Closing Arguments Starting in Petro America Trial
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Closing arguments were beginning in the trial of five people accused of bilking investors out of millions of dollars by selling unregistered stock in a Kansas City company prosecutors say was worthless.
Isreal Owen Hawkins founded Petro America Corp. in 2007 in Kansas and later moved its headquarters to Kansas City, Mo. He and four others are facing federal conspiracy charges claiming they illegally sold stock and used the proceeds to fund lavish lifestyles.
Prosecutors say a group of Kansas City ministers pitched Petro stock to church members as a blessing from God. Hawkins told supporters his goal was to win a Nobel Prize for creating so much wealth.
Petro leaders claimed the company had $284 billion in assets, which would have made it the second-largest company in the U.S.