Petro securities fraud trial nears end of 3rd week

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A federal trial for five people involved with Kansas City-based Petro America Corp. is nearing the end of its third week with testimony from defense witnesses who say they still believe in the company.

Isreal Owen Hawkins and four others are accused of selling $7.2 million in unregistered Petro stock to unqualified investors with promises that they would all become millionaires when the stock went public.

Federal prosecutors say Petro America did not have $284 billion in assets, as its leaders had touted, and had received cease and desist letters from both Missouri and Kansas. They say the company’s claimed assets are worthless.

At least three Petro shareholders testified Thursday that they still believe in the company, despite the federal charges.

Closing arguments are expected to begin Monday.

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