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975Ohio governor charged with four misdemeanors

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  • Greg Cannon
    Aug 17, 2005

      Ohio gov. charged with criminal misdemeanors
      Wed Aug 17, 2005 6:09 PM ET

      COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Ohio charged
      Gov. Bob Taft on Wednesday with four criminal
      misdemeanor counts alleging violations of state ethics
      laws for not reporting golf games and other outings
      paid for by others.

      The charges marked the first time an Ohio governor has
      been charged with a crime while in office. A Taft
      spokesman said the governor would not resign and would
      have a statement on Thursday.

      The charges against the Republican governor also
      marked another step in a still-unfolding scandal
      dubbed "Coingate" that involves $13 million in missing
      state funds and a top Ohio Republican fund-raiser.

      Stephen McIntosh, chief prosecutor for the Columbus
      city attorney, said most of the outings involved golf
      but also included meals and tickets to see the
      Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team.

      The undeclared amounts totaled a little less than
      $6,000, McIntosh said. The governor subsequently
      notified state ethics commission officials about the
      outings that had been omitted in previous filings of
      yearly disclosure forms. McIntosh said the governor is
      required to report gifts or benefits of $75 or more.

      Prosecutors were asking that Taft appear in court on
      Thursday morning, though if he chooses to enter a not
      guilty plea only his lawyer would have to be present,
      he said.

      If found guilty, he faces fines of $1,000 and six
      months in jail on each count, though jail time was
      considered unlikely.

      McIntosh said the probe of Taft grew out of an
      investigation into fund-raiser Tom Noe and the state's
      Bureau of Workers Compensation.

      Last month, Taft's former chief of staff was found
      guilty of violating ethics laws by not disclosing
      gifts from Noe, who is at the heart of the Coingate

      Noe was a rare coin dealer who allegedly mismanaged a
      $50 million state investment in rare coins. Noe's
      attorney has said $13 million was missing from the
      investment made for Ohio's Bureau of Worker's
      Compensation, a $15 billion fund that makes payments
      to disabled workers.

      Gov. Taft's father and grandfather both served in the
      U.S. Senate and his great-grandfather, William Howard
      Taft, was the 27th U.S. president, as well as chief
      justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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