"Cult" leader pleads no contest

WKPC Local 12 News, Ohio/November 18, 2014

By Rich Jaffe

Cincinnati -- The massive fraud case against an embattled state representative took a major step forward Monday, Nov. 17, with another plea deal for an alleged co-conspirator.

Local 12 first reported about the security fraud involving Peter Beck in an exclusive Local 12 investigation in 2012. Monday, Beck as well as two of his co-conspirators were in court for the latest step in their prosecution. All the people indicted or even connected to Beck have been whittled down over the last year. Each one agreed to testify against him as the attorney general's office honed in on the top of the heap, and clearly that was Beck.

The last one to fold was Janet Combs. If convicted on all the charges he's facing, Peter Beck could go to prison for hundreds of years. Tuesday though, his attorney told Judge John Andrew West they were tired of waiting.

Ralph Kohnen explained, "Our suggestion to the court, hopefully with Mr Kasaris' concurrence, is the state dismiss the superceding indictment and start over and when they're ready to proceed with the case we'll be ready to defend it. But they're not ready to proceed and frankly my client is tired of waiting."

The attorney general's prosecutor explained they're waiting for documents from two law firms, Wood and Lamping and Thompson and Hines. Both firms provided legal advice to Beck and others accused of swindling investors out of millions of dollars.

One of the co-conspirators, John Fussner, was in court Nov. 17, as was Janet Combs. With Beck as the front man, Combs and her husband Tom Lysaght, who allegedly ran the fraud, funneled hundreds of thousands of investor dollars into her church, Ark By The River. With Beck watching from the back of the courtroom, Combs took a plea deal pleading no contest to one count of receiving stolen property.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Dan Kasaris said, "Your Honor, the amount involved was $250,000."

In exchange for Combs testifying against Beck in his upcoming trial, 10 additional charges against her were dropped. Her church, which the attorney general called a cult, will also pay the bilked investors $250,000 in restitution.

The assistant attorney general was a bit amused by the suggestion offered by Beck's attorney, and in no uncertain terms said, "Thanks, no thanks," to the offer to dismiss.

As part of the deal, Ark By The River has to make an initial $50,000 payment to the investors by the end of the year. There will be a couple more hearing dates December 2014 for scheduling issues, and then Beck's trial should start sometime in 2015.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos