|Submitted||Jan. 20, 2017|
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Ohio Open Records Law, I hereby request the following records:
The Department of Commerce, in unison with agents at the BCI spent years investigating a church and its members for cult activity. The investigation was initiated by the agency at the request of one individual and was ancillary to a criminal investigation for alleged securities fraud. Harvey McCleskey, at attorney assigned to securities division of the Ohio Department of Commerce, has no obvious educational or experiential qualities to be able to investigate and file charges against a church. The church was targeted by the individual who originally filed a complaint with them to recover money in a civil lawsuit. A church has potentially deep pockets through its members who could be compelled to pay up.
The Ohio Department of Commerce describes its role as: from Wikipedia:
The Ohio Department of Commerce is the administrative department of the Ohio state government responsible for regulating banks and savings institutions, credit unions, mortgage lenders and consumer finance businesses; securities professionals and products; real estate professionals and cable television; and the building industry; and also collects and holds unclaimed funds.The Division of Liquor Control and Division of the State Fire Marshal are also part of the department
I am requesting information on the training that employees with the Department of Commerce receive relative to identifying and investigating cult activity, which seems outside its function. More specifically, the training of Harvey McCleskey who investigated an alleged cult, Ark by the River Fellowship Ministries Inc. Ultimately Harvey McCleskey, along with agents from BCI moved to have charges filed in Hamilton County Ohio case # B 1400589-D against Ark by the River Fellowship Ministries Inc, indictment filed February 25, 2014.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I would request your response within ten (10) business days.
Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you for your inquiry. Your email requested information that does not appear to be "records" of the Division of Securities or the Department of Commerce. To clarify, The Ohio Division of Securities has the authority under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1707 to investigate sales of securities within the state of Ohio. Through that authority the Division conducted an investigation which was turned over to the appropriate prosecutor's office. Within that prosecution, the church you mentioned agreed to a plea deal whereby certain charges against it, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity to receiving stolen property, were dismissed in exchange for the church agreeing to pay back investors. (http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/courts/2014/11/17/janet-combs-convicted-in-peter-beck-case/19165687/ ). The leader of that church was convicted of receiving stolen property. We are not aware that any charges related to the church being a cult.
Very truly yours,
D. Michael Quinn
Division Legal Counsel
Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Securities
77 S. High ST., 22nd Fl., Columbus, OH 43215
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