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Judge delays Householder trial after juror tests positive for COVID-19

Larry Householder walks into courthouse.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Larry Householder, former Ohio House speaker, walks into the Potter Stewart United States Court House in Cincinnati on Jan. 23, 2023.

The federal trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges has been postponed with testimony scheduled to resume Monday.

The trial began this week in Cincinnati, but on Wednesday, the third day of the trial, a juror tested positive for COVID, forcing the judge to delay proceedings.

Householder and Borges face a charge of racketeering. Prosecutors allege they accepted $60 million from FirstEnergy in exchange for helping to put Householder back in power and getting House Bill 6—the so-called nuclear bailout bill passed. Prosecutors charged three others in the investigation: lobbyist Juan Cespedes and strategist Jeff Longstreth who have pleaded guilty and are expected to testify. Another lobbyist, Neil Clark died by suicide.

Both Householder and Borges have maintained their innocence from the beginning of the investigation.

The story tops this week’s Reporters Roundtable discussion.

Also on the show, the feud within the Ohio House Republican caucus spilled over this week into public view. House members convened to vote on rules and leadership for the chamber. These are typically routine floor votes. At the center of the feud are Speaker Jason Stephens of Lawrence County. He won the speaker’s gavel with the help of Democrats and a minority number of Republicans. On the other side is Derek Merrin of Toledo, the presumptive speaker who still has support from the majority of Republicans in the Ohio House.

The prospect of placing a drop-in center for young people experiencing homelessness is dividing the Ohio City neighborhood in Cleveland. Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry wants to place the shelter in a building it owns on Franklin Boulevard in Ohio City. The shelter would be the first of its kind in Cleveland. Several Ohio cities already have similar shelters. The shelter would cater to young people between the ages of 16 and 24.

Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted traveled to Tuscarawas County this week for the activation of a broadband tower. The new tower will provide internet connection to more than 2,000 households in the county. The tower is part of a larger initiative to increase broadband access in Ohio, especially in rural counties.


-Gabriel Kramer, Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
-Abigail Bottar, Akron-Canton Reporter, Ideastrea Public Media
-Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV
-Andy Chow, News Editor, Ohio Public Radio/TV Statehouse News Bureau

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."