The criminal trial of a former Warren County politician is in its final throes as the first day of closing arguments wrapped late Wednesday afternoon.
Pete Beck is the former state lawmaker and former Mason mayor charged with dozens of criminal counts for his involvement as the chief financial officer for Christopher Technologies. After reducing the superseding indictment, and dismissal of one charge, Beck faces 38 criminal counts, which include perjury, money laundering, theft, several securities-related allegations and corruption.
The trial started on March 23, and 10 weeks later, closing arguments are taking place after nearly 30 witnesses testified for the state and thousands of documents were presented into evidence.
“It’s been a lot of work for I’m sure everyone involved, but it’s been necessary. It’s a necessary trial,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General Jesse Kramig, as he opened his closing argument.
Kramig said to Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge John Andrew West that the defense is attempting to get him “stuck in the weeds” as the case can be, and has been, “cumbersome,” “complicated” and “overwhelming.”
“But if you stay out of the weeds, you can see a common theme you’ll see across all the witnesses and all the exhibits. And the common theme is Mr. Beck’s lies. Mr. Beck lied time and time again, and then he lied more.”
The format of closing arguments permit the state to open with its final statement, then have an opportunity for a rebuttal statement following the defense’s final statement. Closing arguments have been broken up into four sections, where various related counts can be discussed at length. Counts 2 through 18, the seven theft and 10 perjury counts, were the subject of closing arguments Wednesday.
Lead defense attorney Ralph Kohnen said the state would like to see West get ensnared in its own set of weeds when it comes to the perjury charges levied against Beck.
Beck’s perjury counts are related to his Rule 23 administrative hearing with the Ohio Division of Securities, and specifically, the questions asked by BCI Special Agent Rick Ward, said Kohnen.
Kohnen said there needs to be “clear, understandable questions” before a perjury charge can be levied, and this is where “the state has taken into the weeds … in respect to the semantics of these answers.”
The main theme Kramig’s co-counsel, lead prosecutor Senior Assistant Attorney General Dan Kasaris, tried to hone in during his rebuttal was that Beck’s alleged lies are why this trial is taking place.
“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar,” said Kasaris, a phrase he repeated several times during his rebuttal.
Kohnen, however, said misstatements and “honest mistakes” do not make a liar, and the evidence gathered by the state lacks the “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden the state needs to prove.
“The court in order to find something beyond a reasonable doubt has to conclude that it’s been satisfied, that you’ve been satisfied, that the evidence is so compelling that you would not hesitate to make the most important decisions of your life based on that quantum of evidence,” Kohnen said. “And your honor that’s a high burden, as the court recognizes, and again the state hasn’t met.”
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