The Athens News reported August 16, 2012, that a former Ohio University student has landed in Hamilton County Jail this month, charged with forging signatures on a petition supporting the redistricting Ohio Constitution amendment.
Timothy N. Zureick, 21, is facing a maximum sentence of 23 years incarceration and a fine of $57,000, if convicted, for allegedly forging 22 signatures on the petition. Each forged signature is considered a separate offense by law, so each can be punished separately as well.
In addition, the 23rd and final signature on the petition was Zureick’s own, which would be a legal one if he had not allegedly falsified his address as being in Athens when he was actually living in Cincinnati.
Zureick was working in Athens for a major canvassing firm, FieldWorks, from Washington, D.C. when he allegedly forged the signatures. However, the company was not implicated in the forgery and cooperated with investigators.
Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said that he will be seeking a conviction—not a diversion program—in the case, although it is a first offense. Blackburn said, “It’s a very serious matter, even though it is a first offense.” He feels that tampering with the ballot process on purpose is an offense “against our democracy as a whole.”
The forged names on the petition included OU College Democrats and well-known members of the Athens County Democratic Party. Blackburn said the White Collar Crimes Unit of his office found out about the alleged crimes when county election officials saw the name of a poll worker on the petition and doubted its validity.