PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Former Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader’s criminal trial has been pushed back until spring.
The trial was set for the first week of February, but the visiting judge handling the case in Pike County Common Pleas Court, Chris Martin, said Wednesday he was concerned winter weather could be a problem for jurors.
“It would cause havoc with the trial,” he said and rescheduled it for April 20.
Reader, who has been sheriff since 2015, remains free on his own recognizance following a 16-count indictment earlier this year.
The judge granted a motion Wednesday by Special Prosecutor Robert Smith that as a condition of Reader’s bond he abstain from consuming alcohol and illegal drugs during the trial, noting there is no evidence at this point there have been any problems.
Special Prosecutor Robert Smith also asked the judge for Reader to be tested for those substances by the probation department, but the judge denied that.
The judge said Reader could carry a handgun for self-protection, noting there is no evidence Reader having one would be a threat to anyone in the community.
Reader was suspended over the summer after pleading not guilty.
He has since had contact with a witness, court records show, but the judge allowed him to remain free.
Reader is accused of conflict of interest, theft in office, theft, tampering with evidence, tampering with records and securing writing by deception.
The judge set Reader free on his own recognizance, but he had to turn over all keys and was told not to have contact with witnesses.
Court documents state he sent a text message to Frederick “Chip” Foill on July 15.
Foill did not respond initially, but then reminded Reader he wasn’t supposed to contact him.
He provided screen shots of the texts from his phone to court officials:
Reader: Miss you brother
Reader: Are you not speaking to me
Foill: I love to brother but I was told by the state I wasn’t aloud (sic) too
Reader: Ok, you wasn’t (sic) on my “no contact list” sorry...
Reader requested and/or accepted various loans from county employees and vendors, according to his indictment.
The loans tended to range in value from $1,000 to $2,500, the indictment states.
He is accused of borrowing money from Foill, which created a conflict of interest.
Reader’s indictment also mentions multiple vehicles, including a 1991 Chevy Silverado that was “secured” by Reader.