Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released a statement outlining the next steps in the House Bill (HB) 6 scandal following the guilty verdicts declared against Larry Householder and Matt Borges in federal court on March 9th.
According to Yost, with the completion of the federal prosecution the state’s racketeering lawsuit should be able to resume.
“With the federal prosecution complete, the state of Ohio’s racketeering lawsuit, which already stopped the implementation of HB 6, should now be able to resume. Other wrongdoers in this scandal – especially and including the FirstEnergy executives who funded the corrupt Householder Enterprise – cannot be permitted to escape scot-free. Money is the oxygen that fuels the fire of corruption. (Of course, it also requires the fuel of a corruptible public servant’s heart, and an ignition source – in this case, a piece of gold-plated legislation.),” Yost said.
In a letter to Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown, Yost asked for the lifting of the stay on the civil case’s discovery process. In his letter, he stated that “Lifting the stay will allow us to continue collecting documents and to depose key witnesses in our ongoing effort to remedy the harm done.”
Yost reiterated that the Ohio Attorney General lacks independent prosecutorial power in regard to any potential future criminal charges.
“Any county prosecuting attorney can invite our office to operate under his/her authority, or the General Assembly can request the Attorney General conduct a criminal investigation, or the Governor. Although my office remains willing to assist, the Attorney General cannot bring criminal charges against anyone involved in this criminal enterprise on his/her own,” Yost said.
Yost summarized the steps his office has made to date in his statement.
“Our work has already ended the nuclear subsidy and the ‘decoupling rider’ that enshrined in Ohio law First Energy’s profitability. While portions of HB6 were eventually repealed, these two corrupt benefits for First Energy ended because of our lawsuit, not because of the legislative branch’s belated repeal. The repeal-only came after we ended the flow of funds. In addition, we successfully ‘froze’ former PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo’s financial assets. While he has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to ‘un-freeze’ them while he appeals the order, the order remains in place,” Yost said.
According to Yost, he fully intends to recoup the unjustified earnings in the racketeering lawsuit.
“We are confident in our position, and fully intend to claw back those ill-gotten gains through our racketeering lawsuit. The discovery process may yield additional information that will reveal an expanded number of defendants who participated in the corrupt Householder Enterprise,” Yost said.
Household and Borges were convicted last week in the $61 million bribery and racketeering plot surrounding HB 6, the state’s $1 billion bailout of the FirstEnergy nuclear power plant.
Householder and Borges have said they will appeal their racketeering conspiracy convictions, which could carry a maximum 20-year jail sentence. The sentencing date has not been determined.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Dave Yost” by Dave Yost.