A former lobbyist is on the stand again in the federal trial of the former Ohio House Speaker and the ex-Ohio GOP chair

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CINCINNATI (Statehouse News Bureau) — A former lobbyist for a previous subsidiary of FirstEnergy who’s pleaded guilty in the House Bill 6 corruption case spent his day on the stand for the prosecution implicating ex-Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges. Juan Cespedes was also cross-examined by Householder’s attorney.

Juan Cespedes poses for a portrait
Juan Cespedes [Ohio Civil Rights Commission]
This comes a day after Cespedes testified in federal court about Republican former House Speaker Larry Householder’s involvement in the nuclear power plant bailout scandal.

The former lobbyist told jurors that in late 2019, Householder was very involved in trying to stop a campaign against House Bill 6, the law to bail out two nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions.

But Cespedes also turned a spotlight on Borges, a FirstEnergy lobbyist, saying Borges had the idea to pay operative Tyler Fehrman $15,000 for inside information about the campaign to put the bailout law before voters. Cespedes said FirstEnergy’s executive chairman found out about the bribery idea and endorsed it. Cespedes said on Monday that FirstEnergy spent $50 million on promoting House Bill 6 and trying to stop the referendum to overturn it.

Borges has said he did not bribe Fehrman, but gave him money as a friend to help with personal problems. Householder and Borges are accused in a $61 million bribery scheme to pass House Bill 6 for FirstEnergy. They’ve said they’re innocent.

Along with the guilty pleas from Cespedes and Householder strategist Jeff Longstreth, FirstEnergy has entered a deferred plea agreement with a $230 million fine. The organizers of Generation Now have also agreed to a plea deal. Lobbyist Neil Clark was also indicted in the case, but died by suicide in March 2021.

Cross-examination of Cespedes continues Wednesday. He faces up to six months in prison as part of his plea deal, which also required him to testify.