AKRON, Ohio — On the same day that two people pled guilty to federal racketeering charges related to a $60 million bribery scheme surrounding Ohio House Bill 6, FirstEnergy has announced that it has fired CEO Charles E. Jones as well as two other executives.
"During the course of the Company's previously disclosed internal review related to the government investigations, the Independent Review Committee of the Board determined that these executives violated certain FirstEnergy policies and its code of conduct," FirstEnergy said in a release issued on Thursday evening.
Steven E. Strah, President of FirstEnergy, has been appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. FirstEnergy says it also fired its Senior Vice President of Product Development, Marketing, and Branding; and its Senior Vice President of External Affairs, but their names were not released.
The case against former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others alleges that FirstEnergy paid the defendants more than $60 million to 501(c)(4) Generation Now to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout and that the defendants corruptly used the money to promote Householder, pass House Bill 6, and defeat a ballot initiative to overturn the legislation. House Bill 6 bailed out Ohio's two nuclear power plants, including the Perry Nuclear Generating Station in Lake County.
Juan Cespedes, a lobbyist, and Jeff Longstreth, a former adviser to Householder, pleaded guilty to during separate hearings Thursday. Both men could face up to 20 years in prison – but the judge hinted that that’s not likely.
The judge postponed sentencing for the two men until after the pending criminal cases involving Householder and two other defendants is resolved.
Copies of the plea agreements obtained by 10 Investigates show prosecutors and the attorneys for the defendants have not agreed on what their punishments should be – specifically if they’ll owe restitution or how much time they could potentially spend in prison.
An effort to repeal House Bill 6 was launched in the Ohio Statehouse this summer.
The effort so far has stalled.