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Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 @ 4:53 PM
LEBANON — The former treasurer of the Springboro Clearcreek Baseball Association was expected to be released Wednesday from the Warren County Jail, six months after being accused of embezzling more than $150,000 from the group.
Judge Donald Oda II ordered Renee K. Nichols, 46, to be released on her own recognizance on a GPS monitor ensuring she adhere to a 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, according to court records.
Jail records indicated Nichols was still in the jail in Lebanon Wednesday afternoon, while her lawyers and prosecutors were to meet over the status of a dispute over the sharing of evidence in the case, according to jail and court records.
Nichols had been unable to post a $750,000 cash-only bond set in October by Oda after a dispute over her return to jail after a medical furlough in October.
“She’s got a dead-body bond,” lawyer Laura Woodruff said before Wednesday’s hearing. “There’s no dead body in this case.”
Nichols is accused of embezzlement of $180,000 from the youth sports group between 2011 and 2017, while she was its treasurer. She is charged with two third-degree felonies, aggravated theft and tampering with records.
Unlike most cases, no trial date is set at this point.
Woodruff attributed this to a continuing dispute over evidence the defense wants to review.
In February, Oda continued the trial date and ordered prosecutors to turn over “the contents of all of the electronic devices” seized in the investigation.
“There’s a tremendous amount of documentation in this case,” Woodruff said.
In his Feb. 22 order, Oda directed Nichols’ lawyers to file a motion to exclude evidence “if there are grounds to do so.”
No new motions had been filed Wednesday.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell declined to respond to questions about the evidence exchange, known in legal circles as “discovery.”
“If they have issues to address, we’ll address them in court,” Fornshell said.
A trial date set in February was withdrawn after Nichols’ lawyers claimed prosecutors had yet to turn over key evidence.
Since last October, her lawyers have been trying to convince Oda to reduce the bond, claiming it is higher than for similar cases, although she has no criminal record or history of fleeing from prosecution.
The motion also urges a reduction so that Nichols can be released from jail to seek medical help from her doctors for a range of ailments. Nichols is also described as the primary caregiver for a 12-year-old daughter.
On Oct. 19, her husband, Avery, filed for divorce, listing her address as the jail in Lebanon, and calling for him to be named custodial parent while she is in jail. The divorce was still pending Wednesday.
The baseball group’s troubles first came to light when a new board member, who is also a Certified Public Accountant, began looking into the organization’s finances and discovered no Form 990 had been filed with the IRS, outlining the group’s financial status, Fornshell said in a press release at the time of her indictment.
The IRS revoked the group’s nonprofit tax exemption on May 15, 2017. A revocation was posted three months later, on Aug. 15, 2017, according to an IRS online database.
No reinstatement date was listed. On Wednesday, it was unclear if the non-profit status had been renewed.