Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder appeals 20-year prison term in massive corruption scheme

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder appealed his 20-year prison sentence Wednesday, nearly two weeks after he was convicted of masterminding the largest corruption scheme in state history, AP News reports. 

The 64-year-old Republican has been held in county jail since a federal judge sentenced him June 29 to the maximum penalty for racketeering allowed under federal law, and his appeal was expected.

Federal prosecutors had sought 16 to 20 years for Householder, while his lawyers had asked for 12 to 18 months on the grounds that he had been humiliated and broken by the ordeal of his widely publicized arrest, weekslong trial and conviction.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Black said his sentencing decision was affected by Householder’s failure to show remorse, instead focusing his plea for leniency on the impacts his imprisonment would have on his wife, children and friends.

After a seven-week trial this winter, a jury convicted Householder of orchestrating the $60 million bribery scheme, secretly funded by Akron-based utility company FirstEnergy Corp., to secure Householder’s power, elect his allies and then to pass a $1.3 billion nuclear plant bailout and stifle a referendum on overturning the law with a dirty-tricks campaign.

Lobbyist Matt Borges, former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, was also convicted of taking part in the scheme. Borges has also weighed a possible appeal after receiving the minimum of 5 years in prison recommended by prosecutors, and he has until Thursday to file one.

Householder was arrested in 2021. At the time he was one of Ohio’s most powerful politicians, a twice-elected speaker with a fine-tuned political acumen that his members said bordered at time on bullying and threats.

The Republican-controlled House ousted him from his leadership post soon after his indictment, but Householder refused to resign for nearly a year before he was expelled from the chamber in a historic vote.

The investigation of the bribery scheme remains open, and several fired FirstEnergy executives and the former head of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio may yet be charged.