Judge denies dismissal of most charges against Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds

Judge asks for more clarity on one charge.

HAMILTON — A judge hearing the criminal case against Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds has denied the motion to dismiss four charges and requested additional arguments on one count.

Reynolds, 52, is facing charges of bribery, two counts of unlawful interest in a public contract and misdemeanor charges of unlawful use of authority and conflict of interest. The charges stem from allegations that Reynolds used his public office to further his own interests.

In March, defense attorney Chad Ziepfel said in the motion to dismiss all charges, and the case is based on what he says is a flawed bill of particulars, or outline for the alleged crimes, filed by Special Prosecutor Brad Tammaro, who was appointed by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

ExploreDefense in Auditor Roger Reynolds’ criminal case argues indictment is legally insufficient

The prosecutor responded saying a defense motion to dismiss the charges based on the bill of particulars is just an attempt to get the state to outline its evidence prematurely.

“The defendant is attempting (to have) this court find that charges are legally insufficient based upon the contention the state cannot prove the elements of the offense,” Tammaro wrote in a response. “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.”

After a series of lengthy motions from the attorneys, Judge Daniel Hogan was short and to the point in his ruling filed Friday morning.

Hogan said counts one, two, three and five of the indictment contain the elements of the offense and together with the bill of particulars gives Rogers adequate notice of the charges and protects him against double jeopardy.

ExploreButler County GOP endorses embattled Auditor Roger Reynolds

The judge added while there were many questions raised in the defense motion to dismiss, those questions are required to be answered at a trial.

“The court believes said-issues cannot be decided short of an evidentiary hearing. But this case, like all criminal cases, has an evidentiary hearing known as a trial,” Hogan wrote in his decision.

At trial, the defense can present any of its arguments to dismiss after the prosecution has presented its case, which is commonly known as a Rule 29 motion, if they feel the elements of the crime have not been proven.

Hogan did raise a question about count three — unlawful use of authority — and requested additional written arguments from both sides.

The indictment reads, “Roger Reynolds did use or authorize the use of authority for influence of office or employment to secure something of value,” the judge said.

Hogan questioned whether “anything of value” or “the promise of something of value” meet the allegation against Rogers as it is spelled out in the correct portion of the Ohio Revised Code.

Reynolds was indicted Feb. 9 on the five criminal charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The case is before Hogan, who was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court after all seven Butler County Common Pleas Judges recused themselves.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

ExplorePanel decides Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds will remain in office

Criminal charges against Reynolds came after a months-long investigation by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Reynolds’ trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 15.

The charges relate to Reynolds allegedly using his position to facilitate the sale of his father’s property in West Chester Twp.

Prosecutors allege the bribery crime happened Nov. 8, 2019, and on or about Sept. 17, 2021, when Reynolds, an elected official, “approached a developer attempting to gain approval for a development project and offered to sell the development company his father’s land for $500,000, 2-3 acres of land valued at $21,000.00 by the Butler County Auditor’s Office, and requested the developer employ him as a consultant at a fee of $200,000 to guide the development project through local governmental requirements,” according to the bill of particulars filed.

ExploreTaxpayers on hook for some of Butler County auditor’s legal troubles

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A second felony charge of unlawful interest in a public contract is tied to events that allegedly happened between April 6, 2021 and Aug. 31, 2021, when Reynolds used his office to influence a public contract.

Specifically, Reynolds is accused of influencing governmental officials to secure approval of a Tax Increment Financing proposal to provide public funding from three government entities for infrastructure and improvements to Hamilton-Mason Road. Those would benefit himself or a member of his family by providing public funds that would enhance the ability to develop property owned by his family, according to court documents.

ExploreRoad to Butler County auditor’s legal troubles complex

About the Author