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Published: Monday, 11/20/2006

Noe is sentenced to 18 years in state prison

BY STEVE EDER AND MIKE WILKINSON
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

Tom Noe, convicted last week on 29 charges for stealing from Ohio s $50 million rare-coin fund, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison and ordered to pay fines and restitution by Judge Thomas Osowik this morning in Lucas County Courthouse.

The sentence will begin after Noe completes a 27-month federal sentence imposed in September for illegal laundering more than $45,000 to President Bush s campaign, Judge Osowik ruled.

Noe was fined $213,000 by Judge Osowik and ordered to pay the cost of the prosecution, estimated at nearly $3 million, and ordered to pay restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation for the money missing from the rare-coin fund, estimated at $13.7 million.

You cooked the books ... it was an elaborate scheme, Judge Osowik said before sentencing Noe.

Mr. Osowik said Noe s crimes were premeditated and he continued to manipulate the bureau until May, 2005, even after an internal auditor raised concerns about the coin funds more than five years earlier.

The judge said Noe created a facade of wealth taken from a bottomless cup of state coin-fund money.

Noe appeared in a dark blue jumpsuit, handcuffed with chains around his waist.

When he walked into the courtroom, he was animated, smiling and joking with his lawyers. When Judge Osowik entered the court, he turned emotionless.

Attorney Bill Wilkinson talks to Tom Noe. Attorney Bill Wilkinson talks to Tom Noe.
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He remained so during the sentencing.

Prosecutors had suggested Noe s sentence mirror the 18 years given a Columbus attorney and Judge Osowik agreed the case was similar. Attorneys for Noe suggested the minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

John Weglian, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the judge that the grand total of Noe s theft from the coin funds amounts to more than $13 million. In May, 2005, Noe s attorneys told authorities to expect a shortfall in the coin funds of up to $13 million and a forensic audit also found that Noe and associates owed the state about the same amount.

Afterwards, Mr. Weglian said the result was fair. It s great, he said.

Attorneys for Noe declined comment.

Two of the jurors who sat on the eight-woman, four-man panel that found Noe guilty on 29 charges attended the sentencing. They were the first to arrive in the courtroom.

Alice Peters said she felt 15 years would have been sufficient. But she said Noe was guilty. If you do the crime, you do the time, she said.

Asked if the source of the funds the workers compensation fund affected jurors, she said it did. Yes, because he was stealing from the people, she said.

John Mitchell, an attorney for Noe, said the coin dealer could never commit another crime of a similar nature, and therefore the judge s sentence should reflect leniency.

He also noted that there is no possibility of parole on Noe s minimum 10 year sentence.

Tom Wersell, the head the of the bureau s investigative unit, addressed Judge Osowik on behalf of the prosecution to start Noe s sentencing hearing.

Mr. Wersell said before the rare-coin scandal, the bureau appeared to be a model agency.

But, by June, 2005, all of that had changed. BWC had become synonymous with the term pay-to-play and a culture of corruption . . . the pride is gone, Mr. Wersell said.

Mr. Wersell said Noe destroyed the reputation of the agency and caused the bureau to provide false information about the coin fund. He also said the monetary loss from Noe s coin funds as well as investigative costs could have been used instead to help injured workers.

Mr. Mitchell said Mr. Wersell s account failed to mention other investment scandals, including the loss of $215 million in a hedge fund that s still under investigation.

To pin the entire sins of the BWC on Tom Noe is disingenuous, Mr. Mitchell said.

Throughout the hearing, Noe said just 10 words. On the advice of his attorneys, he did not make a statement.

As Noe left the courtroom, he mouthed the word bye to his wife Bernadette and his daughters and was taken away.

He will remain in federal custody while the Federal Bureau of Prisons determines where it will incarcerate him. He is likely to serve his federal sentence in a federal prison in Florida.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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