Beck donations to Republican Caucus sought by civil suit attorney

Beck’s hearing in criminal appeal could be heard this fall.

The attorney for the plaintiffs who civilly sued former lawmaker Pete Beck is trying to get money from the Ohio House Republican Organizational Caucus he says is owed to his clients.

J. Thomas Hodges is trying to negotiate through OHROC’s attorney, but he hasn’t ruled out a lawsuit if talks fail.

Beck, 63, was found guilty in June 2015 on 13 criminal counts for a role state investigators say he played where investors lost millions of dollars when they invested in TML Consulting. Leo Fernandez, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations forensic accountant, testified during Beck’s 10-week criminal trial that TML Consulting donated $15,000 to Beck’s political campaign for state representative, and his campaign donated that money to OHROC.

Hodges said that money is owed to his clients.

“Until the closing arguments of the criminal trial, my clients had no clear knowledge where their stolen money had gone,” Hodges wrote to the Republican organization on May 18.

Columbus attorney Don Brey is representing OHROC in this matter.

“We are in conversation and I’ve asked (Hodges) to send some additional information,” he said.

Brey declined further comment, outside of saying he “will continue to be in conversations” with Hodges.

If the negotiations fail, Hodges said he would sue “if we have to” in order to get money he believes is owed to his clients.

Hodges said the civil case — which was brought forward by Tom Walters, a key witness in Beck’s criminal trial — has been “resolved and dismissed” as of the end of May. Hodges said he could not comment further because of a confidentiality agreement in the case’s resolution, but confirmed what was “resolved” happened a few weeks prior to the dismissal filing.

During Beck’s trial and in the charges filed by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Beck was tapped as a key player in the failure of the start-up tech firm Christopher Technologies, which used Lysaght as a fundraiser for the company. The prosecution claimed it was Beck with the late Tom Lysaght, who owned TML Consulting, who swindled investors out of money.

The charges against Beck fluctuated as the criminal investigation and the trial proceeded. He was initially charged with 16 counts in July 2013, then those charges ballooned to 69 counts in a February 2014 superseding indictment. They were reduced eventually to 38 counts in the waning weeks of the trial.

The civil case was filed in January 2013 but was stayed until the conclusion of the criminal trial, which started in March 2015 and lasted 43 days. Beck was convicted on three securities-related counts, three theft counts and seven perjury counts. Beck filed a notice to appeal his conviction and four-year prison sentence in September 2015.

He remains in the Southeastern Correctional Institution.

Beck claimed, and still maintains, he was used as a pawn by Lysaght, who died in November 2010. The third, and final, scheduled brief was filed by Beck’s attorneys with the First District Court of Appeals this past Friday. With that filing, oral arguments in Beck’s appeal can begin this fall.

Beck’s appellate attorney, Pierre Bergeron, filed the initial brief in April, and the state’s response came after three motions for time extensions were granted by presiding appellate Judge Patrick F. Fischer.

The July 8 response brief filed by Beck’s attorney was the last scheduled brief before the case can be scheduled for oral arguments by the appeal court in Hamilton County.

Barring any additional entry to delay the appeal, if things timely proceed court officials say oral arguments could happen sometime in September or October, according to the appeals court.

Thus far the case has been legal ping-pong: Bergeron claiming the case should either be dismissed or a new trial order based on any one of eight assignments of error; the state saying those arguments are flawed the appeal denied; and then Bergeron saying the state failed in supporting their rebuttal.

Bergeron claims the conviction of the three theft counts and three securities law violations were outside the statute of limitations, and the conviction of the seven perjury counts should be rejected as they were based on “imprecise, ambiguous questions.”

He also claims the prosecution allowed investors “to cherry pick” which documents to provide to state investigators; the judge erred when quashing a subpoena to retrieve documents from Wells Fargo; his trial attorneys did not “adequately” raise key objections; claims three of his constitutional rights were violated; and the trial was “marred” by numerous evidentiary errors, mid-trial changes and “fatal deficiencies.”

The state says those allegations are absurd and claim Beck had every chance to object and continually dispute the allegations during the trial the issues raised in his appellate brief — but that did not happen.

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.