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FirstEnergy facing federal charges in Ohio bribery scheme, fined $230 million

FILE – This April 4, 2017, file photo shows the entrance to FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse...
FILE – This April 4, 2017, file photo shows the entrance to FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio. Akron-based FirstEnergyCorp. argues that political donations are protected by the First Amendment and a federal criminal complaint failed to provide evidence that money was exchanged for official favors, according to a motion filed by company attorneys seeking dismissal of shareholder lawsuits. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)(Ron Schwane | AP)
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 10:06 AM CDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Akron-based utility company FirstEnergy Corp. has been charged in a bribery scheme to protect a $1 billion nuclear plant bailout.

The company has agreed to pay a $230 million fine for ‘conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud.’ They also signed a deferred prosecution agreement that US Attorney Vipal J. Patel says may result in the dismissal of the charge, WXIX reported.

In court Thursday, FirstEnergy Corp. acknowledged it paid millions of dollars to an elected state public official rough the official’s alleged 501(c)(4) in return for the official pursuing nuclear legislation for FirstEnergy Corp.’s benefit.

Former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder and four others were arrested as part of a bribery scheme involving FirstEnergy in July 2020.

Prosecutors say the political group, Generation Now, received tens of millions of dollars that Householder and others used to pay bribes, fund his own political activities and run a public campaign supporting the nuclear bailout.

Generation Now was set up as a social welfare entity, which allowed it to avoid disclosing donors. Federal authorities have said Generation Now’s real purpose was to protect the nuclear plant bailout and enrich Householder and others.

Householder oversaw the controversial bailout of the two northern Ohio nuclear plants known as House Bill 6. FirstEnergy owned both plants.

It is alleged that FirstEnergy funneled $60 million in bribes to Householder through Generation Now to pass the bill. The bill was passed in July of 2020.

Within 60 days of Thursday’s filing, FirstEnergy is ordered to pay $115 million to the United States and $115 million to a program that assists Ohioans in paying their regulated utility bills.

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