May 27, 2005

First Head Rolls in Ohio Coin Caper

Ok, that headline is not exactly our style, but the shenanigans at the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation seem to call for it. In our May 13 blog, we first mentioned the truly bizarre story unfolding in Ohio. The workers compensation bureau has invested $50 million in rare coins, working through Tom Noe, a man prominent in Republican fund raising circles. Indeed, Mr. Noe has been recognized by the Bush-Cheney campaign as a “Pioneer,” as he raised over $100,000 for the President’s re-election campaign.

Realm of the Coin
At this point, it appears that some of the coins purchased by the state fund are missing. Two of the most valuable, totaling a quarter of a million dollars, were "lost in the mail" according to Noe. An additional 119 coins were "misappropriated by an employee." The coins "went missing" back in 2003, but Noe neglected to tell anyone. The initial estimate for the missing coins was $400,000. Now, according to Noe's own attorney, the figure is somewhere between $10 and $12 million. (That's a negative return on investment of over 20%.) I'm tempted to say that the first estimate was "close enough for government work" but it wasn't and I won't.

There are further allegations reaching toward Ohio's corner office: Brian Hicks, a former chief of staff to Governor Taft, apparently enjoyed a cut-rate vacation at Mr. Noe's 3,600 square foot waterfront home in Florida. Hicks did pay Mr. Noe for the vacation -- somewhere between $300 to $500 for a five-night stay. Real estate agents estimate the true value of the rental runs closer to $3,000. (For details, see our May 13 blog.) Sounds as if they need to do a better job of teaching math in Ohio!

Latest Headlines
Today's blog brings you up to date in what is going to be an on-going saga. We read that the head of the comp bureau, James Conrad, has resigned. Other heads are likely to follow and Noe himself faces criminal charges. We find it ironic, indeed, that what may well turn out to be the biggest case of workers comp fraud in Ohio history does not involve phony injuries, crooked doctors, unscrupulous employers or attorneys. No, it appears at least on some level to involve the Workers Comp Bureau itself. For the taxpayers and employers of Ohio, with this flip of the coin it's "heads you lose, tails you lose."

Stay tuned for more details.

| 2 Comments

2 Comments

This story made the front page of the New Tork Times today (free registration may be required)
Coins Go Missing, and G.O.P. Insider Becomes Outcast

Ohio is the dirtiest state in the union when it comes to the injured worker,Besides the coin fiasco they now want to limit what medication your Doctor can prescribe for you.
I am on a medication that is not on there preferred list so unless my Doctor can explain why I need to be on this they wont approve it.
The story goes deeper than this but there is not enough time to get into it but as always it's the injured worker that has to bare the brunt of any money issues with the Ohio B.W.C
You can find the entire story and a list of un-approved drugs on the Ohio B.W.C website.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on May 27, 2005 12:29 PM.

S. Carolina to bar workers comp for undocumented immigrants? was the previous entry in this blog.

Left and Right Converge on Health Care Coverage is the next entry in this blog.

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