Judge orders $8M asset freeze for ex-Ohio utility regulator

Aug 12, 2021, 9:10 PM | Updated: Aug 13, 2021, 12:27 pm

CLEVELAND (AP) — A judge in Columbus has frozen $8 million in assets of Sam Randazzo, a former Ohio utility regulator and current target of an FBI investigation, to preserve the assets for future collection.

Franklin County Judge Chris Brown filed the order Thursday in response to a motion filed this week by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost as part of a lawsuit against Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.

Yost in a motion last week seeking to add Randazzo and two fired FirstEnergy executives to the lawsuit, said he would seek forfeiture of $4.3 million the company admitted paying Randazzo in January 2019 for his future help as chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Randazzo was appointed as Ohio’s top utility regulator by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in February 2019 and took office two months later.

Yost in the asset seizure motion said Randazzo had transferred a home worth $500,000 to his son and had sold four properties worth a combined $4.8 million. Brown froze the $8 million in assets after a hearing with Yost’s office Thursday.

“Randazzo is making moves that will make it harder to hold him financially accountable for accepting bribes,” Yost said in a statement Friday. “As the federal investigation continues, we need to make sure that his assets are available for recovery when his time comes to pay.”

A message seeking comment was left with Randazzo’s attorney, Roger Sugarman, on Friday.

Randazzo resigned his utilities commission post last November after FBI agents searched his Columbus townhome and FirstEnergy initially revealed the $4.3 million payment.

FirstEnergy in a deferred prosecution agreement reached last month with the U.S. Department of Justice said Randazzo helped write a 2019 energy bill that lies at the heart of a $60 million bribery scandal secretly funded by the company.

The agreement calls for FirstEnergy to pay $230 million in penalties and abide by a long list of reform-minded provisions to avoid prosecution on a criminal conspiracy charge.

In a statement of facts attached to the prosecution agreement and signed by FirstEnergy CEO and President Steven Strah, the company admitted Randazzo also helped the company fix its “Ohio hole” after his appointment as commission chair.

Top executives of FirstEnergy were looking to avoid resetting rates for its three Ohio electric companies at the utilities commission in 2024, something Wall Street rating agencies had said would hurt the company’s bottom line.

The commission in November 2019 with Randazzo in charge issued an order saying, “we find that is no longer necessary or appropriate” for FirstEnergy’s Ohio electric companies to file rate cases in 2024. In January, with Randazzo no longer at the commission, the companies were ordered to file rates cases in 2024.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Shoppers looking for bargains enter an OshKosh children clothing store, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in M...
Anne D'Innocenzio and Cora Lewis, Associated Press

Shoppers hunt for deals but inflation makes bargains elusive

Consumers holding out for big deals -- and some much-needed relief from soaring costs on just about everything -- may be disappointed as they head into the busiest shopping season of the year.
18 hours ago
FILE - The Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022, in San Diego.  ...
Associated Press

Musk plans to relaunch Twitter premium service, again

Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different colored check marks to accounts next week.
18 hours ago
FILE - Birds take flight in the Salton Sea on the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge on...
Associated Press

Drying California lake to get $250M in drought funding

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The federal government said Monday it will spend $250 million over four years on environmental cleanup and restoration work around a drying Southern California lake that’s fed by the depleted Colorado River. The future of the Salton Sea, and who is financially responsible for it, has been a key issue in […]
18 hours ago
FILE - A school of fish swim above corals on Moore Reef in Gunggandji Sea Country off the coast of ...
Associated Press

Australia argues against ‘endangered’ Barrier Reef status

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s environment minister said Tuesday her government will lobby against UNESCO adding the Great Barrier Reef to a list of endangered World Heritage sites. Officials from the U.N. cultural agency and the International Union for Conservation of Nature released a report on Monday warning that without “ambitious, rapid and sustained” climate […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Dylan Brandt speaks at a news conference outside the federal courthouse in Little Rock, Ark....
Associated Press

Landmark trial over Arkansas youth gender care ban resumes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A psychiatrist called to the stand by Arkansas as the state defends its ban on gender-affirming care for children said Monday he was concerned about the impact the law could have on some transgender youth who would see their treatments cut off. Dr. Stephen Levine, a psychiatrist at Case Western […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Oregon Sen. Brian Boquist poses in his office in the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, Ore., We...
Associated Press

Oregon lawmakers lift security measure imposed on senator

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — On Monday an Oregon Senate panel rescinded the protective measure it had imposed on a state senator after he made threatening statements during an acrimonious 2019 legislative session, in a case that centers on free speech. Since July 2019, Sen. Brian Boquist had been required to give 12 hours notice before […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Judge orders $8M asset freeze for ex-Ohio utility regulator