Ex-Ohio GOP chair, lobbyist Matt Borges shows remorse, gets 5 years for role in $60M bribery scheme

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio lobbyist Matt Borges was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for his part in the largest corruption scandal in Ohio history. He avoided the much harsher sentence received a day earlier by former House Speaker Larry Householder, the scheme’s mastermind, by accepting responsibility and apologizing before the judge.

“Nothing makes it feel more stark than knowing I could have walked away from this at the very beginning,” the 51-year-old Borges, a former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, told U.S. District Judge Timothy Black.

Black nonetheless rebuked Borges for his role in preventing Ohioans the chance to repeal a tainted nuclear plant bailout bill.

“Larry Householder was a crook and you knew it. ‘ An unholy alliance ‘ is what you called it,” Black said.

“You didn’t care that you were aiding an Ohio House speaker to undermine the very foundation of our democracy,” he told Borges. “You just saw everyone else getting fat and rich, and you wanted a piece of it.”

Black admitted to being moved by Borges’ contrition, however, which may have contributed to him escaping the top of the 5- to 8-year range federal prosecutors sought. But the judge rejected any notion that Borges should only get the six months offered to cooperative witnesses or the 1 1/2 years sought by his attorneys, and ordered him into immediate custody.

As a handcuffed Borges left the courtroom, he looked back at his wife Kate, who had delivered an impassioned plea for leniency to the judge, and could be heard saying, “Bye, babe.” She blew him a kiss.

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