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Ex-wife's complaint changes Noe report

Restivo challenges reference to civil suit

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COLUMBUS — The day after it issued its long-awaited investigative report into the nearly decade-old Coingate scandal, the state inspector general’s office has changed it.

The office late on Friday quietly deleted a reference near the end of the report, available on its Web site, to former Toledo area coin dealer Tom Noe’s ex-wife, Bernadette Restivo. It mentioned her as being among those against whom the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation achieved civil judgments to mitigate losses from the scandal.

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Although the report was immediately changed, Ms. Restivo said James Manken, chief legal counsel to Inspector General Randall Meyer, told her a final decision would not be made until he talked to the person who wrote that portion of the report. That person was apparently not in the office Friday, Ms. Restivo said.

Mr. Manken could not be reached for comment. Carl Ensign, the deputy who speaks to the media, said he personally would no longer talk to The Blade because it has sued the agency seeking the release of public records associated with the investigation in addition to the report.

In a letter, Ms. Restivo said the statement in the original report was “categorically false” and “made with reckless disregard for the truth.” She threatened to sue the in-house government watchdog for libel. She supplied a copy of the court order dismissing her as a defendant from a lawsuit filed against Noe, his companies, and others.

“I have no judgments against me, period,” said Ms. Restivo, an attorney now living in Key Largo, Fla. “I demand a retraction from the inspector general.”

The court ruling dismissing the state’s claim against her came after her ex-husband’s conviction on theft and other charges for stealing $13 million from a $50 million investment in rare coins and collectibles he managed on behalf of the BWC.

“[The state] fails to state any claims against Mrs. Noe upon which relief may be granted. Plaintiffs’ allegations against Mrs. Noe are wholly inadequate,” wrote Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Cain in August, 2007, when he dismissed her as a defendant in the state’s case.

Ms. Restivo said she later sued the state for attorney fees, but said they reached a settlement in which she paid the state $1,000 to have 10 items that belonged to her children returned.

The inspector general’s office released its final report into Coingate on Thursday, repeating the history of the scandal and looking at the effectiveness of reforms since made at the BWC to prevent similar bribery and influence-peddling today.

But it provided little information not already known and did not release transcripts of witness interviews that had been routinely released by Mr. Meyer’s predecessor following the completion of an investigation.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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