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Opening Statements Begin in Petro America Trial

Posted: Apr 18, 2013 12:55 PM by Associated Press
Updated: Apr 18, 2013 12:55 PM

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Federal prosecutors say a Kansas City, Kan., man and four other people continued to sell stock in a Kansas City, Mo., company for two years after Missouri regulators ordered them to stop.

Company founder Isreal Hawkins and four others are on trial in federal court, accused of bilking 14,000 investors out of more than $7 million by selling worthless stocks in Petro America, an oil and mining company.

Prosecutors said Thursday in their opening statements that many of the investors were poor, elderly churchgoers who were persuaded by their pastors to buy the company's stock.

Opening statements were expected to continue Thursday afternoon.

Hawkins and the other defendants, Teresa Brown, Johnny Heurung, William Miller and Martin Roper, have pleaded not guilty in the case.

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