Taft Obtains Full Acquittal for Client in Public Corruption Case

Taft represented Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds in a public corruption case in Butler County, where the state alleged he had used his position for personal gain. Reynolds steadfastly denied the charges and maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal. After a two-week trial in December 2022 led by Taft partner Chad Ziepfel, he was acquitted on five of the six charges.

Taft swiftly appealed the lone conviction, led by Taft partner Aaron Herzig and associate Annie McClellan. After all of the judges in the Twelfth District Court of Appeals recused, the appeal was assigned to a three-judge panel of the Tenth District Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held on November 14, 2023, and on May 13, 2024, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion reversing the conviction and ordering that the count of conviction be dismissed – fully acquitting Reynolds of all charges.

Reynolds was appointed county auditor in April 2008. He was elected to complete the full term as auditor in November 2008 and subsequently re-elected to full terms in 2010, 2014, and 2018. Speaking to his popularity with Butler County citizens – largely derived from his reputation for running an honest, efficient, and cost-effective office – Reynolds was even re-elected in November 2022, while under indictment and just a month out from trial.

“We are pleased with this outcome, grateful to our client for the trust he put in us and look forward to seeing Mr. Reynolds return to public service,” said Ziepfel. “Mr. Reynolds is also grateful for the patience of the Butler County citizens, and thanks them for withholding judgment while we worked through the legal process necessary to prove his innocence.”

Ziepfel is a partner in Taft’s Compliance, Investigations, and White Collar Defense practice, with more than 15 years of experience representing clients in white collar investigations and prosecutions. He regularly defends businesses, executives, public officials, and other individuals in complex criminal matters involving both federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, DEA, HHS, FDA, EPA, and DOJ Antitrust, and state agencies such as the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio EPA, and Ohio Department of Commerce. He also regularly conducts internal investigations for clients ranging from small businesses to large corporations.

Herzig is the co-chair of Taft’s Appellate practice and the chair of its Cincinnati litigation practice. He briefs and argues civil and criminal appeals in federal and state courts across the country, and also litigates complex civil actions in trial courts throughout Ohio.

McClellan is an attorney in Taft’s Litigation practice. She advises individual and business clients on all aspects of the litigation process. Prior to joining Taft, Annie clerked for the Honorable Amul Thapar and the Honorable John Nalbandian of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, as well as the Honorable Justin Walker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

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