Larry Householder Pleads Not Guilty To Federal Racketeering Charges
Ousted House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) pleaded "not guilty" in court Thursday to federal racketeering charges. Householder, who was among the most powerful Republican leaders in the state, is accused of engineering a $60 million bribery scheme in exchange for passing a nuclear power plant bailout.
Householder, who is still a member of the Ohio House, appeared in court after several weeks of delay in order to find a new lawyer.
He entered his plea of not guilty, as he announced he would do just days ago during a surprise gaggle on the House floor.
"I am innocent, I am going to defend myself vigorously," Householder said on Tuesday.
A utility believed to be FirstEnergy and its subsidiary is accused of pumping millions of dollars into a dark money group, investigators say, which went to Householder for his own personal and political gain. According to the federal indictment, the end goal was to pass HB6, a sweeping energy law that benefits two nuclear plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions.
Householder and four associates were arrested last month and charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Householder's longtime adviser Jeffrey Longstreth, former Ohio GOP chair Matt Borges, and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes pleaded not guilty. The 501(c)(4) organization Generation Now also faces charges.
Householder was removed as House Speaker in a unanimous vote last month, but was not ejected from the legislature. The Glenford representative has ignored calls to resign and is running unopposed for reelection in November, although several candidates have been certified as write-ins.