Noe Pleads Guilty

June 4, 2006

From The Toledo Blade:

More than two years after investigators began probing Tom Noe’s vaunted political fund-raising ability, he admitted yesterday that he used friends and colleagues to illegally pour thousands of dollars into the effort to re-elect President Bush.

Noe, whose fund-raising acumen earned him star status as a Bush “Pioneer” and helped him secure coveted federal and state political appointments, pleaded guilty to all three felony counts he faced.

Noe said he wanted to “spare my dear family and friends … further embarrassment.”

The 51-year-old is facing between 24 and 30 months in prison and a substantial fine according to federal sentencing guidelines, assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson said. However, he said he would seek an even stiffer penalty because of the “potential loss of public faith” in the presidential election.

For more than a year, Republicans in Ohio and Washington have been subjected to continued revelations about a man who had constant access to Gov. Bob Taft’s office and who was a guest at the White House. The President won a second term on the strength of a narrow victory in Ohio.

With his guilty plea, Noe will go from a well-connected Republican who led the Bush effort in northwest Ohio to a convicted felon, adding a permanent stain to his political career.

His guilty plea also acknowledged implicitly that he illegally obtained the cachet typically bestowed upon the biggest political fund-raisers. Hundreds of the Bush “Pioneers” and “Rangers” — those who raised more than $100,000 and $200,000 respectively — were rewarded with coveted ambassadorships, favorable policy changes, and friendly legislation. Noe himself was appointed to a key committee of the U.S. Mint.

State Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) said most people are “shocked and angered and disappointed all at once as to the magnitude” of the accusations against Noe.

“It’s beyond anyone’s comprehension,” Mr. Gardner said.

U.S. District Judge David Katz accepted the guilty plea and said a sentencing date would be scheduled after the federal probation office can produce a presentencing report. Noe will begin providing information for that report tomorrow.

By accepting responsibility and avoiding a trial, Noe is eligible for a reduced prison sentence.

Noe still faces more than four dozen other felony counts in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on allegations that he stole millions of dollars from two rare-coin funds totaling $50 million he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. An August trial has been set in that case.
24 alleged ‘conduits’

During the hearing yesterday, federal prosecutors painted a picture of a man who knew it was wrong to give $45,500 to 24 alleged “conduits” to boost his fund-raising totals at a fund-raiser in October, 2003.

Noe duped them and the presidential campaign he sought to help, assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Uram said.

Noe turned to deceit, Mr. Uram said, after his pledge to raise $50,000 for the Bush campaign foundered when friends claimed they couldn’t attend the $2,000-a-plate event or couldn’t afford it.

“It was then that the defendant [decided] that they could use his own funds to pay for their $2,000 tickets,” Mr. Uram said.

But Noe, who had already given the maximum contribution a few months earlier, should have known it was wrong. Mr. Uram said investigators obtained memos given to Noe about conduits. One memo, which would have been used in a trial, clearly said: “It is illegal to give money in the name of another.”

He was formally charged with conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws and with violating them. He was also charged with causing the Bush-Cheney campaign to file a false campaign finance report.

Donor cards signed

All of the conduits signed donor cards that acknowledged they were the source of their donations when all knew Noe was responsible, prosecutors said.

But for all of the details that were revealed, the hearing left many questions unanswered: Why did Noe agree to raise $50,000 for the Bush campaign? Did anyone pressure him to raise money? Did he hope to curry favor with the Bush White House? His plea leaves those questions open to speculation.

Noe rose to prominence in the Republican Party over the last 15 years as a willing fund-raiser and political confidant and planner.

He secured high-profile gubernatorial appointments to the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees and the Ohio Board of Regents, and for a time was chairman of the regents — despite being a college dropout. He also was appointed to the Ohio Turnpike Commission, where he also was chairman.

Noe and his wife, Bernadette, both former chairmen of the Lucas County Republican Party, have given more than $200,000 to politicians over the last 16 years. Their giving increased substantially after the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in 1998 gave him the first of two $25 million payments to invest in his rare-coin funds.

In May, 2003, he secured a federal appointment to an important committee of the U.S. Mint, a panel that advises the U.S. Treasury secretary on themes and designs for coins and congressional gold medals. He was named its chairman.

Before The Blade began reporting in April, 2005, about Noe’s coin deals with the state, he and his wife owned three waterfront homes, including two in Ohio. Since then they’ve sold their condo along the Maumee River in Maumee and their $1 million Catawba Island home on the shore of Lake Erie.

The former GOP power couple retreated to a palatial home in the Florida Keys, which has been used to secure more than $1 million in loans to pay his attorneys.

All of the 24 alleged conduits cooperated with the probe and were willing to testify, Mr. Uram said. Four acknowledged they knew it was illegal at the time. Because the alleged conduits were not charged, Mr. Uram said he was precluded from identifying them.

But court records show that many of them were some of the people closest to Noe: his brother-in-law Joe Restivo; local politicians Maggie Thurber, Betty Shultz, Sally Perz, and Donna Owens; two former aides to Governor Taft; and other political and social friends.

Ms. Thurber, Ms. Shultz, Ms. Perz, and Ms. Owens all face potential state ethics charges for failing to disclose the money from Noe. A special prosecutor appointed by Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates is considering charges.

Ms. Thurber and Ms. Shultz yesterday declined to comment about their roles in Noe’s contributions to President Bush’s campaign. Ms. Perz and Ms. Owens did not return phone calls.

Mr. Uram said prosecutors would have relied on memos, records from the Bush campaign, information gleaned from Noe’s trash, and the testimony of the alleged conduits.

Loans claimed

The alleged conduits told investigators that Noe told them to claim the money was a loan if anyone ever asked, and he gave varying amounts to them — only three got the same amount as they would later give the Bush campaign — “so that the payments would look less suspicious,” Mr. Uram said.

Then, in April, 2005, as word of the federal investigation filtered to Noe, he called some of the alleged conduits and asked for payment on the “loans.” Some did send checks and some told investigators the money was a loan. They later changed their stories.

At one point, well after the event, Noe even created a “loan folder” to further disguise his fund-raising, Mr. Uram said.

Throughout the 45-minute hearing, Noe was calm and responsive with Judge Katz, acknowledging questions with “yes, your honor,” and “no, your honor.”

Then, after hearing all of the evidence Mr. Uram outlined, Noe said he voluntarily agreed to change his plea “to accept responsibility to spare my dear family and friends the further embarrassment of any additional court proceeding. Therefore, I plead guilty.”

He was joined in the courtroom by his sister, Beth Noe June of Clark Lake, Mich., and her husband.

Noe remains free on $350,000 bond pending the sentencing hearing. He will undergo drug testing as part of the presentencing report and a complete background check will be done.

Both the federal prosecutors and Noe’s defense attorneys will be able to review and question the report before Judge Katz sentences Noe.

Mr. Pearson said he anticipates Noe’s attorneys will ask that any federal sentence be delayed until the state charges are resolved.

Mr. Pearson asked Judge Katz to treat Noe like any other defendant.

The judge said he would answer those requests later.

No one in state government has been harder hit by the Noe case than Governor Taft, whose administration and legacy have been ravaged by his association with Noe and the scandal that has enveloped Columbus. Yesterday, Mark Rickel, the governor’s press secretary, said “this is a serious offense in the hands of a capable judge and prosecutors.’’

At the time of Noe’s indictment, a senior Justice Department official said the Noe case represented the largest campaign money-laundering scheme prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department since new campaign-finance laws were enacted by Congress in 2002.


Noe To Change His Plea

May 12, 2006

From The Columbus Dispatch:

Admission on campaign-finance charges may affect coin-fund case

Indicted coin dealer Thomas W. Noe wants to change his not-guilty pleas to federal campaign-finance charges to resolve the case, according to a court filing yesterday.

A Noe attorney and a federal prosecutor filed a joint request for a hearing "as soon as possible" to change Noe’s plea to three charges that he illegally funneled $45,400 to President Bush’s re-election campaign.

U.S. Attorney Greg White in Cleveland declined to comment, and Noe’s attorneys could not be reached last night. But the filing suggests that Noe has agreed to accept responsibility and possibly cooperate in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Noe was set for trial July 24 in Toledo and was facing up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $950,000 if convicted on all counts.

He also has been indicted on 53 state charges related to his handling of a $50 million investment in rare coins for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. It’s unclear what effect a change of plea in the federal case could have on the state case.

Law-enforcement sources speculate that Noe’s willingness to change his plea in the federal case gives him incentive to resolve the state case as well so that he wouldn’t face other charges later if new in- formation surfaces.

A federal grand jury in Cleveland is still hearing evidence related to the bureau’s loss of $215 million in a hedge fund handled by MDL Capital Management of Pittsburgh and other investment issues.

On the other hand, Noe could decide to fight the state charges despite a guilty or no-contest plea in the federal case, others have speculated.

Noe faces 172 1 /2 years in prison if convicted on all state charges. He is scheduled for trial Aug. 29, but there often are delays in such cases as pretrial motions are filed.

It’s also unclear what cooperation or information Noe would be able to provide if required. Noe was a major Republican contributor and socialized with many public officials — including Gov. Bob Taft and four former members of his administration convicted of ethics charges for not divulging their gifts from Noe.

The drama is unfolding as Ohio Democrats are pushing to reclaim the governor’s office and other statewide posts, in part by arguing that the Republicans have presided over a "culture of corruption" in the state.

Democrats said Republicans will bear the stigma of Noe’s misdeeds regardless of whether he stands trial before the election.

"Tom Noe is the poster child for one-party rule and a pay-toplay system that exists in Columbus and Washington, D.C.," said Chris Redfern, Ohio Democratic Party chairman.

But Ohio Republican Chairman Robert T. Bennett said Noe’s legal problems won’t hurt GOP candidates this year.

"Voters understand this is not a one-party problem, but a problem for both parties," he said.

"I think they’re going to judge us on how we’ve dealt with the problem. … The way you send that message is to prosecute them to the fullest extent of law, and put ’em in jail under the maximum penalty allowed."

Noe was indicted last October on the federal charges after authorities said he circumvented the $2,000 federal limit on individual contributions by giving $45,400 of his own money to 24 people to contribute illegally to Bush in their names.

Noe carried out the scheme to fulfill a pledge to raise big money for the Bush-Cheney campaign, officials said. The contributions came at an Oct. 30, 2003, fundraiser for Bush at the Downtown Hyatt Regency in Columbus.

The former Maumee coin dealer was listed by the Bush-Cheney campaign as one of 19 Ohio "Pioneers" — someone who raised at least $100,000 for the campaign.

In the state case, the charges against Noe include theft, forgery and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. Auditors determined more than $13.5 million was misspent.

Noe has pleaded not guilty to those charges and is free on bond.


Toledo Blade On The Noe Affair

April 3, 2006

From The Toledo Blade:

In the months before Tom Noe came under scrutiny for his state-funded rare-coin venture, he used a federal appointment to forge relationships with U.S. Mint officials that opened doors for him on Capitol Hill, documents obtained by The Blade show.

And before he was brought down by scandal last year, the coin dealer helped persuade Congress — for the first time in the nation’s history — to authorize the minting of a 24-karat gold coin.

Mr. Noe’s quest to become a Washington power broker and to help redesign all U.S. coins fell apart last year when controversy gripped the $50 million rare-coin investment he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and federal authorities announced they were investigating the GOP fund-raiser for allegedly laundering political contributions to President Bush’s campaign.

Last week, Greg Weinman, the Mint’s senior counsel and ethics official, told The Blade that the Treasury Department’s inspector general had opened an investigation into Mr. Noe’s role as a member and chairman of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, a panel that advises the Treasury secretary on themes and designs for coins and congressional gold medals.

In May, 2003, the White House and House Speaker Dennis Hastert recommended that Mr. Noe get a seat on the influential 11-member committee. Treasury Secretary John Snow appointed Mr. Noe, less than six months after the Toledo-area coin dealer expressed interest in joining a Mint committee to Henrietta Fore, then director of the Mint.

“I have always had interest in getting more involved on the national level,” Mr. Noe wrote to Ms. Fore.

Mr. Noe’s appointment and eventual chairmanship of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee enabled him to expand his reach into the federal government, according to more than 2,700 pages of e-mails and other committee records released last week by the Mint to The Blade. The newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the public records in June, 2005.

Documents and interviews reveal that Mr. Noe — who has pleaded not guilty to a 53-count felony theft and corruption indictment for his handling of Ohio’s rare-coin fund and not guilty to federal charges that he laundered money to President Bush’s re-election campaign — courted Mint officials at high-price restaurants in Washington, sought information on behalf of fellow coin dealers about future coins to be minted, and pushed the Mint and lawmakers to use higher-grade metals in the nation’s coins.

“Tom Noe saw a golden money pot and he wanted a piece of it,” said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, reacting to The Blade’s findings. “But unfortunately, the Republicans in Washington were all too willing to help out their friends if they gave enough to the campaigns.”

In 2003 and 2004, Mr. Noe earned the elite status of a Bush “Pioneer” because he raised at least $100,000 for the President’s campaign. Mr. Noe and his wife, Bernadette, a former chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, gave more than $200,000 to GOP candidates and causes.

The White House did not return messages seeking comment.

Frequent trips to D.C.

From May, 2003, to May, 2005, as a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, Mr. Noe made frequent trips to Washington. He visited the Mint for meetings and built relationships with federal officials and lawmakers.

In 2004, he was picked to chair the committee, and he accepted — with a request that Madelyn Simmons Marchessault, the Mint’s director of legislative and governmental affairs, serve as the committee’s liaison. She was instrumental in getting Mr. Noe on the committee.

E-mails show that Mr. Noe grew close with Ms. Marchessault. They spoke frequently, and she set up meetings for Mr. Noe on Capitol Hill. During President Bush’s 2005 inaugural week, Ms. Marchessault and her husband, Ronald Marchessault, accepted Mr. Noe’s invitation to a gathering at The Caucus Room, an upscale Washington restaurant that offers a list of 4,000 wines.

Ms. Marchessault, now an official in the State Department’s Bureau of Management, and Ms. Fore, now the State Department’s undersecretary for management, would not respond to questions from The Blade about their dealings with Mr. Noe. The Treasury Department also refused to respond to questions.

Both Ms. Marchessault and Ms. Fore are Bush Administration appointees.

“Since it is an issue before the courts, under investigation, at this point we at the State Department and our officials aren’t in a position to comment,” said Adam Ereli, a spokesman for the department. “What we can say is that we know Henrietta Fore and Ms. Simmons [Marchessault] to be upstanding public servants of the highest integrity.”

Ute Wartenberg Kagan, a coinage committee member and executive director of the American Numismatic Society, said the allegations facing Mr. Noe related to Ohio’s rare-coin investment are “not that unusual in the wheelings and dealings of the coin business because it’s a business that is quite unregulated and based largely on cash.”

Ms. Kagan, who described Ms. Marchessault as “incredibly nice and very competent,” said she didn’t see any evidence of Mr. Noe trying to use her or any signs that Ms. Marchessault was closer to Mr. Noe than previous chairmen.

The Treasury Department’s inspector general began its probe of Mr. Noe after The Blade first reported in April, 2005, on problems with the $50 million rare-coin funds he managed for the state, e-mails show.

At the time of the initial reports in The Blade, Mr. Noe — appointed by Republican governors to serve on the Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Turnpike Commission — was gaining stature in Washington. And the state of Ohio was on the verge of giving him an additional $25 million to invest in rare coins — a plan that was reversed after stories about the coin funds appeared in the newspaper.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat, said Mr. Noe’s activities on the Mint committee mirrored his rise to prominence in state government. The fallout of Ohio’s rare-coin scandal has led to the criminal conviction of Gov. Bob Taft and four former high-ranking aides, who failed to report gifts or money they received from Mr. Noe.

In the state capital, Mr. Noe set up the “Noe Supper Club,” a group of high-ranking government officials and Statehouse insiders who gathered for dinners at Morton’s Steakhouse, where Mr. Noe picked up the tab blocks from the Statehouse.

“I believe he was walking down the same path with the federal government,” Miss Kaptur said.

Mr. Noe, though, was forced to resign from his federal appointment in May, 2005, after his attorneys told Ohio authorities to expect a shortfall of up to $13 million in the coin funds he managed for the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Miss Kaptur said it appeared that Mr. Noe’s appointment to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and his ascension as chairman was “wired.”

“It gave him enormous access to a lot of information,” she said. “And he had a lot of special interests. I have several unanswered questions, from his own personal collections to the involvement in the U.S. Mint in minting new coins.”

Building influence

Not only did Mr. Noe use his federal appointment to cultivate relationships at the Mint, and on Capitol Hill, but e-mails show that he used his post to influence policy and seek access to inside information that could benefit him as a rare-coin dealer.

In December, 2004, Don Herres, president of Dollar Towne, a Dayton-area rarities business, contacted Mr. Noe about the possibility of the Mint producing a coin made of palladium, a precious metal, according to e-mails.

Mr. Herres, in an interview last week, said Mr. Noe thought it was a “great idea,” and he sent him a letter saying he would raise the issue at a Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee meeting. Coin-fund records show that Mr. Noe, as manager of the $50 million state rare-coin investment, had more than $450,000 in transactions with Mr. Herres’ business.

Mr. Noe followed up in a Dec. 15, 2004, e-mail to Ms. Marchessault.

Referring to Mr. Herres, Mr. Noe wrote: “This guy is a big seller of U.S. gold and platinum eagle products … any palladium plans in the future?? Let me know.”

It’s unclear if Ms. Marchessault responded to Mr. Noe’s inquiry. The U.S. Mint has not produced a palladium coin.

But while Mr. Noe served as chairman of the advisory committee, the U.S. Mint announced plans to manufacture its first 24-karat, .9999 gold bullion investment coins. On April 28, 2005, Mr. Noe hosted a public meeting to consider themes for the 24-karat gold coins.

A year earlier, Mr. Noe testified before U.S. Rep. Michael Oxley’s House Financial Services Committee about the possibility of manufacturing .9999 bullion coins.

During the hearing, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle (R., Delaware) asked Mr. Noe for his opinion on using a lower-cost type of coinage to produce a set of coins featuring presidential spouses.

“I think there is always concern with the low cost as far as the collectibility goes. I think it might be good for school children to be able to use these for an educational tool … but a new gold bullion coin depicting America’s First Ladies will be very successful and a welcome change,” Mr. Noe testified.

“I also project that the sales will be extremely high due to not only the design change, but also the fact that the content will be .9999 percent pure gold,” the coin dealer told the committee.

“We will finally have a gold bullion coin to compete directly with the Canadian maple leaf and other world .999 percent gold coins,” Mr. Noe testified.

Jay Johnson, who served as U.S. Mint director in 2000-2001, testified at the same congressional hearing as Mr. Noe in 2004.

“Had there not been all of the problems in Ohio, he might have been a candidate at some point for Mint director,” said Mr. Johnson, a one-term Democratic congressman from Wisconsin who was nominated by President Bill Clinton for the post. “These are political appointments.”

Mr. Johnson said the Mint is “not really an independent operator” because Congress calls the shots in creating coins.

“I don’t think that Tom Noe could have used his position on this advisory committee to make any changes or pass anything that affected the market or made any personal profits for him; not even the Mint director can do that,” said Mr. Johnson, who is a consultant to Collectors Universe. The California-based company provides grading and products to dealers and collectors of coins and other collectibles.

But Scott Travers, a coin expert and author, said Mr. Noe could have benefited financially from his federal appointment.

“If you have a prestigious government appointment and you are perceived to be somebody of power, status, integrity, and responsibility, it reinforces the sky-is-the-limit mentality that people might have about you in terms of trust,” he said.

Mr. Travers, who heard that Mr. Noe was a “helpful and straightforward” committee member, said the coin dealer could have positioned himself to “funnel that trust and respect into a profitable business venture that could line the wallet.”

Chairman of coin panel

Mr. Noe had accomplished his goals of becoming one of the biggest players in both Ohio politics and the rare-coin industry by 2002. That’s when he set his sights on a new goal — Washington.

In April, 2003, President Bush signed a bill establishing the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, which replaced the Citizens Commemorative Coinage Advisory Committee, a panel that advised the treasury secretary on commemorative coin designs.

According to e-mails, the White House played a key role in helping Mr. Noe win a seat on the newly minted committee.

Officially, House Speaker Hastert, an Illinois Republican, recommended Mr. Noe to Treasury Secretary Snow, but an e-mail from Ms. Marchessault to Kim Nickles, a treasury liaison to the White House, revealed that Mr. Noe was an “original White House recommendation,” whom she was “finally able to get on the committee through the congressional recommendations.”

In February, 2003, during a visit to the White House, Mr. Noe was expected to take part in an “Ohio political strategy session” with Karl Rove, who is considered the architect of President Bush’s political career, and Ken Mehlman, who was later named the President’s campaign manager.

The legislation that created the new coinage committee — which passed through the House Financial Services Committee chaired by Congressman Oxley (R., Findlay) — changed the rules for selecting the panel’s chairman, making it easier for someone such as Mr. Noe to become the leader.

Under the new rules, the chairman was picked by the treasury secretary rather than by members of the committee.

“I think it was a very directed way of moving a candidate of the administration’s choice into the chairmanship by changing the way in which it had been traditionally done and mandating it legislatively,” Miss Kaptur said yesterday.

About a month before the 2004 election, Mr. Snow chose Mr. Noe to be the committee’s next chairman.

Upon his selection, Mr. Noe made it clear which Mint employee he wanted as the liaison to the committee. It was Ms. Marchessault, a former staff member for U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican.

Ms. Fore, in a note congratulating Mr. Noe on becoming chairman, granted his request.

“Dear Tom … Per our discussion, the primary point of contact at the United States Mint will now be Madelyn Simmons Marchessault, our Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs,” Ms. Fore wrote.

Politics of socializing

Over the next several months, until scandal in Ohio forced his resignation from the committee, Mr. Noe wrote several e-mails to Ms. Marchessault describing how much he enjoyed working with her.

“Wow, you are GOOD,” Mr. Noe told Ms. Marchessault on Dec. 16, 2004. Listing his home phone numbers, from Lake Erie to the Florida Keys, Mr. Noe added: “If you can’t find me now … I don’t exist!!!!”

“Thanks … we’re a great team!!!!” Mr. Noe wrote to her the next day. “I may even look forward to these meetings from now on!!!”

“I assure you that the pleasure has been all mine,” Mr. Noe wrote to Ms. Marchessault two months later. “You have no idea how relieved I am that you are the person we get to work with. Look forward to the future.”

“Thanks Madelyn … you are the BEST!!” Mr. Noe wrote in February, 2005.

But Mr. Noe’s cultivation of Ms. Marchessault did not stop with e-mails.

In addition to raising at least $100,000 for President Bush’s re-election, Mr. Noe in 2004 served as regional chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in northwest Ohio. Four days before the election, Mr. Noe at 2 a.m. apologized to Ms. Marchessault for not responding promptly to a message from her. He explained that he was busy with a “Bush event in Toledo that I am advancing.”

As part of his inauguration schedule in January, 2005, Mr. Noe invited Ms. Marchessault to socialize with him and his wife, Bernadette, then chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party.

“Let me know if you and hubby want to have a drink or dinner with Bernadette and I next week,” wrote Mr. Noe, inviting them to dinner at the Caucus Room and a second dinner at Morton’s in Georgetown.

Mr. Noe told Ms. Marchessault that he had reserved the back room at the Caucus Room and “it is under my name and company name … will be about 15 to 20 people there … we get in at 5 p.m. on private plane at [Baltimore-Washington International Airport].”

On Jan. 24, 2005, a day before the dinner at the Caucus Room, Mr. Noe asked Ms. Marchessault: “Hi! Do you want to meet for an 8 am breakfast at the Renaissance?”

Although it’s unclear how many times Ms. Marchessault met Mr. Noe for social occasions, a Jan. 28, 2005, e-mail confirms that she attended the dinner at the Caucus Room.

“Dwayne Sattler, whom you met at dinner at the Caucus Room, is going to be in DC next Monday and Tuesday … wanted to contact your husband,” Mr. Noe wrote.

A former aide to U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, Mr. Sattler is a lobbyist. When Mr. Noe was chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents in 2003, the regents hired the firm where Mr. Sattler worked.

Mr. Sattler declined comment when reached at his home in suburban Columbus last week. Mr. Marchessault, a project manager who works in Maryland for the Battelle Memorial Institute — a worldwide science and technology enterprise based in Columbus — did not return messages seeking comment.

Mr. Weinman, the Mint’s senior legal counsel and ethics director, said Mr. Noe tried to socialize with several Mint employees.

Mr. Weinman, who grew up in the Toledo area and is a University of Toledo law school graduate, said he declined several requests from Mr. Noe but had breakfast once with him near his Vintage Coins & Collectibles shop in Monclova Township.

But Mr. Noe had more than socializing on his agenda, and he wasn’t the only one who thought he could be of help with GOP politicians on Capitol Hill.

Shortly after Mr. Noe became chairman of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, Ms. Fore, director of the U.S. Mint, decided to use his Ohio connections.

In a Nov. 10, 2004, e-mail, Ms. Fore asked Ms. Marchessault “if the museum could move through” Congressman Oxley’s House Financial Services Committee.
Ms. Fore suggested that a Republican committee staffer, Joe Pinder, Mr. Noe, and counsel could “help with Oxley” and she could call Mr. Oxley and a Republican congressman from Delaware.

Mr. Weinman last week said it appeared the reference was to a proposal to construct a museum in the Mint headquarters in Washington.

On April 25, 2005, Mr. Noe wrote Ms. Marchessault an e-mail with “Joe P” as the subject.

“Just got off a LONG phone call with Joe … he talked about your chat with him and I think a $1-2M ask is doable this year … had LOTS of other opinions as well … he really likes you … maybe we can chat on Weds night about all of this … let me know,” Mr. Noe wrote.

Mr. Weinman said last week that he did not know what the reference to “a $1-2M ask” meant.

Mr. Pinder declined comment, referring questions to a press aide who did not return messages seeking comment.

Treasury investigation

In an interview last week, Mr. Weinman, who confirmed that Mr. Noe’s tenure on the coinage committee was the subject of a Treasury investigation, said he did not know the scope of that investigation.

“I know they came to me and they wanted to see Tom’s financial filing,” he said.
Richard Delmar, counsel to the Treasury Department’s inspector general, said results of any investigation are not available yet.

It is clear from Treasury Department e-mails that Mr. Noe’s troubles in Ohio were of concern in Washington.

On May 26, 2005, the day Mr. Noe’s attorneys told Ohio authorities there was a shortfall of up to $13 million in the state’s $50 million coin fund, Ms. Marchessault informed Mr. Pinder, the Republican staffer on Mr. Oxley’s House Financial Services Committee, of Mr. Noe’s resignation as chairman and a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

“Dammit,” he wrote back.

“Not looking good for him,” Ms. Marchessault replied.