Thursday, October 27, 2005

 

"One of the most blatant and excessive financial schemes: Noe indicted

Damn - we go into a couple of marathon meetings and we miss all the fun news. What a great week this is going to be.
A federal grand jury has indicted Tom Noe, the former Toledo-area coin dealer at the center of a state investment scandal, of illegally laundering money into President Bush’s re-election campaign.

The three-count indictment states that beginning in October 2003, Mr. Noe contributed to President Bush’s election campaign “over and above the limits established by the Federal Election Campaign Act."

“He did so, according to the indictment, in order to fulfill his pledge to raise $50,000 for a Bush-Cheney fund-raiser held in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 30, 2003,” Gregory White, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced at an afternoon news conference.

The two other counts were for conspiracy and filing false statements.

One of the indictment accused Mr. Noe of giving money to 24 friends and associates, who then made the campaign contributions in their own names. In that way, he skirted the $2,000 limit on individual contributions, prosecutors said.

“The indictment also alleges that Noe wrote several checks in the amounts slightly less than the maximum allowable amount so as to avoid suspension. All together, Noe allegedly contributed $45,400 of his own money through 24 "conduit” donors, the prosecutors said.

Federal investigators also allege Mr. Noe made his friends and associates fill out contribution cards and forms falsely certifying they were making the contributions themselves.

“It’s one of the most blatant and excessive finance schemes we have encountered,” said Noel Hillman, section chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s public integrity section.

Mr. Noe faces the maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count. The conspiracy and false statement counts carry a maximum fine of $250,000 and the campaign finance violation carries a mandatory fine of between $136,200 and $454,000.
Noe's attorney denies that there have been negotiations, but the Statehouse wags have been saying for several weeks that the prosecutor has been trying to offer Noe 81/2 years. It's hard to believe negotiations didn't take place because of the potential prison terms and money involved. Plus, as the Dispatch points out:
Today's indictment is the first in what is expected to be a chain of indictments against Noe and others in the investment scandal.
It's hard to believe he hasn't tried to cut his losses by offering to testify against others, so we aren't really buying the "no negotiations" bit.

And, let's not forget that the Bush/Cheney campaign has only "returned" $6,000 of Noe's money - that which was directly given by Tom and Bernadette, and even then it wasn't returned to state officials but was instead given to a charity. The AP story on the indictments has what appears to be a contemporaneous statement from the RNC that makes it sound like they intend to resist returning the funds:
The committee said it is cooperating with federal authorities but will not return $100,000 that Noe raised for Bush for now, which could include money from the Columbus fundraiser. "At this time it appears those funds were given appropriately," [RNC spokesperson Aaron] McLear said.
Isn't it time for the big timers like Jimmy P, Kenny B and Betty M, the movers and shakers like Kevin DeWine, and the bible thumpers like Rod Parsley - heck, anybody who believes in the 8th commandment - to call for Ken Mehlman to cough up the dough?

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