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Published: Friday, 7/19/2013

Ohio GOP lawmaker indicted on 16 felony charges including fraud, theft, misleading investors

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CINCINNATI — A Republican lawmaker who authorities say misled investors about a company’s financial status and used their money for personal gain was indicted today on 16 felony charges including fraud and theft even as his attorneys called the accusations outlandish and shameful.

State Rep. Pete Beck, a certified public accountant from Mason, was indicted on four counts of theft and two counts each of securities fraud, making misrepresentations and selling securities in an insolvent company without full disclosure, among other charges. If convicted, he could face up to 102 years in prison, authorities said.

Beck, 60, has denied the allegations through his attorney Konrad Kircher, who said in a statement that the charges were unsupported and that Beck “will mount a vigorous defense” to clear his name.

A man who served as president of one of the companies also was indicted today and faces seven charges similar to Beck’s, authorities said.

“They knew the truth, and yet deceived investors to get their capital to keep the company afloat and use the money for other purposes,” state Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a statement.

A lawsuit filed in January by 14 investors from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Alabama, Maryland and Washington, D.C., accuses Beck, the accounting firm where he worked and others of misleading them about the financial statuses of two companies, persuading them to invest when it was inadvisable and misusing about $1.2 million, the amount they contributed.

The lawsuit accuses Beck and the others of using the money for personal reasons, including $15,000 toward Beck’s political campaign in 2010, and says investors haven’t gotten a penny back.

The conduct by Beck and the others “was malicious, deliberate, gross and egregious,” the lawsuit says.

In a countersuit Beck filed in February and in other court documents, he said he never solicited money from investors. He said he prepared only a few financial statements for them and those statements were accurate.

Beck’s attorneys wrote that the investors are targeting him because the major players in the case are dead or bankrupt.

“Perhaps (they) thought that such scandalous allegations would make Beck roll over and pay them some money,” the attorneys wrote. “Unfortunately for plaintiffs, Beck has his reputation to protect.”

Beck’s indictment marks the third time in the last 16 months an Ohio lawmaker has been criminally charged.

Former Rep. Clayton Luckie, a Dayton Democrat, pleaded guilty in January to election falsification, grand theft and other charges and is serving three years in prison. State and federal investigators found Luckie skimmed nearly $130,000 in campaign funds for personal use and failed to list campaign expenditures for six years.

Former Rep. W. Carlton Weddington, a Columbus Democrat, pleaded guilty in June 2012 to charges of bribery, election falsification and filing a false financial disclosure statement and is serving three years in prison. Authorities say he accepted trips and cash in exchange for taking steps to introduce legislation.

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Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP



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