FirstEnergy to Pay $ 230 Million in Settlement in Ohio Corruption Case | WIVT
The energy giant at the center of a $ 60 million bribery program in Ohio admitted to captivating new details on Thursday about its role in the plot as part of a settlement deal with federal prosecutors , including how he used secret black money groups to fund the effort and paid a future utility regulator to draft the legislation he received in return.
Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. is charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud under the deal, which is the subject of a scheduled press briefing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office at Cincinnati and the FBI.
The deferred settlement agreement requires the company to pay a penalty of $ 230 million, make public any new payments it becomes aware of that were intended to influence a public official and pursue an internal overhaul of its ethical practices. In return, the government will end its criminal proceedings against the company. The deal would be executed in 30 days, once all of its conditions were met.
The agreement, signed by FirstEnergy President and CEO Steven Strah, comes in a scandal that has affected business and politics across Ohio since the arrest a year ago Wednesday of the president of the ‘Ohio House, Larry Householder and four associates. The government says Householder orchestrated a plan to accept corporate money for personal and political gain in exchange for passing a nuclear bailout law and the failure of an effort to repeal the draft. law.
Thursday’s deal requires FirstEnergy to issue a public statement acknowledging the role of black money groups, known as 501 (c) (4) companies, in the scheme. The statement said the company used them “as a mechanism to conceal payments for the benefit of public officials and in exchange for official action.”
New details revealed as part of the case show that one of the black money groups, Partners for Progress, appeared to be independent while in fact controlled by FirstEnergy. The company admits that it handpicked the organization’s three executives, which included Dan McCarthy, lobbyist for Republican Governor Mike DeWine, and transferred $ 15 million in FirstEnergy cash through the nonprofit to Generation Now.
Last year, FirstEnergy fired six senior executives, including CEO Chuck Jones.
A statement of facts filed Thursday said the company paid $ 4.3 million to a public official through his consulting firm to promote the interests of the company while working as a lead agency. Ohio utility regulations, “respecting the passage of nuclear legislation” and other corporate legislative priorities. This official is known to be the former chairman of the Ohio Public Services Commission, Sam Randazzo.
Randazzo resigned from PUCO last November after FBI agents searched his Columbus townhouse and FirstEnergy revealed payment to end a consultancy deal with his company.
Messages seeking comment were left in Randazzo and the office of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday, who appointed Randazzo to the public services committee. Neither Randazzo nor Jones have been charged with criminal charges.
The Statement of Facts details the steps taken by Jones, Randazzo and then Speaker of the House Larry Householder, referred to as “Public Agent A” to help Householder supporters get elected, get passage of energy legislation and fund a campaign of low blows. prevent a repeal referendum from reaching the ballot.
According to the statement, “The top priority for FirstEnergy Corp. was the adoption of nuclear legislation.