Ohio Ex-Comp Official Enters Guilty Pleas

National Underwriter News
June 7, 2006
Posted June 21, 2006

The former chief financial officer for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation pleaded guilty today to federal and state charges over payoffs he took from parties who wanted investment contracts from the $19 billion state fund for injured workers.

Terrence Gasper, 59, appeared first before Judge David Dowd in the U.S. District Court in Akron and pleaded to a single federal racketeering count.

Several hours later he pleaded guilty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus on state charges of money laundering and violating ethics laws.

The charges were brought after an inquiry by a state and federal task force that is continuing to investigate the case, which has shaken up the Ohio political scene.

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 pleaded 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.

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.

Copyright © 2006 by National Underwriter News

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