Ohio Republican Accused In Massive Bribery Scandal Dies By Suicide, Second Republican To Do So In Case

The Columbus Dispatch reports:

Former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Sam Randazzo, who was facing criminal charges over a bribery scandal, has died by suicide. A spokesman for the Franklin County Coroner said Randazzo was found shortly before noon Tuesday in a Columbus warehouse that he owned.

Randazzo, 74, of Columbus, was recently accused of accepting $4.3 million from Akron-based FirstEnergy to help the company with a $1 billion bailout for two nuclear plants and regulation that would have cost the company money. He was also accused of embezzling from his clients. He had pleaded not guilty to charges in state and federal court.

Randazzo is the second man accused of crimes in the House Bill 6 case to die by suicide. Long-time lobbyist Neil Clark shot himself in Florida while awaiting trial in federal court. Clark, who was wearing a DeWine for governor T-shirt, had pleaded not guilty.

The Ohio Capital Journal reports:

Gov. Mike DeWine’s chief of staff reportedly knew about the payment before Randazzo was nominated, but it’s unclear how much she, DeWine, and others in the administration knew about the more than $10 million Randazzo was paid by FirstEnergy over the years. She was slated to testify at the former regulator’s state trial.

As PUCO chairman, Randazzo helped draft the bailout legislation and did a number of other lucrative favors for FirstEnergy, court documents and testimony have shown.

After a lengthy federal trial last year, former House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the scandal. Former Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges was sentenced to five years for his.