COLUMBUS, Ohio – Thousands of bottles of expensive wine, illegal Cuban cigars and other items were seized from the home of a former employee of the man at the center of the scandal involving state investments in rare coins (search), authorities said.
Some of the items seized Friday from the Denver home and office of Michael Storeim (search) may have been purchased using Ohio's $55 million investment in the coins, said Jacki Tallman, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County, Colo., sheriff's office.
At least $10 million of Ohio's coin investment is believed to be missing.
Authorities seized 3,500 bottles of wine, 265 cigars, hundreds of rare coins, computers and documents from Storeim, a former employee of coin dealer Tom Noe (search), a leading GOP donor in Ohio who is under state and federal investigation.
Storeim managed Numismatic Professionals, a Colorado subsidiary set up by Noe to buy and sell rare coins. At least 121 coins owned by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation have been reported missing or stolen from the Colorado office.
Tallman said investigators "have some information that leads us to believe" the wine and Cuban cigars, which are illegal to possess, were bought with bureau funds through Numismatic Professionals.
She declined to elaborate, and the search warrant is sealed.
Storeim has not been charged with any crime and has sued Noe, saying he had two associates confiscated $500,000 worth of Storeim's property.
His attorney, Brian Jeffrey, released a statement saying Storeim is convinced a thorough investigation will exonerate him.
Meanwhile, the investigation of Noe's dealings with the workers comp bureau is expanding to look at the agency's other investments, David Freel, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, said Monday.
Noe's attorney has said he will cooperate with the investigation. Colorado authorities are conducting a separate criminal investigation, Tallman said.
Ohio officials said they plan to sue Noe and seek criminal charges. A judge froze all his assets, and prosecutors said they asked his lawyers to surrender his passport.
The director of the workers comp bureau, James Conrad, resigned under pressure last month.