Government prosecutors used former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder ‘s own speeches, photographs and conversations against him on Thursday, as they sought to unravel the Republican’s denials of key elements of the secretly funded $60 million racketeering scheme that they allege he carried out on behalf of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.
Both Householder and co-defendant Matt Borges rested their cases in the pair’s corruption trial in U.S. District Court, as did the government, which sends the state’s largest ever corruption trial into its final phase. Closing statements are scheduled to begin Tuesday.
On Householder’s second day on the stand, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Glatfelter questioned the timeline Householder provided on Wednesday of his January 2017 visit to Washington, D.C., for former President Donald Trump’s inauguration. She also pushed back against his claims that he never saw early drafts of the legislation that bailed out two FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear plants nor ever got involved in planning attack ads funded by dark money that helped him secure reelection to the House in 2018.
Householder, 63, and Borges, 50, a lobbyist and former Ohio Republican Party chair, have been charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise involving bribery and money laundering. Federal prosecutors allege Householder controlled a scheme, secretly funded by FirstEnergy, to elect allies, win the speakership, pass a $1 billion nuclear plant bailout and run a dirty tricks campaign to foil a referendum effort. Borges is accused of offering a bribe for inside information on that campaign. Both have pleaded not guilty and maintain their innocence. Each faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
After appearing relaxed and confident on his first day of testimony, Householder grew testy and argumentative at times Thursday. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black scolded him loudly at one point to stop responding to questions with questions. Householder apologized, though he had to be repeatedly reminded.