Indicted on eight felony and eight misdemeanor counts ranging from theft in office to tampering with evidence, suspended Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader is set to be in the unaccustomed position of defendant during a five-day jury trial set for Feb. 3.
Reader was back in court in front of visiting Judge Chris Martin for a pretrial hearing early Monday. At his arraignment early last month, Reader pleaded not guilty to all 16 counts against him. He remains free on a signature bond though Martin insisted he turn over any keys to the county courthouse. Further, Martin barred Reader from any contact with witnesses related to the case or from making any comments regarding the case on social media.
In the time since his arraignment, Reader voluntarily accepted a paid suspension. The Pike County Democratic Party replaced him with retired Piketon Police Chief Jim Nelson.
The charges against Reader stem from an investigation undertaken by the office of state Auditor Keith Faber following an anonymous complaint alleging Reader is guilty of various types of misconduct, perhaps most notably allegedly stealing money from drug busts.
On the day of Reader’s arraignment both Faber and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost called for Reader’s suspension. Faber’s office, which is prosecuting the case against Reader, filed a motion with the Ohio Supreme Court asking for them to suspend Reader in accordance with Ohio law. Reader accepted the suspension before the state’s highest court could take action.
When AIM Media Midwest reached out for comment to Reader’s attorney, James T. Boulger, a spokesperson who answered the telephone at his Chillicothe office stated the attorney does not speak to the media. A spokesperson for Faber’s office, Allie Dumski, also declined comment on the ongoing case.
The anonymous complaint against Reader alleges the sheriff “keeps the cash confiscated on drug cases in a small safe in his office that only he has access to. We believe he is taking money from the safe and using it for personal use.”
The complaint goes on to describe Reader as a compulsive gambler who never has any money of his own. It charges him with borrowing several thousand dollars from investigators connected with the sheriff’s office. The complainant also alleges Reader owes a local car dealer more than $20,000 and further claims he took impounded cars off the police lot for use by his daughter.
“Reader just does whatever he wants, and no one ever calls him on it,” the complaint reads in part.
Reader will be back in court for two more pretrials prior to his full-fledged trial early next year. Those pre-trials are set for Sept. 25 and Nov. 20.
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-370-0715.