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BWC SCANDAL Court denies request to dismiss Dann suit



Published: Sat, August 6, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A $50 million investment has turned into a $300 million loss.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- The Ohio Supreme Court has denied Gov. Bob Taft's request to dismiss a Democratic state senator's lawsuit against him over access to records in a state investment scandal.

State Sen. Marc Dann filed a lawsuit July 6 seeking several years of weekly memos between Taft's office and the Bureau of Workers' Compensation. Taft released hundreds of pages of reports late last month, but Dann said he was continuing his suit.

The court did not announce its vote Thursday and also delayed when final briefs must be filed in the case.

Dann, a Youngstown area Democrat, said some of the weekly reports from top officials at the embattled state insurance fund for injured workers were at least partially blacked out. He also wants a sworn statement from Taft about failed investments by the bureau.

Dann has said he also wants to know why there are no reports for some weeks.

Taft has said he is fighting to reserve the right to keep communications between him and his cabinet directors and senior staff members private to ensure those memos are candid.

Questions about Toledo-area coin dealer Tom Noe's investment of $50 million in state funds in rare coins has ballooned into a scandal involving $300 million in losses at the workers' compensation bureau and several state and federal investigations.

Noe has said up to $13 million is missing from the fund that should be worth $58 million, and Attorney General Jim Petro has accused him of stealing at least $4 million.

What coin dealer claims

Lawyers for Noe told a judge Thursday that Petro has $1.5 million of Noe's personal property and is erroneously claiming that Noe has also kept almost $2 million in asset sales recently.

Petro is trying to smear Noe "at every turn," according to a motion filed by Noe's attorneys in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

Noe wants Judge David Cain to deny Petro's request for more restrictions on him, including lowering the total for the court's approval of asset sales from $15,000 to $5,000.

Petro has said some assets that Noe has may have been bought with the state's money.

"Who would believe anything Mr. Noe would say at this point?" Petro spokeswoman Kim Norris said.

A message was left early Friday seeking comment from Taft's office on the Ohio Supreme Court denying his motion.




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