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Published: Wednesday, 3/8/2006

Ohio chief justice finds no bias by judge in Noe case

BLADE STAFF

Justice Moyer said Mr. Noe s efforts as a major Republican supporter and fundraiser to oppose the election of Judge Osowik, a Democrat, to the Common Pleas bench was an insufficient reason for disqualifying the judge from presiding over Mr. Noe s criminal case on charges of theft, forgery, and racketeering.

In this case, there is no suggestion that Judge Osowik has done or said anything that might convey personal bias or prejudice against the defendant, and the judge has offered his assurances that he can preside fairly and impartially, Justice Moyer wrote.

Mr. Noe has pleaded not guilty to 53 felony counts of forgery, theft, and engaging in a criminal enterprise and is free on $500,000 bond. The charges stem from claims that he stole and laundered more than $3 million from the two coin funds he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.

An accounting firm working for Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery has said Mr. Noe and his associates owe more than $13.5 million to the state. Lucas County prosecutors have said they did not charge Mr. Noe with more counts because it could have made the case too complicated for jurors.

Last week, Mr. Noe filed an affidavit of disqualification with the Ohio Supreme Court asking that all of the county s 10 common pleas judges be barred from hearing his case because of prejudice. He said he could not get a fair trial because most were either Democrats and political enemies or Republicans who were close personal friends.

In his filing with the Supreme Court, Mr. Noe outlined his activities to defeat various judges with money and strategy. He said he could not get a fair trial because of the singular, unprecedented, and extraordinary level of involvement in the judges careers.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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