The former Pike County Sheriff will spend three-and-a-half years behind bars for crimes that he stole drug money while in office.
Former Sheriff Charles S. Reader was led away from the Pike County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon. Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove said that it cannot be underestimated the damage Reader caused to the citizens of Pike County and to law enforcement when he stole drug money and tried to cover it up.
“You made a mockery” of law enforcement, she told him as she handed down her sentence.
Reader pleaded guilty to two counts of theft in office, two counts of tampering with evidence, and one count of conflict of interest.
The breakdown of the sentencing is: one year each for each theft in office charge, two years each for each tampering with evidence charge, and six months for the conflict of interest. The Judge reduced the sentence to 3.5 years by allowing the time to run together for alike charges. She also said Reader could face 3 years probation after he is released.
He paid nearly $5,000 in restitution before his court appearance Wednesday for money the state said belonged to the Sheriff’s office.
The felony charges to which Reader pled guilty all relate to evidence bags containing seized currency which were in Reader’s possession. The Conflict of Interest charge relates to Reader’s purchase of a Nissan Versa at the Pike County Sheriff’s auction of seized vehicles. Reader had a straw buyer purchase the vehicle for $2,000. Several months after the purchase Reader sold it for $5,500, prosecutors said.
State Auditor Keith Faber’a office led the investigation.
“Charlie Reader was entrusted to enforce the law in his community and literally gambled it away,” said Auditor Faber. “His choices do not diminish the dedication of the thousands of law enforcement across Ohio that willingly sacrifice, serve, and protect us every day- these men and women deserve our utmost respect. I commend the quality and committed investigators and prosecutors who unearthed his misconduct and ultimately brought him to justice.”
In 2018, Reader’s Sheriff’s office was raided by state officials after an anonymous complaint said that he was stealing drug money to fuel a gambling habit. Additional investigations revealed allegations that Reader borrowed money from deputies, rigged auctions for seized vehicles, and tampered with evidence by trying to replace the stolen money he used.