Ohio Rep. Pete Beck refuses to resign

“He feels he can very capably represent his constituents while he is defending these unfounded charges,” Konrad Kircher, Beck’s attorney, told this newspaper. “I would caution everyone against a rush to judgment based on one side of the story. The grand jury didn’t hear Pete’s testimony, the grand jury didn’t see Pete’s evidence. At this point these are just charges, they are not convictions.”

Late last Friday, Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, and Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges called on Beck, a Mason Republican, to resign from office. Earlier Friday, Beck was indicted on 16 felony counts and accused of fleecing investors out of $200,000.

“While everyone is presumed innocent and deserves a fair trial, it’s important that Representative Beck take appropriate action that will allow him to focus on the serious accusations he faces and prevent him from being a distraction for his colleagues and Party,” Borges said in a Friday statement.

Asked about Kircher’s statements, Batchelder spokeswoman Shannon Boston said in an email: “Further courses of action—if any—have not yet been discussed with the caucus. If the speaker decides to take any further action, we will put out a statement to let the media know.”

Beck, a Mason Republican, faces a maximum of 102 years in prison if convicted on all counts he faces. John W. Fussner, his former business partner, was indicted on seven counts. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court at 8:30 a.m. July 26.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who are jointly prosecuting the case, said in a Friday press conference more charges are possible. A five-year statute of limitations was running so they proceeded with these counts, but DeWine said the investigation is not over.

DeWine said the two men knew the company was in dire financial shape, but deceived investors while soliciting them for money, which they then used for other purposes.

“The total we’re showing is $200,000 on these charges,” DeWine said. “This is a portion of the story. There is more of the story to come.”

The charges against Beck and Fussner are related to their role in a now-defunct company called Christopher Technologies. Fussner was the company’s president, while Beck was the former chief financial officer. Beck has identified himself in a 2010 disclosure filing as a former CTech owner.

A group of CTech investors sued last January, alleging Beck and others defrauded them out of $1.2 million.

Batchelder last January appointed Beck as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which helps write Ohio tax law, days after the investors filed their lawsuit. Beck also sits on the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee.