Defendants File Plea Agreements In HB6 Corruption Case

House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) walks out of the federal courthouse in Columbus, after making an initial appearance by video.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) walks out of the federal courthouse in Columbus, after making an initial appearance by video. [Andy Chow]

Federal court documents in the $61 million racketeering case shows two defendants are looking to change their not guilty pleas. It suggests they’ve reached a deal with federal prosecutors and are admitting to their roles in the alleged scheme.

The investigation into the sweeping HB6 energy bill alleges former House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and others of carrying out one of the largest corruption scandals in Ohio history. 

The court documents list Juan Cespedes and Jeffrey Longstreth as the two defendants with potential plea agreements. 

Cespedes was a lobbyist for FirstEnergy as the legislature worked on passing HB6. Longstreth has been known to be Householder's chief political strategist. 

Federal investigators say an unnamed utility, listed as "Company A" in the affidavit, funneled millions of dollars into a dark money group which went on to put pressure on legislators to vote for HB6 through ads and mailers. The dark money group, Generation Now, also funded an aggressive campaign against an attempted citizens referendum on HB6. 

The investigation accuses Householder of having control of Generation Now and the decisions it made. Prosecutors said Householder was able to use that money to also help political allies get elected to the House which helped him become speaker in 2019. 

"Company A" is widely believed to be FirstEnergy, which matches the description in the federal affidavit.  

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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