Auditor: Investigation into Pike County Sheriff ‘close’ to wrapping up

Charlie Reader is accused of using money from drug cases to fuel a gambling habit
Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader
Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader
Updated: Apr. 16, 2019 at 2:54 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The investigation into an allegation of misconduct by Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader is close to wrapping up, State Auditor Keith Faber said Tuesday.

“I think we are close to having recommendations," he told FOX19 NOW in an interview.

“I can’t say what they are going to be because I have not been briefed on it yet, but I think the process is wrapping up. I think certainly by the end of spring, maybe sooner. Our people are close to moving forward with the information they have. We are closer to the end than we are to the start.”

He said he expects to be briefed by investigators later this week.

“I asked the question to one of our investigators the other day: ‘How close are we?' and I was told we are getting close," Faber said. “We don’t want to hurry them. We want them to do their due diligence, but I think they have some level of confidence that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel."

Last month, Faber told FOX19 NOW his office was “engaged in a very intense investigation in Pike County.”

The probe began late last year after his office received an anonymous complaint about the sheriff.

According to the complaint, Reader is accused of using money from drug cases to fuel a gambling problem, owing two deputies several thousand dollars, a local car dealership owner more than $20,000 and letting his daughter drive vehicles impounded by the sheriff’s office.

“Reader just does whatever he wants and no one ever calls him on it,” the complaint states, later adding: "We are scared to death of him. He is unstable and threatens people.”

The allegations come from an anonymous complaint filed in November with the Ohio Auditor’s Office.

“My attorney, my staff, and I have worked closely with the State of Ohio’s Auditors Office during the current investigation and have provided them, without delay, anything that has been requested and have cooperated fully in this matter," Reader said in a statement Tuesday to FOX19 NOW.

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Late last year, the Auditor’s Office issued a voluminous subpoena for most -- if not all -- of his records from the entire time he has been in office, according to a copy of it.

The subpoena asks for financial, personnel, and property records from the date Reader took office on Jan. 1, 2016.

State auditors also sought an accounting of three key funds under the Reader’s control: the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF), Furtherance of Justice Fund (FOJ), Pike County Drug Task Force and/or drug fine monies, including but not limited to the following:

  • Annual reports
  • Check registers, ledgers, expenditure and/or cash disbursement ledgers and journals
  • Policies and/or procedures manuals
  • Bank statements and reconciliation documents
  • Supporting documentation for all disbursements and/or expenditures from the funds

In addition, the subpoena asks for an inventory of the sheriff’s office assets and all records of seizures of money, property, vehicles and equipment executed by the sheriff’s office.

The subpoena requests payroll records and personnel files for several individuals including Reader; his brother Brian, who was recently fired from his job as Chief Investigator for the Pike County Prosecutor and a former special duty officer; and administrative assistant Rhonda Potter. Also included is a request for their employment contracts, records of discipline, expense reports, tax records and documentation of outside employment.

By law, sheriffs have to conduct their own annual report of all their finances and turn it over to the state auditor’s office and treasurer’s office.

Reader’s lawyer, James Boulger of Chillicothe, has told FOX19 NOW that Reader received a similar subpoena and has responded to it.

Boulger has said he assumes the county auditor’s office also has responded to the subpoena issued to its office and furnished the requested records as well.

He also said investigators are obviously trying to get all the information they could get, but he was not sure if charges would come.

We attempted to reach Boulger at his office Tuesday, but his staff said he was unavailable until Wednesday due to a family matter.

Boulger has previously declined to say if Reader has a gambling problem or if there is any truth to the complaint sent to the state auditor’s office.

Reader was sheriff for just months when eight members of the Rhoden family were found fatally shot in April 2016.

In November, authorities arrested three generations of another family in connection with the murders.

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It’s not clear if the investigation into Reader is related to the case or will adversely impact its prosecution.

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