By
G. McConway
|
December 5, 2023

Former Ohio Utility Regulator Charged in $60m Bribery Scheme

In what has been described as the largest corruption case in Ohio history, former regulator San Randazzo has surrendered to authorities.

Randazzo is facing an 11-count indictment, to which he has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

At the center of the charges are the allegations that Randazzo accepted bribes from Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.

Time to Surrender

This case has gained national attention due to the $1.3 billion bailout slated for two nuclear power plants, which was partially repealed after the bribery scheme came to light.

According to the filing, Randazzo was accepting bribes in exchange for regulatory favors for FirstEnergy Corp.

For Ohioans, this indictment has been a long time coming, with one lawmaker tied to the scheme already serving a 20-year sentence, residents wanted justice for everyone involved.

After Randazzo surrendered, FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers stated, “Today’s indictment outlines an alleged scheme in which a public regulatory official ignored the Ohio consumers he was responsible for protecting, instead taking a bribe from an energy company seeking favors.”

Randazzo has maintained the allegations made against him are nothing more than hearsay to keep FirstEnergy executives out of jail (although five of them have been terminated, while none were charged, at least not yet).

Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Maureen Willis, who represents the state’s utility ratepayers, said this is a great start, but more needs to happen to prevent this from ever happening again.

She stated, “It underscores the need for near-term reform of the PUCO selection process that led to his appointment as Chair of the PUCO.

“OCC’s calls for reform so far have gone unanswered. Ohioans deserve better from the public officials in this state.”

Governor DeWine, a Republican, had been warned against appointing Randazzo to the post by the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), which also issued a statement.

Nolan Rutschilling, managing director of energy policy for OEC stated, “We await more information regarding the former Chair’s dealings, but one thing is clear: the actions of greedy utility companies and corrupt state officials have hurt Ohioans.”

In addition to Randazzo, the former Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, was given a 20-year sentence. Matt Borges, who was serving as Ohio Republican Party Chair at the time, was sentenced to five years.

Lobbyist Juan Cespedes, political strategist Jeffrey Longstreth, and statehouse lobbyist Neil Clark were also indicted. Clark took his own life in March 2021.

For its part in the scheme, FirstEnergy was ordered to pay $230 million as well as a list of reforms in order to avoid prosecution in the case.

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