Brian Hicks appears in court today to answer charges that he failed to report vacation trips he took to Coingate mastermind Tom Noe's $1.3 million home in the Florida Keys. A top Taft aide for a dozen years, Hicks stayed at Noe's place in 2002 and 2003. Another Taft aide, Cherie Carroll, is charged with taking some $500 in free dinners from Noe.
Noe is a high-roller crony of Taft, US Senator George Voinovich and President George W. Bush. Noe charged the Ohio Bureau of Workman's Compensation nearly $13 million to invest some $58 million. Ohio Attorney-General Jim Petro, to whom Noe once donated money, says some $4 million disappeared into Noe's pocket.
The new charges against Taft's former aide are at the edge of Coingate's links to Bush, Voinovich and organized crime. Through Noe's wife Bernadette, those links extend to the GOP theft of Ohio 2004.
Tom Noe, northwest Ohio's "Mr. Republican" and a close Bush/Rove crony, is under federal investigation for making possibly illegal contributions to the Bush/Cheney campaign.
As owner of Vintage Coins and Cards in Maumee, Ohio, Noe raised more than $100,000, to become a Bush Pioneer/Ranger.
But Noe was more than a mere fundraiser. The New York Times dubbed him Toledo's "Mr. Republican," the GOP "man to see" in northwest Ohio. While Tom chaired the regional Bush-Cheney campaign, his wife Bernadette chaired the scandal-torn Lucas County Board of Elections that played a key role in caging votes to put Bush back in the White House.
Noe's fortune came in part from charging the Bureau of Worker's Compensation (BWC) $12.6 million in coin-fund related expenses for managing the $50 million investment between 1998 and 2004. Federal and state officials are now investigating these expenses.
A "Ponzi scheme" is what Ohio's Republican Attorney General Jim Petro calls the method by which Noe may have stolen millions of dollars from the state of Ohio's Bureau of Worker's Compensation (BWC).
Petro says that on May 31, 1998, Noe received the first of two $25 million payments approved from then-Governor Voinovich's BWC. Noe promptly laundered $1.375 million into his personal or business account. Rolling in public money, Noe then asked to run a bizarre rare coin investment scheme on behalf of the BWC.
Meanwhile Noe laundered money into Republican Party campaigns. Among others, he and Bernadette made a $4500 contribution to then-Secretary of State Bob Taft's successful campaign for governor, at a time when Brian Hicks was Taft's top aide.
The Toledo Blade reports that Noe later gave Taft another $2500. Still another $2000 went to then-governor Voinovich's successful Senate campaign. And another $500 went to re-elect Petro, then the state auditor.
Mr. Noe's attorney acknowledged on May 26 that as much as $13 million in BWC assets remain missing. Petro says $4 million was illegally taken by Noe for personal use.
Noe's high-flying financial dance is rooted in the gubernatorial corruption of his good friend Voinovich, and a shady aide named Paul Mifsud. Mifsud was Voinovich's Chief of Staff and has become a statewide symbol of official corruption and illegality.
Mifsud's was responsible for much of Tom Noe's rapid rise. According to the conservative Columbus Dispatch, May 8, 2005, Mifsud paved the way for Noe's rare coin gambit.
Mifsud himself spent six months in prison for destroying the government records of a sweetheart construction deal he engineered for his then-fiancée's house. Mifsud made the mistake of giving the bid to a controversial contractor named T.G. Banks, who allegedly did the job in exchange for state contracts.