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HomeNewsCourt Indicts Fired FirstEnergy Execs in $60 Million Ohio Bribery Scheme 

Court Indicts Fired FirstEnergy Execs in $60 Million Ohio Bribery Scheme 

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Jones, Dowling, and Randazzo in Court alongside their attorneys
Source: nbc4i/X

Two former Ohio’s FirstEnergy Corp executives have been indicted in a bribery case. The case is now widely regarded as the biggest corruption case in the state’s history. 

Former FirstEnergy Corp CEO Chuck Jones and former Senior Vice President Michael Dowling were found guilty of high-level corruption. They both appeared before Summit County Common Pleas Judge Susan Baker Ross on Friday, February 9, 2024 and pleaded not guilty to the allegations against them. 

Jones and Dowling had lost their jobs in October 2020 for breaching the company’s code of conduct. Both vociferously protested their indictments, arguing that there was no concrete evidence against them. 

Their charges stemmed from a $60 million bribery deal with some members of the state legislature. The 50-page indictment concluded that both men tried to influence the production of a bill to favor their business interests. 

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Also Read: Court Sentences 20-Year-Old to 18 Years in Prison for Firebombing Ohio Church 

The bill aimed to use taxpayers’ funds to bail out two Ohio nuclear power plants. Also indicted in the case is Sam Randazzo, a former Chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Jones, Dowling, and Randazzo faced a collective 27-count charge, including theft, money laundering, tampering with records, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. Former House Speaker Larry Householder, who is a major player in the scheme, got a 20-year federal prison sentence last year.

He has, however, filed an appeal against the judgment. Also punished for involvement in the plan is Matt Borges, the former state Republican chairman. Borges bagged a 5-year prison term. He, too, has appealed his sentence.

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Randazzo had also pleaded “not guilty” during his arraignment before Baker Ross. Randazzo’s story was as scandalous as the others. FirstEnergy’s security filings had indicted him in a case of pay-to-play.

The filings revealed that he had received $4.3 million from the company before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine appointed him as the head of the utilities commission. According to the company’s admission, the money influenced his decisions in favor of the electricity company. 

Randazzo tendered his resignation in November 2020 following an FBI search of his Columbus home. But Dowling has denied the accusation that the $4.3 million to Randazzo was a bribe. In a statement from his lawyer, he said the money was the first annual installment from money FirstEnergy Corp. owed an association that Randazzo represented. 

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One suspicious aspect of the transaction was the channel of funding. Dowling paid through the Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio (SFA), which investigators found to be a shell company with only one staff. Guess who? Sam Randazzo. 

ALSO READ: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Subpoenaed in Lawsuit Over Bribery

While defending his choice of the payment channel, Dowling said that he chose the company based on the recommendation of FirstEnergy’s legal and rates department. 

Judge Baker Ross granted the men bail to the tune of $100,000 but confined them to Ohio. She also ordered that law enforcement agencies monitor their movements through GPS. She subsequently rejected an application by Jones’s attorney to exclude her client from GPS monitoring and to grant him leave to stay at his Naples, Florida, home. 

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