Comparing Tom Noe's case with the convictions of Enron and WorldCom executives, attorneys for the disgraced rare-coin dealer urged a judge yesterday to sentence Noe to the minimum possible sentence - 10 years in state prison.
On Monday, Judge Thomas Osowik will sentence Noe, who was convicted earlier this week on 29 charges stemming from his theft of at least $1.1 million from the $50 million rare-coin fund he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Lucas County prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Noe to at least 20 years in prison and order him to pay court costs and fines topping $5 million.
Noe's attorneys, though, requested leniency and claimed that the 10-year minimum sentence would be a fair punishment for the man at the center of one of Ohio's biggest public corruption cases.
"With regard to protecting the public from future crime by the offender, Mr. Noe will never be in any position again in which he could commit anything remotely similar to the crimes ... of which he was convicted," wrote John Mitchell, an attor-ney for Noe. "With regard to punishing the offender, 10 years in prison is a long time for anyone and should satisfy even the most ardent critic of Mr. Noe."
Jeff Lingo, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor and member of the team that prosecuted Noe, said 10 years in prison would not be "adequate."
"Certainly we are going to press for more time than 10 years," Mr. Lingo said.
Attorneys for Noe offered a number of examples of punishments lodged against notable convicts for the judge to use as reference in making his sentencing decision. The list included three Enron executives sentenced to 2-to-4 year sentences for engaging in conspiracy and fraud; a WorldCom executive's 5-year sentence for conspiracy and securities fraud; and former U.S. Rep. James Traficant's 8-year sentence for bribery, racketeering, obstructing justice, and tax evasion convictions.
"A 10-year sentence will not demean the seriousness of his offenses and, as seen above, is far harsher than those who had been convicted of betraying the public trust or been convicted of stealing larger sums," Mr. Mitchell wrote.
Noe's attorneys, maintaining that the coin funds could prove to turn a $13 million profit, urged the judge to issue the minimum sentence. Prosecutors questioned Noe's basis for claiming a profit and said that about $13.7 million is still "unaccounted for."
The judge could also order Noe to pay more than $3 million in fines, in addition to court costs and the costs of the investigation. A separate filing yesterday by prosecutors showed that the Noe investigation has cost about $2.97 million.
Noe's attorneys said he would not be able to comply with a restitution order "while sitting in jail" and that the issue would be addressed in a pending civil lawsuit in Franklin County.
Additionally, attorneys for Noe asked the judge to allow the one-time GOP fund-raiser's sentence in the rare-coin case to be served at the same time as his 27-month federal sentence. That sentence, handed down in September, followed his conviction for laundering $45,400 into President Bush's re-election campaign.
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