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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004

Former state officeholder accused in securities case

Past lieutenant governor disputes he misled investors

May 23, 2004

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The Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner has accused a once-prominent politician of misleading investors in an Overland Park bottled-water company.

Dave Owen, a former state senator and lieutenant governor from Overland Park, is contesting the allegation.

Owen, now a financial adviser, is accused of encouraging two associates, Roger and Beverly Hawks, of Shawnee, to sell stock in the company, called Tuscany Water Inc., to family members and friends even though the Hawkses were neither licensed nor registered to sell stock.

The Hawkses told investigators Owen had said it was all right for them to solicit "accredited investors," a category that includes banks, insurance companies, trusts with more than $5 million in assets and people whose annual incomes exceed $200,000.

When the Hawkses told Owen that their friends and family members weren't accredited investors, they said he told them to have investors "check the box,", indicating they were.

Records show the Securities Commissioner's Office interviewed 13 investors in Tuscany Water Inc., all of whom said they had been approached by either Roger or Beverly Hawks. Concern over their not being accredited investors, they said, was dismissed as "just a technicality that needed to be met to complete the paperwork."

The investors were not identified.

One of the investors indicated that Owen, too, had encouraged him to claim he was accredited even though he had made clear that he was not.

The Hawkses entered a consent order with the Securities Commissioner's Office last month, agreeing not to sell stock in the future.

Owen has disputed the allegations.

Owen's attorney, Russ Jones, declined comment.

"The case is pending," Jones said. "It would be inappropriate for us to say anything at this time."

Owen has requested a hearing before Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs.

"We continue to attempt to resolve this matter with Mr. Owen," said Scott Schultz, an associate general counsel at the Securities Commissioner's Office. "If it can't be resolved, we'll schedule a preconference hearing, probably within the next two weeks."

Should Biggs rule against him, Owen could take his case to court.

If found guilty, Owen would be subject to fines and could be forced to refund any profits tied to the sale of Tuscany Water stock.

Tuscany Water did not get off the ground.

Owen is a former aide and top fund-raiser for former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.

In 1988, the Federal Election Commission found various irregularities in financial contributions to Dole political campaigns. Owen was fined.

Dole immediately dumped him.

"I don't have a problem. Dave Owen has a problem," Dole said at the time.

Dole's 1988 presidential campaign was fined $100,000 -- the most ever, at that time -- for violations, including accepting illegal corporate contributions.

Owen in 1993 was convicted of filing a false 1986 tax return. Among his last acts as president, Bill Clinton pardoned Owen in January 2001.

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