COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Two disgraced Pike County officials were ordered Thursday to pay back more than $5,000 of taxpayer money they stole while in office.
Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber mandated former Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader and Auditor Kayla Slusher — one of whom is currently behind bars — to pay back $2,508 and $2,609, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to using their positions to illegally steal public funds, the auditor’s office said in a news release.
Reader, who gained national attention in 2016 after eight members of a Pike County family were shot execution-style, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty in October 2020 to two felony counts each of theft in office and tampering with evidence, along with one misdemeanor count of having a conflict of interest, the auditor’s office said.
The ousted sheriff reportedly opened bags used to store evidence, stealing money that had been seized as part of criminal investigations. After the sheriff’s office impounded cars, the auditor’s office said Reader instructed other people to buy and sell them at an auction, including a 2013 Nissan that Reader later sold for profit.
During the ex-sheriff’s time in office, the auditor said Reader made a number of illegal purchases:
- $369 in late fees and finance charges for a sheriff’s office credit card
- $285 in travel costs for the wives of sheriff’s office employees attending the National Sheriff’s Association conferences
- $929 in meal costs for an employee retirement party
- Nearly $1,000 in credit card transactions without supporting documentation
Also on the hook for reimbursing stolen Pike County funds is Slusher, who was sentenced to 11 months in prison — with the term suspended so long as she completes one year of community service — after pleading guilty to one felony count of theft in office in June, according to the auditor’s office.
Slusher, who reportedly resigned from her position and fully repaid the stolen funds, followed Reader’s lead in using public funds illegally, including:
- $382 in credit card transactions not for public use, including a personal trip to Florida
- $2,227 in funds to overpay herself in 2020