Butler County prosecutor fights to keep New Miami woman off council

The Butler County prosecutor has asked a judge to deny sealing the felony conviction of New Miami Councilwoman-elect Megan Horn because she committed another crime while on probation, which would prohibit her from serving on council.

Horn ran unopposed in the Nov. 5. election, winning a seat on the seven-member village council. She was indicted for felony theft and forgery in September 2009. She pleaded guilty to forgery and was ordered to pay $473.28 in restitution to Walmart.

She has asked the judge to seal her record so she is free to hold office.

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“This defendant is clearly a person who cannot be trusted and has no honor,” Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser’s office wrote in a court filing opposing sealing the record.

“The defendant has been convicted, twice, of offenses involving fraud and deceit for her own personal, monetary gains. This defendant cannot be trusted in a position that has the potential to be in control of public funds.”

She faced a year-long prison term but was given five years of community control instead. Court records show her probation was “unsuccessfully terminated” in November 2014. Gmoser’s motion indicates she failed to pay $765.50 in court costs so her community control was deemed unsuccessful.

In his opposition motion, Gmoser informed Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens that Horn was arrested for and pleaded no contest to petty theft in Middletown Municipal Court in 2011, while she was on probation. She was fined $200, court costs and ordered to stay out of Walmart.

Horn filed a motion to seal her record with Stephens on Tuesday. She indicated she also has a criminal history in the Butler County Juvenile Court system but didn’t give any details. The standard form she filed out states, “I am rehabilitated, and the sealing of my conviction is consistent with the public interest.”

Horn could not be reached for comment but previously told the Journal-News, “It was 10 years ago, I was young and irresponsible and made some bad decisions.”

Stephens has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 3.

State statutes say she would not be eligible to hold office unless she has the conviction erased. Gmoser also filed a petition with the 12th District Court of Appeals last week, asking the judges to “declare her incompetent to hold office” and order her to refrain from taking the oath of office.

Ben Manning, 12th District Court administrator, told the Journal-News it is unlikely the court will have a decision before Horn is set to be sworn in on Jan. 2.

“From a time standpoint it’s going to be difficult to decide it by Jan. 1 because it’s only a couple weeks away,” Manning said. “From a due process standpoint, you want to make sure that somebody can respond to the petition.”

Horn has not responded to Gmoser’s appeals court action.

Village Solicitor Dennis Adams said under the law Horn can be sworn in and take office.

“I think Ms. Horn will be permitted to take the office in January,” Adams said. “But if her motion to expunge her record is denied, or the 12th District rules otherwise, she will be removed from office.”

New Miami Mayor-elect Stephanie Chandler said she had no comment on the latest developments regarding Horn. She has supported her previously.

Outgoing Mayor Bob Henley had said he would try to get back on council but could not be reached for comment on Gmoser’s attempts to keep Horn off council.

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