Friday, May 27, 2005

From Bizarre to Brazen

In Part 4 of our continuing series, In Need of Adult Supervison: Ohio Edition, at least $10 million of the $50 million the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation invested with rare coins dealer Thomas Noe is now missing. After being barred from his office for three days, state officials began a court-ordered review of Mr. Noe's inventory of rare coins and other collectibles:
Bureau fraud investigators began to view the rare coins inside Mr. Noe’s vault at about 11 a.m. yesterday, said Jeremy Jackson, the bureau’s press secretary.
At 1:30 p.m., Mr. Noe was required to provide a complete inventory list so the inspection and audit of the rare coins could start, according to the order signed by a Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge.
But Mr. Jackson said the audit never began because Mr. Noe’s attorney, Bill Wilkinson, contacted the state to say that $10 million to $12 million of assets are “unaccounted for.”
“Any review ceased and the appropriate authorities were called in,” Mr. Jackson said.
While the state's investment had not been audited since it's inception in 1988, prosecuters say it looks like more than sloppy bookkeeping:
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said yesterday that he has “reason to believe” Mr. Noe, a prominent Toledo-area Republican fund-raiser and rare-coin dealer, has misappropriated “more than $10 million” in state assets.
“I have reason to believe it is more than just missing assets or lost assets or otherwise,” said Mr. O’Brien, a Republican. “I have reason to believe there is actual misappropriation of state funds involved ... I’m talking about conversion for personal use.”
It is unclear whether Mr. Noe used some of the state’s money to make contributions to Republican candidates, including President Bush’s re-election campaign, Mr. O’Brien said.
The Bush-Cheney campaign lists Mr. Noe as a “Pioneer,” for raising from $100,000 to $250,000 for the President’s re-election campaign.

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