Paul E. Kostyu reports:
State Rep. Peter A. Beck is the subject of three separate state investigations, according to his attorney.
Meanwhile, Beck this week in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court countersued those who filed a lawsuit against him. The initial suit alleges he participated in a fraud that cheated investors out of more than $1.2 million. Beck is seeking more than $25,000, punitive damages and attorney fees.
The state investigations of the Republican former mayor of Mason are coming from:
• The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, which is trying to determine whether Beck used his position as a state lawmaker for financial gain.
Konrad Kircher, Beck’s Mason-based attorney, told The Enquirer he has heard neither from the committee nor from the legislative inspector general, Tony W. Bledsoe, who conducts investigations for the committee. Bledsoe said he could neither confirm nor deny an investigation by his office.
House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, told The Enquirer on Jan. 7 that the ethics committee, which he chairs, was investigating Beck.
• The Division of Securities Enforcement of the Department of Commerce, which 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 Beck is cooperating with investigators and sent a box and a half of materials to the division.
The department asked the Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, which is overseen by the attorney general, to assist with the investigation. The letter asked that forensic accountant Leo A. Fernandez be assigned to the case, and the agency also “provide litigation support services.”
Lisa Peterson Hackley, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the investigation of Beck is ongoing.
• A third agency, which Kircher would not identify. It started an investigation last summer, but, said Kircher, “It’s dead in the water.”
That agency apparently is not the state auditor’s office. Carrie Bartunek, a spokeswoman, said the agency is not involved with the investigations because “it does not appear” public dollars are involved.
Beck represents Ohio’s 54th House District, which covers southwest Warren County and a small part of eastern Butler County.
Kircher said Beck’s response is a three-pronged effort. Not only is Beck charging his accusers of defaming him, but he’s asking the court “to strike various scandalous, vexatious and impertinent allegations” in the case against him. He also filed a motion to dismiss the case entirely.
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, Kircher told The Enquirer.
Investors’ attorney J. Thomas Hodges of Cincinnati said he couldn’t comment because he hasn’t had time to review the countersuit.
The Division of Securities Enforcement can search for evidence of fraud, such as misrepresentations to investors or misspent money, by tracking bank accounts and other sources.
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