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Man pleads guilty in securities fraud case
HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- An embattled State Representative takes a legal blow to the chin Thursday as his ex-business partner agrees to testify against him.
State Representative Peter Beck's facing 69 charges in a massive securities fraud case that involves multiple companies, multiple defendants and even a church that Ohio's Attorney General calls a cult. The indictments follow a Local 12 investigation that we first brought to light in November of 2012.
Local 12's Rich Jaffe says Beck's got to be sweating bullets right now after watching his ex-business partner, John Fussner, cut a deal. Janet Combs, the alleged cult leader who runs the church, is also potentially looking at many years behind bars.
As Local 12 first reported in 2012, Combs, her dead husband, Fussner and a number of others allegedly conned investors out of hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. As she came out of the courtroom Thursday, her body guards tried to shield alleged cult leader Janet Combs from Local 12 cameras and questions.
As they tried to block the cameras with hats, hands, even an umbrella Rich Jaffe asked, "Janet what was Mr. Beck doing for your church?"
Pushing and shoving one of her bodyguards barked, "We have nothing to say to you Jaffe, get away from us, get away from us. I said get away from us!"
But we already know in an exclusive interview in 2012, Beck told Local 12 he was the accountant for Combs, her church, her husband and his allegedly bogus investment company, TML Consulting. He was also the Chief Financial Officer for a company called Christopher Technologies. And while Combs wasn't talking, it appears that Pete Beck's business associate, John Fussner, the President of C-Tech, is talking big time to authorities.
Thursday he struck a deal that will allow him to plead guilty to two securities fraud charges rather than the seven on which he was originally indicted. Fussner gets the deal in exchange for testifying against his associates.
Ohio Assistant Attorney Dan Kasaris explained to the court, "The defendant has agreed to testify truthfully against Peter Beck on any of the criminal violations Mr. Beck has been charged with. Further your honor the defendant has agreed to cooperate completely and truthfully with the state of Ohio."
Both Beck and Combs sat quietly in the courtroom as they watched Fussner agree to the deal early Thursday morning. Then it was their turn to go in front of Judge John Andrew West as attorney's chose November 17th as a possible date for the massive white collar crime trial.
The group allegedly swindled investors into dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into either insolvent or bogus companies. A large portion of the money going to fund Janet Comb's Linwood Church earned her charges of money laundering, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and receiving stolen property.
Rich Jaffe caught up with the State Rep in the courthouse hallway. As he came up to the representative asking a question, he turned his back and walked away.
Jaffe asked, "So Pete are you concerned at all that John Fussner is cooperating? Does it worry you at all that your ex-business partner's cooperating with the state? Peter?"
Fussner and his attorney's made an interesting deal with the Attorney General and the prosecutors are setting aside his sentencing until after Beck goes to trial. Clearly their deal is based on just how much he helps them convict Beck and Combs.
Through all this Pete Beck is still running for election in Warren County. The primary is May 6th. He refuses to step down and he's running against two opponents.
The defendants and their attorneys are expected back in court May 29th to try and iron out some of the details of the case. They're still trying to work out a mountain of discovery documents and also deciding if the cases will all be merged into one. Also up for consideration is whether they want a jury trial or to just have Judge West hear the case.
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