A panel of 12 jurors yesterday began deciding the fate of Tom Noe, who prosecutors contend stole millions of dollars from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
Eight women and four men spent about five hours deliberating before leaving the courthouse about 4:30 p.m. They are expected to resume deliberations this morning.
Because of the complex nature of the case, it took Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Osowik more than an hour to read the jury instructions on how to weigh the evidence and testimony that they've heard for more than three weeks.
With thousands of pages of documents at their disposal, jurors began deliberating about 11 a.m.
They are considering whether Noe is guilty of 40 felony counts that could put him in prison for over a decade.
He has pleaded not guilty to 18 counts of forgery, 11 counts of money laundering, eight counts of tampering with records, and two counts of aggravated theft.
Noe is also charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. If jurors convict him on the most serious theft charge and any of the money laundering or tampering charges, he would face a mandatory 10 years in prison.
Before deliberations began, Judge Osowik dismissed the three alternate jurors.
They were on the panel in case any of the regular jurors could not continue; one alternate juror did replace a juror earlier in the trial.
Among the alternates dismissed was a man who said he was "leaning toward conviction" during jury selection; a young woman who said she knew nothing about the case; and a retired auto worker who once had a workers' compensation claim in Michigan.
The remaining jurors include nine Toledoans. The rest are from outside the city.
They also include a woman who has sat on a jury that convicted a murderer and acquitted an accused rapist. She had told attorneys during jury selection that she knew a little about the story but then avoided it.
"There were so many counts," she said. "I just felt I needed a break from today's news and today's society."
The remaining jury members range from college-age women to retired men. One man is the general manager of a company; one woman is taking online high school classes.
A middle-aged woman told attorneys four weeks ago that she knew the case involved the bureau. But she said she could be fair. Asked if there was any reason why she couldn't serve, she replied: "I'd be honored to do it."
Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not address the jurors yesterday, and they will not have a chance again before the verdict.
Jurors must unanimously agree on a verdict, Judge Osowik said, and determine whether Noe is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Prosecutors have charged that Noe stole millions from the rare-coin funds he managed for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, which gave him $50 million to invest.
Noe and his accomplice Tim LaPointe, prosecutors said, created numerous fake documents to cover up the theft.
The tampering and money laundering charges carry a maximum five years in prison and the forgery charges carry a maximum one-year prison term.
The more serious theft charge, in addition to triggering the mandatory 10-year sentence on the corrupt-activity charge, carries a maximum 10-year term.
The other theft charge carries a maximum term of 18 months.
It would be up to Judge Osowik to decide whether to make any of the terms run consecutive or concurrent. He would also decide whether they would begin before, after, or run concurrent with the 27 months he was sentenced to for violating federal campaign laws.
U.S. District Judge David Katz sentenced him Sept. 12 for funneling more than $45,000 into President Bush's re-election campaign in 2003.
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