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Published: Saturday, 8/13/2005

Records show coin-fund subsidiary lost BWC insurance coverage


COLUMBUS - The $50 million rare-coin funds managed by Tom Noe could dash off six-figure loans to preferred buyers, but the investment by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation forgot to pay a $10 administrative fee back to the bureau and lost its insurance coverage, according to documents released yesterday.

Accused of stealing at least $4 million from the funds and facing criminal investigations, Mr. Noe received a letter from the bureau on April 11, 2001, informing him that a fund subsidiary had been without any insurance protection for more than a month.

If an employee of Visionary Rare Coin, the subsidiary entrusted to convicted felon Mark Chrans, was injured, the coin fund would have to swallow the cost of treatment and lost wages without any assistance from the bureau, the letter warned.

Records show that Visionary paid the bureau $10 on April 25, restoring the lapsed insurance.

Less than 10 percent of Ohio employers file payments late to the bureau but less than 1 percent actually lose their coverage, said bureau spokesman Jeremy Jackson, adding that companies that lose coverage have typically gone out of business.

Companies that avoid paying the bureau usually receive follow-up phone calls before their case is passed on to the Ohio attorney general.

"They can go so far as shutting the company down," Mr. Jackson said.

There is no evidence that Mr. Noe received calls from the bureau or the attorney general, which is suing him because as much as $13 million is missing from the funds.

The records released to The Blade yesterday cap a three-week-long release of coin-fund documents by Attorney General Jim Petro, after his office was ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court on July 13 to make public records seized from Mr. Noe's office.

The attorney general has withheld records that apply to possible criminal activity involving the funds, but those records have now been given to an independent receiver who will decide before Aug. 22 which documents qualify as being public.

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