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Former BG Trustee Noe indicted

Former University Board of Trustees member Tom Noe was indicted yesterday by Federal prosecutors for violating campaign contribution laws.

Noe allegedly laundered $45,400 of his own money into the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. He could serve up to five years for each of the three counts if convicted, and be fined around $800,000.

An arrest warrant has been issued, and Noe is expected to surrender within 24 hours, according to Noel Hillman from the Department of Justice in press conference yesterday.

Theodore Wasky explained in the same press conference that he expects the investigation of missing money invested by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in Noe’s rare coin business to continue, where an indictment has yet to be filed.

Noe – who lived in Bowling Green for 19 years – was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 1991 by then Governor George Voinovich. The Republican governor decided to appoint Noe – a BGSU dropout – over a banker and a civic leader.

Several people believe that Noe was selected over the other candidates because of his success in political fund-raising.

State Senator Marc Dann, a Democrat from Liberty Township, said these positions should be based on a candidates record – not on their donations.

“If important appointments like the BGSU Board of Trustees are based on the ability to raise and contribute money this is tragic, that’s the wrong way,” Dann said. “Universities are critical engines to run the economy. We need our best and brightest, not the people who can write the biggest checks.”

The trustee appointment is not based on who can donate the most money, according to Linda Dobb, secretary to the Board of Trustees at the University. She explained there are several ways for a candidate to be considered by the governor.

“The governor learns of potential trustees through the current Board’s submitted requests on who they think will make a good member,” Dobb said.

The letters of recommendation for each candidate and other qualifying information are what should determine the appointment to the board, Dann said.

The governor’s office recently released these letters of recommendation, correspondences and invitations surrounding the trustee appointment.

“According to these letters of recommendation Noe was not well qualified,” said Dann, who believes the other two candidates were better qualified.

But Dobb has confidence that money donations play no role in who is chosen for a trustee position.

“I think it is important that the trustees have the best interest of the University at heart,” she said.

The Board of Trustees establishes and monitors policy for BGSU to run successfully. Eleven individuals make up the Board of Trustees – two of which are students. The Board also selects the president – and on his advice – a staff to administer policy.

The Board approves the overall budget of the University, and express their approval or disapproval of tuition and fees, Dobb said. They also work with the president closely to approve and change policy.

While on the board, Noe supported “permitting employees converting some of their unused sick leave into personal leave,” according to the June 28, 1991, Board of Trustees minutes.

Noe also supported several grants and contracts throughout his four-year term, including renovations throughout campus such as in the Harshman and Kreischer residence halls, according to the June 30, 1995, Board of Trustees minutes.

On Sept. 19, 1995, Noe resigned from the Board of Trustees – four years into his nine-year term.

Noe resigned so he could fill a vacated seat on the Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees Ohio’s public colleges and universities.

He was appointed to the Board of Regents by Voinovich and reinstated for a full nine-year term in 1999 by Governor Bob Taft. Noe contributed to both Taft and Voinovich, along with several other Republican officials.

David Bryan, a trustee at the time of Noe’s Board of Regents appointment, said that Noe was a good choice for the position.

“My initial reaction was that it is really good for Bowling Green and northwest Ohio that our region continues to have representations in the Regents,” Bryan said.

But while on BGSU’s Board of Trustees, Noe’s ethics were questioned.

On Oct. 10, 1996, an affidavit prepared by former University President Paul Olscamp forced Noe to testify in an immunity hearing.

The affidavit questioned Noe’s ethics when his wife, Bernadette, was seeking a job at the University. Noe was believed to have influenced the decision for her new job as a full-time athletic fund raiser.

Noe testified that he had talked with Athletic Director Ron Zwierlein and Trustee Kermit Stroh about the need for a full-time athletic fund raiser. He testified that he never mentioned Bernadette’s name to anyone at the University, reported in a past issue of The BG News.

Zwierlein later testified he was approached about the possibility of such a position by Noe and Stroh in late October 1994, and Bernadette’s name was given to him.

But he said that this was not what gave Bernadette the job.

“I quickly learned in this position I answer to the president of the institution, and not the Board of Trustees,” Zwierlein said in the Oct. 10, 1996, edition of The BG News.

Noe’s indictment for campaign contribution violations in the 2004 election was announced yesterday. His contributions at a 2003 Republican Bush-Cheney fund raising event in Columbus on Oct. 30, 2003, are in question.

The event brought in $1.4 million for Bush’s re-election. Noe is accused of recruiting friends to donate money at this event. By reimbursing the attendees of the event who were required to contribute to the campaign, Noe contributed well over the $2,000 limit that individuals are allowed to give a candidate by the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Noe has raised more than $50,000 for the Ohio Republican party since 1998. Because of the validity of this money, it was placed in escrow – or on hold – on June 1 and will later be transferred to an appropriate entity. Noe also contributed more than $105,000 to Republicans including Bush and Gov. Bob Taft during the last campaign.

Noe is also being investigated for missing money in the Ohio BWC $50 million investment in his rare-coin business in Maumee. Noe’s lawyers have acknowledged that up to $13 million is missing. Attorney General Jim Petro has accused Noe of stealing up to $6 million.

On April 27, 2005, Noe’s condo in Maumee was searched by the FBI.

On May 16, State Auditor Betty Montgomery ordered a special audit of the investment and on May 24, the Attorney General’s office filed a suit against Noe in relation to the missing BWC money.

Several politicians who received contributions from Noe have returned the contributions, including President George W. Bush. The U.S. Attorney’s office said the Bush campaign played no part in Noe’s alleged misbehaviors.

The Ohio GOP announced on June 1 that Noe’s contributions since 1998 – when he received the money from BWC – would be placed into escrow.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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