Two former Republican party leaders in Ohio face multiple years in prison for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy that resulted in a $1-billion state-funded bailout of two nuclear plants and reaped $61 million in bribes for the politicians, lobbyists and their aides.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was sentenced to 20 years in prison on June 29 by Senior U.S. Judge Timothy S. Black in federal court in Cincinnati while former Ohio Republican Party Chairman and FirstEnergy lobbyist Matt Borges was sentenced to five years in prison on June 30. 

The scale of the corruption was nearly unprecedented, according to U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. 

"Larry Householder led a criminal enterprise responsible for one of the largest public corruption conspiracies in Ohio history,” said Parker in a statement. “Elected officials owe a duty to provide honest services to their constituents—transparency, integrity and accountability . . . Householder once held one of the three most powerful offices in the State of Ohio. Now, because of his corruption, he will serve a substantial prison sentence.”

The case stems from Ohio House Bill 6, which was signed into law on July 23, 2019, and provided a $1-billion subsidy to keep open the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants, both owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.

FirstEnergy admitted in 2020 that it was involved in the racketeering conspiracy. FirstEnergy was the main contributor that funneled money through a political action committee known as Generation Now, which supported Householder’s political ambitions and personal expenses.

Householder, Borges and three others were indicted on charges related to illegal contributions from Generation Now.

“While we cannot comment on the sentencing itself, FirstEnergy has accepted responsibility for its actions related to House Bill 6 and has taken significant steps to put past issues behind us. Today we are a different, stronger company with a sound strategy and focused on a bright future,” said Jennifer Young, a spokesperson for FirstEnergy, in an email. 

Householder, 64, and Borges, 50, were found guilty in March of racketeering conspiracy following jury trials.

According to the government, millions of dollars of campaign donations were directed to Generation Now for Householder’s help in passing House Bill 6 and the defendants also worked to defeat a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation. 

The government noted that Borges gave a political operative a $15,000 check in exchange for information on the number of signatures collected on the anti-House Bill 6 ballot referendum.

Householder used more than a half a million dollars to pay off credit cards, repair a vacation home he owned in Florida and settle a business lawsuit. Borges used approximately $366,000 for his personal benefit.

Two others involved in the case, Householder's campaign and political strategist Jeffrey Longstreth, and lobbyist Juan Cespedes previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the racketeering conspiracy. Longstreth and Cespedes have not yet been sentenced and are believed to have cooperated with the government in exchange for their guilty pleas. Another former lobbyist, Neil Clark had pleaded not guilty, but died by suicide in March 2021.

Householder's attorney, Steven Bradley, did not respond to requests for comment.