Ohio Attorney General Announces Indictments of Former FirstEnergy Executives in House Bill 6 Scandal

Akron, Ohio – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, alongside officials from Summit County, announced indictments of two former executives of FirstEnergy, a former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and two associated entities. The grand jury charged these individuals as part of a corrupt enterprise in connection with the House Bill 6 scandal in Ohio.

House Bill 6, signed into law in 2019 by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, allocated over $1 billion to two nuclear plants in Ohio that were owned by a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy. The scandal involves allegations of improper influence and corruption surrounding the bill.

The indictment includes a combined 27 felony counts against the former chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Samuel “Sam” Randazzo, former FirstEnergy CEO Charles “Chuck” Jones, and Senior Vice President of External Affairs Michael Dowling. It also involves two companies controlled by Randazzo: the Sustainability Funding Alliance of Ohio and IEU-Ohio Administration Co. These companies are alleged to be shell companies created solely to further Randazzo’s illegal activities.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost emphasized that the indictment goes beyond just one piece of legislation. He stated, “It is about the hostile capture of a significant portion of Ohio’s state government by deception, betrayal, and dishonesty.” Yost made the announcement together with Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh and Sheriff Kandy Fatheree.

The indictment alleges that Jones and Dowling actively used FirstEnergy funds to improperly influence Randazzo, who held the authority of PUCO chairman, to advance FirstEnergy’s regulatory and policy objectives. It further accuses them of participating in a scheme to corrupt the PUCO chairman, manipulate ratemaking policies, misappropriate millions of dollars from FirstEnergy and a nonprofit trade group, and tamper with government records.

Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh expressed appreciation for the collaboration between state and county law enforcement to fight crime and corruption. Jones, through his attorney Carole Rendon, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, denied the charges. Rendon stated that Jones had always acted in the best interest of FirstEnergy’s customers, employees, and investors, and had never violated the law or bribed anyone.

Dowling also denied the charges, with his attorney John McCaffrey stating that the allegations are false and lack credible evidence. FirstEnergy, while unable to comment on the actions of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, stated that it has made significant changes to its leadership team and implemented a culture of ethics and accountability.

The charges against the individuals stem from an investigation conducted by a task force organized under the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, within the Attorney General’s office. The task force, led by Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement Carol O’Brien, comprised agents, analysts, paralegals, and accountants from various law enforcement agencies.

Overall, the indictments represent a significant step towards holding those involved in the House Bill 6 scandal accountable for their actions. The investigation involved collaboration between state and county law enforcement agencies and the Ohio Ethics Commission.