COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Speaker of the Ohio House says a State Rep. Peter Beck has agreed to give up his powerful committee chairmanship after a new indictment.
A grand jury brought 53 new charges, including an alleged pattern of corruption, against the southwest Ohio Republican. Beck is already facing trial on felony charges of security fraud, theft and other counts.
“After consultation with Representative Beck, we have mutually agreed that it would be in the best interest of the House for him to relinquish his chairmanship of the House Ways & Means Committee effective immediately. There are several important initiatives currently being considered by this committee that must continue uninterrupted. These are proposals that will have a long-standing impact on the state of Ohio, and all Ohioans can rest assured that the House will continue the hardworking effort on these initiatives," Batchelder said in a statement.
Beck is accused of being part of an enterprise that misled investors, improperly diverted their money, and laundered money. He is also charged in Thursday's Hamilton County indictment with lying to securities regulators. If convicted of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, Beck would face a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison on that count alone.
Beck was indicted last July on 16 felony counts and is scheduled for trial April 7.
“While I do not have the sole authority to remove any member of House, it is still my belief that it is in the best interest of Representative Beck, his family, and the constituents of the 54th House District for him to resign," said Batchelder.
Beck rejected calls for him to step aside last year and is seeking re-election. He had criticized the allegations as "scandalous."
Batchelder said that while there is always a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, he thinks the case will be a distraction for Beck and hurt his ability to represent his district that includes Warren and Butler counties.
The House could pass a resolution forcing Beck out. It would need support from 2/3rds of the House.