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Former Ohio utility regulator, charged in a wide-ranging bribery scheme, has died

COLUMBUS — A former high-ranking utility regulator who was awaiting trial for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in bribes as part of Ohio's biggest corruption scandal died by suicide on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for the Franklin County Coroner’s

COLUMBUS — A former high-ranking utility regulator who was waiting for trial for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in bribes as part of Ohio's biggest corruption scandal died by suicide on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for the Franklin County Coroner’s Office.

Sam Randazzo, 74, the former chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, was facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison if found guilty of the numerous criminal charges he was facing in both federal and state investigations. He had pleaded not guilty to all of them, particularly the accusation that he received a $4.3 million bribe from Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. as part of a plan to pass a $1 billion nuclear bailout for two affiliated nuclear plants.

A spokesperson for the coroner’s office stated that Randazzo was discovered unresponsive at a building he owned in Columbus shortly before noon.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and the office of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who initially appointed Randazzo to the PUCO, all declined to provide immediate comment.

Randazzo resigned from his position in November 2020 after FBI agents searched his Columbus townhome and FirstEnergy disclosed in security filings that they made bribery payments of $4.3 million for his future assistance at the commission a month before DeWine nominated him as Ohio’s top utility regulator. He is the second person implicated in the wide-ranging investigation to take his own life.

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