Friday, 23 February 2024

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FirstEnergy $60 million bribery scandal: Grand jury indicts former executives

FirstEnergy $60 million bribery scandal: Grand jury indicts former executives

Former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones and former Senior Vice President Michael Dowling were charged in relation to their roles in the massive corruption case, Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced in an online news conference.

“Their actions over a period of years have undermined confidence in state governments, the rule of law, and very nearly made them even richer men than they already are,” Yost said of Jones and Dowling, who are facing criminal charges for the first time since the scandal began. “There can be no justice without holding the check writers and the masterminds accountable.”

Both Jones and Dowling were fired in October 2020 for violating company policies and code of conduct, but the lack of indictments had been notable as a 5-year statute of limitations nears.

Yost said a grand jury in Summit County, home to Akron, indicted Jones and Dowling on Friday. He said the two men promised to turn themselves in Monday to the Summit County Jail, but that they did not keep that promise. He said he anticipates the they will be taken into custody sometime later Monday.

Monday’s announcement also included additional charges against Sam Randazzo, former chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, who is already facing 11 counts of charges centered around allegations he accepted bribes from Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. in exchange for regulatory favors. It also names his two businesses, IEU-Ohio Administration Co. and Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio.

Randazzo resigned in November 2020 after FBI agents searched his Columbus townhome and FirstEnergy revealed in security filings that it had paid him $4.3 million for his future help at the commission a month before Republican Gov. Mike DeWine nominated him as Ohio’s top utility regulator.

Jones, Dowling and Randazzo face a combined 27 new felony counts announced by Yost, including bribery, theft, engaging in corrupt activity, tampering with records and money laundering.

“This indictment is about more than one piece of legislation,” Yost said in an online news conference Monday. “It is about the hostile capture of a significant portion of Ohio’s state government by deception, betrayal and dishonesty.”

The long-awaited indictments mark the latest development in what has been labeled the largest corruption case in Ohio history.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was sentenced in June to 20 years in prison for his…

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