(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Attorney General Dave Yost today expanded his landmark racketeering lawsuit in the FirstEnergy/Larry Householder scandal to include new defendants and additional factual allegations based on recent filings by the U.S. Department of Justice in its criminal case.
The new filing adds new defendants: Charles Jones, the now-fired CEO of FirstEnergy; Michael Dowling, also fired senior vice president for FirstEnergy; and former Public Utility Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo; along with several entities associated with Randazzo.
It also seeks recovery from Randazzo of a $4.3 million bribe FirstEnergy admitted it paid to Randazzo to help construct House Bill 6 while serving as FirstEnergy’s regulator.
As layers of the corrupt enterprise continue to be pried apart, it became clear that Jones, Dowling and Randazzo were significant players in what one of the participants labeled “an unholy alliance.”
Attorney General Yost’s amended lawsuit adds allegations that Randazzo and the FirstEnergy executives engaged in extortion, money laundering, coercion, intimidation and an attempted coverup by a politically-connected group trying to enrich themselves. The additional factual allegations can be found at pages 31-38.
“This is the justice system working, holding bad actors accountable,” Yost said. “To restore public trust, everyone involved in this sordid matter needs to pay a price. The goal is to leave no doubt – among politicians, the powerful and the rich – that engaging in public corruption will ruin you.”
Attorney General Yost’s lawsuit has already recovered well over $1 billion for Ohioans by blocking the nuclear plant subsidy and the “decoupling” provisions that guaranteed FirstEnergy profitability, both at the heart of House Bill 6.
Beginning in January 2017, the officials from FirstEnergy and former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder used their positions to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity. Randazzo joined the conspiracy shortly before being appointed to lead the PUCO in 2019.
The amended complaint includes three civil claims:
- Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (ORC 2923.32 and 2923.34)
- Civil damages for criminal acts (OCR 2307.60)
- Damages for reputable harm (ORC 2307.60 and 2923.34)
The lawsuit asks the court to order significant reforms or the dissolution of any companies or organizations involved in this scandal and issue an eight-year ban on lobbying or holding public office for those involved, and asks that Householder and Randazzo forfeit their public salaries during the time of the corrupt enterprise, since they were not working for the public.