Prosecutors want jail time for former Butler County auditor

Prosecutors want jail time for Butler County’s former auditor when he is sentenced next week on...
Prosecutors want jail time for Butler County’s former auditor when he is sentenced next week on a felony corruption-related charge directly tied to his elected office.(FOX19 NOW)
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 9:04 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 9:20 AM EST
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HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - Prosecutors want jail time for Butler County’s former auditor when he is sentenced next week on a felony corruption-related charge directly tied to his elected office.

Roger Reynolds should go to jail for six months because “the facts disclose a situation where an entrenched, powerful government official felt emboldened enough to try to take advantage of his position to promote a personal interest,” reads a sentencing memo filed this week by Special Prosecutor Brad Tammaro with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Moreover, when his actions were questioned, Reynolds’ attempted to justify it with “a lie.”

Since Reynolds was convicted in late December following a jury trial, his recent motion for acquittal to set aside the jury’s verdict makes it clear he shows no remorse for his “scheme”: Lakota school district to use public money ($750,000 over three years) from state funds his office returns to them and others annually to build an indoor golf training academy on private property at his country club/golf course subdivision, the state’s motion continues.

At the time Reynolds discussed his idea with the district’s treasurer, Jenni Logan, one of his daughters was on a Lakota golf team, court records show.

“Lack of any genuine remorse can be found in the defendant’s recent motion asking the court to void the judgment of the jury,” Tammaro wrote.

“Rather than express an understanding of the improper nature of his actions. Defendant Reynolds simply expresses a combative attitude refusing to accept or recognize the criminal nature of the very actions that led to his conviction. The utter absence of any expression of genuine remorse is a clear indication that a period of incarceration would be appropriate.”

Logan testified he proposed the idea to her during a meeting in December 2016 when she and others from the district met with him at the auditor’s office in downtown Hamilton about the district’s bond millage. He asked others to leave the room when the meeting ended, according to the sentencing memo.

Logan was advised by attorneys for the district against pursuing the plan for several reasons including using public money to build on private property.

She also was aware Reynolds lived in the Four Bridges neighborhood, his daughter was on the golf team at one of the schools and the high school golf coach was also the golf pro at the Four Bridges Country Club, the court filing shows.

Logan, who retired from Lakota last year and now works for Butler County Educational Center, “explained that, while there was no overt threat, (Reynolds) repeated push for the proposal to spend the refund money for the project he wanted to see go forward made her feel ‘uncomfortable,’” Tammaro wrote.

“Ms. Logan felt so uncomfortable that the thought of the School District rejecting (Reynolds) proposition made her nervous,” the sentencing memo states. “Ms. Logan explained that because of the office (Reynolds) held, the political power of that office, she did not want to make an enemy.”

The school board never voted on Reynolds’ idea.

Reynolds, 53, of Liberty Township, will be sentenced on Feb. 15 by a visiting judge, Daniel Hogan.

Reynolds faces six to 18 months of incarceration or could just get probation.

He also could be ordered to pay up to a $5,000 fine.

Reynolds left his office in late December, just before he was to begin his fifth term last month.

Reynolds and his lawyer did not respond to repeated requests for comment since his trial ended on Dec. 21.

He was convicted of unlawful interest in a public contract and acquitted on four other charges including the most serious one of bribery.

Reynolds’ attorney, Chad Ziepfel, has since filed a motion for acquittal, but the judge denied it last week, writing in part: “Once again, the record is replete with evidence....”

Ziepfel did not respond to a request for comment from FOX19 NOW this week about the acquittal request being denied and the prosecutor seeking jail time.

He has yet to file his own sentencing memo on Reynolds’ behalf.

In the meantime, Butler County GOP’s Central Committee is scheduled to appoint a permanent auditor on Thursday night. An interim one has been filling in since late December.

Treasurer Nancy Nix and West Chester Township Fiscal Officer Bruce Jones applied for the position.

Both pulled petitions for the job last year before the May primary but withdrew, leaving Reynolds the sole Republican candidate.

The GOP party endorsed him in the May primary, which he won as well as November’s general election.

Whoever is selected to replace Reynolds will be the county’s first new auditor since he was appointed in April 2008 and have to run for auditor in the 2024 primary and general election.

The county GOP executive committee chairman, Todd Hall, recently told FOX19 NOW they might look into changing the way they do endorsements after Reynolds was endorsed despite being under felony indictment at the time.

Butler County long has been a Republican stronghold that widely supported President Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020.

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