State Rep. Peter Beck, R-Mason, plans to serve his full term and run for re-election this spring, despite facing 69 felony counts for his alleged role in defrauding investors in a West Chester startup.
“Yes and yes. Yes, ma’am,” Beck said in response to an Enquirer reporter’s questions about his plans, as he rushed into an Ohio House committee meeting. He spread his arms, as if to say, “I’m here, aren’t I?”
Beck was first indicted on 16 counts last summer. That number expanded to 69 after fellow Republicans Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters on Thursday filed new charges of corruption, fraud and perjury against Beck. He has refused to resign in spite of calls for his resignation from Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges and Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina.
Beck is accused of helping to bilk investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars as chief financial officer of an insolvent West Chester software startup owned by the late Cincinnati money manager Thomas M. Lysaght. The charges say Beck also took some of the money intended for the startup, called Christopher Technologies, and diverted it to his campaign fund.
Much of the money from the fraud also went to Ark by the River Fellowship Ministry, a secretive Linwood church investigated by The Enquirer in September, according to the indictment issued Thursday. So the church and Pastor Janet Combs, who is Lysaght’s widow, also face felony charges for corruption, money laundering and receiving stolen property.
Beck has maintained his innocence. His attorneys have characterized him as a victim in the fraud, not a conspirator.
With the latest indictment, Beck agreed to step down as chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, which handles taxes. Rep. Jeff McClain, R-Upper Sandusky, will chair the committee instead.
Speaker Batchelder said he also believed Beck should resign his House seat. Beck’s current two-year term expires in December.