support the Perry County natives political bid to become the House Speaker and to support others they believed would back his campaign as well as for their own personal benefit.
Its unlimited, Clark said to investigators when asked how much money was in Generation Now.
In the affidavit filed to support the criminal complaint, allegations also include that in 2018, Householders Enterprise spent money on approximately 21 different state candidates, 15 in the primary and six additional in the general election; Householder was included in the primary candidates.
The enterprise spent more than $1 million in the fall of 2018 in an attempt to issue negative ads against its opponents. All those who won their elections voted for Householder to be the speaker.
The affidavit also alleges money being passed from the energy company in question through Generation Now was utilized for Householders campaign staff which would have been paid for by his committee, Friends of Larry Householder.
Householder, personally, received more than $400,000 in benefits as a result of the amount put into Generation Now. He also received funding to settle a personal lawsuit, to pay for costs associated with his residence in Florida, and to pay off thousands of dollars of credit card debt.
The enterprise also allegedly paid $15,000 to an individual to give insider information regarding ballot initiatives and offered to pay signature collectors for the ballot initiative $2,500 cash and a plane fare to stop gathering signatures.
The charges involving racketeering conspiracy in the case is punishable up to 20 years in prison. The FBI is currently investigating the case. Deputy Criminal Chief Emily N. Glatfelter, Assistant United States Attorney Matthew C. Swinger along with Assistant Deputy Criminal Chief Timothy Mangan and Assistant United States Attorney Megan Gaffney Painter will represent the United States in the case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.