Judge orders early prison release for former Ohio lawmaker

CINCINNATI (AP) — A former Ohio lawmaker who had 10 of 13 convictions on theft, perjury and securities-related charges recently overturned by an appeals court was ordered Thursday to be released early from prison.

A Hamilton County Common Pleas judge in Cincinnati granted 64-year-old Pete Beck’s motion seeking early release.

The Republican former state representative was sentenced in August 2015 to four years in prison. He served 16 months after he was convicted of misleading investors at a company where he worked and using their money for personal gain.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Ohio Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 14 that the trial court in Cincinnati erred in convicting Beck of three securities-related counts and seven perjury counts. That ruling said the alleged crimes leading to the securities-related charges occurred outside the statute of limitations, and the panel couldn’t conclude Beck’s testimony related to the perjury counts was “clearly false.”

The appeals court upheld three theft counts, for which the prison term totaled one year.

Beck’s attorney, Pierre Bergeron, said Thursday that he hadn’t yet talked with his client, but expects him to be home by the weekend.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the release order, saying only that prosecutors continue to review the appeals court ruling. They could decide to challenge the earlier ruling.

The certified public accountant from Mason resigned from the Ohio House in late 2014, shortly before his term was to end. He lost a re-election bid in the May 2014 Republican primary. He had held the seat since 2009.

Prosecutors said Beck served as chief financial officer of the now-defunct Christopher Technologies. They said he was part of an enterprise that misled investors, among other things.

Beck’s attorneys contended he was a scapegoat who erred in trusting that the technology company was positioned to land major contracts.