An investigation of state Rep. Peter Beck by the U.S. Department of Labor has cleared the former Mason mayor of any wrongdoing in a fraud case, his lawyer said Thursday.
But two other investigations of the Republican legislator remain ongoing. A civil lawsuit against Beck alleging he participated in fraud that cheated investors out of more than $1.2 million sparked the investigations. Beck, a certified public accountant, has since countersued.
The department’s investigation began last summer and focused on startup software company Christopher Technologies and its president and chief executive officer John Fussner, according to Konrad Kircher, Beck’s Mason-based attorney.
Beck was interviewed by investigators about his role with Christopher Technologies and Fussner.
Kircher referred calls about the case to Michael Trupo, a spokesman for the department.
But Trupo told The Enquirer he could not comment or even confirm whether there was an investigation that involved Beck.
The initial lawsuit against Beck, filed Jan. 3 by 14 investors – many from Hamilton, Butler and Warren counties, and others from Pennsylvania and Alabama – accused him, the Milford accounting firm of Donohoo, Cupp, Beck & Associates, Ark by the River Fellowship Ministry and others of defrauding them by taking their investment and spending the money instead on personal and other non-business items.
Beck left the accounting firm in July 2012.
The suit against Beck alleged he was the chief financial officer for Christopher Technologies, solicited investments and sold ownership in the company. The suit alleged the money was solicited for several entities, but little of it was used for the declared purposes. It also alleged investors were misled about the “poor” financial conditions of the companies in which the money was to be invested.
At least $15,000 of the defrauded money, the suit alleged, went to help Beck win election in 2010. The suit said checks for $5,000 and $10,000 were written to Beck’s campaign.
The secretary of state’s office, which overseas the state’s elections including campaign finance reports, did a routine audit of Beck’s reports in 2010 and found only minor errors, an agency spokesman said.
Of the two remaining investigations, one is by the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, which is trying to determine whether Beck used his position as a state lawmaker for financial gain.
The Division of Securities Enforcement of the Department of Commerce also is looking at “an alleged theft of monies from Ohio investors,” according to a Dec. 13 letter from the department obtained by The Enquirer.
Kircher said he expects those investigations to end the same way as the federal investigation. He said Beck is cooperating with authorities.
Beck represents Ohio’s 54th House District, which covers southwest Warren County and a small part of eastern Butler County.
Beck’s countersuit charges his accusers with defaming him and seeks more than $25,000, punitive damages and attorney fees. The countersuit accuses the investors of trying to humiliate and embarrass Beck in an effort to “extort” concessions and a settlement. Beck refuses to settle.
Beck has refused to talk about the allegations, except to tell The Enquirer in January that they “are untrue and are an injustice.”