Jury convicts former Ohio House Speaker of participating in racketeering conspiracy
CINCINNATI – A federal jury convicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, 63, of Glenford, Ohio, and former Ohio Republican Party chair Mathew Borges, 50, of Bexley, Ohio, of participating in a racketeering conspiracy.
“As presented by the trial team, Larry Householder illegally sold the statehouse, and thus he ultimately betrayed the great people of Ohio he was elected to serve,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “Matt Borges was a willing co-conspirator, who paid bribe money for insider information to assist Householder. Through its verdict today, the jury reaffirmed that the illegal acts committed by both men will not be tolerated and that they should be held accountable.”
“The FBI’s top criminal priority is investigating public corruption to hold elected officials accountable when they commit illegal acts,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers. “I commend the special agents who investigated this historic case, the FBI analysts and staff who provided integral support, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their successful prosecution.”
The verdict was announced today following a trial that began on Jan. 23 before Senior U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.
The government proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that Householder and his enterprise conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering.
The conspiracy involved nearly $61 million in bribes paid to a 501(c)(4) entity to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.
According to court documents and trial testimony, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise traded millions of dollars in bribery campaign donations in exchange for Householder’s and the enterprise’s help in passing House Bill 6. The defendants then also worked to corruptly ensure that HB 6 went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation.
In March 2017, Householder began receiving quarterly $250,000 payments from the related-energy companies into the bank account of his 501(c)(4), Generation Now. Team Householder spent millions of the company’s dollars to support Householder’s political bid to become Speaker, to support House candidates they believed would back Householder, and for their own personal benefit.
The United States detailed that Householder spent more than half a million dollars of the dark money to pay off his credit card balances, repair his Florida home and settle a business lawsuit.
Borges used approximately $366,000 for his personal benefit.
Borges was budgeted $25,000 to bribe an Ohio Republican operative to try to save House Bill 6. Borges gave the man a $15,000 check in exchange for information on the number of signatures collected on the anti-House Bill 6 ballot referendum.
Householder’s longtime campaign and political strategist, Jeffrey Longstreth, and lobbyist Juan Cespedes, both of Columbus, Ohio, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. FirstEnergy Corp. signed a deferred prosecution settlement in July 2021, agreeing to pay a $230 million penalty for conspiring to bribe public officials and others.
The racketeering conspiracy as charged in this case is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Congress sets the maximum statutory sentence. Sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced today’s verdict. Deputy Criminal Chief Emily N. Glatfelter and Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew C. Singer, Megan Gaffney Painter and Timothy S. Mangan represented the United States in this case.