Suspended Pike County sheriff pleads guilty to several charges

Suspended Pike County sheriff pleads guilty to several charges
Updated: Sep. 24, 2020 at 11:18 AM EDT
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WAVERLY, Ohio (FOX19) - Suspended Pike County Sheriff Charlie Reader pleaded guilty to several charges Thursday.

Reader pleaded guilty to five charges including tampering with records, theft in office and conflict of interest. Reader was accused of borrowing money from subordinates and stealing drug money.

Some of the charges are felonies, which means he can no longer serve as a peace officer.

It’s not clear yet when Reader will be sentenced.

He is scheduled to meet Oct. 5 with pre-sentencing investigators.

Reader became the sheriff in 2015 but has been suspended since in the summer of 2019.

He originally pleaded not guilty to 16 charges, ordered to turn over all keys and not have contact with witnesses.

Earlier this year, a grand jury indicted him on two additional charges including a more serious felony of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

It carries a prison sentence of 2 to 8 years and another count of theft in office.

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Authorities say Reader requested and/or accepted loans ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 from county employees and vendors during his time in office.

Reader racked up more than $17,000 in gambling losses at Columbus casinos between 2016 and 2018, according to the State Auditor’s Office.

He told investigators 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 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.

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The indictment also said Reader “secured" various cars during his time in office.

Now that the criminal case against the suspended sheriff is winding down, it remains to be seen how his conviction will impact the prosecution of the Wagners in the Rhoden family massacre case.

Criminal justice experts have said that if Reader was convicted of crimes, that could be a problem for the prosecution, especially if he played a major role in the investigation.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday morning.

But he has previously told FOX19 NOW that Reader’s indictment would “have no impact on the Wagner capital murder case, as Sheriff Reader was not the primary witness for any issue of fact or law. Ohio sheriffs act with integrity and honor, and this rare occurrence does not reflect the excellent work they do daily throughout their counties."

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