COLUMBUS Records show that Bernadette Noe belonged to the state coin funds wives club, an unofficial cadre of spouses who found employment with the $50 million investment that their husbands managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.
Mrs. Noe is married to former Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe, who is under criminal investigation and is being sued by the state because of his management of two state rare-coin investment funds.
Last month, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro accused him of stealing more than $4 million from the funds to bankroll a swanky lifestyle.
Mrs. Noe, a lawyer, has claimed in court papers that she never engaged in a business relationship with the coin funds.
But yesterday, Mr. Petro accused her in a court filing of billing one of the coin funds, and some of its subsidiaries, at least $2,946 for legal services.
Keeping close watch and control on the Noes personal assets is vital to the state s case to recover the missing funds, Mr. Petro said in a written statement. We want to make sure the Noes cannot escape personally paying back the state.
With as much as $13 million missing from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation s rare-coin investment, the attorney general s office has been pressing Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Cain to lower the value of assets that the Noes are permitted to sell to $5,000 from $15,000.
The attorney general also filed a request yesterday that asked the court to review the Noes expenditures for living expenses and attorney fees every 30 days. Earlier this week, Mr. Petro requested access to Mrs. Noe s bank accounts.
Mrs. Noe and her lawyers did not return messages seeking comment yesterday. Bill Wilkinson, her husband s attorney, said he did not want to comment on Mrs. Noe s behalf.
Mr. Petro has a complicated history with the Noes. He returned a total of $6,000 in campaign donations from the couple in June.
Special counsel records from the Toledo law firm of Wise & Dorner in 2003 list Mrs. Noe as a colleague who would be handling work for the attorney general s office of collections enforcement.
Filings yesterday indicate that one of the two coin funds hired Mrs. Noe to work on legal matters between November, 2001, and February, 2002.
Invoices from Mrs. Noe s former Toledo law firm Schindler, Neff, Holmes & Schlageter addressed to Vintage Coins & Collectibles, her husband s separate business, blacked out the services performed for Capital Coin Fund II.
Invoices also went to coin-fund subsidiaries Numismatic Professionals and the Rare Coin Alliance, as well as the Spectrum Fund, another partnership associated with Mr. Noe.
Mrs. Noe s firm was paid from the coin funds checking accounts.
Mark Anthony, a spokesman for the attorney general, said that there could be additional invoices from Mrs. Noe to the fund, increasing the amount of money she collected from the funds.
At this point, I would call it a representative record, Mr. Anthony said. We are not through all the records ourselves.
After being threatened with contempt of court, Mr. Petro has given The Blade records seized from Mr. Noe s office, but Mrs. Noe s invoices were not included in the records released by the attorney general.
The invoices and checks presented to the court yesterday will be part of a later document release, Mr. Anthony said.
State Sen. Marc Dann (D., Warren) said the documents further proved the illicit structure of the state s investment and blatant disregard of potential conflicts of interests.
Clearly, looking out for the interests of the fund manager were much more important than the interests of workers comp, Mr. Dann said. Shifting assets between husbands and wives is not unusual in criminal enterprises, so I m not surprised at all.
Mrs. Noe was one of several coin-fund wives who benefited financially from their husbands jobs.
Ellen Storeim worked as an administrative assistant and was later promoted to executive vice president for Numismatic Professionals, the Colorado coin-fund subsidiary overseen by her husband, Michael Storeim.
On the side, her design company, Ellen Kendrick Creative, billed Numismatic Professionals at least $11,568 between 2002 and 2003 for marketing and consulting work done in advance of coin shows.
The Storeims home address is listed at the bottom of the company s invoices.
The fund also paid for the Storeims health insurance and tennis club memberships.
Records also showed a $1,000 payment in 1998 for assistance at the Long Beach Coin Show to Dinah Chrans, the wife of Mark Chrans, a convicted felon who bought and sold coins for the state coin fund s California subsidiary, Visionary Rare Coins.
Other family members also found employment because of Ohio s investment.
The coin fund paid the cell phone bill and travel expenses, and gave a $500 Christmas gift in 2003, to Sarah Hirtzinger, who was employed by the state s Minnesota coin-fund subsidiary named after her father, Karl Hirtzinger.
Contact Joshua Boak at:email@example.com or 419-724-6050.