Convicted Maumee coin dealer Tom Noe wants out of prison

The man at the center of a state investment scandal is appealing to a federal court in Toledo in hopes of winning release from prison, where he's serving 18 years.

The petition filed Tuesday by Tom Noe's lawyers claim the trial court should have moved the case out of the Toledo area and made other errors.

Defense lawyer Rick Kerger says media coverage in Toledo created a bias among jurors.

Noe was a rare coin dealer and a Republican fundraiser. He was convicted of theft and other crimes in 2006 in a scandal at the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation that helped Democrats win four of five statewide offices in 2006.

Prosecutors said Noe stole $13.7 million from an investment fund he managed on behalf of the bureau. He was given state money in 1998 and 2001 to invest in coins and other items.

Also in 2006, Noe pleaded guilty to federal charges that he illegally funneled about $45,000 to the Bush campaign.

Noe gave $45,400 directly or indirectly to 24 friends and associates who, in turn, donated money to the Bush campaign using their own names. That allowed Noe to avoid the $2,000 federal limit on individual contributions.

All of the checks were written in the days leading up to a 2003 fundraiser at a downtown Columbus, Ohio, hotel.

Noe served nearly two years in federal prison on the fundraising charge. He is now serving an 18-year sentence for a separate conviction for stealing from an Ohio investment fund.

Do you think Noe should be released from a federal prison early? Do you think Noe received a fair trial in Toledo? Post your comments below.