Ohio "Coingate" Scandal Timeline
Toledo Blade timeline for the scandal surrounding the rare-coins investment fund established with Ohio taxpayer money and managed by crony Republican and Ohio Bush/Cheney campaign administrator Tom Noe (via Ohio Watch):
• April 3: The Blade first reports that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has invested $50 million in rare coins with Maumee coin dealer and prominent Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe. The initial story also reports that two gold coins worth $300,000 were lost in the mail in 2003 and that Mr. Noe wrote off $850,000 in bad debt to cover a failed business relationship.
• April 7: Gov. Bob Taft defends Mr. Noe and the state’s investment in rare coins in a Blade interview. “The bottom line is: Is it making money for the state? And it was. He was making money for the state; what’s the problem?” the governor said.
• April 7: Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles announces he will investigate “alleged wrongful acts associated with the investment practices” of the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
• April 22: The Blade reports that Mark Chrans, the California coin dealer who caused Mr. Noe to write off $850,000 in bad debts, was convicted in 1986 of fraud and perjury in federal court for faking a coin transaction to cover up drug money. Chrans spent less than a year in a federal penitentiary.
• April 27: Federal authorities confirm that the FBI is investigating Mr. Noe for possible violations of campaign contribution laws. Federal agents are probing whether Mr. Noe gave people money in order for them to give to the Bush re-election campaign, allowing him to exceed federal spending limits.
• May 1: The number of missing rare coins purchased with state money rises to 121, documents obtained by The Blade show. State records show that 119 coins, in addition to the two gold coins “lost in the mail,” were also missing and possibly stolen by a Colorado coin dealer hired by Mr. Noe.
• May 9: State officials announce that they will dissolve their $50 million investment in rare coins with Mr. Noe. “We had concerns about the ability of the managers to commit the necessary time and resources to make it profitable,” said a state spokesman.
• May 10: Mr. Noe resigns his seats on the Ohio Turnpike Commission and the Ohio Board of Regents. Governor Taft says he did not request the resignations but will accept them.
• May 11: The Blade asks the Ohio Supreme Court to order the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to release uncensored records related to the bureau’s $50 million investment in rare coins with Mr. Noe.
• May 12: The Blade reports that Governor Taft’s former chief of staff, Brian Hicks, twice rented Mr. Noe’s Florida Keys home and paid below- market price for his spring-break stays.
• May 18: Five of Ohio’s seven Supreme Court justices announce they will not hear any public records cases brought before the court that involve Mr. Noe. The five, including Judith Ann Lanzinger of Toledo, are all recipients of campaign cash from Mr. Noe.
• May 23: Governor Taft orders state fraud investigators to “execute a complete inventory” of all rare coins owned by the state. Investigators are refused entry by Mr. Noe at offices where coins are kept.
• May 24: Ohio Attorney General James Petro goes to court to take control of state rare-coin funds from Mr. Noe. The Ohio inspector general seeks telephone and e-mail records from Governor Taft’s office for four high-level current and former employees who allegedly took gifts from Mr. Noe.
• May 25: The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation says bureau personnel are conducting “around-the-clock” surveillance of Mr. Noe’s Monclova Township office after three days of excuses to Ohio fraud investigators. Also, the bureau threatens aggressive legal action if Mr. Noe does not start cooperating.
• Yesterday: A host of law-enforcement agents raid the Noe headquarters, seizing state assets and carting away computer hard drives. State officials then announce they will be filing civil and criminal charges against Mr. Noe for the misappropriation of $10 million to $12 million from the state’s coin funds. The Maumee coin dealer is to surrender his passport to authorities today.