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Published: Friday, 7/28/2006

Noe battles search warrant

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tom Noe, left, confers with attorneys John Mitchell, center, and Bill Wilkinson during a hearing in front of Judge Thomas Osowik yesterday. The hearing continues today. Tom Noe, left, confers with attorneys John Mitchell, center, and Bill Wilkinson during a hearing in front of Judge Thomas Osowik yesterday. The hearing continues today.
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In what has been the longest hearing to date in Tom Noe's criminal case, prosecutors and attorneys for the indicted coin dealer yesterday battled in Lucas County Common Pleas Court over a May, 2005, search warrant.

A bulk of the all-day hearing before Judge Thomas Osowik focused on a motion to suppress a search warrant authorities used to obtain evidence at Noe's former coin shop in Monclova Township.

Two of the four witnesses called to testify are attorneys for the law firm Thompson Hine, which is defending Noe on a 53-count indictment.

The hearing will resume today.

Noe, 52, is charged with multiple counts of theft, forgery, and tampering with records, and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a racketeering charge that carries a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.

He is accused of stealing millions of dollars from the coin fund he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Up to $13 million is missing.

Howard Hudson III, a retired Ohio Highway Patrol lieutenant, gave a detailed account of the actions he took over three days in late May, 2005, in preparing the affidavit for the search warrant.

Mr. Hudson, who now is employed by the Ohio Inspector General, was among the authorities who served the search warrant after it was signed by then-Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Jack Zouhary.

When questioned by Noe's attorney John Mitchell, of the Thompson Hine firm, Mr. Hudson said he relied on information provided by BWC investigators and auditors to provide the facts he used in his sworn statement to support the search.

Priscilla Livingstone, a former employee of Noe's coin business, testified she provided a report that detailed the holdings in the coin fund investments to Noe's attorneys and allowed them to inspect coins in the vault before the search warrant was served.

She said the attorneys, whose names she couldn't recall, told her that they had expected that the inventory would show there would be more coins than what was available in the coin shop.

Attorneys for Thompson Hine, Judson Scheaf III and Craig Calcaterra, testified about the efforts of state investigators to gain access to the coin shop to inspect the inventory.

In questioning from David Buchman, of the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, Mr. Scheaf insisted he didn't have any knowledge of the coin inventory or that it showed what was available in the store.

Mr. Scheaf said state officials initially were denied entry to the shop, and then allowed to inspect the noncoin collectibles that didn't belong to the coin fund.

Mr. Calcaterra, who was in the store on May 26, 2005 - the day that state authorities gained access to the coins through the search warrant - also said he wasn't provided with an inventory of the coin fund assets.

The motion to suppress evidence is among four motions before the court.

Judge Osowik denied a prosecution request to quash a subpoena sought by Noe's attorneys.

The subpoena seeks access to e-mails, memos, and documents held by the BWC relating to Noe's management of the coin funds.

Judge Osowik also heard arguments from the attorneys on a motion filed by Noe's attorneys to consolidate nine of the theft counts into a single count. Judge Osowik said he was not prepared to make a decision.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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