Trial to Begin This Week in Petro America Case
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Five people involved in a Kansas City company that promised people they would get rich by investing small amounts of money are scheduled to go to trial this week.
Among them is 57-year-old Kansas City, Kan., resident Isreal Owen Hawkins, who founded Petro America Corp. in 2007 and started selling stock the next year.
Prosecutors say Hawkins and several others sold more than $7 million in stock to roughly 9,000 investors, many of them poor and elderly church members who were persuaded to buy stock by their ministers.
Hawkins claimed the company was worth $284 billion after only three years, which would have made it the second-largest company in the U.S.
Hawkins has sought a new public defense attorney with expertise in securities issues but has been rejected twice.