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Investigation prompts youth group to move

Springfield organization relocates after raid of property it shared with Zinn.

A local Christian ministry organization that works with adolescents has moved out of a building that was raided in February as part of a criminal investigation.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Clark County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 8 searched former Springfield auto dealer Monte Zinn’s home at 2570 Myers Road and Monte Zinn Automotive Consulting, 1184 E. Home Road, Suite R, where Young Life was also located.

Terry Swenson, a spokesman for Young Life, said the investigation played a role in the group’s decision to move out of the Home Road office.

“Given the current circumstances, we thought it best to lease office space in a new location,” Swenson said.

Zinn, who could not be reached for comment, has been active in dozens of local organizations.

Zinn is listed as a member of the board of directors for the local chapter of Young Life in his bio, but Swenson said Zinn had been part of a fundraising arm of the group and has not been active for some time.

Young Life is a Colorado-based organization established in 1941 with chapters nationwide and in 80 countries.

Young Life is now leasing space at 616 N. Limestone St., which is owned by Wellington Square LLC and is near Wittenberg University, where many Young Life volunteers are enrolled.

Swenson has said Young Life officials are cooperating with authorities.

“We can confirm that our offices were included in a recent search by authorities of Mr Zinn’s office. We have no reason to believe there was any reason for Young Life’s office being included in this search other than the proximity of our space to Mr. Zinn’s office,” Swenson said after the Home Road building was raided.

Court documents detailing the reason for the search and the items collected have been sealed by Clark County Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Capper and cannot be viewed by the public.

After hearing testimony from Clark County Sheriff’s Maj. Rusty Garman last month, Capper ruled the documents would remain sealed indefinitely to protect an unnamed suspect and potential victims.

Garman said the release of the documents would “greatly” affect the investigation.

Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson has declined to describe the nature of the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

Zinn was the largest auto dealer in Clark County until he transferred all five of his franchises to the Cincinnati-based Jeff Wyler Auto Group in 2000.

The sale of the dealerships came after an immigration fraud case involving his contact with citizens from the Fiji Islands.

That investigation began in 1991 with a complaint from a Fijian exchange student who said that Zinn made unwanted sexual advances toward him. Zinn denied the allegations.

He pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge of falsifying documents and using false information to help Fijian citizens illegally enter the United States and work at his dealership.

Zinn was sentenced to two years probation. He was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and not travel to Fiji or sponsor any students from Fiji during his probation.

Despite the immigration fraud conviction, Zinn served as chair of the Rotary Club of Springfield’s Youth Exchange Program as late as November 2011.

In articles in the Springfield News-Sun and another publication at that time, Zinn was listed as the chairman of the local Youth Exchange Program or the contact for high school students ages 15½ to 18 ½ interested in spending a year abroad.

A Rotary district official confirmed the club is cooperating with authorities, but declined to provide details about the case or whether the investigation involves the student exchange program.

Zinn’s biography also states he was the past district 6670 Outbound Chairman for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program; the past short-term Youth Exchange Chairman for Ohio-Erie Multi District Youth Exchange Program, which includes 12 Rotary Districts over a 7-state area.

And he was the past long-term country contact for Rotary Youth Exchange for Ohio-Erie Multi District for Costa Rica and Mexico, according to his biography.

He was one of the founders of the Nehemiah Foundation, an organization that supports Christian-centered leaders whose programs reach more than 6,000 families a week.

Zinn resigned from the local Rotary in 2011, citing personal reasons, and recently resigned from the Ohio Alliance of YMCAs council.

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