Opening Statements Expected in Petro America Trial
KANSAS CITY - Opening statements are pending in a federal trial involving a Kansas City company accused of bilking investors out of more than $7 million.
Isreal Owen Hawkins, of Kansas City, Kan., and four other top leaders of Petro America Corp. are accused of selling unregistered shares to more than 9,000 investors. Prosecutors say many of the investors were poor and elderly church members who were persuaded by their pastors to buy stock.
Prosecutors say the company's assets were worthless despite claims by Hawkins and his co-defendants that Petro America was worth $284 billion.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office says opening statements were expected to begin Thursday. Jury selection still hadn't been completed after 5 p.m. Wednesday.