Soldier who allegedly killed 16 Afghans accused of financial fraud in Ohio

Victims say they lost their life savings

CINCINNATI - New information is coming forward about a soldier who grew up in the Tri-State and is suspected in the murder of 16 Afghan civilians.

9 News has learned about previous crimes allegedly committed by Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is suspected of carrying out a nighttime attack on two Afghan villages that left 16 people dead, including nine children. Formal charges are expected to be filed within a week for Bales' involvement in the incident, according to the Associated Press.

Just one year before entering the military, Bales -- a Norwood, Ohio, native -- was accused of stealing money from an Ohio couple in an elaborate scheme.

While working as a financial advisor, Bales was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million to the Liebschners, who reside in Columbus, according to documents from the National Association of Securities Dealers and FINRA.

9 News spoke with the Liebschners on the phone Monday morning. They say Bales has never paid back the money he allegedly took from them.

Bales was never charged criminally, but the arbitration was filed in May 2000, just one year before Bales enlisted in the military. It was resolved in 2003.

Bales never made an appearance at a scheduled hearing for the arbitration. The Liebschners say that's because they could never find Bales after accusing him of taking their money.

The arbitration found that Bales engaged in fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, churning, unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments.

Mrs. Liebschner told 9 News her husband was ill, so she decided to sell some of their stocks through Bales' company to pay for medical fees.

She says that's when Bales started pocketing their money.

Gary Liebschner wouldn't comment any further on the arbitration, or say what he thought about the Afghanistan murders Bales is suspected to be involved with.

He did say it was hard to recognize the man accused of taking their money through Bales' Army helmet, but he said it didn't take long to realize it was the same person.

The Liebschners also spoke with ABC News.

Gary told the network Bales took their life savings.

"At the time I retired, the stock was worth $75 a share. And that went out the window," he said.

Gary retired from AT&T, where he worked as an engineer. He says his retirement stocks were rolled over to an IRA. He became ill in 2000 and the couple decided to sell their stocks to help pay for medical expenses.

"I went to a financial advisor that I knew from AT&T but he had left and gone into his own business, and he in turn rolled my holdings over into an IRA for tax purposes, the stock went the company that Michael Patterson ended up owning," Gary said.

Bales worked for Michael Patterson Incorporated, also known as MPI. The company is also listed in the arbitration.

Gary says he and his wife have since been living on ends meet. He says he can't work because of his physical condition.

In 2003, Bales was ordered to pay $637,000 as compensatory damaged, plus interest at the Ohio statutory rate of 10 percent until the date of payment in full, $637,000 as punitive damages, $216,500 as attorney's fees, $375 to reimburse the Liebschners' filing fee, and several other small damages.

Seven other individuals and companies are listed in the arbitration and accused of the same charges.

Bales with with his attorney first time on Monday. For more information about Bales' alleged involvement in the Afghanistan murders, go to http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region_central_cincinnati/norwood/lawyer-headed-to-meet-afghan-suspect-face-to-face .

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