CINCINNATI -- A state representative from Mason, already facing more than 100 years behind bars, was hit with an additional 53 felony counts related to an ongoing investment fraud case Thursday.
The AP reported that the speaker of the Ohio House said Rep. Peter A. Beck (R-Mason), 63, agreed to give up his powerful committee chairmanship after the additional charges came down.
The announcement of the additional counts against Beck came in the form of a joint release from the offices of Attorney General Mike DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters, the two offices handling the investigation.
Beck is charged with various felony counts that range from theft to perjury to several forms of fraud related to his activities while serving as chief financial officer for the start-up software company Christopher Technologies (CTech), which is based in West Chester. Among the new counts against Beck, the grand jury included one alleging a pattern of corruption.
Beck's attorneys said the new charges are false allegations and that he maintains his innocence.
Beck rejected several calls for his resignation and is running for re-election.
In January 2013, a lawsuit was filed that accused Beck and a handful of others of cheating investors in the company out of approximately $1.2 million.
According to the suit, Beck asked several investors to donate money to CTech. But once the money was received it was used for personal benefit, given to the to the nondenominational church Ark by the River, and donated to Beck’s political campaign.
Beck also faces civil allegations from his former partners in an accounting firm. Those allegations contend he deprived the company of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Beck was originally indicted in July on 16 felony counts that carry a combined sentence of 102 years in prison if he is convicted. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.
The new counts cover a longer period than the earlier counts.
The most serious charge against Beck is engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
The charge is sometimes labeled Ohio’s “Little RICO” – a reference to the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations act, according to information from the Columbus Dispatch, which originally broke the story about the multimillion-dollar investment deal.
Thursday's release also lists several new indictments against the following:
- Janet Combs, of Cincinnati, was indicted on nine counts;
- Cincinnati-based TML Consulting, LLC (specific names were not released) was indicted on eight counts;
- Ark by the River Fellowship Ministries, Inc. (specific names were not released) was indicted on nine counts.
Beck was originally indicted along with several co-conspirators. One of those people, John Fussner, CTech's former president, was charged with seven felony counts and faces up to 43 years in prison if convicted.
“John Fussner and Peter Beck knew CTech was insolvent and yet they did not disclose this to investors," DeWine said in July. "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 at the time. "Theft is theft whether it is a simple theft of merchandise from a store or the sophisticated scheme perpetrated by Beck and Fussner.”
The investigation is ongoing.