COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Friday he has taken another step toward ensuring that no one profits from bribery by obtaining a court order allowing to the seizure of up to $8 million in assets from Sam Randazzo, former chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
Since February, Randazzo has transferred a $500,000 home to his son and sold four other properties worth a combined $4.8 million, prompting AG Yost this week to file a motion with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for a prejudgment attachment to freeze Randazzo assets and prevent the future transfer or sale of personal property.
“First Energy admitted to bribing Randazzo to the tune of $4.3 million to help construct House Bill 6, and he should be accountable for those actions,” Yost said. “Randazzo is making moves that will make it harder to hold him financially accountable for accepting bribes. As the federal investigation continues, we need to make sure that his assets are available for recovery when his time comes to pay.”
Randazzo resigned his position with the PUCO in Nov. 2020 after the FBI searched his home as part of an investigation into the House Bill 6 bribery scandal centered on First Energy and former House Speaker Larry Householder.
The freeze on Randazzo’s assets follows a move last week by Yost to expand his landmark racketeering lawsuit in the First Energy/Householder case to include as defendants Randazzo and two former executives of First Energy – CEO Charles Jones and Senior Vice President Michael Dowling – along with several entities associated with Randazzo.
Attorney General Yost's amended lawsuit alleges that Randazzo and the FirstEnergy executives engaged in extortion, money laundering, coercion, intimidation and an attempted coverup by a politically connected group trying to enrich themselves.
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christopher Brown on Thursday granted the motion to freeze Randazzo’s assets based on the alleged criminal conduct and the fact that Randazzo was giving away and liquidating property.
With the order in hand, Yost’s office is working to locate and freeze the value of the property sale proceeds and the bribe payment.
“If Sam Randazzo is innocent as he claims, we’ll expect that he’ll fully cooperate, and that we’ll be able to locate the funds easily,” the attorney general said.
If not, Randazzo will be held accountable, he said.
“We are not going to tolerate public corruption in our state. The facts will prevail and the truth will come out.”