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Noe eager to get his day in court, attorney asserts

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Tom Noe talks with William Wilkinson, one of his attorneys. The former coin dealer had a pretrial session yesterday.

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Tom Noe is just five weeks from a trial that could put him in prison for decades, yet he relishes the chance to face the accusations against him, one of his attorneys said yesterday.

During a brief pretrial conference, John Mitchell made it clear that the defense team is planning on a lengthy, and at times contentious, trial that is scheduled to start Oct. 10.

Mr. Noe wants to be here as much as you want him to be here, Mr. Mitchell told Judge Thomas Osowik. He wants his day in court.

Noe is facing 46 felony charges stemming from allegations that he embezzled more than $3 million from two coin funds he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $500,000 bond.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors met before the Lucas County Common Pleas judge yesterday to iron out details that will affect the trial.

Prosecutors acknowledged that they may call up to 100 witnesses and that it could take a full four weeks to present their case.

But Mr. Mitchell indicated that he intends to strenuously cross-examine many of the state s witnesses.

In particular, he mentioned Timothy LaPointe, one of Noe s employees at his former Monclova Township coin shop.

Mr. LaPointe is considered a co-defendant and has been charged with one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and six counts of tampering with records. He has pleaded not guilty but is cooperating with prosecutors and may be their star witness at Noe s trial.

Judge Osowik also outlined how he will handle jury selection.

Fresh off presiding over the trial of Gerald Robinson, the priest convicted of killing a nun decades ago, the judge said he will call between 175 to 200 jurors for the trial.

They will be given questionnaires to determine their familiarity with the case and whether they are biased, the judge said.

The attorneys did argue over how best to allow Mr. Mitchell, Noe, and other attorneys to review evidence being stored in Columbus. Defense attorneys complained that security guards stand too close to them when they look at the coins and collectibles in the room.

Mr. Mitchell asked that they be allowed to review the evidence with a reasonable amount of privacy.

We re not going to steal them, he said. We ll open up our jackets.

Judge Osowik directed the attorneys to reach an agreement on a protocol.

The next hearing has been tentatively set for Sept. 13, the day after Noe will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Toledo for his conviction on three federal campaign counts. He pleaded guilty to charges that he illegally funneled more than $45,000 into the re-election campaign of President Bush.

MIKE WILKINSON

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