CINCINNATI - Ohio Rep. Peter Beck (R-Mason) was indicted on 16 felony charges in an investment fraud case Friday afternoon and faces a maximum 102 years in prison if convicted.
A second indictment charged John Fussner with seven felony counts. Fussner faces up to 43 years in prison.
They are accused of bilking more than $200,000 from investors in Christopher Technologies, a start-up software company. Beck, a certified public accountant, was CTech's chief financial officer and Fussner was president.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the indictments at a news conference Friday afternoon.
“John Fussner and Peter Beck knew CTech was insolvent and yet they did not disclose this to investors," DeWine 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.”
“I am pleased that the Attorney General’s office is vigorous in investigating and prosecuting these types of cases," Deters said. "Theft is theft whether it is a simple theft of merchandise from a store or the sophisticated scheme perpetrated by Beck and Fussner.”
Beck is the Republican chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and a member of the House Finance Committee.
The indictments followed a lawsuit that accused Beck and others of misappropriating more than $1 million from 14 investors in TML Consulting, LLC and Christopher Technologies.
"The decision to move forward on these particular counts had to do with the statute of limitations, and so we needed to move on these counts understanding that we have time to come back and devolve the rest - that is what this is about," DeWine said. "The other ones we have more time on."
The statute of limitations is five years on securities fraud. The counts filed against Beck and Fussner allegedly occurred between July 22, 2008, and Aug. 1, 2008, according to the indictment.
Read the indictment below or at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/729565-indictment-of-peter-beck-and-john-w-fussner.html
Read the lawsuit against Beck at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/729445-investors-lawsuit-vs-peter-beck.html
In their lawsuit, investors claimed Beck and others their money for personal advantage, including donations to Beck’s political campaign and contributions to a Mason church.
Most of the money was invested with TML Consulting, run by the late Thomas Lysaght, who was supposed to invest it in a small portfolio of companies. Christopher Technologies was one of the companies in TML’s portfolio. Beck sold ownership interest and solicited loans for the business, according to the lawsuit.
Beck and the other defendants “engaged in a pattern of behavior wherein they all would solicit investments, and once the investment was paid into TML accounts, these defendants would immediately misappropriate and convert the investment,” the lawsuit read.
In March 8, 2010, a $500,000 investment was deposited into TML’s account. That same week Beck, who was running for state representative, received a check for $5,000 made payable to his campaign fund.
On Aug. 23, 2010, another check for $10,000 was written to Beck’s campaign from the TML investor’s account, according to the lawsuit.
It also charges that thousands of dollars invested in TML were given to the Mason-based Ark by the River Fellowship Ministry. It says Lysaght paid the money to his wife, Janet Combs, the pastor there.
Lysaght died in November, 2010.
Beck’s attorney, Konrad Kircher, claimed prosecutors were blaming the wrong man.
“Mr. Beck is being blamed for the errors and wrongdoing of others,” Kircher said in a statement. “The primary target of the investors, Tom Lysaght, is dead. 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.
“What is lost in the story is that Mr. Beck is a victim as well. He contributed countless hours of uncompensated professional time to the fledgling business to assist in making it grow. He certainly did not personally benefit from the investors’ funds.”
Beck was indicted on 16 felony charges:
• two counts of misrepresentations in the sale of a security
• two counts of unlicensed sale of securities
• two counts of fraud in the sale of securities
• two counts of sale of unregistered securities
• two counts of selling securities in an insolvent company without full disclosure
• two counts of making a false statement about the financial condition of an issuer
four counts of theft by deception
Fussner was indicted on 7 felony charges:
• one count of misrepresentations in the sale of a security
• one count of unlicensed sale of securities
• one count of fraud in the sale of securities
• one count of sale of unregistered securities
• one count of selling securities in an insolvent company without full disclosure
• one count of making a false statement about the financial condition of an issuer
• one count of theft by deception