Saturday, May 25, 2002

Income tax bill has parks board official in court

Charge covers money owed over two years

By Gregory Korte,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The vice president of the Cincinnati Park Board has entered a diversion program that could lead to dismissal of misdemeanor charges that he failed to pay city income taxes.

        Roger W. Ach II, 59, of East Walnut Hills, was charged in January with failure to pay city income taxes for 1999 and 2000, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

        The Park Board is an independent, five-member commission with an $8 million annual budget. About $5 million of that budget comes from city taxpayers.

        Mr. Ach entered a court-supervised diversion program last week after reaching a payment agreement with the city. If he completes diversion, the charges will be dropped and expunged from his record.

        Mr. Ach said he paid taxes on his salary income, and that the back taxes are owed on investment income. He is president of the Lottery Channel Inc.

        City prosecutors would not say how much Mr. Ach owes because of confidentiality laws. Mr. Ach said the original amount was more than $10,000, but he's paid off most of it.

        Mr. Ach said the charges against him were “old news” recently stirred up by his opposition to a levy for the Hamilton County Park District. The city park board opposed the replacement of the county levy because its proceeds have been spent mostly outside the city limits.

        “I'm aware certain people felt they needed to make an issue of this, to pressure me into changing my position on the Hamilton County park levy,” he said. “If it's a pressure tactic, it didn't work.”

        Mr. Ach also suggested that city prosecutors were overzealous in charging him with a crime, an assertion that Prosecutor Ernest McAdams disputes.

        “It's very rare that we'll get to this point,” he said. “The friendliest tax authority I've ever come in contact with is the city of Cincinnati's.”

        Park commissioners are appointed to six-year terms. Mr. Ach was first appointed to the Park Board in 1992 by then-Mayor Dwight Tillery, and was reappointed in 1998 by Mayor Roxanne Qualls. His term expires at the end of 2003.

        Mayor Charlie Luken said he hadn't spoken to Mr. Ach about his tax situation and could not comment on it.

        “Beyond that, I think his record of service to the city over the decades has been exemplary, and I'm not going to take any cheap shots,” he said. “But I will talk to him.”


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