Court documents: Special commission confirms Pike County sheriff suspension
PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader will remain suspended while the criminal case against him plays out in court, a three-judge commission confirmed Tuesday.
Reader agreed to the suspension back in July following his 16-count indictment.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor appointed three retired judges to the special commission over the summer.
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The commission had made a preliminary decision that Reader should be suspended because the pending disposition of the criminal charges against him would “adversely affect the functioning of [the sheriff’s] office, and would adversely affect the rights and interests of the public,” according to a document signed by the commission.
Among the charges are those related to conflict of interest, theft in office, theft, tampering with evidence, tampering with records and securing writing by deception that prosecutors allege occurred while he was in office.
He has pleaded not guilty on all 16 charges.
The indictment states that among other charges, Reader requested and/or accepted various loans from county employees and vendors during his time in office. These loans, according to the indictment, ranged anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500.
The indictment also indicates Reader had “secured" various cars during his time in office.
A pretrial hearing for Reader’s case is set for Sept. 25.
The jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020.
Records released Tuesday included new details about the case against him.`
Investigators with the State Auditor’s Office wrote Reader racked up more than $17,000 in gambling losses at Columbus casinos between 2016 and 2018.
He told investigators during the execution of a search warrant in December that his wife was threatening to divorce him over his gambling, records state.
He also told them his gambling increased during the Rhoden family massacre investigation in 2016 and that he stayed up late at night because he couldn’t sleep.
Reader was one of the investigators on the case, and it’s not clear yet if his criminal case will impact his credibility and the prosecution of four members of the Wagner family charged with the slayings.
The prosecutions are expected to take years and cost millions.
All four suspects have pleaded not guilty and are housed at separate jails. Two other relatives were charged in connection with the case.
Employees and vendors loaned him a total of $9,500 since 2017, records show.
Investigators also found suspicious activity involving drug evidence bags in a safe under Reader’s desk, cash money seized and the sheriff violating the chain of custody of evidence.
Reader instructed staff to route all cash money seized to him and kept in the safe, investigators wrote.
One of the evidence bags containing $6,010, appeared to be initially sealed and then resealed, records show.
It held bills without creases that appeared to be from a bank.
Captain Burchett said he never took drug money as evidence that looked neat, crisp and new. He insisted it several times, telling investigators: “That is NOT the money I counted guys,” records show.
“He stated the bags shouldn’t have looked like that. He insists he is very particular and tries to seal the bags very neatly. Capt. Burchett kept repeating, ‘He stole the f---ing money.’”
Burchett also stated he had never seen an accordion file containing seized monies, which was turned over to the auditor’s office by Reader, investigators wrote.
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