Sam Randazzo (PUCO photo.)
Sam Randazzo (PUCO photo.)

A breaking news report by The Cincinnati Enquirer says FBI agents were seen outside the home of Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo Monday, Nov. 16.

"FBI agents are conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in that area in relation to a sealed federal search warrant," FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren told The Enquirer. (See https://amp.cincinnati.com/amp/6308657002.)

According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Randazzo was appointed to the commission and designated chairman by Gov. Mike DeWine in 2019.

Randazzo, an attorney, began his career as a member of the PUCO’s technical staff. After leaving the PUCO, he was appointed to act as an assistant attorney general for the State of Ohio and assigned to the PUCO section. He then entered private practice where he focused on energy, communications and utility law.

At the end of 2018, Randazzo retired from the law firm of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC where he provided guidance to a broad range of clients including residential, commercial and industrial customers, cooperatives, municipally-owned and investor-owned utilities.

According to reports, before leading the commission, Randazzo was a lobbyist and an attorney for energy companies and the Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, which represents some of the state’s largest industries. 

In a Sept. 17 report at https://radio.wosu.org/, State Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson, pointed to public records that he says connects a company owned by Randazzo as a creditor for the former FirstEnergy subsidiary, previously known as FirstEnergy Solutions.

House Bill 6 bails out two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions, now called Energy Harbor.

Weinstein claims Randazzo has "personal skin in the game."

* * *

Ohio AG files second lawsuit


• The FBI investigation comes just days after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a second lawsuit to stop collection of $150 million from Ohioans as a result of Ohio House Bill 6, the center of an ongoing FBU investigation.

Yost filed to block the annual collection of $150 million from Ohioans that, as part of House Bill 6, will go to Energy Harbor, the successor to FirstEnergy’s nuclear plants.

A lawsuit filed Friday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court asks the court to prevent the company from collecting the fee.

“The people of Ohio are about to be shaken down for money they should not have to pay based on how HB6 was enacted,” Yost said. “There is no process in place to return the money to residents once it leaves their accounts – so why take it?

"HB6, which was crafted and approved under corrupt and cloaked actions, calls for the collection of the funds beginning Jan. 1, which will then be paid to Energy Harbor."

“With every passing minute, this mess gets worse,” Yost said. “We need to stop this process altogether.”

House Bill 6 was cosponsored by Republican Reps. Jamie Callender of Lake County and Shane Wilkin of Hillsboro, who represents the 91st House District.

* * *

Two plead guilty

• On Oct. 29, a longtime political strategist for State Rep. (and former House speaker) Larry Householder and a lobbyist hired by an energy company to funnel money to Householder’s enterprise each pleaded guilty in federal court.

Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, and Juan Cespedes, 41, of Columbus, each pleaded guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving more than $60 million paid to a 501(c)(4) entity to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.

They are two of five individuals charged by criminal complaint and indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2020.

Charging documents allege Householder, 61, of Glenford, Matthew Borges, 48, of Bexley, Neil Clark, 67, of Columbus, Longstreth and Cespesdes conspired to violate the racketeering statute through honest services wire fraud, receipt of millions of dollars in bribes and money laundering. The 501(c)(4) entity Generation Now was also charged.

According to court documents, from March 2017 to March 2020, the enterprise received millions of dollars in exchange for Householder’s and the enterprise’s help in passing House Bill 6, a billion-dollar bailout that saved two failing, Ohio nuclear power plants from closing.

The defendants then also allegedly worked to corruptly ensure that HB 6 went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation. The Enterprise received nearly $61 million into Generation Now from an energy company and its affiliates during the relevant period.

In his plea, Longstreth admits to organizing Generation Now for Householder, knowing the entity would be used to receive bribe money to further Householder’s bid for Speaker of the House. Longstreth managed Generation Now bank accounts and engaged in financial transactions designed to conceal that the energy company was a source of funding to Generation Now.

Cespesdes also pleaded guilty to his role in the racketeering enterprise and admitted that he orchestrated payments to Generation Now. Cespedes knew the payments were meant to help Householder achieve political goals, and in return, help pass and preserve the nuclear bailout legislation.

The racketeering conspiracy as charged in this case is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

“If you have information related to the public corruption alleged in this case, please contact the FBI at (513) 421-4310,” said U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers. “This investigation remains ongoing.”

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https://highlandcountypress.com/Content/In-The-News/In-The-News/Article/UPDATED-Political-strategist-lobbyist-each-plead-guilty-in-federal-public-corruption-racketeering-conspiracy-involving-more-than-60M-/2/20/61202?s=1

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6999130/Ohio-House-complaint.pdf

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