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New hearing set for Ohio lawmaker in fraud case

With 60,000 pages of documents to peruse, State Rep. Pete Beck’s attorneys told a Hamilton County judge today that they need more time before a trial date in his securities fraud case can be set.

The Mason Republican appeared in Judge John Andrew West’s courtroom along with co-defendant John Fussner and a host of attorneys.

The former Mason mayor sat staring forward prior to his turn before the bench and would not comment afterward about his status at the Statehouse as chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

Beck faces 16 counts of securities fraud and other charges in connection with an alleged investment scam involving Christopher Technologies, a tech firm that sold early warning software before going belly up.

Beck’s attorney, Ralph Kohnen, a partner in the securities and antitrust litigation section of Taft Stettinius and Hollister, didn’t say much during the brief hearing, but Joshua Engel, one of Fussner’s co-counsel, summed up the predicament the attorneys are in.

“The biggest issue we have your honor is we’ve been provided a significant amount of discovery from the state,” he said. “Almost 60,000 pages. In those 60,000 pages we have not seen any statements of significance from the complaining witnesses. In particular we are trying to figure out what misrepresentations our client made, when he made them, who he made them to and all that.”

West said he highly doubts the trial will commence this year and set another hearing for Oct. 31.

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.

A civil suit filed in January claims Beck and others bilked investors in Christopher Technologies out of $1.2 million. The investors also say $15,000 of their money went into Beck’s campaign fund. Fussner, who faces 7 criminal charges, was not sued in the civil case.

On the day the grand jury indictments were handed down, Attorney General Mike DeWine said the investigation is ongoing and more charges will likely be filed. The 16 charges they brought against Beck involve $200,000 in lost investment monies.

“The total we’re showing is $200,000 on these charges,” DeWine said. “This is a portion of the story. There is more of the story to come.”

Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, and Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges called on Beck to resign from office the day he was indicted. Beck has refused, maintaining he can still “capably” serve his constituents.

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