Tuesday, July 22, 2003

What's the Buzz?

Estate planners to give testimony

By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A federal grand jury in Dayton, Ohio, will hear testimony today about the alleged failure of two Blue Ash estate planners to abide by the terms of a civil fraud case brought against them by the Securities & Exchange Commission, a source told the Enquirer Monday.

The SEC accused Mark W. May of Xenia and Craig Herl of West Milton in 1998 of defrauding 36 investors of $3.6 million through five companies, including USA Financial Network. U.S. District Judge Walter Rice shut down the operation in 1999 and turned it over to a trustee.

May and Herl agreed in December to leave the investment advice business for five years. Today, they operate Premier Services Network in Blue Ash and offer estate planning advice and annuities.

But the SEC says May and Herl violated the court order by engaging in deceptive conduct meant to interfere with the agency's investigation. It asked Rice to find them in criminal contempt of court, but 11/2 years after the trial, Rice has yet to rule.

Now a grand jury will hear the two men. U.S. Attorney Dick Chema would not confirm that the matter will come up today. He would only say that the grand jury will be in session today.

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