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Fundraiser for GOP accused of stealing

Associated Press
Published February 14, 2006

TOLEDO, Ohio - A coin dealer and GOP fundraiser hired to manage an unorthodox state investment in rare coins was charged Monday with embezzling at least $1-million in an election-year scandal that has sent Ohio Republicans running for cover.

Tom Noe, 51, pleaded not guilty and was released on $500,000 bail. He was arrested over his handling of a $50-million investment fund set up by the state workers' compensation bureau in an unusual attempt to make money by buying and selling rare coins.

The 10-month investigation led to sweeping changes at the bureau and prompted lame-duck Gov. Bob Taft and two former aides to plead no contest to ethics charges. After the scandal broke last year, President Bush and Republicans in Ohio rushed to give back donations from Noe.

Noe was charged Monday with stealing money from the coin investment fund by writing numerous checks, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates would not say how much money Noe is alleged to have stolen, but one of the charges accuses him of embezzling at least $1-million. The Ohio attorney general has said he believes Noe stole up to $6-million.

Noe already faces charges of illegally funneling $45,000 to Bush's re-election campaign. The 53 new counts include racketeering, forgery, theft, money laundering and tampering with records, with the most serious charge carrying up to 10 years in prison.

[Last modified February 14, 2006, 02:45:31]

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