State Rep. Peter Beck, a Mason Republican, has been indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury on 16 felony counts involving alleged security fraud – charges that could result in a maximum of 102 years in prisons if convicted on all counts.
And, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Friday at a press conference with Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph T. Deters, there could well be more charges to come in an “on-going investigation” of Beck’s handling of money of investors in a start-up software company.
Beck’s lawyer, Konrad Kircher of Mason, in a statement issued more than 24 hours before the indictments, said his client maintains his innocence and will “vigorously” defend himself against the charges.
The indictments of Beck and a business associate, John W. Fussner, who was indicted on seven counts, were announced Friday afternoon by DeWine and Deters only minutes after they were handed up by the Hamilton County grand jury.
Fussner faces a possible maximum sentence of 43 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
All the charges involve Beck and Fussner’s alleged actions involving an Ohio software company called Christopher Technologies, or CTech. Investors in CTech claim they were bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“This is an ongoing investigation and there could be further charges,’’ DeWine said in a press conference.
The indictments against Beck included two counts each of misrepresentation in the sale of a security, unlicensed sale of securities, fraud in the sales of securities, sale of unregistered securities, selling securities in an insolvent company without full disclosure, and making a false statement about the financial condition of an issuer.
Beck was also indicted on four counts of theft by deception.
Kircher, Beck’s lawyer, said the state representative is willing to surrender to authorities and “will mount a vigorous defense. We look forward to the opportunity to clear his name.”
Beck, whose 54th Ohio House District takes up much of Warren County and a small part of Butler County, has been under investigation by the Ohio Division of Securities for his alleged role in an investment deal that is said in a civil lawsuit to have cost investors $1.2 million.
According to DeWine, the Ohio Commerce Department’s Division of Securities was made aware of the case in February 2011. In December 2012, the Ohio Attorney General’s office was asked to become involved; and DeWine assigned one of his forensic accountants to investigate.
“From what we know now, the investors lost approximately $200,000,’’ DeWine said.
DeWine’s office has no prosecutorial authority, so the attorney general began working with Deters’ office to present the case to the grand jury.
“These actions took place here in Hamilton County,’’ Deters said. “And Ohio is a broad venue state when it comes to prosecutions.”
Asked about Beck’s claim that he was simply an accountant for the firm, Deters had a harsh response.
“I think it is fair to say that truth is a problem for him,’’ Deters said of Beck.
Deters said lawyers from DeWine’s office will be made special assistant county prosecutors to work with his prosecutors on the case.
The investigation showed that Beck was chief financial officer of CTech, while Fussner was president.
A lawsuit filed in January by the investors in CTech named Beck, his accounting firm, Donohoo, Cupp, Beck & Associates, Ark by the River Fellowship Ministry and others of bilking them out of $1.2 million and spending the money on personal and other items.
Beck counter-sued the investors.
In a statement released before the indictments were handed up, Beck’s lawyer issued a written statement saying the charges were “unsupported” and that his client “is being blamed for the errors or wrongdoing of others.”
According to the lawsuit, most of the money was invested in TML Consulting, a company run by Thomas Lysaght, who died in 2010. Lysaght’s widow is pastor at Ark by the River Fellowship; and the lawsuit alleges that is where some of the money went.
The lawsuit also accused Beck of using at $15,000 of the money to win to election in 2010. DeWine would not comment on that when asked about it Friday.
“The primary target of the investors, Tom Lysaght is dead,’’ Kircher said in his statement. “The secondary target, John Fussner, is bankrupt. Consequently, law enforcement, based on inaccurate information provided by the investors, has cast a broad net to attempt to remedy the unfortunate business losses of the investors.”
The 60-year-old, a former mayor of Mason, was appointed to the Ohio House in 2009 and was re-elected easily in 2010 and 2012.