Former Butler County commissioner indicted on federal charges

Michael A. Fox (FOX19 file)
Michael A. Fox (FOX19 file)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A federal grand jury has returned indictments against a former Butler County commissioner and a Dublin, Ohio attorney.

Michael A. Fox and Robert C. Schuler are accused of conspiring to improperly benefit from Butler County contracts involving a company doing business with the county, and that the men failed to report income from the deals on their federal income tax returns.

Fox is also charged with mail fraud involving honest services from failing to disclose conflicts of interest in Ohio ethics disclosure statements he mailed annually from 2004 to 2007. Schuler is charged with perjury for false testimony he gave to a federal grand jury on Oct. 1, 2008.

The eight-count indictment charges the Fox and Schuler with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and one count of filing a false income tax return. The indictment also charges Fox with four counts of mail fraud involving human services and seeks forfeiture of any property which is derived from proceeds traceable to the offenses alleged in the indictment, but not limited to a sum of money equal to $460,000.

Fox, 60, of Hamilton, is accused of soliciting and accepting money from individuals and businesses which were Butler County contractors from 2001-2005 when he was a member of the Butler County Board of Commissioners.

Many of the charges stem from a contract between Butler County and NORMAP Telecommunication LLC in 2001 to install a countywide fiber optics communications system. Schuler bought NORMAP after the company received the contract and received about $1.8 million from Butler County. The grad jury charges that Schuler and Fox arranged fro $360,000 to be transferred to a bank to pay off a line of credit in Fox's name in March 2002 and an additional $100,000 was later transferred to a consulting company Fox owned in September 2002.

The indictment alleges that Fox committed mail fraud when he mailed his Ohio Ethics Commission Financial Disclosure Statements omitting the payments he received and failing to disclose conflicts of interest in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.  The indictment charges that Fox filed a false income tax return for 2002 when he failed to disclose and pay income taxes on the payment. The indictment charges Schuler with filing a false income tax return for 2002 by failing to report business income he received. Schuler, 46, of Dublin, is charged with making false statements in October 2008 to a grand jury investigating the circumstances surrounding the $360,000 transfer to Fox.

Each count of mail fraud involving honest services and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment. Filing a false income tax return is punishable by up to three years imprisonment, plus taxes, penalties and interest. Perjury is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.