Former PUC Chair of Ohio enters plea of not guilty in USD60M bribery scheme


(MENAFN) In a significant development related to Ohio's largest corruption case, Sam Randazzo, the former chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, entered a plea of not guilty to an 11-count indictment on charges of participating in a $60 million bribery scheme. The scheme is alleged to be connected to a legislative bailout for two Ohio nuclear power plants, with former state House speaker already serving a 20-year prison sentence in connection to the case.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on November 29, accuses Randazzo of accepting bribes from Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. in exchange for regulatory favors. The charges bring to light a disturbing episode in which a public regulatory official is alleged to have prioritized personal gain over the protection of Ohio consumers. Randazzo made his initial court appearance in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.

This indictment marks the latest chapter in a scandal that unfolded as the largest corruption case in Ohio's history. The $1.3 billion bailout, linked to the bribery scheme, saw partial repeal after the scandal came to light. However, concerns linger among advocates who argue that the shocking and systemic disregard for utility consumers, as revealed in the case, has yet to be adequately addressed through the implementation of new safeguards.

FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers commented on the indictment, stating, “Today's indictment outlines an alleged scheme in which a public regulatory official ignored the Ohio consumers he was responsible for protecting, instead taking a bribe from an energy company seeking favors.” The case underscores the need for continued scrutiny and reforms to prevent such abuses of power in the future.

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