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Tom Noe s attorneys admitted this morning that he endorsed some checks that he wrote to other people, a practice prosecutors call forgery.
During cross examination of the state s handwriting expert, Noe attorney John Mitchell began by telling David Hall that his analysis was correct.
We re going to tell you you re right, Mr. Mitchell said.
Prosecutors have alleged that Noe wrote checks from his business account to several people, then endorsed the checks by signing their names and deposited the checks into his personal account. They say the forgeries allowed Noe to convert the state s coin fund money to his personal use.
Several of the people to whom the checks were written testified as well. All of them said they did not sign the checks and did not know about them until contacted by prosecutors.
They included a childhood friend and business associates.
None of them said bad things about Noe and none said they lost anything in the transactions.
We always had a great experience with him, said Jim Bremer, who owns a vending company with his brother, John. Noe allegedly forged checks to both men, who once loaned Noe money. Friendly, nice. He always paid back. A wonderful guy.
Prosecutors then showed Jim Bremer three checks written from Vintage Coins and Collectibles to him. They totalled $22,000.
One by one, he was shown the checks. With each, he said the endorsement wasn t his, that he never authorized Noe to use his signature, and that he never sold coins to Noe in exchange for the money.
Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Wilkinson have indicated that they will say those transactions were out of Noe s business account and have nothing to do with the rules that governed the state s $50 million investment in rare coins.
Mr. Wilkinson referred to the transactions as moving money from Noe s left pocket to his right pocket. When the trial began, Mr. Wilkinson told jurors during opening statements that the alleged forgeries were just an odd way to transfer money from one account to another.
In the Ohio Criminal Code, forgery is defined as forging another s writing without the other person s authority. It does not require anyone lose money.
In fact, Noe faces fifth-degree felony counts on each forgery. If someone suffers a loss, prosecutors can seek a stiffer charge of fourth-degree forgery. In this case, they did not.
Before Mr. Hall testified, a Point Place doctor told jurors how Noe repaid an investment in April, 1998. Paul Vesoulis said he had invested $95,000 in coins a few years earlier and that he had asked Noe to repay the investment.
Prosecutors have said the money repaid to Mr. Vesoulis came out of the state s first $25 million sent to Noe in 1998 to create Capital Coin Fund I.
Noe has pleaded not guilty to 44 felonies relating to the state s accusation that he embezzled more than $2 million from the funds.
Mr. Vesoulis also testified that Noe used his GOP political connections to help get him appointed to the state dental board. Gov. Bob Taft appointed him in 2001.
He is the second witness who had Noe s help getting appointed. Accountant David DiManna, who check the coin funds inventory for Plante & Moran, was appointed to the Ohio Tax Credit Authority by Governor Taft. Noe helped with that appointment as well, Mr. DiManna told The Blade last year.
Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com
Day 12 testimony: Jurors see video of Noe bragging about luxuries
Day 11 testimony: Witness says Noe moved $11.2M just before search
Day 10 testimony: Judge likely to rule today on funds assets
Day 9 testimony: Coin sales didn't occur, court told
Day 8 testimony: Noncoin deposits were not factored in audit, court told
Day 7 testimony: CPA can't confirm millions in coin sales
Day 6 testimony: Noe jurors may hear from coin dealers
Day 5 testimony: Ex-financial chief: No data verified purchase of coins
Day 4 testimony: Auditor: BWC allowed Noe to spend state money as desired
Day 3 testimony: Coin-fund money trail mapped
Day 2 testimony: Noe ex-aide tells all on his finances
Day 1 testimony: Prosecutor, defense fire away at Noe trial
Statewide news media take up posts for trial's 1st day of action
View the Juror Questionnaire: State of Ohio v. Thomas Noe
The Tip That Toppled Tom Noe
Examine more Coins, Contributions and BWC coverage.