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Business instructor agrees to restitution

| Friday, March 14, 2003

UNIONTOWN - The Smithfield business instructor accused of deceiving students and older residents is expected to pay back what is owed and faces arraignment.

Appearing in District Justice Deberah Kula's office Thursday morning, Kevin O'Rourke plea-bargained before his preliminary hearing and agreed to pay restitutions of approximately $46,000 to those who claimed that O'Rourke deceived them out of money that was invested for an alleged foreign currency exchange program.

O'Rourke will have his arraignment on April 17, where he could by placed under house arrest as he faces "intermediate punishment," says District Attorney Jack Heneks.

State police at Uniontown arrested O'Rourke in February after the instructor at the West Virginia Business Institute was the target of complaints to those who invested thousands of dollars into O'Rourke's program.

O'Rourke was later freed on $50,000 unsecured bond.

When asked for their investment back, the victims received postdated checks from O'Rourke that later bounced.

"I just like to know how he sleeps at night - ripping old people off," says Betty Chearney, who's husband, Don, a student at the West Virginia Business Institute, invested $10,000 to O'Rourke.

Don Chearney e-mailed O'Rourke three to four times a week to ask about getting his investment returned.

"I'm satisfied," says Mildred Snyder, who, along with her granddaughter, Pamela Rutherford of Uniontown, was another person to invest money to O'Rourke.

The victims were told that they will receive their money after O'Rourke's arraignment.

"You see that sort of thing on TV, but you never believe it will happen to you," says Snyder.

Don Chearney presented pages of e-mails from O'Rourke, stating that Chearney's money will be paid.

Others, to whom O'Rourke owed money, say that they were tired of the man's lies.

"It was always one smooth thing after another," says Mildred Gibson, Synder's daughter.

If O'Rourke doesn't pay by his arraignment date, Heneks says O'Rourke "could be looking at something else" other than intermediate punishment.

O'Rourke will face a preliminary hearing was before Dunbar Township District Justice Dwight Shaner on March 25 at 9 a.m. on similar charges.

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