2 plead guilty in bribery case

By Larry Limpf

Two men have pled guilty in the corruption and bribery case involving FirstEnergy Corp. and a scheme to pass a bill in the state legislature that bails out two financially failing nuclear power plants operated by a subsidiary of the company.
Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, and Juan Cespedes, 41, of Columbus, have each pleaded guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving more than $60 million paid to a 501(c)(4) entity to pass House Bill 6 that allocated billions of dollars to the power plants.
Longstreth and Cespedes are two of five persons, including Larry Householder, the former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, charged in a criminal complaint and indicted by a federal grand jury in July.
Charging documents allege Householder, 61, Glenford, Oh., Matthew Borges, 48, of Bexley, Oh., Neil Clark, 67, Columbus, Longstreth and Cespedes conspired to violate racketeering statutes through wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering. Generation Now, the 501(c)(4) entity, was also charged.
According to court documents, from March 2017 to March 2020, millions of dollars were funneled to Householder and others in exchange for their help in passing HB 6.
The defendants then also allegedly worked to ensure the bill went into effect by helping to defeat a ballot initiative that would have given voters a chance to overturn the legislation.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, Longstreth has admitted to organizing Generation Now for Householder, knowing the entity would be used to receive bribe money to further Householder’s bid to become House speaker. Longstreth managed Generation Now bank accounts and engaged in financial transactions to conceal the energy company was a funding source.
Cespedes has also pled guilty and admitted he orchestrated payments to Generation Now, knowing the payments were meant to help Householder achieve political goals and, in return, help pass the bill.
As charged in this case, the racketeering conspiracy complaint is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

CEO terminated
FirstEnergy last month announced it was terminating three executives.
The Independent Review Committee of the company’s board of directors said a “leadership transition,” including the termination of Chief Executive Officer, Charles E. Jones, was effective immediately.
The Senior Vice President of Product Development, Marketing, and Branding and Senior Vice President of External Affairs were also let go.
During the company’s internal review related to the government investigations, the review committee determined the executives violated FirstEnergy policies and its code of conduct.
Steven E. Strah, President of FirstEnergy, has been appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer.


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