Two public officials are the subject of criminal investigations in Warren County.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Republican State Representative Peter A. Beck is the subject of three separate state investigations. Beck is also involved in a ;lawsuit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court alleging that he participated in a fraud that cheated investors out of more than $1.2 million. Beck has filed a countersuit in the Common Pleas Court case/
The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee is investigating allegations that Beck used his position as a state lawmaker for financial gain. Meanwhile, the Division of Securities Enforcement of the Department of Commerce, along with the Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, is investigating the fraud allegations. A third unidentified agency has also opened an investigation, but according to Beck’s attorney the investigation is not proceeding.
Beck represents Ohio’s 54th House District, which covers parts of Warren and Butler Counties.
State agencies are involved, in part, because the lawsuit alleges that some of the money Beck fraudently obtained from investors was used to fund his political campaign. Beck told the Cincinnati Enquorer that the allegations “are untrue and are an injustice.”
In an unrelated political matter, the Dayton Daily News has reported that the Warren County Prosecuting Attorney is investigating allegations that the Franklin City Schools Superintendent improperly used school resources to engage in political activities. Prosecutor David Fornshell is reviewing whether a letter sent to parents by Superintendent Arnol Elam violated state law by urging parents to vote against Governor John Kasich. Elam was upset about Kasich’s proposed school funding formula. Kasich’s formula would provide no additional funds for Franklin Schools, but would provide additional money to more wealthy school district in Warren County.
Elam said, “It was not my intent to break the law. It was my intent to inform our citizens of the gravity of the governor’s budget on education.”
Both Beck and Elam have attorneys involved at this early state of the investigation. In our experience, this is a wise decision. Convictions for crimes while in public servce can not only lead to possible fines and prison terms, but can also result in loss of state retirement benefits or the ability to hold public office in the future. With so much at stake, public officials need to be sure that they have an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the law and can properly defend against these allegations. The earlier a criminal defense lawyer is involved in the process, the higher the likelihood the attorney can reach a positive resolution to the charges.