Ohio wants appeals court to reconsider Pete Beck decision

Pete Beck takes notes at the defense table during testimony of a witness on Friday, April 24, 2015, during his criminal trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in downtown Cincinnati.
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Pete Beck takes notes at the defense table during testimony of a witness on Friday, April 24, 2015, during his criminal trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in downtown Cincinnati.

The Ohio Attorney General is trying to have a convicted former state lawmaker serve out his four-year sentence despite a Dec. 14 appeals court decision overturning most of his conviction.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed on Wednesday a motion with the First District Court of Appeals, asking it to reconsider its decision overturning 10 of 13 criminal counts against former Ohio House member Pete Beck, saying the court's ruling "contains both an obvious error and an issue that was not fully considered."

A decision on this motion isn’t expected until after the first of the year, according to Joshua Engel, a trial and appeals attorney from Mason. He said that Beck’s attorney, Pierre Bergeron, will have time to respond to the state’s motion and the court will make a decision after that.

“It’s pretty uncommon for a court to grant a reconsideration,” Engel said. “The reason behind that is the court presumably thought long and hard about its decision.”

He said unless there’s a true error the court missed, it’s likely the court will deny the motion.

If the motion is denied, the last alternative is for the state to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

DeWine argues that a 2010 Ohio Supreme Court case set a precedence that statute of limitations begins only after the offense is discovered. The court earlier this month ruled that the five-year statute of limitations, albeit barely, had run out. Beck was indicted on July 19, 2013 and the offense was said to have occurred around July 16, 2008.

A complaint was filed with the Ohio Division of Securities in 2011.

Bergeron declined to comment other than that he intends to file a response opposing the state’s motion.

Beck, 64, was released from the Southeastern Correctional Institution in Fairfield County a week after the appeals court's decision.

Beck was found guilty in June 2015 on seven counts of perjury, three counts of securities-related violations and three counts of theft. A three-judge panel ruled there was a lack of evidence to convict Beck on perjury and the securities counts were beyond the statute of limitations.

The state claimed that Beck played a significant role in swindling investors out of money by asking them to invest in that turned out to be a failed tech start-up, Christopher Technologies. Prosecutors said he was the chief financial officer of the company, though Beck, a CPA, claimed he was a financial advisor.

Beck was sentenced to four years in prison in August 2015.

Because the remaining theft counts the appeals court upheld carried a year sentence Bergeron filed an emergency motion for early release last week in Hamilton County. The motion was granted on Dec. 22 by Common Pleas Judge Tom Heekin. Beck had been incarcerated for 16 months.

At one point Beck faced nearly 70 counts between two indictments, the initial one filed on July 19, 2013, and a second one filed on Feb. 13, 2014. The charges Beck faced included securities-related violations, money laundering, theft by deception, perjury and corruption, known as RICO.

The counts were reduced to 39 in the middle of a 10-week criminal trial, and one was withdrawn by the prosecution before the judge issued his decision.