Judge keeps Zinn records sealed

A Clark County Common Pleas Court judge ruled Thursday that search warrant affidavits for the property of former auto dealer Monte Zinn will remain sealed to protect an unnamed suspect and potential victims in an ongoing investigation.

Judge Thomas Capper granted a motion filed by Prosecutor Andy Wilson to seal documents indefinitely related to the Feb. 8 search of Zinn’s home at 2570 Myer Road and Monte Zinn Automotive Consulting, 1184 E. Home Road, Suite R. Previously Capper had sealed the documents for 30 days, which was set to expire today.

Young Life Springfield, a non-denominational Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents, is also located at the Home Road address and was included in the search warrant executed by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Capper ruled on the motion during a hearing in which Clark County Sheriff’s Maj. Rusty Garman testified that the release of the documents would “greatly” affect the investigation.

Garman said the documents contain the identity of potential victims who could be contacted or manipulated by the suspect.

Capper agreed and said the documents aren’t public records because charges haven’t been filed against the unnamed suspect.

“The court … finds that the affidavit contains the identity of an uncharged and unindicted suspect and the identity of potential victims,” Capper wrote.

Wilson 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 auto franchises under the Monte Zinn name 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.

He was sentenced to two years probation in 1996. He was also 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 the duration of the probation period.

Zinn hasn’t returned calls and emails seeking comment about the investigation.

Officials with Young Life, a Colorado-based organization, have said Zinn had been a part of a fundraising arm of the local chapter, but has not been involved with the group for some time.

Young Life officials also said they are cooperating with authorities after learning about the investigation into the Home Road location.

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