In a stunning courtroom showdown on Thursday, former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Glenford, was slapped with the harshest sentence possible—20 years behind bars—by U.S. District Judge Timothy Black, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
During sentencing, Householder received a scathing rebuke from Judge Black, who wasted no time in sending him straight to jail. The sentencing marks the climax of a sordid racketeering scandal that involved a staggering $1.3 billion bailout for failing nuclear plants.
“You handed that money to suits in private jets,” Judge Black passionately declared during the hearing, blasting Householder for being the mastermind behind the racketeering scheme. The scandal unraveled after it was revealed that Akron-based FirstEnergy paid over $59 million in bribes to Householder, who used the funds for personal gains rather than investing in education, healthcare, or businesses.
Householder’s perjury during the trial further infuriated the judge, who accused the disgraced politician of trying to deceive both the citizens of Ohio and the jury. Clad in a gray suit and a red tie, Householder sat in court as Judge Black confronted him, saying, “You conned the people of Ohio, and you tried to con the jury, too.”
The corruption didn’t stop there. The funds from FirstEnergy were also used to bankroll the election of fellow Republicans in 2018, who in turn voted Householder into the House Speaker position in early 2019. Shockingly, over half a million dollars was used to settle Householder’s personal credit card bills and to repair his Florida property.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Glatfelter painted a damning picture of Householder’s ruthless behavior during the hearing.
“Householder used FirstEnergy’s dark money to crush a ‘citizen veto,’ and because of this, House Bill 6 remains in effect today,” Glatfelter said.
Householder’s attorney, Steven Bradley, pleaded for leniency, arguing that a 20-year sentence would essentially be a life sentence for his 64-year-old, overweight client. However, Householder’s own statement, read in court, did little to sway the judge’s decision. His claims of dedication to family and public service were met with skepticism, particularly when contrasted with damning recordings played during the trial.
One recording exposed Householder’s menacing tone, as he was heard saying, “If you’re going to f–k with me, I’m going to f–k with your kids.”
Judge Black seized upon this evidence, asserting, “Bottom line, you were a bully.” The judge firmly believed that bribery and corruption struck at the very foundation of the law, echoing former President Theodore Roosevelt’s sentiment that “there can be no crime more serious than bribery.”
The sentencing sends a powerful message to Ohio’s political culture, as former Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges faces his own sentencing. Others involved in the scandal, including former FirstEnergy executives, could also face charges as investigations continue.
As U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker revealed after the hearing, the probe is far from over.
“We continue to look through evidence and we continue to listen to recordings and speak to individuals, so if something’s there we’re going to go there, too, and address it,” Parker said, hinting at potential further legal actions.