Dismissal of all 5 criminal charges against Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds denied

HAMILTON — The judge hearing the criminal case against Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds has denied the defense motion to dismiss all charges, but he ordered a more specific bill of particulars after written arguments from both sides, noting he’s not sure which side is “pulling his leg.”

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 the case is based on 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

After reading further motions from both Tammaro and Ziepfel addressing the issue, the judge denied the motion.

Ziepfel also filed a request for a more detailed bill of particulars and to sever two of the charges from the other three. The request was filed late and past the time permitted for filing of pre-trial motions, therefore the judge had to grant Ziepfel permission to officially file the motion.

Hogan responded Friday saying the motion to sever was denied but ordered a limited, more detailed bill of particulars be provided to the defense.

In the decision, Hogan said Ziepfel says he cannot prepare an adequate defense because he does not understand with particularity, the behavior, alleged by the state, to have violated the law.

Tammaro says that the indictment, bill of particulars and discovery file “should make it plain to the defendant precisely the behavior in question,” Hogan said in the decision.

The judge said he has no access to nor does he want to view the discovery file, but he said he does not believe there is harm in the state providing additional specific information.

“Without that information (discovery file) the court cannot tell which officer of the court is pulling the court’s leg,” Hogan said. “Because the defendant says he needs it and the state claims the defendant has it and it’s plain and simple, no harm can come (from the state providing additional information).”

Hogan ordered prosecution to provide the name of the person or persons or other public servants that were corrupted or improperly influenced the defendant’s behavior, which arises to two separate counts, including the identity of government officials involved and provide the particular item of “value” is involved.

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

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 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.

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.

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