MILLERSBURG -- An Orrville man on Wednesday, April 19, denied criminal charges he allegedly sold non-existent securities to two Holmes County Amish men in 2000.
Jeffrey W. Johnson, 50, of 831 Wadsworth Road, is charged with a single count of theft and three counts of unlawful securities practices associated with each victim.
If convicted, Johnson faces up to 18 months in prison for each theft charge and up to three years in prison for each securities violation.
While the theft charge alleges Johnson illegally took the men's money, the unlawful securities practices charges allege he:
knowingly made false representations concerning a material and relevant fact for the purpose of selling any securities in Ohio;
knowingly sold or offered for sale any security that had not been registered; and
knowingly engaged in any act or practice that was declared illegal, defined as fraudulent, or prohibited.
The Holmes County Sheriff's Office became involved in 2000, at which time the office was contacted by a private investigator, hired by the men after they became suspicious Johnson had no intention of producing what he promised.
After paying him in excess of $30,000, collectively, the men reported Johnson produced no returns, no evidence of securities and no evidence he was a broker, according to Chief Deputy Richard Haun.
The Sheriff's Office referred the case to the Ohio Department of Commerce's Securities Division, which investigated the complaint and made charging recommendation to the Holmes County Prosecutor's Office, which took the case to a Holmes County grand jury in January.
Johnson is next scheduled to appear in Holmes County Common Pleas Court for a June 15 pretrial conference. A jury trial is scheduled for July 17.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.