Saturday, March 23, 2002

Ex-minister guilty in securities case

By Cliff Peale,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Gerald Lach, the former Clermont County minister who sold $2.3 million in securities to bankroll projects that never happened, pleaded guilty Friday to 12 felony counts of selling unregistered securities.

        Mr. Lach, 78, cut a deal with prosecutors to avoid a trial on 59 counts of selling unregistered securities and misleading investors.

        He will be sentenced April 22 by Clermont County Common Pleas Judge William Walker. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison and a maximum fine of $60,000.

        “We've held him accountable, we've shut him down, and we've done everything we can do to find any funds for restitution,” said Tony Brock, the assistant prosecutor who handled the case.

        Left without their money are more than 800 investors who backed projects including an outer-belt highway around Greater Cincinnati and a monorail system.

        Mr. Brock said while his investigators could not find significant funds to return to investors, the Ohio Division of Securities and a court-appointed receiver could continue to look. An Enquirer investigation in 2000 found that more than two-thirds of the money — about $1.7 million — is gone. Most was spent on architects and consultants.

        Mr. Lach has been out of jail since December, when a judge reduced his bond for health reasons. His lawyer did not return phone calls seeking comment.


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