Butler County leaders hold Nov. 1 meeting to consider removing zoning board member amid criminal probe
HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - Butler County Commissioners will hold a public hearing Nov. 1 to consider removing a longtime member of the county’s board of zoning appeals amid a criminal investigation.
The hearing will begin immediately following the commissioners regular 9:30 a.m. meeting, according to Assistant Prosecutor Dan Ferguson.
Resident Bret Frank and two other families signed and filed a formal complaint with the county last month requesting the hearing.
They are calling for Alan Daniel to be pulled from the board over allegations he cast an illegal vote in February. He’s been a member nearly 20 years, county records show. Members are paid $20 a month if they are present at the meetings.
Daniel also was elected trustee in Madison Township in 1995, according to the Butler County Board of Elections. He’s won his seat every four years ever since.
Daniel voted at the BZA’s Feb. 16 meeting to pass variances for property in Madison Township owned by his son, Todd Daniel - and that he (Alan Daniel) held the mortgage to at the time, county records show.
“Mr. Daniel exploited his position and intentionally chose to participate in the zoning variance process with obvious knowledge of this conflict. His actions damaged the integrity of the process and the work content of the BZA,” Frank said when he appeared in person before County Commissioners on Sept. 13.
The land is located on the corner of Keister and Middletown German roads. Plans call for it to be commercially developed into a Family Dollar or Dollar General store.
Alan Daniel and Todd Daniel purchased the property together for $87,500 on Oct. 29, 2004, according to the Butler County Recorder’s Office.
Alan Daniel gave his share of the land to his son for $36,000 in January 2013, property appraisal and recorder records show. His wife released all her dower rights to the property.
Until this week, other records filed in January 2013 at the recorder’s office show Alan Daniel held the mortgage for $36,000, plus interest.
That same record also shows Todd Daniel’s wife “of said mortgagor releases to Mortgagee all rights of dower in the above described property.”
Alan Daniel declined comment Friday for this story.
He no longer holds the mortgage to the property because it was sold earlier this week, according to his son, Todd Daniel.
He declined to elaborate Friday on details of the sale, which are not filed yet in county property or recorder records.
“I am just glad it’s over,” he said of land sale.
Todd Daniel passionately defended his father, ticking off various boards, committees and ways Alan Daniel has served the community and helped residents of the county and Madison Township for decades, even anonymously donating character scholarships for students.
“He’s not some criminal. He cares about this community,” said his son, who has worked for Madison Township nearly 30 decades, including 22 as road superintendent.
“I have prayed a lot of about this. I just felt it was the right time to stand up for him. He should have abstained from the vote and we all know that now. When you are in a small community, there’s votes that come up on a regular basis that are going to effect either your neighbor or your family or someone you care about. That’s the reality when you are in a small community. You just have to do what’s right for the community and keep moving forward.”
No action has been taken to remove Alan Daniel from the Madison Township trustee board.
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation in July after receiving an anonymous “public complaint” on June 7 alleging “Bribery-Corrupt Public Servant/Party Official,” according to a sheriff’s 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.
A suspect is listed on the report, 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.
The sheriff’s office continues to investigate and will turn its findings over to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ohio Ethics Commission, Sheriff Richard Jones said Friday.
“It’s a criminal investigation that’s still open and ongoing. It’s been forwarded to the Ohio Ethics Commission and Butler County Prosecutor’s Office,” he said.
Prosecutor Mike Gmoser has previously declined to comment. We put a request into him Friday to see if he will request a special prosecutor handle the criminal case since the prosecutor’s office is the official attorney for the county zoning board and the county commissioners.
The Ohio Ethics Commission has said they could not confirm or deny any allegations or investigative activity. Under state law, the only investigative documents from the commission that are public record are settlement agreements.
The Ohio Ethics Commission website states:
“Remember, public servants may NOT take any action in matters that definitely and directly affect themselves, their family members, or their business associates.”
It also states:
“When someone in public service is confronted with a conflict of interest, he or she must completely abstain from making decisions about or influencing how the matter is resolved.”
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