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Secretary of State

Securities Division > News Archive  > 2004 Press Releases > For Immediate Release: January 12, 2004 Secretary of State's Investigation Uncovers Alleged Fraud in Southern Indiana

Contact: Cam Savage
317-232-6533
Media@sos.in.gov

Secretary of State's Investigation Uncovers Alleged Fraud in Southern Indiana

Ripley County Prosecutor Hertel Files over 250 Felony Charges



Indianapolis, IN -- Secretary of State Todd Rokita today praised Ripley County Prosecutor Richard Hertel for the filing of 102 felony criminal charges against both Gary J. Bentz and John E. Brinker Jr., both of Ohio, and 53 criminal charges against Ripley County, Indiana, resident Leonard E. Eckstein.

The felony charges include counts alleging all three men offered and sold unregistered securities, were unregistered agents, and sold securities in a fraudulent manner.

The criminal charges are the culmination of an investigation initiated approximately three years ago by the Secretary of State's office regarding activities at Wellington Capital Holdings Limited, Inc. Hertel's office has the authority to file criminal charges under Indiana law. Detective Tracy Rohlfing of the Indiana State Police has spent the last 13 months investigating and developing the case against the three individuals.

Prosecutor Hertel said that these individuals, by their actions, have conned Ripley County residents out of approximately $1 million. He noted, "Savings, retirements, and college funds have been stolen from law abiding citizens, not by men in ski masks with guns, but by men with pens and briefcases. These crimes have a direct and lasting impact on numerous people who reside in Ripley County."

"The filing of these charges sends a clear message that we will tenaciously pursue anyone who intends to defraud Hoosiers of their hard-earned savings. By cooperating fully, Prosecutor Hertel's office, the State Police, and the Securities Division of my office have made Indiana safer for investors," Rokita said.

Rokita and Hertel both had high praise for those investigating and coordinating efforts to this point, primarily Securities Commissioner Jim Joven, Secretary of State Securities Division Enforcement Attorney Paul Lawson, and Detective Rohlfing.

Hertel further cautioned Ripley County residents about other potential scams and to research any opportunity prior to investing.

Businesses holding themselves out to be corporations should be registered with Rokita's office, as should both investments and their sellers. Information can be verified at Rokita's website, http://www.sos.in.gov/, or by phone at 317.232.6576 (for corporations) or 1.800.223.8791 (for securities).