FirstEnergy to pay $230M in settlement in Ohio bribery case

Posted at 9:49 AM, Jul 22, 2021

CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal authorities say Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. has agreed to a settlement that calls for the company to fully cooperate and pay a $230 million fine.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cincinnati and the FBI are scheduled to hold a news briefing later Thursday morning on the deferred prosecution agreement.

FirstEnergy officials announced earlier this year it was in talks with the prosecutors on the agreement and that it could affect the company’s revenue.

The company has been accused by authorities of secretly funding a $60 million bribery scheme to help win legislative passage of a $1 billion bailoutfor two nuclear power plants operated by a wholly-owned subsidiary when the bill was passed in July 2019.

FirstEnergy in the last year has fired six high-ranking executives, including CEO Chuck Jones.

The dismissal of Jones, who initially denied any wrongdoing by the company, appeared to be tied to a $4.3 million payment that FirstEnergy made in January 2019, purportedly to end a longstanding consulting contract with a person soon to be appointed Ohio’s top utility regulator.

There has been no dispute the regulator was Sam Randazzo, a seasoned utility lawyer and lobbyist, who DeWine appointed chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in February 2019.

Language in a lending document filed by the company that month suggested Randazzo helped the company after he became PUCO chair.