KANSAS CITY - The founder of a Kansas City company whose leaders told investors it was worth $280 billion blames big government for the problems Petro America is facing.
Isreal Owen Hawkins founded the company and is representing himself in a federal trial alleging he and four others conspired to illegally sell stock in the company and pocketed the money.
Hawkins told jurors Tuesday during closing arguments in federal court in Kansas City that Petro America is still a viable company.
But prosecutors say Petro America stock has as much value as "a pile of used Kleenex."
Hawkins is accused of enlisting the help of ministers, who pitched the company to their congregations. Prosecutors allege that investors were conned out of $7.2 million.