View Full Version : Ohio Law Keeps Noe Coin Fund Files Secret

03-13-2006, 07:36 PM
Ohio Law Keeps Noe Coin Fund Files Secret



COLUMBUS (AP) -- A company hired to examine the state's unorthodox $50 million investment in rare coins doesn't have to make its files public because state law exempts work done by private businesses for the state. Auditor Betty Montgomery hired Chicago-based Crowe Chizek & Co. to audit the investment managed by coin dealer Tom Noe for the state insurance fund for injured workers.

Noe is charged with dozens of state counts accusing him of stealing money from the funds, and the Feb. 22 audit found that $13.5 million in state money was misspent.

Montgomery denied a request for the work papers attached to the audit by The Columbus Dispatch, saying state law prohibits their release. The newspaper had questions about possible discrepancies in the numbers reported in the audit, but Montgomery's office hasn't been able to answer those questions, in part because Crowe Chizek did the work.

The firm has been told not to discuss the findings because it is part of the criminal investigation of Noe and others involved in investments at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, said company spokeswoman Suzanne Robinson.

Open government advocates say the law is misguided and any work done by a private entity with taxpayer dollars should be open.

The state paid $490,782 to Crowe Chizek for the work, plus $98,801 to Clark Schaefer Hackett & Co. for a section of the audit analyzing the bureau's investment policies and $190,000 to the auction house Sotheby's to value the coins.

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