Two former FirstEnergy executives and a former utility commissioner have been charged in a multimillion-dollar public corruption scandal, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Monday.
Charles Jones, who was CEO of FirstEnergy between 2015 and 2020, and Michael Dowling, the company’s former vice president of external affairs, are accused of paying Samuel Randazzo, former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, more than $4.3 million to allow the company to overcharge customers, among other violations.
Together, the three men are charged with 27 counts, including theft, bribery and fraud. The charges were filed Friday but were not made public until Mr. Yost Announced them on Monday.
The accusations are the first against FirstEnergy executives in perhaps the The biggest public corruption scandal. in Ohio history, one that already landed a former legislator in prison. State and federal officials have accused the company, an Ohio-based electric utility that serves six million customers, of paying state lawmakers and regulators millions of dollars in exchange for subsidies and other favorable deals.
Randazzo, chairman of the public utilities commission from April 2019 to November 2020, is accused of accepting bribes from FirstEnergy and then lobbying on behalf of the company. He accusation says he accepted the money as “consulting services” through two shell companies, Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU-Ohio Administration, which the indictment also mentions.
Federal prosecutors charged Randazzo in December on parallel allegations. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges and is awaiting trial.
The scandal came to light in 2020 after federal officials arrested then-Ohio House Speaker Larry L. Householder. In federal court in March, Householder was found guilty of accepting a $60 million bribe from FirstEnergy in exchange for passing House Bill 6, a $1.3 billion bailout for two power plants. troubled nuclear power company operates. The head of the family was sentenced in June to 20 years in prison.
A FirstEnergy spokeswoman, Jennifer Young, said the company had cooperated with authorities. “Today, FirstEnergy is a different, stronger company with new leadership, a strong strategy and a best-in-class compliance program,” she said.