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COVID-19 delays Householder public corruption trial until Tuesday

COVID-19 delays Larry Householder's public corruption trial
Posted at 10:39 AM, Jan 30, 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The federal trial of former Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder has been postponed until Tuesday after a juror tested positive for COVID-19, according to U.S. District Court.

"I just wanted to let you know that we are continuing the recess for 1 more day," U.S. District Judge Timothy Black's law clerk told trial reporters Sunday evening. "We are still waiting on jurors’ test results and want to be sure everyone is feeling well."

The jurors have not been wearing masks; neither have any of the attorneys.

The trial was originally delayed on Wednesday due to a winter weather advisory, pushing it back until 11 a.m. Before court was set to begin, an advisory was sent out canceling due to a juror being "temporarily unavailable" due to "unforeseen circumstances." Later that day, the court announced it learned a juror tested positive for COVID and the trial would not reconvene until Monday, Jan. 30 at 9:30 a.m.

FBI case agent Blane Wetzel’s testimony is expected to resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

Householder is accused of accepting a nearly $61 million bribe in exchange for legislation to bail out FirstEnergy, also known as House Bill 6.

The public is beginning to learn how and why FirstEnergy paid millions to the nonprofit Generation Now, which Householder allegedly controlled. The speaker is accused of working with former GOP leader Matt Borges and at least three others to pass a billion-dollar bailout for the struggling nuclear power company. This $1.3 billion bailout led to raised electricity rates and had Ohioans paying for fossil fuel power plants, including one outside the state.

Ohioans continue paying for House Bill 6 scandal as Householder's corruption trial presses on

Both men pleaded not guilty.

Householder and Borges were two of five people arrested back in 2020. House operative Jeff Longstreth and lobbyist Juan Cespedes both pleaded guilty in the case. Longtime lobbyist Neil Clark died by suicide in his Florida home after pleading not guilty to racketeering.

News 5 Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau is in Cincinnati covering the Householder trial. Previous coverage of the scandal is can be found below:

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