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Lawmaker back in court on Halloween

This week it is expected that an embattled Ohio lawmaker will either plea to 16 cases alleging securities fraud and theft, or have his day in court.

Rep. Pete Beck, R-Mason, is accused cheating investors out of about $200,000 related to his role in the now-defunct company Christopher Technologies where Beck was the chief financial officer.

His former business partner, John W. Fussner, faces seven securities fraud and theft charges as president of the now-defunct tech firm that sold early warning software.

Beck, 60, and his attorney, Ralph Kohnen, are scheduled to appear before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge John Andrew West on Thursday morning to either plea or set a trial date. Fussner is also expected to appear and either offer a plea or set a trial date.

Beck is a former mayor of Mason and has served in the Ohio House since being appointed in October 2009 and elected in 2010 and 2012.

A trial date was scheduled to be set, or a plea entered, on Sept. 19, but Beck’s attorney Ralph Kohnen, an attorney with Taft Stettinius and Hollister, as well as Fussner’s attorneys, requested more time with more than 60,000 pages of documents entered into the record by the prosecution. The case is being jointly prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General and Hamilton County Prosecutor.

A civil suit, filed in January, has been delayed until after the trial. The civil suit, which Beck is being defended against by Warren County attorney Konrad Kircher, claims Beck and others bilked investors in Christopher Technologies out of $1.2 million. Fussner was not named in the civil case.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine had said additional charges are likely to be filed as the investigation is on-going.

Beck faces 102 years in prison, but Ohio Attorney General spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said, “If (he’s) convicted on all counts, it is likely that charges would be merged or concurrent sentences would be imposed.”

Beck and Fussner are out on their own recognizance with an unsecured appearance bond, which means if they miss a court date they’ll have to pay $50,000.

Kohnen could not be reached for comment.

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