Records Show Trading Reached a Fever Pitch Before Assets Were Frozen

TOLEDO (AP) -- A review of the state's rare-coin investment records shows trading activity from the coin fund and its various subsidiaries reaching a fever pitch just before the fund's assets were frozen, according to published reports.  Millions of dollars in coins and cash exchanged hands among managers of Tom Noe's $50 million rare-coin venture in the days leading up to his admission that up to $13 million was missing from the state-funded operation.

Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to release the transaction records in a lawsuit filed against the agency by The Toledo Blade. The documents were made public on Wednesday. Noe, a Toledo-area coin dealer and prominent Republican fund-raiser, is facing multiple state and federal investigations into his management of the fund.

On May 24, Attorney General Jim Petro sued to freeze the assets of the venture and forbid Noe from selling or transferring any of the assets of the investment. In its story on Thursday, The Blade said the transaction records paint a picture of an operation desperate to move cash and coins in the days before the assets were frozen. Nearly 15,000 pages of records provide evidence that there were hundreds of trades among the people charged with managing the state's rare-coin investment throughout its seven-year existence, the newspaper said.

The documents also show Noe authorized millions of dollars in loans from the state's Capital Coin funds, including $285,000 to himself, while using state money to foot the bill for legal work to fight public records requests to release coin-fund documents.

Investigators have been scouring the transaction records for weeks after attorneys for Noe on May 26 acknowledged that millions of dollars could not be accounted for. Kim Norris, a spokesman for Petro, said the office was investigating the rare-coin funds, including the millions of dollars in transactions that occurred in the days leading up to state's seizing control of the coin operation. "The information in the documents we are very aware of," she said.

Noe attorney Bill Wilkinson said the millions of dollars in transactions in the days leading up to the freezing of the state's assets would not be unusual because no one could have known if or when the assets would be frozen. He said it would be like reading the future or knowing the Lotto numbers before they were announced. "How could anyone know. I think the question's insane," Wilkinson said.

Posted by AEB