Wednesday, November 15, 2000

Saylor gets 2 years for voting fraud

'I let my pride make a crook out of me'

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Jon Saylor, who wanted to become a Fairfield city councilman so badly that he created sham voters and falsified absentee ballots, will spend the next two years in state prison.

        “I let my pride make a crook out of me,” Mr. Saylor told Judge Matthew Crehan at his sentencing hearing Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court. “I'll be sorry until the day I die.”

[photo] Jon Saylor is handcuffed after his sentencing Tuesday.
(Dick Swaim photo)
        Judge Crehan sentenced Mr. Saylor, who pleaded guilty to 58 counts of voter fraud, to two years in prison, fined him $22,500 and scolded him for violating the American election process.

        “You tried to steal an election,” the judge told him. “You tried to undermine the basic tenet of our democracy, the right to vote.”

        Mr. Saylor could have been sentenced to more than 70 years in prison.

        The confusion in the presidential election underscores the seriousness of Mr. Saylor's offenses, the judge said.

        Ten questionable ballots were cast in the November 1999 Fairfield City Council race. Mr Saylor beat Mike Snyder for the 1st Ward's council seat, 820-678.

        He resigned from his council seat in July, almost two months after his indictment on 68 counts of voter fraud. Mr. Snyder was appointed to fill the vacant seat.

        Judge Crehan denied a request by defense attorney Peter Swenty to allow Mr. Saylor, 27, to remain free for a limited time to get his personal affairs in order before being sent to state prison.

        At the end of the hearing, a deputy handcuffed Mr. Saylor, who was dressed in bluejeans and a white shirt, and led him out of the courtroom.

        Mr. Saylor displayed no emotion during the hearing.

        Mr. Saylor's father, Bobby Saylor, collapsed as he walked out of the courtroom. Emergency medical personnel revived him at the scene.

        After Mr. Saylor's hearing, Judge Crehan sentenced Mr. Saylor's friend, Cynthia McCloud, to 80 hours of community service, a $2,500 fine and five years of probation. She had pleaded guilty to false registration and inducing illegal voting.

        Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer said Mr. Saylor's sentence was too lenient.

        “We're glad he received some prison time,” he said. “But we thought there would be more prison time.”

        John Brown, a trustee of a group called Concerned Citizens of Fairfield, also said Mr. Saylor deserved more time behind bars. Before Mr. Saylor resigned from council, the Concerned Citizens collected signatures to force a recall election.

        “It sounds to me like he got off very lightly,” Mr. Brown said. “Mr. Saylor committed numerous fraudulent acts and he spends only two years paying back a society he took so much from.”

        Mr. Swenty said he thought the sentence was fair and will advise Mr. Saylor not to file an appeal.

        In a plea bargain, Mr. Saylor pleaded guilty in September to the 58 charges in exchange for the prosecution's agreement to drop 10 other charges.

        He had been indicted on charges that included false registration, inducing illegal voting, absent voter ballot violation, election falsification and interference with the conduct of an election.

        The county's investigation into this case cost $70,000, Judge Crehan said.

        Mr. Swenty said Mr. Saylor's zeal to win a tough election caused him to break the law.

        “He lost sight of what he should have done and did what he should not have done,” he said. “He cheated. He will regret it for the rest of his life.”

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