Butler County auditor’s public corruption trial delayed until winter
HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - The public corruption trial of Butler County’s chief fiscal officer, Auditor Roger Reynolds, is now delayed by four months until winter.
It was supposed to begin later this month, on Aug. 15 but the visiting judge overseeing the case rescheduled it Wednesday for Dec. 12.
This comes at the request of the state, a special prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Brad Tammaro wrote in court filings last week he would be working on a trial in another part of the state that he hoped would end on July 29, his motion stated, but “the litigation has rendered it impossible for the state to adequately prepare for the trial.”
The case against Reynolds, who has been the auditor since 2008, is being investigated by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Ohio Ethics Commission.
The sheriff’s office began investigating Reynolds 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 near Maud Hughes Road as he facilitated the sale of his parents’ property into a $20 million senior residential complex.
The road improvements were needed before the project, called “Red Oak,” could proceed.
A company that Reynolds is the agent of, Liberty Way Farms, also owns property along the road in that area, according to county and state records.
Reynolds was indicted on his sixth public corruption-related charge last month when a grand jury returned a superseding indictment against him that replaces the original one from February.
The new charge is related to accusations he used his elected office for personal gain involving Lakota Local Schools and Four Bridges Country Club.
Reynolds, 52, lives at Four Bridges in Liberty Township and is a member of the golf course, according to Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones.
Reynolds was officially arraigned again Wednesday but he was not in court
His attorney filed a waiver signed by Reynolds last week so he didn’t have to physically appear.
The state was consulted and did not object to the arraignment happening without him there, court records show.
His attorney, Chad Ziepfel, also filed a written plea of not guilty for Reynolds to the new charge, his third count of unlawful interest in a public contract, a felony.
Reynolds was unable to attend because he is at a deposition Wednesday related to a civil suit filed against him and others. Some of the allegations about Reynolds in the civil suit mirror ones in the criminal case.
Reynolds, 52, of Liberty Township, remains free on his own recognizance now on the new charge and the original five: bribery, two counts of unlawful interest in a public contract, both felonies, and two misdemeanors: unlawful use of authority and conflict of interest.
Reynolds could serve up to 7.5 years in prison if found guilty on all charges.
Despite the criminal charges, Reynolds received the endorsement of the Butler County Republican Party in April and ran unopposed in the May Republican primary.
He will face Democratic challenger Mike Dalesandro in the November election.
When the new indictment was announced last month, his attorney gave us the following statement:
“Like the original indictment, the allegations in the superseding indictment filed today against Mr. Reynolds are false. Mr. Reynolds has never solicited, accepted, or paid any bribes, and he has never used his position, authority, or influence to improperly benefit himself or anyone else,” the statement reads.
“Though the superseding indictment provides no details about the added charge, we are aware of a public statement by Sheriff Jones claiming that the new charge relates to monies returned from the Auditor’s office to the Lakota Local School District. If that is true, the added charge is false and misplaced. Mr. Reynolds is proud that he has operated the Butler County Auditor’s Office with such fiscal responsibility that tax dollars can be returned to many local taxing districts, including the Lakota schools.
“Under Mr. Reynolds’ leadership, the Butler County Auditor’s Office has always followed the statutory requirements when returning unspent tax dollars. We again ask that the community not rush to judgment in this matter, and we look forward to proving Mr. Reynolds’ innocence at the upcoming trial.”
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