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Former US Attorney talks trial, texts involving former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder

Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers at a press conference
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers points at a chart at the press conference announcing the arrest of then-Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and others in a $60 million bribery case.

Republican former House Speaker Larry Householder will go on trial in January on federal corruption charges related the $61 million bribery scheme surrounding the nuclear bailout law known as House Bill 6.

Householder was released after his arrest in July 2020, and the Columbus Dispatch reports he’s been texting with his former colleagues in the House about a data privacy bill.

David DeVillers was the US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio when he announced the charges in the House Bill 6 case, which he called the biggest corruption scandal in Ohio history.

In an interview for "The State of Ohio," DeVillers said current legislators could be called as witnesses against Householder, and if it’s thought he’s trying to influence or tamper with witnesses, that’s a separate charge and a violation of his pre-trial release.

“I'm certain, quite certain that the [Assistant United States Attorneys] in charge of this case would have filed a motion if they thought that it was something that would affect the integrity of the investigation or the pending trial," DeVillers said.

While DeVillers said he doesn't have any knowledge that other people could be charged in the case, "you could see in the scenarios that that are playing out a completely separate conspiracy indictment. Because, remember, it's a racketeering where they've alleged an enterprise right. So there's a group of people associated, in fact, in an enterprise. And so unless those people are actually in that enterprise or associated with that enterprise, it would likely be a separate indictment."

Householder was arrested in July 2020, along with former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges, who have both maintained their innocence. Householder was expelled from the House this past June.

Lobbyist Juan Cespedes and Householder aide Jeff Longstreth both pleaded guilty, and lobbyist Neil Clark died by suicide last year. FirstEnergy admitted to bribing Householder and former Public Utilities Commission chair Sam Randazzo, and agreed to a $230 million fine last summer. Randazzo has never been charged.

Devillers said COVID has led to the long wait for the trial, which is sometimes concerning because people’s memories fail and witnesses can die in the meantime.

“There's going to be definitely witnesses to a case like this. But it's also document-driven. Documents don't necessarily go away," DeVillers said. "And clearly, I'm not saying anything that’s outside the indictment or the complaint but there, you know, there's recordings that they don't go away either.”

DeVillers said he expects the trial to last about six weeks.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.