Court denies Magnus access to funds

By J Swygart -

LIMA — A visiting judge has ruled that Lima businessman Ray Magnus has no legal claim to recover a portion of the money he loaned to former Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish from bonds issued to the one-time elected official.

Retired Fulton County Judge James Barber, in a written ruling, denied Magnus access to funds contained in two bonds issued to Crish in his capacity as an elected official.

Barber did, however, extended empathy toward Magnus in the civil lawsuit.

“The case is a sad one,” Barber wrote. “Unfortunately there do arise some occasions, thankfully not very often, where a ‘wrong’ has clearly occurred but there does not appear to be any good legal remedy for it.”

Attorney for Magnus, Crish and Auto Owners Insurance — which issued bonds totaling $110,000 to cover Crish’s actions while sheriff — appeared in court earlier this month after Magnus filed a civil suit that laid claim to the funds. Auto Owners was identified as an “intervening plaintiff” in the lawsuit.

Attorney Al Smith, representing Auto Owners, said the insurance company issued two bonds in Crish’s capacity as sheriff — a Furtherance of Justice Fund bond in the amount of $85,000 and a Public Official’s Bond for $25,000 — to which Magnus is attempting to lay claim. That claim, Smith said, is based on the fact that Crish allegedly told Magnus that a $102,000 loan at the heart of the case was for a police dog training program at the sheriff’s office.

But Smith labeled the suggestion that Magnus believed the loan he made to Crish was for any type of official business as “ridiculous.” Attorney Michael Rumer, representing Crish, sided with Auto Owners.

In his ruling, Barber said Magnus failed to filed several documents in a timely manner and that a motion filed by Auto Owners for summary judgment “should and out to be sustained and granted.”

Barber’s ruling also stated that Magnus’s motion for summary judgment to recover the $102,000 from Crish “should be granted.” A federal court had earlier ordered Crish to make restitution to Magnus and other from whom the former sheriff borrowed money to cover his gambling debts.

All causes of action against Auto Owners were dismissed and a June 10 trial date was vacated.

Crish submitted his resignation as sheriff effective Jan. 31, 2017, as he was being investigated by federal officials. On June 18, 2018, federal prosecutors and FBI agents opened a six-count indictment against the former sheriff and took Crish into custody. He was sentenced Sept. 26, 2019, in U.S. federal court in Toledo to 136 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of extortion, two counts of accepting bribes and one count of making a false statement.

By J Swygart

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