Prison Is “A Leveler And the Level Is Very Low”


If former Ohio coin dealer Tom Noe is sent to federal prison as expected, the Toledo Blade says that the one-time fixture on the Toledo society scene would be in a world described like this: “You’re a number, a criminal, and we control your life. Totally.” “There’s a whole group of things he’s going to have to learn,” said Ted Wolfram, who spent 10 years in the federal system after his conviction for embezzling $47 million from a Toledo brokerage. “You do what you’re told, when you’re told, and how you’re told,” he said. Noe, 51, pleaded guilty last week to charges that he illegally funneled $45,400 into President Bush’s re-election campaign. He faces additional state charges.

Prosecutor John Pearson said the federal sentence could range from 24 to 30 months, although he will request a stiffer penalty because of the case’s impact on “potential loss of public faith in the presidential campaign.” Wolfram first found himself in a federal facility in Tallahassee. The lights were on all the time and there was no air-conditioning. Noe would find himself in a new subculture, Wolfram said, where everyone is equal, from the illiterate drug dealers to the Ivy League financial schemers. Prison, he said, is “a leveler and the level is very low.” The upside? If you want to lose weight or catch up on your reading, you’ll have the time and the inclination.


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