Ohio Ex-Workers Comp Official Faces Rackets Charge
BY DANIEL HAYS
National Underwriter News
June 6, 2006
Posted June 20, 2006
The former chief financial officer of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation is due in court tomorrow to plead guilty to state and federal charges, alleging he took payoffs from contractors doing business with his agency, authorities said.
Terrence Gasper, 59, is due first in U.S. District Court in Akron to answer federal racketeering charges, and then in state court in Columbus on charges of money laundering and violating ethics laws, said Christy McCreary, a spokesperson for Franklin County.
The charges are the product of a state and federal task force that is continuing to investigate the case, which has shaken up the Ohio political scene. Task force officials have scheduled a press conference to discuss the probe after Mr. Gasper's court appearances.
Mr. Gasper is alleged to have taken gifts such as a stay at a Florida condo and $25,000 in bribes in exchange for funneling state workers' comp fund contracts to investment brokers, dealers and marketers.
Bureau investment assets total nearly $19 billion, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio.
According to a court document filed by the U.S. Attorneys' offices of Ohio's Northern District and Southern Districts against Mr. Gasper, he received a check for $9,000 made payable to the college his son attends, along with the $25,000 that was passed to him through his then girlfriend.
The task force probe began a year ago after $12 million in rare coin investments by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation turned up missing.
The initial inquiry centered on Tom Noe, a coin dealer and heavy Republican contributor who served as one of the bureau's investment managers. Last Wednesday, Mr. Noe pled guilty to federal charges that he illegally funneled about $45,000 to President Bush's reelection campaign. He is awaiting trial on state charges that he stole $1 million from the workers' comp fund.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Ohio Republican Governor Bob Taft said he will name a new chief executive officer for the bureau this week to fill the vacancy created by last week's resignation of James Conrad in the wake of the coin disappearance.
The disclosures concerning Mr. Noe caused a shakeup in the management of the BWC last year, which, in addition to Mr. Gasper, led to the departure of then Chief Executive Officer James Conrad.
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