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Judge rejects Butler County Auditor’s request to dismiss criminal case

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds (center) appeared in court for arraignment earlier this...
Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds (center) appeared in court for arraignment earlier this year after he was indicted in February.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 1:27 PM EDT|Updated: May. 13, 2022 at 3:34 PM EDT
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HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - A Butler County Common Pleas judge rejected a motion to dismiss the criminal case against Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds.

The issues Reynolds raised in the motion to dismiss “cannot be decided short of an evidentiary hearing,” wrote the visiting judge in the case, Daniel T. Hogan.

That hearing will take place at Reynols’ trial, which is scheduled to begin on Aug. 15.

The Ohio Supreme Court appointed Hogan, a retired and visiting judge from Franklin Count, to oversee the case when all the local judges recused themselves.

A special prosecutor overseeing the corruption case against Reynolds refuted his defense’s motion to dismiss the charges, saying it was just an attempt to get the state to reveal its evidence before trial.

Reynolds’ attorney is trying to have “this court find that charges are legally insufficient based upon the contention the state cannot prove the elements of the offense,” wrote Brad Tammaro with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in the latest court records in the case.

“When last examined, that is precisely what the procedure known as a trial is supposed to accomplish, did the evidence establish the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The county’s auditor since 2008 is facing three felonies and two misdemeanors for allegedly using his elected position for personal gain.

A Butler County grand jury in February indicted Reynolds on charges of bribery, unlawful interest in a public contract, unlawful use of authority and conflict of interest.

Reynolds has pleaded not guilty, remains free on his own recognizance and continues to collect his $108,362 salary.

Reynolds, 52, of Liberty Township, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Following his indictment, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost asked the Ohio Supreme Court to begin suspension proceedings

Yost and Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones also called for a Reynolds to step down.

However, the special commission appointed by the state’s top court determined Reynolds can remain in office amid his criminal case.

“The Special Commission finds that Mr. Reynolds’ actions, as set forth in the charges, are not sufficiently related to the performance and duties of his office so as to warrant suspension,” the panel’s decision states.

“There is an insufficient nexus between the alleged acts in the Attorney General’s request for suspension and the functionality of the Butler County Auditor’s office. The Special Commission determines that Mr. Reynolds’ continued administration of and conduct in his public office, as covered by the charges pending against him, does not adversely affect the functioning of his office and the rights and interests of the public. Accordingly, Mr. Reynolds shall not be suspended from public office.”

Reynolds’ lawyer argues in court records the case against him “reeks of a desperate, political ploy” and is his “reward” for fighting Ohio’s “illegal attempts to increase” property taxes.

His lawyer, Chad Ziepel, recently asked the court to dismiss the criminal charges against the county’s longtime chief fiscal officer, contending the elements of the charges fall short of the law.

Those details are right there in his indictment, Tammaro counters in court records.

“Moreover, (Reynolds) appears to mix and convert the elements of offenses that are not charged into elements of the offenses that are charged and then called the charged offenses legally insufficient,” his motion reads.

FOX19 NOW has request for comment into a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office and Reynolds’ attorney.

We will update this story once we hear back.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office began investigating in late August after FOX19 NOW reported Reynolds was seeking - at times using his county elected office email account - more than $1 million in public money for road improvements on Hamilton Mason Road as he facilitated the sale of his parents’ property there into a $20 million senior residential complex.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation joined the investigation a few weeks later.

At the end of September, one of the Reynolds’ longtime neighbors, 89-year-old Gerald Parks, his daughter and their family trust filed a civil suit against Reynolds and others.

The suit accuses Reynolds of using his position as county auditor to increase his property taxes and block the development of Parks’ property after Parks turned down what he says was an under-market-value offer for his land from Reynolds.

Reynolds has refuted the allegations in Parks’ lawsuit, telling FOX19 NOW a brief statement last fall: “It appears Mr. Parks wants to add us to a long list of frivolous lawsuits he has filed over the years that includes suit against his own family. He’s making allegations that are absurd.”

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