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New hearing for ex-Ohio House speaker in bribery scheme

August 26, 2020 GMT
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FILE – This April 4, 2017, file photo shows the entrance to FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. A nuclear plant bailout law should be repealed immediately, Democratic members of the Ohio House announced Wednesday, July 22, 2020, as a bribery scandal involving one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers unfolded over the law’s passage. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
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FILE – This April 4, 2017, file photo shows the entrance to FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. A nuclear plant bailout law should be repealed immediately, Democratic members of the Ohio House announced Wednesday, July 22, 2020, as a bribery scandal involving one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers unfolded over the law’s passage. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday set a new hearing date for the former speaker of the Ohio House to answer a charge related to an alleged $60 million bribery scheme.

Republican Rep. Larry Householder and four others are accused of shepherding $60 million in energy company money for personal and political use, in exchange for passing a legislative bailout of two nuclear power plants and then derailing an attempt to place a rejection of the bailout on the ballot.

Four defendants pleaded not guilty earlier this month to the charge that they conspired as part of what one defendant called an “unholy alliance” aimed at saving the aging plants.

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A judge allowed Householder to delay court appearances on Aug. 6 and Aug. 20 to allow more time to find a new attorney. In a federal court filing, Householder’s current attorney, Dave Thomas, said he must drop off the case because of a conflict of interest involving another client represented by his firm.

In agreeing to a delay on Aug. 20, federal Judge Timothy Black urged Householder “to expedite his efforts to secure new counsel, so as to avoid the need for any further continuances.”

Black scheduled Householder’s new hearing for Sept. 3. Thomas declined comment.