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Published: Wednesday, 2/17/2010

Noe asks Ohio Supreme Court to overturn 2006 conviction

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Noe Noe
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Tom Noe is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn his 2006 conviction on multiple theft and corruption charges.

Attorneys for the former rare-coin dealer and past chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court on Tuesday claiming he did not receive a fair trial.

In his 15-page filing, Noe asks the court to review 11 different issues — the same ones he raised to the 6th District Court of Appeals, which upheld his conviction in an opinion released Dec. 31. The appellate court also affirmed Noe's 18-year prison sentence.

The Ohio high court has the discretion of whether to accept the case — or any part of it — for review.

Yesterday, attorney Rick Kerger confirmed the issues raised in the brief to the Supreme Court were the same as those brought to the appellate court.

“You're never sure what issues may attract [the justices'] attention,” he said.

In April, 2005, The Blade first reported on Noe's $50 million state rare-coin investment deal, triggering a multiyear state investigation that uncovered massive corruption in the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, and led to charges against more than 20 public officials and money managers, including former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft on misdemeanor ethics charges. Mr. Taft's conviction was the first for a sitting Ohio governor.

Noe was convicted in November, 2006, on several counts of theft and corruption stemming from charges that he stole millions of dollars from rare-coin funds that he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

A jury found him guilty of 29 charges of corruption, theft, money laundering, and tampering with records. He was found not guilty on 11 other charges, and several others were dismissed or consolidated.

Former Common Pleas Judge Thomas Osowik sentenced him to 18 years in state prison and ordered him to pay $13,747,000 in restitution, the cost of prosecution totaling $2,979,402, and $139,000 in fines.

None of the money has been paid.

Noe is incarcerated in the state's Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville, Ohio. He arrived there in 2008 after he finished serving nearly two years in a federal prison in Florida after pleading guilty to making $45,400 in illegal contributions to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

Yesterday, officials in the Lucas County prosecutor's office said that the notice was expected. The office has 30 days from the day the notice was filed to submit a brief opposing Noe's request that his case be reviewed.

“There is nothing new under the sun nor is there [anything] new in the brief,” said John Weglian, chief of the special units division of the prosecutor's office. “We will respond to each of the issues giving them all due deference.”

In an appeal filed in June, 2008, Noe's attorneys asked that their client be acquitted on all 29 charges. The brief claimed that the trial should have been moved because of media coverage, that the judge repeatedly erred in his handling of the case, and that the prosecution failed to prove each element of the charges.

The three-judge appellate panel dismissed each of the arguments but did reverse one portion of the sentencing phase, saying that Noe was not adequately told of his post-release control obligations at sentencing.

The decision means that Noe will return to Lucas County Common Pleas Court, either in person or via video conference, to be given the proper wording.

Mr. Weglian said yesterday that the prosecutor's office will appeal that reversal citing new state statutes.

Bill Wilkinson of Columbus, and John Mitchell of Cleveland, who represented Noe during the trial and its subsequent appeal, were not listed on the appeal. Mr. Kerger said he will be proceeding as Mr. Noe's attorney.

In the request asking that the high court hear the case, Mr. Kerger wrote that “public outcries ought not to be allowed to substitute for evidence of guilt, but that is what occurred in this case.”

“I think [they are] good issues,” he said. “I just think that this case is so politically charged.”

Contact Erica Blake at:eblake@theblade.comor 419-213-2134.



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