Prosecutors say former Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds should spend time behind bars for his conviction of a fourth-degree felony because he was a powerful government official who felt “emboldened” enough to take advantage of his office, then covered it up with a lie.
Reynolds, 53, faces six to 18 months in prison, with a potential fine of up to $5,000. A jury found Reynolds guilty on Dec. 21, 2022 in Butler County Common Pleas Court for unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony. Reynolds was found not guilty of three felony charges and one misdemeanor charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 15 by Visiting Judge Daniel Hogan.
Reynolds’ attorney Chad Ziepfel filed the motion for acquittal earlier this month, and that motion was denied last week.
In a sentencing motion filed Monday, Special Prosecutor Brad Tammaro pointed to that acquittal motion as a reason Reynolds should be incarcerated.
“Lack of any genuine remorse can be found in defendant’s recent motion asking the court to void the judgement of the jury,” Tammaro wrote. “Rather than express an understanding of the improper nature of his actions. Defendant Reynolds simply expresses a combative attitude refusing to accept or recognize the criminal nature of the very actions that led to his conviction. The utter absence of any expression of genuine remorse is a clear indication that a period of incarceration would be an appropriate ...”
Ziepfel did not respond to a request for comment about the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum.
Reynolds’ conviction came from a proposal he made to the then-treasurer of Lakota Local Schools.
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. If the auditor’s office doesn’t need all the fees to operate, they can be returned to the various entities.
Reynolds approached the treasurer of the school district and suggested the district use public money to build an indoor golf training facility at Four Bridges Country Club.
He lives adjacent to the club, and the pro there coaches the Lakota girls golf team, where his daughter played at the time, according to testimony.
Former Lakota treasurer Jennifer Logan testified at trial that Reynolds proposed the “idea” to her during a meeting in December 2016. She and others from the district met with Reynolds at his office on High Street to discuss bond millage. When the meeting ended, he asked the others to leave the room.
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 of an estimated $750,000 for next three years — be used to build a year-round golf academy at Four Bridges for use by the Lakota golf teams.
Logan talked to the district’s lawyers about the idea, and she was told it shouldn’t be pursued for various reasons, including using public money to build on private property.
Reynolds then proposed an option of letting Four Bridges build the facility and charging the district a yearly access fee of $250,000.
When those “schemes” were rejected, Reynolds proposed the auditor’s office keep $250,000 of fee money to be refunded to the school district for each year for three years, Tammaro said. Then the auditor’s office would funnel the $750,000 dollars to the private golf course to build the golf facility.
None of the proposals ever reached the point of being voted on by the school board.
Logan testified she brought up the matter of Reynolds’ apparent conflict and said he ignored her, stating he was doing nothing wrong, Tammaro said in the sentencing motion.
“Defendant Reynolds attempted to justify his actions to Ms. Logan by stating he had a different legal opinion. In reality, he never received any such validation.”
At trial, with two assistant prosecutors waiting to testify about any conflict-of-interest opinion Reynolds might have sought from that office, the defense stipulated Reynolds did not get a different legal opinion.
“The stipulation made at trial made clear that defendant Reynolds never sought any such opinion and simply lied,” Tammaro wrote.
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