Ohio

Ohio House Ways and Means Committee Chair Implicated in Fraud Lawsuit

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Ohio Representative Peter Beck, a Republican from Mason, is listed as a defendant in a civil suit filed in January in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. The complaint alleges that Beck helped Cincinnati businesses TML Consulting, Christopher Technologies, Ark by the River Fellowship Ministry, and another partner at his accounting firm defraud investors of nearly $1 million.

The complaint, filed by Cincinnati attorney J. Thomas Hodges on behalf of 14 investors, claims that Beck – who is the current chair of the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee – was involved in the operations of multiple businesses which misappropriated funds for personal use, including contribution’s to Beck’s campaign account.

Beck “generated the financial statements and tax returns for the Ark by the River since the mid-1990s,” was at various times “an authorized signer on the checking account for the Ark by the River,” “was closely involved with all financial reporting of TML,” and served as the chief financial officer of tech start-up Christopher Technologies, according to the complaint.

Accounting firm Donohoo, Cupp, Beck, & Associates prepared financial statements and tax returns for both TML Consulting and Christopher Technologies. The plaintiffs allege that “At the time Beck provided such financial information to potential investors, he was aware, or should have been aware, that the financial condition of both entities was very poor.”

The complaint states that in March 2010, TML Consulting issued a $5,000 check to Beck’s campaign account without investors’ knowledge. “There was another check written to Beck’s campaign from the TML investors’ account on August 23, 2010, for $10,000,” the complaint adds.

Several of the defendants in the case face additional investment fraud allegations, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported in January.

Beck and a co-defendant are accused of making “representations and promises” to two of the plaintiffs “with the intent to mislead,” which the plaintiffs claim lead them to invest in “companies from which the Defendants could then misappropriate funds.”

A week after the lawsuit’s filing in court, House Speaker William Batchelder told Cincinnati Enquirer reporters that the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee (JLEC), on which Batchelder serves as chairman, will investigate the case for possible ethics violations.

An investigation launched by The Columbus Dispatch confirmed that the Ohio Department of Commerce is also investigating Rep. Beck as a result of complaints received. Commerce department communications director Lyn Tolan told Dispatch reporters that “there is a situation in the Cincinnati area that our division of securities received a number of complaints on investment situations” involving the Mason-area Republican.

The state’s top criminal investigation agency,  the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), is also investigating Beck’s business dealings, according to Ohio Attorney General communications director Lisa Hackley. Beck’s lawyer, Konrad Kircher, was unaware of BCI’’s involvement in the investigation until informed by reporters.