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Published: Wednesday, 6/15/2005

Wine linked to Ohio coin scandal stolen; Colorado burglars also take guns, jewelry, cars


COLUMBUS The suburban Denver home of a former employee of Tom Noe was burglarized over the weekend, with thieves making off with artwork, guns, jewelry, cars, and $300,000 in wine possibly purchased with money from the state of Ohio.

Michael Storeim, a suspect in a Colorado criminal probe into Ohio s missing coins, reported Monday night the valuables had been taken from his Evergreen, Colo., home while he was vacationing with his wife.

Investigators from the Jefferson County, Colo., Sheriff s Office on June 3 took custody of 3,500 bottles of wine valued at $500,000, and seized hundreds of rare coins, 265 Cuban cigars, computers, and documents from Mr. Storeim s home and office as part of a criminal investigation.

The wine was left in a locked cellar in the home, but police had changed the locks.

Sheriff s investigators are looking into the disappearance of 121 missing rare coins worth about $400,000 from the Colorado office of Mr. Noe s $50 million Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation rare-coin fund. Mr. Storeim ran the office until he left late last year.

Mr. Noe s attorneys have also told Ohio officials that up to $12 million is missing from the state s coin funds.

Ohio fraud investigators have seized assets of Mr. Noe s coin funds in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, and at his headquarters in Monclova Township.

Chris Nelson, an investigator with the Colorado sheriff s office, said several officers and lab technicians spent the entire night at Mr. Storeim s home after the burglary was reported.

There were immediately some red flags when you have a house of a suspect in a high profile case getting burglarized, he said. We are very aggressively pursuing this in light of the other ongoing investigations.

On Monday night, Mr. Storeim and his wife told police they were returning from a two-day vacation when they first noticed that two of their cars a Toyota Sequoia and Lexus G300 were missing.

Then, they noted items missing throughout their home, including weapons, 10 boxes of 12-gauge ammunition, four tubs of rock-climbing gear, several lithographs and paintings, stereos, and jewelry. Additionally, guitars one autographed by B.B. King and another by Stevie Ray Vaughan were reported stolen, police said.

Investigators said the evidence tape was torn from the door of the wine cellar, which had been pried open, and three humidors were missing. Several keys were also reported stolen from the home, including a key to Mr. Storeim s business.

Jacki Tallman, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff s Office, said the investigation is ongoing.

We are not ruling anyone out as a possible suspect, she said. Anyone is a possible suspect.

She said the phone connection boxes on each side of the house were ajar, a back door was unlocked and had been propped open, and the security keypads were pulled from the home.

She said evidence collected at the home would be brought back to police labs for additional testing.

Ms. Tallman characterized it as a very high-dollar burglary.

The Storeims told police that they believed the reported break-in was a result of media reports, which made public the fact that Mr. Storeim is a coin dealer and that there was a valuable wine collection in the home. Two attorneys for Mr. Storeim did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

They were extremely upset that they felt this was a result of what was portrayed in the media, Investigator Nelson said. He said that was to blame for the break-in to his house.

Mr. Storeim s name has been in published reports several times since The Blade first wrote on April 3 about Ohio s $50 million rare coin venture with Mr. Noe.

In October, 2003, Mr. Storeim reported two rare gold coins valued at $300,000 missing from a mail package that was en route to Numismatic Professionals, the Evergreen, Colo., office of Mr. Noe s coin fund.

Colleagues later alleged that Mr. Storeim might have been responsible for the disappearance of the $10 gold coin from 1845 and a $3 gold coin from 1855, police records show.

The Colorado coin dealer has also been accused by Mr. Noe of skimming profits and misappropriating additional coins.

Colorado investigators say Mr. Storeim has been cooperating with law enforcement.

In statements released by his attorney, Mr. Storeim has maintained his innocence and denied having any knowledge or role in the disappearance of state-owned coins.

Mr. Storeim also filed suit against Mr. Noe, claiming the Maumee businessman ordered at least two of his employees to take $500,000 of his property from the Evergreen office.

Investigator Nelson said Colorado authorities will be careful to keep separate the investigations stemming from the reported burglary and coin subsidiary.

A spokesman for the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation yesterday declined to comment on any matters relating to the coin venture.

State Sen. Marc Dann, a Democrat from suburban Youngstown, called the reported burglary an amazing coincidence.

Clearly, this is more than a coincidence, he said. I hate to be cynical, but I think I m a little bit suspicious. This whole thing gets weirder and weirder.

Contact Steve Eder at:seder@theblade.com or 419-724-6728.

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