For a wealthy guy who counts President Bush and Governor Taft among his friends, Tom Noe has the worst luck. Not only is he being hounded by investigators for suspicious campaign contributions and making $12 million in state money disappear, but he also has a habit of losing valuable coins.
There are now 119 rare coins -- valued at $93,000 -- missing from investments he made for the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Comp. Noe blames a former business partner. But this isn't the first time coins went missing while Noe's back was conveniently turned.
On November 30, 1996, Noe and his wife, Bernadette, were returning from a coin convention in Michigan. In the backseat of their van, according to Noe, were two briefcases containing $203,588 in currency. The plan was to drive to his Maumee shop to place the loot under lock and key. But they decided to pick up their kids at Bernadette's sister's place first.
They left the van for only moments. But they returned to a broken window. The briefcases were gone.
Coincidentally, Noe had taken out theft insurance for the coins just a month before.
Homestead Insurance, whose momma didn't raise no fool, denied the claim, stating Noe had left the car unattended. U.S. District Judge David Katz agreed.
Noe appealed, but Circuit Judge David Nelson noted suspicious oddities in Noe's claim. For example, while the briefcases were stolen, Mrs. Noe's purse and cell phone remained undisturbed. The car doors were still locked. And while the van was 20 to 25 feet from the house and the Noes were inside for only three to five minutes, they did not hear the loud smashing of a window or see anyone.
Note to Taft: There's this thing called a background check . . .
Speaking of scams . . .
Even before the Noes were trying to separate Homestead and its money, Bernadette was doing the same at Bowling Green State University, through the time-honored practice of Ye Olde Sexual Harassment Claim.
In the mid-1990s, she was Bowling Green's assistant director of development. But she resigned in February 1995, claiming her boss sexually harassed her by greeting her with hugs and kisses, and making lewd comments at a staff retreat.
The university investigated, but concluded that all was kosher. That didn't sit well with Bernadette, who filed a flurry of suits in any court that would have her.
Meanwhile, though she presumably believed that Bowling Green protects sexual harassers, she nonetheless applied for two fund-raising jobs at the school. When she didn't get the jobs, she filed a new complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, accusing the university of retaliating against her.
It just so happens that retaliation is easier to prove than sexual harassment. Or maybe Bowling Green just understood that it was cheaper to pay her off than continue to pay its lawyers. Ultimately, the university offered a $95,000 settlement to make her and her many, many lawsuits go away.
Bernadette took the money and ran. After all, there were bigger suckers on the horizon. Bob Taft was in office.
DeWine and deLife
Ever since Senator Mike DeWine broke party ranks and helped broker a deal with Democrats over the judicial-nominee impasse, he hasn't been the most popular Republican in Congress. Indeed, he's like that poor sap in the fifth-grade lunchroom who nervously searches for a table that will accept his presence. At least one person, however, isn't surprised by his unpopularity: his former intern, Jessica Cutler.
"I only met him once on the first day," says Cutler. "I shook his hand. Subsequently, I'd see him in the hallway, and he wouldn't even acknowledge me. The other senators would say 'hi' to me, but he'd look at me like he didn't know who I was. I mean, God, can't he even nod or say 'hi'?"
DeWine fired Cutler last year, after her blog detailing her sexual exploits with D.C. big shots went public. So she did what any self-respecting, scorned American would do: She wrote The Washingtonienne, a "fictionalized" book about the whole experience, in which an earnest, attractive intern has multiple trysts with D.C. big shots, writes about them on a blog, then watches in horror as the blog goes public.
Yet Cutler professes that her characters -- including a certain "horny" pro-life senator from the Midwest -- are "all composite type of characters."
"I'm not picking on DeWine," she insists. Of course.
Lorain wants to force hotels and motels to maintain detailed guest registries -- a move that critics fear would strike a major blow against the city's leading growth industries, prostitution and drugs.
If the ordinance passes, hotels must record check-in and checkout times of all guests, along with the names of everyone who enters their rooms. Police could have access to the info at any time.
But this, scientists believe, would entail way too much work for a desk clerk making minimum wage. Jeff Gamso of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio says it's also illegal. He notes that it likely violates the Fourth Amendment, which the Founding Fathers wrote to prevent us from turning sphincter, and bars unnecessary searches and seizures. "Frankly, I don't think the City of Lorain has the right to undo the Fourth Amendment of the United States," says Gamso.
Apparently it does. "We didn't reinvent the wheel," says Lorain Law Director Mark Provenza. "What we did was mirror the laws on the books in other parts of the country."
One of those other parts: Cleveland, which has had a similar ordinance since 1976.
But Cleveland doesn't really count, since everyone's also ignored the law since 1976.