Hearing set for Ohio nonprofit’s bribery scheme guilty plea
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge has scheduled the guilty plea hearing for a nonprofit that authorities say was used as part of a $60 million bribery scheme.
Federal investigators say former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and others used the nonprofit Generation Now Inc. as a conduit for $60 million secretly provided by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. The money was allegedly used to gain legislative approval for a $1 billion bailout of two nuclear power plants operated by a FirstEnergy subsidiary.
Federal Judge Timothy Black set the hearing for Feb. 19. An agreement filed last week calls for Generation Now Inc. to plead guilty to one count of racketeering, the seizure of nearly $1.5 million from two bank accounts and a sentence of five years’ probation.
Generation Now, Householder and four of his associates were indicted in July of last year on racketeering charges. Two men have pleaded guilty. Householder, who was stripped of his leadership post but remains a state representative, has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.
Generation Now attorney Robert Krapenc has declined to comment ahead of the hearing.
Meanwhile, nearly 20 elected officials from Householder’s heavily-Republican district asked fellow GOP House Speaker Bob Cupp to immediately remove Householder from his seat, cleveland.com reported Wednesday.
In a Monday letter, the officials said the charges against Householder are limiting their voice at the Statehouse.
“The State of Ohio deserves to proceed with the work of the people and it is clear to us that Representative Householder cannot effectively serve the interests of Coshocton County while the criminal charges are ongoing,” the letter said.
A message was left with Householder seeking comment.
Cupp said last week that majority Republicans in the House are still deliberating on how to proceed. He said he personally believes Householder should resign without being expelled.
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.