SENATE PROBE Rare coin deal raises eyebrows, questions

Lawmakers want to know why an ex-convict handled the state's $50 million investment.
TOLEDO (AP) -- Three Republican state senators have joined Democrats in questioning a state bureau's $50 million investment in rare coins.
The senators' questions came in the wake of a report Friday by The Blade that one of the people hired by coin dealer Tom Noe to manage a state-funded coin venture was convicted of a felony for faking a rare-coin transaction to cover up drug money.
Mark Chrans, now 41, was convicted of fraud and perjury in federal court for his role in laundering cocaine profits in 1981, the newspaper said. Chrans is the manager who caused Noe's Capital Coin to write off $850,000 over the past three years because of bad coin deals, an unpaid loan and salary advances, the newspaper said.
"That is disconcerting," said Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Canton.
Background checks
State Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said the latest revelations could prompt a review of the background checks required by the state for those hired to manage state money.
State Sen. Jeff Jacobson, R-Brookville, said he is reviewing a plan to require a third party to analyze all alternative investments using state money and submit a report to lawmakers.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation invested $50 million -- $25 million in 1998 and $25 million in 2001 -- with two Capital Coin funds set up and managed by Noe. The bureau said that the coin funds returned more than $13 million in profits to the state.
Noe, chairman of the Ohio Turnpike Commission and an Ohio Board of Regents member, has said that he was unaware of Chrans' felony conviction.

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