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Former Pike County Sheriff Sentenced To Three Years In Prison

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, left, speaks alongside Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, right, during a news conference to discuss developments into the slayings of eight members of one family in rural Ohio two years ago, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.
John Minchillo
/
AP
Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, left, speaks alongside Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, right, during a news conference to discuss developments into the slayings of eight members of one family in rural Ohio, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018.

Former Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to theft in office.

Reader rose to prominence for helping lead the investigation of the 2016 mass murder of eight Rhoden family members in rural Pike County, which went unsolved for several years.

Prosecutors said Reader engaged in a pattern of mishandling seized property and evidence, setting up a straw sale for a seized vehicle and later selling it for a profit. He also took cash out of evidence with plans to repay it later.

He pleaded guilty to four felonies in September, and will be barred from holding public office.

In court on Wednesday, the former sheriff begged the judge for lenience.

“I took the money, and mind you, this does not excuse it, but from drug dealers that took it from parents of very poor people in this county,” Reader said.

Reader urged the judge to sentence him to probation instead of prison, pointing to his son graduating high school and his daughter’s upcoming wedding.

Reader also argued the money he took went to good purposes, like a fundraisers for local sports teams and a memorial for a child who died in a house fire.

“There was a tree planted in the name of the Shelpman boy,” Reader told the judge. “Nobody could pay for that tree, nobody offered to pay for that tree—a drug dealer did.”

The judge seemed dubious about the explanation, in light of Reader’s gambling losses at the time. Despite Reader’s insistence that he used his debit account to pay those losses, the judge raised questions about where funds in the account came from.

In a statement after the sentencing, Ohio Auditor Keith Faber referenced Reader’s gambling as well.

“Charlie Reader was entrusted to enforce the law in his community and literally gambled it away,” Faber wrote.

Faber also wrote that Reader's sentence shouldn’t reflect on other people in uniform around the state.

In his own statement, Attorney General Dave Yost said that "today’s sentencing closes an ugly chapter for Pike County, whose citizens deserve government free of corruption.”

Reader had a different explanation.

“I am a good person,” he told the judge. “I’ve made bad decisions and choices.”