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Butler County auditor faces additional charge in corruption case

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Roger Reynolds

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds has been indicted on a sixth charge in a corruption case involving property development deals in West Chester.

A grand jury indictment released Wednesday adds a charge of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a fourth-degree felony. The Republican was indicted in February on five counts, including bribery, unlawful interest in a public contract and unlawful use of authority.

He has pleaded not guilty.

"I'm not going to release a lot of the details, but this is an additional charge," said Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones on a Facebook video after the charge was announced. "I told you in the beginning this investigation has not finished and it's not finished as we speak today."

The charges stem from Reynold's alleged involvement in property development deals in West Chester. He's also being sued in civil court on a related land deal.

Jones says the new charge alleges Reynolds approached a Lakota Schools administrator in relation to a land deal.

"It basically started with Roger Reynolds and a group of people approaching (sic) the Lakota schools — one of their administrators, the people in charge of the money — and we're basically talking about the money that they return to the schools. He made a recommendation and tried to coerce them into taking the money that they were going to receive, and he tried to encourage them to build something for the Four Bridges Golf Course."

Jones says Reynolds, who lives by the golf course, is a club member there.

Reynolds maintains the charges against him are false. His attorney, Chad R. Ziepfel with the Taft law firm, issued a statement in February when the charges were announced.

"Mr. Reynolds has never solicited, accepted, or paid any bribes, and he has never used his position, authority, or influence to improperly benefit himself or anyone else. Mr. Reynolds has served the Butler County community with honor for the past 19 years, without even a hint of impropriety. He is proud of reforming the Auditor's office, restoring trust with the citizens, and fighting for fair property valuations. Mr. Reynolds will vigorously defend himself against these charges, and looks forward to continuing in public service for years to come."

The trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 15. Judge Daniel Hogan, a retired judge from Franklin County, was appointed to oversee the case after all Butler County judges recused themselves.

If convicted on all counts, Reynolds could face up to seven years in prison, according to Jones.

In March, a special commission declined to remove Reynolds from his position as county auditor.

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.