Former Madison Township trustee pleads out in corruption case

Former Madison Township trustee pleads out in corruption case
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 8:26 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 13, 2023 at 11:53 AM EST
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A longtime Butler County elected official who stepped down last week amid public corruption charges pleaded out Monday.

Former Madison Township Trustee Alan Daniel was indicted last fall on three felony counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract and four misdemeanor charges of using or authorizing the use of the authority or influence of office to secure anything of value, court records show.

He pleaded guilty to two of the misdemeanor charges and the rest were dropped in a deal with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.

Daniel, 76, appeared in court alongside his attorney and did not speak beyond responding “Yes, Sir,” and “No, Sir,” to questions from Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Stephens.

Before permitting the plea arrangement to proceed, Prosecutor Mike Gmoser insisted Daniel leave public office.

“Resignation plus criminal responsibility a good result for breach of public trust. Excellent sheriff investigation,” Gmoser told FOX19 NOW Monday.

Daniel could face up to a year in jail and be fined or just get probation when the judge sentences him on March 20.

He could have been put in prison for up to five years if he was convicted on all counts and received maximum sentences.

Daniel was a Madison Township for nearly three decades.

He was elected a Madison Township trustee in 1995 and won his seat every four years since, according to the Butler County Board of Elections.

Daniel also served on the Butler County Board of Zoning appeals for several years.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office and Ohio Ethics Commission began investigating him in the summer of 2021 after the sheriff’s office received an anonymous tip about corruption, according to court records and the sheriff’s incident report.

The Ohio Ethics Commission made the referral for criminal prosecution more than a year later, in September 2022.

Gmoser immediately took it to a grand jury and personally presented it, along with Assistant Prosecutor Garrett Baker, who handles corruption and scam cases.

Prosecutors say Daniel’s votes on both boards ran afoul of the law starting around December 2016 and lasting until February 2021.

All except one of the misdemeanor charges relate to Daniel taking action and/or voting as a township trustee for matters that benefited him personally and/or a member of his family, including raises for his son and signing his timesheet, court records show.

His son is Madison Township’s road superintendent.

Illegally voting for pay raises for his son is one of the counts he was convicted of Monday.

The other is the more high-profile action Daniel took that landed him under criminal investigation.

He admitted casting an illegal vote as a member of the BZA in February 2021 that granted several zoning variances to permit a Dollar General store to go on land that he personally held the mortgage to at the time, according to a court document called “State’s Answer to Request for Discovery.”

Daniel’s son, Todd Daniel, owned the property and, at one point previously, father and son both jointly owned it, according to county property records.

Ohio law prohibits public officials from taking any official action on matters they and/or their relatives directly benefit from.

“I really shouldn’t vote. I don’t vote on things that get me into trouble... and dumb, dumb me, voted,” Daniel admitted to it in a June 10, 2021 phone call with Butler County Sheriff’s Office Detective Daniel Turner, according to the “State’s Answer to Request for Discovery.”

Daniel also “self-reported” himself to the Ohio Ethics Commission, it states.

Despite that, Daniel initially pleaded not guilty during his initial court appearance after he was indicted.

He was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance and that will continue until sentencing.

Daniel’s attorney unsuccessfully attempted to get some of the charges dropped on a claim the statute of limitation has passed.

Prosecutors countered that elected officials in Ohio can be charged at any time during their tenure and up to two years after they leave office.

Before Daniel was criminally charged, he abruptly quit the BZA in October 2021.

Residents who were upset about the Dollar General store development complained to county officials and county prosecutors.

They insisted Butler County Commissioners hold a hearing to consider asking for Daniel’s resignation in light of allegations against him.

They also filed a federal lawsuit to try to reverse the vote.

It ultimately failed because the 30-day appeal period for the BZA vote passed before they realized what was going on and contacted the county.

One of the families who live near the Dollar General store still refuses to shop there because they remain so upset over the whole ordeal.

They attended all of Daniel’s court appearances, including the one Monday.

“We hope the court does not grant leniency to Alan Daniel because of his past history of multiple infractions of abuse of power as a public servant,” Karen Frank told FOX19 NOW after court.

“Also, leniency in his case will set a precedent for other public servants that they don’t have to be accountable for their actions for misuse of power.”

Gmoser said Monday that Daniel’s conduct regarding the land issue was prosecuted to the highest criminal charge possible, the misdemeanor.

“The salary issues were done in plain sight and he accepted full responsibility,” Gmoser said.

Daniel was the second elected official in Butler County indicted on public corruption charges last year.

The county auditor, Roger Reynolds, 53, left office in late December after he was convicted of a felony charge of unlawful interest in a public contract.

Reynolds, the county auditor since 2008, was accused by the state of using his public office for personal gain for himself and his family.

The jury deliberated for about eight hours on Dec. 21 before returning the single guilty verdict and acquitting him on the remaining four charges, including bribery.

Prosecutors are now calling for jail time for Reynolds when he is sentenced at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Reynolds faces six to 18 months of incarceration and/or probation.

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