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Judge seals Zinn records for 30 days

Clark County prosecutor declines comment on ongoing investigation.

A Clark County Common Pleas judge earlier this month sealed court records related to the search of properties owned by Monte W. Zinn until March, ruling that releasing them would be “detrimental” to a criminal investigation.

Judge Thomas J. Capper sealed a search warrant issued on Zinn’s home, business and a youth ministry organization for 30 days, or until an arrest is made or until another court order, according to documents obtained by the Springfield News-Sun on Monday.

“ … Disclosure of the facts contained in the affidavit in support of the search warrant application would be detrimental to the criminal investigation which is being conducted,” Capper said in court documents.

Zinn once was Springfield’s largest auto dealer and has served on many community groups.

Prosecutor Andy Wilson said Capper signed a search warrant request for Zinn’s properties Feb 7.

On Feb. 8, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation conducted the search at Zinn’s home at 2570 Myers Road and his business, Monte Zinn Automotive Consulting, 1184 E. Home Road, Suite R.

Young Life Springfield, a non-denominational Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents, is also located at the Home Road location and was included on the search warrant.

Clark County sheriff’s deputies assisted in the search, Wilson said.

Wilson declined to comment further, saying, “It’s an ongoing investigation.”

The Springfield News-Sun contacted Zinn’s attorney, Jim Peifer, who declined comment.

The News-Sun also attempted to contact Zinn, but those at his home and business say he is out of town for a couple weeks. A man at Zinn’s house said Zinn was in Fiji and was not expected to return until March 15.

Zinn was born in Troy and grew up in North Hampton. He attended Northwestern Local Schools and began selling Fords at a Ford Dealership in New Carlisle in June 1961, according to a his biography on the Ohio Alliance of YMCAs.

From June 1963 to June 1974, he worked at Hopkins Chevrolet Oldsmobile in New Carlisle, where he worked his way up from a salesman to general manager of the dealership.

He purchased 25 percent of an existing Chevrolet dealership in Springfield and later became the sole owner and operator of Monte Zinn Chevrolet Company in Springfield.

In 1980, he purchased another Chevrolet dealership and combined it with his existing dealership. In 1991, he bought a local Toyota dealership on the west side of Springfield.

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.

U.S. District Court Judge Walter H. Rice said then that the conspiracy, which occurred between July 9, 1990, and Dec. 27, 1990, involved Zinn falsely claiming that the students possessed the necessary qualifications to obtain training 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.

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