Neil Clark, a longtime lobbyist indicted in connection to the sweeping House Bill 6 racketeering scandal and an Ohio University alumnus, was found dead on Monday near his Florida home, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
A bicyclist reported finding a body in a wooded area in Collier County, Florida. The Collier County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed it had Clark’s body, and an autopsy had not been conducted as of Tuesday morning, The Dispatch reported.
A handgun and a 2019 Lincoln were found near his body, according to The Dispatch’s reporting of documents from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
Clark’s wife told authorities that they had been having financial problems and that she had not seen him for several hours and wasn’t sure where he was.
Clark, 67, was indicted last year on racketeering charges for his alleged role in working to advance nuclear bailout legislation in the Ohio General Assembly, which resulted in the arrests and indictments of several others including former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Rep. Larry Householder. Clark pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He attended OU from 1972 to 1976, and from 1978 through 1980. While on campus, he earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies and a master’s degree in public administration.
The lobbyist also advocated for the university at the Statehouse in the 2000s and early 2010s when he worked to secure funding through the state budget, including a grant to support the OU Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural Development, which is known today as The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
“I have always been helping Ohio University as a graduate,” Clark told The Athens NEWS in 2001.
“Ohio University learned of the tragic death of alumnus Neil Clark,” OU spokesperson Carly Leatherwood said in an emailed statement. “We send our heartfelt condolences to his family.”
In an interview with Cleveland.com last year, Clark identified Rep. Jay Edwards as a minor character in the federal affidavit connected to the scandal, alleging that he, Edwards, Householder and aides met with men for dinner whom he later believed to be wired FBI agents.
During the meeting, they discussed with the men their efforts to defeat the ballot initiative campaign that aimed to squash HB6.
Clark, who had a history of scandal that extended beyond his alleged connections to HB6, was reportedly nearing completion of a tell-all book about his lobbying career, according to Cleveland.com.