Thursday, August 04, 2005

Grand Juries Everywhere


COLUMBUS — The burgeoning scandal swirling around Tom Noe, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and top state officials has triggered the need for a third grand jury, prosecutors announced yesterday.

A federal grand jury will be empaneled in Cleveland to look into the broader investment practices of the bureau, an escalation of the inquiry that started with Mr. Noe’s failed $50 million coin funds and has moved into offshore hedge funds and other questionable investments.

Prosecutors also announced how they have divided the work:

• The federal grand jury that has been meeting in Toledo since June will continue to focus on whether Mr. Noe skirted federal campaign finance laws by giving others money to contribute to President Bush’s 2004 re-election effort.

• A state grand jury, empaneled Monday in Toledo, will focus on possible criminal activities in Mr. Noe’s rare-coin funds. It will be supervised by Julia Bates and Ron O’Brien, the prosecutors for Lucas and Franklin counties.

• The federal grand jury in Cleveland will focus on the remaining issues associated with the bureau’s investment portfolio. Both of Ohio’s U.S. attorneys — Greg White from the Cleveland office and Greg Lockhart from the Columbus office — will supervise the investigation.