Jury Finds Tom Noe Guilty

TOLEDO (AP) – Tom Noe walked into the courthouse Monday holding hands with his wife, Bernadette. Noe, 52, left the courtroom, having been found guilty of 18 counts of forgery, one count of corruption, four counts of money laundering, four counts of tampering and two counts of theft, for a total of 29 counts. Noe was found not guilty on 11 counts.

The jury – composed of eight women and four men – reached its verdict Nov. 13. Of those 12 jurors, two are African-American, one is Hispanic and nine are Caucasian.

Noe, a politically connected coin dealer, was accused of stealing at least $2 million from the unorthodox $50 million investment. The corrupt activity charge, the most serious one, carries a mandatory 10-year sentence because he was convicted on some of the other charges. Noe had already been sentenced to 27 months in jail for illegally funnelling money to President Bush’s 2004 campaign.

The trial put a spotlight on the embarrassing scandal for Republicans in the weeks leading up to the election last week. Voters fed up with government corruption scandals broke the GOP’s 12-year lock on state government, electing Democrats to the governor’s office, a U.S. Senate seat and three of four other key statewide offices.

National Democratic leaders watched the trial because Ohio again is widely expected to play a key role in picking the next president. The Democrats believe that winning the governor’s office gives them a better shot at capturing the state in the 2008 presidential race.

Noe stood still and stared straight ahead when the verdicts were announced. He nodded when Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Osowik said he would be taken into custody. He did not look at jurors while the judge asked them to confirm their verdicts, which they deliberated 2 12 days. He is to be sentenced Nov. 20.

After Noe was taken from the courtroom, his wife, Bernadette, and their three children huddled together and hugged in a front row.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation gave Noe $25 million in 1998 to invest in rare coins, followed by another $25 million in 2001. At the same time, he began his rise to prominence in state politics.

Prosecutors accused Noe, 52, of spending money from the coin fund on his business, his home in the Florida Keys and other luxury items. They did not say whether he used the money to make campaign contributions to Republicans, including President Bush.

Defense attorneys, who did not present any witnesses, said Noe had permission from the bureau to invest the money, had wide discretion how to invest it and produced profits over the years. They said Noe was the victim of bad bookkeeping and that not one witness said Noe asked them to falsify or misrepresent anything.

Read the rest at Fox 19.

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