Former Pike Sheriff pleads to four felonies, misdemeanor
By BRET BEVENS
Southern Ohio Today
WAVERLY – Suspended Pike County Sheriff Charles S. Reader pled guilty to five counts of a superseding indictment Thursday morning in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas.
He pled to two counts of theft in office, fourth-degree felonies, two counts of tampering with evidence, third-degree felonies and one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest.
The two theft in office charges carry a penalty of six to 18 months in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 not including court costs or restitution. The two tampering with evidence charges carry a penalty of nine, 12, 18, 24, 30 or 36 months in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 before court costs or restitution.
“The four felony offenses he has pled guilty to all involve monies that were seized under the suspicion that they were proceeds of drug trafficking,” Reader’s attorney, James T. Boulger said. “The cases were prosecuted, but the monies were never introduced into evidence, nor were they forfeited nor were they were returned to the individuals.”
Boulger said the state had evidence that it was prepared to present that showed at sometime monies had been removed and then replaced in the exact amount that was originally seized.
“That is what is supporting the four counts of felony offenses,” Boulger said. “The activity of removal and replacement.”
The misdemeanor conflict of interest charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 180 days and a maximum fine of $1,000 not including court costs or restitution.
Reader was appointed Sheriff in 2015 after former Sheriff Richard Henderson stepped down. Reader was elected to a full-term in the fall of 2016.
Reader was indicted on 16 counts in June of 2019. In February, a superseding indictment charged him with two more felony counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. Those charges, along with the other 11 counts of the superseding indictment, were dismissed upon the completion of the plea hearing.
Before Reader entered his plea, Judge Chris A. Martin explained to Reader that as a result of pleading guilty his employment as a peace officer would be terminated and he would be decertified as a peace officer pursuant to the laws of Ohio.
Martin also informed Reader that if he pled guilty to either of the theft in office charges he would be forever disqualified from holding any public office, employment, or position of trust in the State of Ohio, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code.
Reader also was advised of the rights he waived by pleading guilty, including the rights of a trial, to confront witnesses, to call witnesses in his defense and require the state to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Martin, a retired judge from Fairfield County, said the court will have a separate process for sentencing. That process will begin Oct. 5. Martin explained that if there is a sentencing recommendation, the court did not have to honor that recommendation, and could impose a longer sentence, the same sentence or a lighter sentence.
Reader’s own recognizance bond was continued by Martin with all terms and conditions remaining in place.
“He met the conditions of it (his bond),” Boulger said. “There are several conditions on it. That could affect his ability to speak, if it’s a condition of bond that he does not speak publicly about the case, he’s still going to have to adhere to that.”
Special Prosecutor Robert F. Smith declined comment, citing a gag order on the case until the case is closed.
At Thursday’s meeting of the Pike County Board of Commissioners, it was announced that Pike County will be pursing a civil suit to recoup monies paid (payroll and benefits) during Reader’s time on administrative leave.
Steps were also being taken Thursday to remove Reader from the payroll.