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Local lawmaker facing 16 felony counts, 102 years in jail

State Rep. Pete Beck, R-Mason, was indicted Friday on 16 felony counts related to securities fraud.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, both Republicans, are holding a press conference this afternoon to discuss the charges. He faces a maximum of 102 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Beck, 60, is a certified public accountant and former mayor of Mason. He was appointed to the state legislature in 2009 and was has been re-elected twice since then. He is the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and sits on the finance and appropriations committee.

Beck represents the 54th District in the Ohio House covering parts of Warren and Butler counties including Lebanon, Turtlecreek Twp. and Mason.

Beck has been facing legal problems since at least January, when a group of investors sued in a Hamilton County court, alleging they were defrauded out of $1.2 million by a group including Beck, Cincinnati pastor Janet Combs, and companies tied to Combs’ late husband, Thomas Lysaght.

The investors behind the lawsuit allege the money they invested was instead transferred to Combs’s church and otherwise misspent; $15,000 of the investors’ money was donated to Beck’s political campaign, they said.

Beck filed a countersuit against the investors in February. A judge in March put the case on hold until the criminal investigation runs its course.

Indictments were expected on Thursday but never came to fruition. Beck’s attorney Konrad Kircher issued a statement in advance of the indictment saying others are at fault and Beck is a scapegoat.

“The charges are unsupported. Mr. Beck is being blamed for the errors or wrongdoing of others,” Kircher wrote. “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 investors, has cast a broad net to attempt to remedy the unfortunate business losses of the investors.”

Local GOP leaders were miffed when Beck was chosen to replace now Sen. Shannon Jones. The local party wanted Lebanon City Councilman Jeff Monroe to go to Columbus but many surmised Beck’s fund raising ability — he told the House caucus at the time he had $180,000 to $250,000 in committed campaign dollars — got him the seat.

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