Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds trial, Day 5: Former Lakota treasurer testifies

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Reynolds is accused of using his public position to further his own interests.

HAMILTON — The first week of the criminal trial of Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds ended with testimony from former Lakota Schools treasurer concerning the last charge against Reynolds, who is accused of his office for personal gain.

Reynolds is charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor. If found guilty of the felonies, he faces time in prison and would have to leave office. The initial charges accused Reynolds of leveraging his public office to further his own interests and that of his father who owns land on Hamilton-Mason Road in West Chester Twp.

The additional indictment returned by a grand jury in July alleges Reynolds tried to influence Lakota Schools to use public money to build a golf training center where he lives and his daughter’s school coach was a pro.


In September 2017, Reynolds’ office returned $2 million to all taxing districts and $459,498 to Lakota. The fees are monies the auditor’s office receives from the state for calculating and distributing real estate taxes from levies to local governments. The auditor’s office doesn’t need all the fees to operate they can be returned to the various entities.

Former Lakota Schools Jenny Logan testified Friday that Reynolds proposed the “idea” to her during a meeting in December 2016. She and others from the district met with Rogers at his office on High Street to discuss bond millage. When it was over, he asked the others to leave the room.

“He brought up the refund money. He spoke about the money. He said ‘I have never given the district my thoughts on how the district should spent the money, but I have thoughts now’,” Logan said during testimony.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Logan, who now works for the Butler County Educational Service Center, said Reynolds proposed $250,000 — or about half of the district’s refund money for the next three years — be used to build a year-round golf academy at Four Bridges for use by the golf team.

“It was concerning to me,” Logan said. She added she thought it was a conflict of interest. “I knew Mr. Reynolds lived at Four Bridge and his daughter was on the golf team there.”

Logan said she told Reynolds she wanted to talk to the school’s legal counsel. She testified that she knew “building a facility on private property with public funds for the school district was a “no-no.”

A second follow up meeting, at Reynolds’ request, happened at Four Bridges in January 2017. Logan, the district’s head of athletics and facilities and the golf pro/high school coach were in attendance.

Logan said at that meeting they told Reynolds “We were told we should not do that ... to use public dollars on private property.”

Reynolds then proposed an option of letting Four Bridges build the facility to charge the district a yearly access fee of $250,000.

Logan said she continued to have concerns and even questioned Reynolds asking, “Are you worried about this and the appearance? You live at Four Bridges and your daughter is on the golf team.”

“He said he was not worried and he was doing nothing wrong,” Logan testified about Reynolds’ response.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Again, Logan reached out to the district’s attorney about the fee proposal and was told that while access fees are common for prep athletics for some sports, such as swimming and hockey, the $250,000 access fee was excessive and could be viewed as a way to funnel the money and circumvent the law, she testified.

After the meeting, Reynolds indicated he had an opinion from the county prosecutor, the legal representative for elected officials, that said differently.

Logan said she didn’t hear back and the whole thing “kind of went away.”

During cross examination, Logan said Reynolds did not withhold the district’s refund and never directly threatened to do so.

“I felt uncomfortable with the request, and while I was not threatened, I felt uncomfortable enough of what would happen if we were going to say no,” Logan said, added that is why she wanted legal advice. “Because of the office he holds. His political power. I did not want to make an enemy of someone in that position.”

Logan left the district treasurer’s position last summer knowing she would likely be called to the stand to testify.

“No matter what happened today with my testimony, if I made him mad, I am not connected to the district. The students and district will not be put in a bad position because of me,” Logan said.

Prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office say Reynolds spearheaded a plan for a developer to expand a housing development, Liberty Grand Village, and said land owned by Gerald Parks, his father’s neighbor, would be a good fit. It was part of a couple of land development deals Reynolds tried to leverage while county auditor.

Reynolds has maintained his innocence and said the charges are part of a political witch hunt and he spoke out about projects as a private citizen.


The following are previous articles covering the criminal trial of indicted Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds:

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