Corruption investigation underway in Butler County, sheriff confirms
BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A criminal investigation is underway into an allegation of corruption involving a public official in Butler County, Sheriff Richard Jones confirms.
The sheriff’s office received a “public complaint” on June 7 alleging “Bribery-Corrupt Public Servant/Party Official,” according to an incident report.
“The complainant stated that on 2-16-2021, a member of the Butler County Board of Zoning Appeals voted on a variance for a piece of property owned by a relative and that board member could have benefited financially from the incident.”
The victim in the alleged crime is listed as “Society,” according to the report.
There is a suspect, but sheriff’s officials blocked that person’s name out on the copy of the incident report released to FOX19 NOW in a public records request.
No one has been charged, according to the report.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Sheriff Jones declined to comment.
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he was not confirming or denying anything and declined comment.
The Ohio Ethics Commission said they could not confirm or deny any allegations or investigative activity.
“Under state law, the only investigative documents that are public record are settlement agreements,” wrote Susan Willeke, the commission’s education and communications administrator in an email to FOX19 NOW Monday.
The sheriff’s report lists the incident location as 8383 Keister Rd. in Madison Township.
That property is commercial and owned by Todd A. Daniel, according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office.
Todd Daniel is the son of Madison Township Trustee Alan Daniel, who also is a member of the county’s board of zoning appeals, FOX19 NOW has confirmed.
Todd Daniel works for the township as the road superintendent/cemetery sexton, according to the township’s website.
According to the township website, Alan Daniel has been a Madison trustee for 22 years, is a member of the Ohio Township Association and served 14 years on the Madison Local School Board, including 10 years on the Butler County Joint Vocational School Board.
Todd Daniel has worked for Madison Township for 27 years, including 22 as the road superintendent.
He and his father purchased the property together for $87,500 on Oct. 29, 2004, according to the Butler County Recorder’s Office.
Alan Daniel transferred his interest in the land to his son for $36,000 on Jan. 23, 2013, a copy of the quitclaim deed at the Butler County Recorder’s Office shows.
FOX19 NOW called Madison Township’s administrative offices Tuesday morning and reached Todd Daniel.
He told FOX19 NOW: “I am confident that the investigation is being undertaken by people that are qualified to do it. That’s really all I have to say. If there’s anything that went on there, they will figure it out. It’s all being investigated. We’ll let people do what they have to do, and we’ll do what we do.”
His father declined comment.
According to the minutes on the county’s website for the Feb. 16 meeting of the Butler County Board of Zoning Appeals, Board Member Alan Daniel was among the three board members present out of five total who deliberated and then voted on a request related to the property.
CD DG Germantown LLC, 8383 Keister Road in Madison Township and Andrew Zofkie, 9461 Kenwood Rd. sought variances for 8383 Keister Rd.
The Butler County Board of Zoning Appeals has the power to grant appeals in specific cases, variances from the requirements of the Zoning Resolution by an applicant who can demonstrate that a hardship will occur unless the variance is granted, according to the county website.
Alan Daniel asked during the meeting if anyone spoke to the neighbors around Keister Road, the minutes state.
“Butler County Zoning Administrator Jim Fox indicated that he sent out notices and got one phone call from someone who didn’t want to leave their name, just wanting to know what was going on and he told her that it was going to be developed into a dollar store and she said ok,” the minutes read.
“Mr. Daniel indicated that he did not get any calls and when he spoke to the trustees, none of them were opposed to it.”
The meeting minutes also state: “The request is to have more than 10 percent parking in the front yard, waive the landscaping requirement, front yard setback variance, reduce the number of parking spaces required, and waive setbacks requirement on parking lots.
“The property is zoned B-2 Community Business District. This area is residential and commercial in character. The applicant is seeking a variance, said applicant shall be required to establish to the board, proof by a preponderance of the evidence that an unnecessary hardship will prevail unless the variance is granted.
“The spirit and intent of the zoning resolution is not to allow this type of variance, but since this will not change the character of the area, the staff will recommend approval with the following conditions: The fence will need to be eight foot tall and the good side facing the residential properties. The east side of the building will require the planting of Arborvitaes the total length of the building along the concrete face. The fencing will need to be vinyl.”
Board Member Chad Norvell made the motion to approve the request for the variance “per staff comments,” according to the minutes.
Alan Daniel seconded it and then, along with Board Member Gary Salmon, they all voted “AYE” to pass it.
Then, Alan Daniel made a motion to adjourn the meeting.
FOX19 NOW has requested the audio recording of the meeting from the county.
We will update this story as soon as the county releases public records and more information is available.
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