Radio You Need To Know
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Two former FirstEnergy executives, Randazzo indicted by Summit County grand jury

Chuck Jones, Former FirstEnergy Corp CEO, after testifying before a Senate committee in May 2017.
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio
Chuck Jones, Former FirstEnergy Corp CEO, after testifying before a Senate committee in May 2017.

Ohio prosecutors announced over two dozen charges against two former FirstEnergy executives and the former head of Ohio's utility regulations arm related to the $60 million House Bill 6 bribery scandal.

A Summit County grand jury indicted former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chair Sam Randazzo, former FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones and Vice President Michael Dowling on 27 different felony criminal charges by the state of Ohio for their roles in the House Bill 6 bribery scandal between 2017 and 2020. The three men were indicted on Friday, but news about the indictments was not announced until Monday morning.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said all three men told the state they would turn themselves in Monday but have not done so. Yost said warrants remains active for all three men.

Both Dowling and Jones were charged with several counts including bribery, corruption, telecommunications fraud, money laundering and aggravated theft. Dowling was also charged with tampering with records.

Randazzo was charged with 22 counts including corruption, failing to register as a lobbyist, grand theft, aggravated theft, money laundering, telecommunications fraud, tampering with records and bribery.

Prosecutors allege the three mens' actions took place between 2010 and 2021 in Summit County, Franklin County and Florida.

Randazzo served as chairman of PUCO from April 2019 until November 2020, when he resigned days after the FBI raided his home in Columbus. Jones, Dowling and another vice president of the company, Dennis Chack, were all fired by FirstEnergy in 2020.

Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement Carol O'Brien said the companies Randazzo operated were also named in the indictment called Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU Ohio Administration Company. She called both "sham companies" that operated as pass throughs to facilitate the $4.3 million bribe Randazzo allegedly took from FirstEnergy.

"Sam Randazzo, utilizing his sham companies, entered into a large scale covert operation with FBI with First Energy that lasted over a decade. CEO Charles Jones and Senior Vice President of External Affairs Michael Michael Dowling, worked with Mr. Randazzo to subvert state government in ways that mightily enrich themselves," O'Brien said.

Yost said the indictments come from a state investigation into the scandal concurrent to federal investigations that also resulted in an indictment for Randazzo.

"(Randazzo) was covered with first energy pocket lint. He was paid by the taxpayers and was supposed to work for you, but instead he worked for them as their agent, their lobbyist, their ally," Yost said.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and former Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges were sentenced to prison last year for their roles in the money laundering scheme.

Lobbyist Juan Cespedes and Jeffrey Longstreth, a top Householder political strategist, pleaded guilty in October 2020. The third person who was arrested, statehouse lobbyist Neil Clark, pleaded not guilty before dying by suicide in March 2021. The dark money group used to funnel FirstEnergy money, Generation Now, also pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge in February 2021.

The state charges came from an investigation conducted the Ohio Attorney General's Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission task force.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.