Feds say former GOP leader Matt Borges should get 5 to 8 years in prison

By: - June 26, 2023 4:55 am

Center, former Ohio Republican Party chair, and statehouse lobbyist, Matt Borges with his attorneys outside of the federal courthouse. Photo courtesy of WEWS.

The FBI has requested that former Ohio GOP Leader Matt Borges face 5 to 8 years in prison for his role in the largest corruption scheme in state history, according to a new court filing. He, however, thinks he only deserves 12 months and one day.

jury found that Householder and former GOP leader Matt Borges, beyond a reasonable doubt, participated in the largest public corruption case in state history, a racketeering scheme that left four men guilty and another dead by suicide.


“Borges’ primary role in the enterprise was to deprive Ohioans of the opportunity to overturn what Borges knew was corrupt legislation,” the filing said. “Borges furthered the criminal enterprise by laundering FirstEnergy payments through his own account.”

He then bribed Tyler Fehrman, a former friend turned FBI informant. During the bribe, Borges threatened Fehrman numerous times, saying things like “I’m going to blow your house up.”

“Matt threatened my life, disrupted my existence, and took advantage of our friendship to line his own pockets,” Fehrman told News 5 following the sentencing memorandum release. “His actions are inexcusable and wrong — regardless of what sentence he is given. Personally, I hope that both he and Larry are given the maximum sentence for their crimes.”

The feds chose the 5-8 year time frame because it reflects the seriousness of the offense, goes over Borges’ checkered past with law enforcement and also sets an example for others.

“Borges is familiar with the criminal justice system,” the FBI said.

Borges pleaded guilty in 2004 in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to a misdemeanor charge of improper use of a public office and was fined $1,000 for this conduct, which happened while serving as chief of staff to the Ohio State Treasurer. This was later expunged.

“Borges knew exactly where the lines were when he decided to cross them and participate in a criminal enterprise,” the filing states.

The recommendation letter, one that is much milder in language than Householder’s, acknowledges that the sentencing range is “substantially below the guidelines range.” That, paired with the more amiable language, caught the attention of Case Western Reserve University criminal law professor Michael Benza.

“The issue for the government is, who do you have leverage with and is that person is open to helping the government in order to receive a benefit for themselves?” Benza said.

Householder seems incapable of accepting that he is convicted, and that seems clear by the aggressive tone in each of the FBI and Householder’s sentencing files, Benza said.

“Borges is a realist looking at it going, ‘this is the price that I have to pay, how do I help myself?'” Benza said.

It is unconfirmed if Borges is helping the government.

The FBI has requested that former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder face 16-20 years in prison for “causing immeasurable damage to the institution of democracy,” according to a newly-released court filing. Householder is asking for 12-18 months.

“Regardless of how much time in prison is recommended for either of these convicted felons, they owe an extreme debt to the people of Ohio for violating their trust, taking advantage of them, and acting in brazen and heinous self-interest to the detriment of the citizens of the state,” Fehrman said.


Attorneys for Borges argued that in comparison to the other co-conspirators, his “involvement was substantially less culpable.”

“He had no decision-making authority with respect to anyone else, no control over the money coming to Generation Now, no knowledge of the full scope of the conspiracy, was not involved in the planning or organizing of the conspiracy (which began years before Borges’ involvement) and was involved for a limited time,” the filing states.

Borges then seemingly took responsibility for his bribe to Fehrman.

“Therefore, the ‘criminal activity’ within the scope of what Borges agreed to undertake should be limited to the $15,000 attempted bribe of Tyler Fehrman,” it states.

The defense attorneys then moved on, comparing Borges with other defendants and witnesses. Referencing how the co-conspirators who were at the forefront of this scandal, yet pleaded guilty, are only getting a recommended 0-6 months sentence. Plus, there were Generation Now staffers who were clearly involved, but they were never charged.

“What is the most glaring difference between all of those individuals and Borges (other than prosecutorial discretion)? None of them offered money to Tyler Fehrman,” the attorneys said. “But that act alone does not warrant anything close to a 240-month prison sentence.”

The filing concluded by explaining why the reduced sentence is appropriate: Borges has made “significant positive contributions” in his life, he has zero criminal history points, he has already suffered a loss of work and reputation since the arrest, it would deter him from participating in more criminal activity and it would “both vindicate society’s need for retribution and weigh out a just level of mercy.”

Unlike Householder, Borges does not blame the press for the loss of his reputation.

Along with the sentencing memorandum, Borges included letters of leniency from loved ones and community leaders — all arguing that he is a family man who cares about making the political system “better.”

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.

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This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.



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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.