Note: This story appears in the Sunday, Sept. 8 newspaper on Page A3.
A prosecutor case summary from Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office provides more details on the state’s case against Charles Reader, who is currently suspended from the office of Pike County sheriff.
The state’s investigation opened last December, led by the Ohio Auditor’s Special Investigations Unit.
In June, Reader was indicted on 16 charges, including conflict of interest, theft in office, theft, tampering with evidence, tampering with records and securing writings by deception.
Reader later pleaded innocent to all charges and agreed to a provisional suspension, with pay.
The prosecutor case summary states the investigation was spurred by an anonymous complaint left on the agency’s fraud hotline.
The reported misconduct includes allegations of Reader “mishandling evidence monies and using it for personal use, borrowing monies from employees and the public without paying them back, allowing his daughter to drive cars from the Pike County Sheriff impound lot, being unstable and threatening people.”
According to the summary, during the execution of a search warrant, Reader told state investigators that he started gambling more during the Rhoden homicide investigation in 2016 when he was staying up late at night and could not sleep.
An Eldorado Scioto Downs supervisor provided the state a “report of activity” on Reader’s actions at the casino.
Reader’s losses were reported at $595.37 for 2016, $5,526.96 for 2017 and $11,033.54 for 2018.”
The summary document also noted alleged irregularities regarding two vehicles impounded by the sheriff’s office, including a 2013 Nissan Versa that allegedly was purchased with money provided by Reader to a local businessman and vendor who has had contracts with the county. The document alleges that Reader instructed an employee of the sheriff’s office to “dirty” the vehicle and that it was also falsely stated that the vehicle did not have keys, ensuring “that the selling price would be less than what would be normally bid for this vehicle and drew a much less interested group of buyers.”
According to the documents, Reader is alleged to have come into possession of the vehicle after it was purchased for $2,000, and he is alleged to have sold the vehicle for $5,500.
Another allegation claims that Reader asked a special deputy and his girlfriend about bidding on a 1991 Chevrolet Silverado for him at the 2017 Pike County Sheriff’s auction. According to the prosecutor case summary, the girlfriend successfully bid on the vehicle for the sheriff, but it was her boyfriend, the special deputy, who paid $350 to Reader, with Reader agreeing to pay him back. According to the summary, Reader took possession of the vehicle and had the title placed in his father’s name. Reader has allegedly failed to reimburse the special deputy the $350.
The summary also alleges that Reader “frequently went to his employees and local businessmen to borrow money.”
A jury trial for Reader is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020.
James Nelson is currently serving as interim sheriff.
Matt Lucas is the managing editor of The Pike County News-Watchman, a sister publication of The Messenger.