Two months after a federal jury acquitted Kenwood Towne Place developer Matt Daniels, federal prosecutors have dropped remaining charges against the project's former construction manager, Aubrey "Audie" Tarpley.
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CINCINNATI -- Two months after a federal court jury acquitted Kenwood Towne Place developer Matt Daniels, federal prosecutors have dropped remaining charges against the project’s former construction manager.
Aubrey “Audie” Tarpley was charged last August when the government amended its original indictment against Daniels. Tarpley faced a trial in May on counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. But all charges were dropped by U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett Friday at the request of prosecutors, according to documents filed in federal court Monday.
“He is very grateful for the U.S. attorney for this decision,” said Tarpley’s attorney, Ty Foster. “He never wrote any checks. He was trying to get the building built and wasn’t the guy figuring out what to do with the money.
The dismissal means prosecutors will have won one conviction out of their lengthy criminal investigation into the failed Kenwood project, which resulted in millions of dollars in losses to investors, contractors and lenders.
A half-finished office tower remains at I-71 and Montgomery Road as the project’s new owners court retail and office tenants. Saks Fifth Avenue has agreed to relocate its downtown store to the property, which has been rebranded The Kenwood Collection.
Kenwood Towne Place LLC Chief Financial Officer Tina Schmidt continues to await sentencing. She pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. In exchange for her testimony against Daniels, prosecutors agreed to push for a sentence of no more than 51 months. Her attorney, Ted Froncek, said he has argued for probation but hasn't received any indication whether prosecutors will agree.
Tarpley has long maintained his innocence .
Daniels was acquitted December 20 after testifying in his own defense.
Attorneys pursuing civil judgments against officers and investors in Kenwood Towne Place said they’re not surprised by the dismissal of charges against Tarpley.
“Since they didn’t get the big fish there’s no sense in going after Tarpley,” said Attorney Patrick O’Neill, a principal at the Benjamin Yocum & Heather law firm downtown. “Much like Matt, Audie’s easier to collect from if he’s not in a federal prison.”
O’Neill represents a group of contractors pursuing civil fraud claims against Daniels, Tarpley and others. He said Daniels recently reneged on a $625,000 settlement agreement that would have allowed him to walk away from claims pending in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. But now, O’Neill said he’s eager to pursue a fraud claim that seeks $7 million in damages in July.
Daniels' attorney, Ben Dusing, confirmed his client missed a recent settlement payment, but denies that the agreement was breached.
"It's completely unfair and simply untrue to say that Matt has in any way backed off the commitments he made in that agreement," Dusing said. "We are open to having constructive dialogue ... Hopefully we can avoid litigating this matter under circumstances in which all parties lose."