CINCINNATI (AP) -- A former business partner has agreed to testify against an Ohio lawmaker who is accused of misleading investors about a company's financial status and using their money to help fund his political campaign.
John Fussner reached a plea agreement to testify against Republican state Rep. Pete Beck of Mason in southwestern Ohio, Daniel Kasaris, senior assistant attorney general, said during a Hamilton County court hearing Thursday in Cincinnati.
Fussner, 56, also of Mason, pleaded guilty at the hearing to the sale of an unregistered security and the sale of a security in an insolvent company. In exchange, prosecutors dropped six other charges.
Fussner's guilty pleas could carry between two and eight years in prison, but Kasaris said prosecutors will recommend probation as long as he testifies against Beck at the lawmaker's theft and fraud trial.
Beck, who was in the same courtroom during Fussner's hearing, has denied the allegations and brushed away calls that he resign. Beck did give up a chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
At Beck's hearing Thursday, Judge Andrew West set the lawmaker's trial for Nov. 17 and indicated it could last a month.
Beck's attorney Ralph Kohnen told West that he expects to waive Beck's right to a jury trial and request a bench trial, but that move will come later.
He told The Associated Press after the hearing that Fussner's planned testimony did not affect the lawmaker's decision to go to trial.
"We expected it," he said, declining to comment further.
Kohnen urged West to set a deadline to cut off the government from adding to the already voluminous evidence in the case so that he can focus on preparing for trial.
"We don't want anything sprung on us at the last minute," Kohnen said. "The state has been investigating this case for quite some time. They've used all their exotic investigative tools to gather evidence."
West scheduled a May 29 hearing to set such a deadline.
Beck, who was indicted in July, is accused of being part of an enterprise that misled investors, laundered money and improperly diverted investors' money.
He is accused of soliciting and persuading investors to put thousands of dollars into an insolvent software company, misrepresenting pending business deals such as one supposedly involving a major cruise line, stealing money from his accounting firm, and putting investors' money into his political campaign fund.
Beck is seeking re-election and has Republican opposition in the May 6 primary.