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Four local families put more than $700,000 into two businesses that state officials said were shell companies, and they are suing to get their money back.

In 2009, Johnson County Commissioner Brian Baird, his wife, Beth, and former commissioner Joseph DeHart, and his wife Nancy, invested in the companies after a Trafalgar man they knew socially told them about an investment opportunity he promised would bring guaranteed returns of 18 percent or more. They received statements showing their money had grown by the promised amount, and their relatives invested, too, according to the lawsuit filed in Johnson County Superior Court 3.

Then in 2011, the families were contacted by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office and told that Martin McClary, of Trafalgar, and Parry Clark, a Florida resident, whom they had been investing with, were using the money for their personal benefit and that the business they invested in was a shell company, the lawsuit said.

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