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Judge denies Randazzo change of venue request, so trial to stay in Cincinnati

Former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio chair Sam Randazzo leaves federal court in Cincinnati accompanied by his wife and his lawyer Roger Sugarman on Dec. 4, 2023.
Zack Carreon
/
WVXU
Former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio chair Sam Randazzo leaves federal court in Cincinnati accompanied by his wife and his lawyer Roger Sugarman on Dec. 4, 2023.

The federal trial of the former head of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is likely to be set for this summer. And an effort by his attorneys to move that trial from Cincinnati to Columbus has been squashed.

Lawyers for Sam Randazzo had filed for a change of venue with the Southern District of Ohio earlier this year. They asked for the trial to be moved to Columbus, where Randazzo lives. They cited Randazzo's health issues and the difficulty of either driving each day to Cincinnati or staying there for the duration of the trial, since his assets have been frozen by the state.

Randazzo's attorneys also claimed concern about potential harm to his case because Judge Timothy Black. He oversaw the trial that resulted in last year's convictions of Republican former speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges. Householder is serving a 20-year sentence while Borges is serving a five-year term. Householder and Borges are appealing their convictions.

Black rejected the arguments made by Randazzo’s attorneys. He said while moving the trial might be more convenient for Randazzo, holding the trial in Cincinnati would not pose a significant inconvenience for Randazzo. And Black said a trial in Cincinnati would not prejudice or harm Randazzo’s constitutional rights.

In addition to the federal charges, Randazzo is facing 22 state-level felony counts in connection with the corruption scandal related to the 2019 nuclear energy bailout law House Bill 6. Two former FirstEnergy executives, Chuck Jones and Michael Dowling, are also facing state charges. The three have pleaded not guilty.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.