Plaintiffs oppose pausing civil case against indicted Butler Co. Auditor Roger Reynolds

The plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against indicted Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds oppose pausing their case while he fights felony charges, saying he already has to reveal possibly incriminating evidence as he fights suspension.

Reynolds was indicted on three felony and two misdemeanor counts of bribery and using his public office for personal gain.

Attorney General Dave Yost filed documents Monday with the Ohio Supreme Court officially asking for suspension proceedings to begin against Reynolds for using his office to benefit his family. The documents include a recitation of the facts that brought about the charges against the auditor.

Reynolds is also fighting a civil lawsuit that is intertwined with the criminal investigation. Earlier this week he asked visiting Judge Dennis Langer to stay that case.

“The criminal proceeding arises from the same underlying facts as this civil action,” the motion reads. “Mr. Reynolds and Liberty Way Farms should not be saddled with the impossible burden of attempting to present their civil defense in a manner that protects Mr. Reynolds Fifth Amendment rights.”

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That case was filed by 88-year-old Gerald Parks in September, who claims Reynolds interfered with several offers he had for his land in that area for a competing development.

“While the umbrella of Fifth Amendment guarantees is broad, the prohibition against compulsory testimony does not relieve Mr. Reynolds from appearing or answering questions in this civil action,” Milton S. Goff III wrote.

On the criminal side, attached to the suspension request to the high court is an investigation overview from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

It says developers Brian Jimenez and Tim Haid have written notes and a recording of a phone call where Reynolds allegedly asked for a $200,000 “cash payment” to serve as a “consultant and use his political influence to get a TIF, tax increment financing, assigned to an area of Hamilton Mason Road in Butler County to assist in the development of properties along the road.”

Part of that “consulting” deal apparently also included the developers paying $500,000 for a 2- to-3-acre parcel Reynolds owns — that was valued at $21,000 by his office — in the area to facilitate development. The sheriff’s report indicated after the development was denied by the the county and Liberty Twp. “they feel this is directly connected to them not paying the consulting fee to Roger Reynolds.”

Reynolds’ attorney Chad Ziepfel told the Journal-News they will fight this all the way.

“We will be contesting the suspension,” Ziepfel said. “Not only are the allegations false, but they do not involve the Auditor’s Office or Mr. Reynolds’ work as the auditor. We hope that the community will not rush to judgment in this matter, and will wait for the full story to come out at trial.”

The motion Goff filed also refers to this statement.

“In the Journal-News it has been reported that the Ohio Attorney General is moving the Ohio Supreme Court to suspend Mr. Reynolds from office,” Goff wrote. “Mr. Reynolds through his legal counsel claims they will fight the suspension all the way. Thus why stay this civil case when Mr. Reynolds intends to to fight the suspension. Fighting the suspension will require Mr. Reynolds to produce evidence and testify as suspending Mr. Reynolds is a civil action.”

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