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Butler County politician Mike Fox has died

Mike Fox arriving to a court proceeding during his legal case.

Hamilton native and former Butler County politician Michael A. Fox has died, according to the Journal-News, which cites people close to the family. He was 73.

Fox was a long-time Republican politician, serving as an Ohio state representative for some two decades and as Butler County commissioner from 1997 to 2007. He then headed up Butler County Children Services until 2009.

"In the 1980s, he was considered an up-and-comer," remembers WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. "Many Ohio Republicans expected him to be a gubernatorial candidate some day."

That gubernatorial bid never happened, but Fox amassed considerable power in Butler County politics over the years.

During his tenure serving the region he helped create the county's transportation improvement district. He championed the extension of State Route 129, the Butler County Regional Highway, and it was initially named in his honor as the Michael A. Fox Highway. The name was later changed to the Butler County Veterans Highway, after Fox's conviction in a 2012 criminal case.

He pleaded guilty in 2012 to wire and mail fraud as well as filing a false tax return. The charges stemmed from his involvement in The Dynus Corporation, a company that took out a fraudulent loan claiming it had a contract with Butler County.

Fox served four years for his involvement, part in federal prison, and before ending his term on home confinement in 2015.

Fellow Butler County commissioner Chuck Furmon helped turn Fox in. He said in 2012 he called the FBI when Butler County got an errant bill saying it owed $6.5 million and was late on one of the payments.

Furmon said the county already had a fiber optic loop when it loaned a couple of strands to Dynus to market it. That's when prosecutors said the company took out an illegal loan in the county's name.

Corrected: June 25, 2022 at 9:13 AM EDT
A previous version stated Fox was paid "hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the deal happen." That line has been removed. None of the charges alleging bribery and receiving kickbacks were included in his final plea agreement. A family member states this allegation from 2011 was false.
Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.
With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.