COLUMBUS —After being convicted in the largest bribery scheme in state history, former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder believes he only deserves 12-18 months in prison, according to new court filings.
“Mr. Householder is a broken man,” defense attorneys said. “He has been humiliated and disgraced.”
A jury found that Householder and former GOP leader Matt Borges, beyond a reasonable doubt, participated in the largest public corruption case in state history. Householder passed a nearly $61 million scheme for a billion-dollar bailout, House Bill 6, at the expense of taxpayers.
The attorneys for Householder acknowledge their request may be a “tall order,” however they say that “no defendant should be made a martyr to public passion.”
The good Householder has done for the community outweighs the bad, according to the filing.
“Our purpose here is not to relitigate the facts presented to the jury — that will be a task for the appellate lawyers and the appellate courts — but to present a perspective of Mr. Householder that was not reflected in his portrayal at trial and in the news media,” the document states.
The following pages resemble the opening argument, painting the picture that Householder is an Appalachian farm boy with a dream. They next try to argue that the government didn’t fully show that each bribe he took was an actual bribe.
Ultimately, the defense argues that the nature of the offense and Householder’s history and characteristics favor a “below-guidelines sentence.”
The attorneys argue that Householder “did not benefit financially from the offense,” claiming the money that came from his right-hand man who was in charge of running the financial aspect of the scheme was a loan. That “loan” was then used to pay off Householder’s debt and renovations to his Florida home.
The now-convicted felon has already faced punishment, the filing continues, as “his felony conviction bars him from ever holding public office in Ohio... his reputation has likewise been ruined.”
“Mr. Householder is simply not a threat to the public, and no public interest is served by putting him behind bars for decades,” the defense argues. “To the contrary, the public will suffer by being deprived of an individual whose charitable giving, good works, and work ethic have improved the lives of so many.”
A whole section of the filing explains why the “media” is to blame for his loss of reputation.
Letters in support
Along with letters from family members came a letter from state Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville). Hillyer chairs the House Civil Justice Committee and is an attorney.
“The person that has been portrayed by the media and outside groups is not someone that I have ever personally witnessed or recognized,” Hillyer writes. “It has been painfully obvious that some in the media are using their political opposition to Mr. Householder to agitate and muddy the waters against him.”
Hillyer, a moderate Republican who testified on behalf of Householder during the trial, is concerned about the former speaker’s age and health. He requests for Judge Timothy Black to show leniency.
Joy Padgett, a former Ohio lawmaker, blamed the deceased Neil Clark, a co-conspirator, in her defense of Householder.
“[Clark] did have influence, but he was prone to flagrant exaggeration during every conversation on every issue being discussed,” Padgett wrote. “Everyone who knew Neil knew they had to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’ in his comments.”
Householder was talented, she continued, saying he was “always exploring leading edge ideas that will improve the lives of his constituents and the people of Ohio.”
She suggested he only receive probation.
Next was Scott Pullins, who News 5 interviewed during and after the trial.
“I personally know that Larry Householder is honest, ethical, and tries very hard to follow the law,” said Pullins, who was an attorney for Householder.
Householder and Borges will be sentenced at 1 p.m. on June 29 and 11 a.m. on June 30, respectively, according to court documents.