More motions filed in criminal case against Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds

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Roger Reynolds arraignment

Credit: Journal News

Judge asked for clarity on one charge.

HAMILTON — A month after the judge hearing the criminal case against Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds denied the defense motion to dismiss four charges of five charges, both sides have filed arguments on the one remaining 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

On Wednesday, both Tammaro and Ziepfel filed motions addressing the judge’s decision.

Ziepfel said the charge should be dismissed because the indictment fails to state a criminal offense.

“Because the indictment fails to assert that the ‘something of value’ allegedly obtained by Mr. Reynolds was of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence upon Mr. Reynolds with respect to his duties as the Butler County auditor, Count 3 fails to allege all the essential elements of (Ohio Revised Code) and must be dismissed.” Ziepfel said.

Tammaro argued the indictment meets the requirement of law, stating the Ohio Revised Code “ does not establish a burden that a thing of value is of such a character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence when the allegation is the defendant’s actions involve the use of authority or influence of his office in a quest to secure a thing of value.”

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 will have to grant Ziepfel permission to officially file the motion.

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.

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Visiting Judge Daniel Hogan speaks during arraignment of Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Hamilton. Reynolds pleaded not guilty to all charges including 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. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Visiting Judge Daniel Hogan speaks during arraignment of Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Hamilton. Reynolds pleaded not guilty to all charges including 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. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Combined ShapeCaption
Visiting Judge Daniel Hogan speaks during arraignment of Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Hamilton. Reynolds pleaded not guilty to all charges including 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. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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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.

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Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds (pictured) appeared for arraignment on criminal charges in front of visiting Judge Daniel Hogan in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Hamilton. Reynolds pleaded not guilty to all charges including 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. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds (pictured) appeared for arraignment on criminal charges in front of visiting Judge Daniel Hogan in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Hamilton. Reynolds pleaded not guilty to all charges including 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. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Combined ShapeCaption
Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds (pictured) appeared for arraignment on criminal charges in front of visiting Judge Daniel Hogan in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Hamilton. Reynolds pleaded not guilty to all charges including 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. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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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