October 22, 2012
LIMA — The brother of a former Lima City councilman was sentenced to four years probation Monday for an election-related charge.
Larry Magnus said he really didn’t know what he was signing when he signed an election petition collecting signatures for a candidate for commissioner.
Judge Jeffrey Reed of Allen County Common Pleas Court told Magnus he was building the wrong type of résumé with this crime and several others on his record.
“Mr. Magnus, there are a few cases that I’ve been on the bench I recognize the name right when it comes. You are now in that category,” Reed said.
Magnus told the judge he learned a big lesson.
“Don’t mess with politics unless you know what you are doing,” he said.
Magnus, 52, pleaded no contest to violation of prohibitions relating to petitions or declaration, a fifth-degree felony.
The charge said he circulated petitions for Brian Cheney, who was trying to run for county commissioner as a nonpartisan candidate.
Magnus is a convicted felon who was on probation at the time he handled the petitions, which is illegal.
Magnus is the brother of Ray Magnus, a former member of Lima City Council.
The charge said Magnus dropped off nominating petition statements for Cheney at Vino Bellissimo for circulation. Several people signed the form without Magnus at the site witnessing the signatures, officials said.
In March, the Allen County Board of Elections rejected Cheney’s petitions because, at the time, Magnus was its circulator. Convicted felons can be circulators and they do not need to be registered voters to do so but they cannot be on probation of any kind.
Magnus pleaded guilty to attempted weapons under disability in January and was placed on three years probation.
Elections Director Ken Terry suspected elections fraud over Cheney’s petitions and reported the matter to the Allen County Sheriff’s Office. Terry found a petition signed by Larry Magnus as the circulator and realized he had witnessed the petition in question being circulated.
People Terry was with, including his mother-in-law, had signed the petition, which was passed around without a circulator.
Ray Magnus, who helped Cheney circulate petitions, said he left the petition in question at Vino Bellissimo for circulation and some signatures were gathered there. He then took back the petition and had his brother gather other signatures.
Ray Magnus said he did not know someone on probation was not allowed to circulate petitions. Larry Magnus signed the petition for the signatures he gathered and Ray Magnus said he planned to take the petition back to Vino Bellissimo to get the petition signed by the other circulator but got sick and forgot to do so.