Ohio coin dealer now in prison for funneling money

By John Seewer The Associated Press

TOLEDO – A federal judge yesterday sentenced a GOP fundraiser at the center of an Ohio political scandal to two years and three months in prison for illegally funneling $45,000 to President Bush’s re-election campaign.

Tom Noe, a former Toledo-area rare coin dealer whose large donations made him a powerful political figure, apologized in court for the scheme to give friends money to donate to Bush to fulfill his promise to generate $50,000 for a presidential fundraiser.

Noe said he arranged the scheme because “in 2003 I was pressured by Bush-Cheney officials to become a Pioneer,” a name the campaign gives to people who raise $100,000.

The campaign money-laundering scheme was the largest prosecuted under the 2002 campaign finance reform law, which set limits on donations, prosecutors said last October.

U.S. District Court Judge David Katz told Noe that he was trying to feed his ego and made a stupid decision.

“He has risen in the past to positions of respect and power and he violated the trust of those who placed him in those positions,” Katz said.