Newly released surveillance footage shows that FBI agents spent more than an hour on the 14th floor of the Riffe Tower last month – where they seized personal items belonging to the now-former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.
The new video, obtained by 10 Investigates through an open records request, shows a handful of men enter the 14th-floor lobby of the Riffe Tower on July 31.
At least one of the FBI agents is holding a box. More than an hour later, just before 10:30 a.m., the agents left the Riffe Tower.
Among the items the agents seized, were:
- A “team Householder” cap
- A framed photo a nuclear power plant
- An iPhone
- Thank you notes from Duke Energy and Tracy RIchardson
- And copies of the floor plan to JPL and Associates
JPL and Associates, according to the 82-page criminal complaint filed against Householder, has ties to Jeff Longstreth – one of four men facing racketeering conspiracy charges.
The FBI alleges that Householder, Longstreth and three other men – including lobbyists for FirstEnergy and a former state GOP party chairman – took part in a $60 million bribery scheme that lined their own pockets and helped secure the passage of House Bill 6 – a bill that provided a billion-dollar bailout to FirstEnergy and its affiliates and helped save their two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio.
U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers has called the scheme “pay to play.”
According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court, Householder and the other men are accused of funneling millions through a dark money group, called Generation Now – and other pass-through organizations - to help secure Householder becomes speaker; to help elect other lawmakers who would be supportive of HB 6; and to help defeat a ballot referendum aimed at defeating the bill.
The plan worked, but the FBI alleges that path to pass the billion-dollar bailout bill was paved with bribes and violates federal law.
Householder is expected in court next week for his arraignment. A federal judge granted him a delay as he searches for a new attorney.
His co-defendants – Jeff Longstreth, Matt Borges, Juan Cespedes and Neil Clark – all entered not guilty pleas last week.
The release of the surveillance footage to 10 Investigates comes on the same week where the Ohio House released thousands of pages of documents that it had turned over to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal prosecutors had sought previous open records requests and correspondence surrounding HB 6 and other legislation.
Excluded from release this week were 31 documents that the Ohio House asserts were privileged and included communications between HB 6’s sponsors and attorneys for the Ohio House.
Among the documents released this week – including a document that referenced a meeting between Speaker Larry Householder and First Energy Solutions new CEO John Judge on March 19, 2019 – less than a month before HB 6 was introduced. ]
The purpose of the meeting was to update Householder and introduce him to the new CEO.
Also present – Juan Cespedes – one of the men later charged in the scheme.
“That seems particularly important to me because the FES weren’t really mentioned in the federally legal filings to date,” said Dave Anderson with the Energy and Policy Institute, an energy watchdog group that has followed the dark money involved in House Bill 6.