Charles Reader

Sheriff Charles Reader

A Pike County Grand Jury indicted Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader on 16 charges on Friday, including seven charges of Conflict of Interest, four charges of Theft in Office, two charges of Theft, one charge each of Tampering with Evidence, Tampering with Records, and Securing Writings by Deception.

“This has been a long and intensive investigation with unfortunate and very serious results," stated Auditor of State Keith Faber after the indictment. "It is our job to hold public officials accountable and root out fraud, waste, and abuse in our communities. We do not take these charges lightly and recognize that no one is above the law. While this is a major step toward seeking justice, our team is fully prepared to present these findings to a jury as this matter moves forward. I’d like to commend everyone who worked on this case for the immense amount of effort and detail that has been dedicated to the investigation.”

The Pike County Sheriff's Office released a statement Friday afternoon, stating that "Sheriff Reader and his staff have no comment on the events which were reported by the media earlier today, but would like to ensure the public that the office will continue to provide their normal law enforcement services to the public without interruption." 

The indictment gives a break-down of each count, summarized here:

Counts 1, 2 , 3: According to a copy of the indictment, the tampering with evidence charge allegedly took place on or about Dec. 20, 2018, days after the state’s investigation began, as allegedly did the charges of tampering with records and one fourth-degree felony count of theft in office. The tampering with evidence and tampering with records charges are third-degree felonies.

Count 4: One conflict of interest charge (first-degree misdemeanor) allegedly took place on or about Aug. 19, 2017, when the sheriff allegedly “in his capacity as a public official … did recklessly use or authorize the use of the authority or influence of his office to secure a thing of value, to wit: a 2013 Nissan Versa.”

Count 5: The charge of securing writings by deception (fifth-degree felony) allegedly took place during a time period from Aug. 19, 2017, through Nov. 19, 2017. The charge alleges that Reader “by deception, did cause another to execute a writing, to wit: title to a 2013 Nissan Versa.”

Count 6: Another count of theft in office (fourth-degree felony) was alleged to have occurred during a time period from Aug. 19, 2017, and ending, Nov. 9, 2017. The charge alleges that Reader “did knowingly commit a theft offense, to wit: Securing Writings by Deception.”

Count 7: A fifth-degree felony charge of theft allegedly occurred on or about Aug. 19, 2017.

Count 8: Another theft in office charge (fourth-degree felony) allegedly occurred on or about Aug. 19, 2017.

Count 9: This conflict of interest charge (first-degree misdemeanor) alleges that Reader “did recklessly use or authorize the use of the authority or influence of his office to secure a thing of value, to wit: 1991 Chevrolet Silverado.” This allegedly took place on or about Aug. 19, 2017.

Count 10: This theft charge (first-degree misdemeanor) allegedly occurred between the time period of Aug. 19, 2017, through Dec. 15, 2017.

Count 11: This theft in office charge (fifth-degree felony) allegedly occurred between the time period of Aug. 19, 2017, through Dec. 15, 2017.

Count 12: This is a conflict of interest charge (first-degree misdemeanor) that allegedly occurred on or about June 26, 2017. The charge alleges that Reader requested and/or accepted a loan of $1,500 from someone who was an employee of the sheriff’s office.

Count 13: This is a conflict of interest charge (first-degree misdemeanor) that allegedly occurred on or about Oct. 18, 2017. The charge alleges that Reader requested and/or accepted a loan of $1,000 from a someone who was a Pike County vendor.

Count 14: This is a conflict of interest charge (first-degree misdemeanor) that allegedly occurred during a period of time from May 1, 2018, and ending June 30, 2018. The charge alleges that Reader requested and/or accepted a loan of $2,500 from someone who was an employee of the sheriff’s office.

Count 15: This is a conflict of interest charge (first-degree misdemeanor) that allegedly occurred on or about Aug. 7, 2018. The charge alleges that the sheriff requested and/or accepted a loan of $2,000 from someone who was an employee of the sheriff’s office.

Count 16: This is a conflict of interest charge (first-degree misdemeanor) that allegedly occurred on or about Aug. 26, 2018. The charge alleges that the sheriff requested and/or accepted a loan of $2,000 from a someone who was a Pike County vendor.

In December 2018, an investigation into alleged misconduct in the sheriff's office was opened by the Ohio Auditor's Office. At that time, Pike County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Junk confirmed that Robert Smith, of the state auditor's office, had been named as special prosecutor, and Junk indicated that in this matter it is better if those involved in the investigation have no connection with Pike County. 

On Dec. 10, 2018, an anonymous complaint sent to the Ohio Auditor's Office on Nov. 9, 2018, was released to the media. 

In it, the author of the 2018 complaint stated that it is believed that Reader has taken money confiscated from drug cases for personal use.

“Sheriff Charles S. Reader keeps the cash confiscated on drug cases in a small safe in his office that only he has access to,” the complaint states in-part. “We believe he is taking money from this safe and using it for personal use. He is a compulsive gambler and never has any money.”

The anonymous complaint alleges that Reader has borrowed money from a deputy and a special deputy. The complaint also accuses Reader of allowing a relative to drive cars from the county’s impound lot.

The complaint states, “Reader just does whatever he wants and no one ever calls him on it.”

The complaint further states, “We are scared to death of him. He is unstable and threatens people.”

Concerns have been expressed by some about how the investigation into the sheriff will affect the prosecution of capital cases connected with the Rhoden and Gilley murders. On Friday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released a statement about this issue, saying, "This will have no impact on the Wagner capital murder cases, as Sheriff Reader was not the primary witness for any issue of fact or law. Ohio sheriffs act with integrity and honor, and this rare occurrence does not reflect the excellent work they do daily throughout their counties."

The Ohio Auditor's Special Investigations Unit took a lead role in the case, according to the auditor's office.

The Ohio Auditor's Office asks members of the public that if government fraud is suspected, please contact the Auditor’s office online at http://ohioauditor.gov/fraud/default.html, by phone at 1-866-FRAUDOH, by letter, or email to fraudohio@ohioauditor.gov .

On Friday, the News Watchman attempted to reach Reader's attorney, James Boulger, for comment and were told that he is not available and has no comment at this time. 

Tony Montgomery, president of the Board of Pike County Commissioners, stated that the commissioners really have no role in the matter at this point and the legal system has to run its course.

Reader is scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas. According to online court records, Judge Randy Deering has recused himself from presiding as judge over the proceedings, citing the fact that Reader is the elected sheriff and that the sheriff's office has frequent contact with him as judge. 

Email at mlucas@newswatchman.com; follow on Twitter @NewsWatchman.

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