Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader indicted on theft in office, tampering with evidence charges

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Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader has been indicted on 16 charges, including theft in office and tampering with evidence after he was accused of keeping money from drug cases in a safe in his office.

The indictment comes after Pike County prosecuting attorney filed a motion to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Charles Reader in December 2018 after Reader was accused of misconduct in office.

The Ohio Auditor’s Office opened an investigation into Reader after receiving an anonymous tip in November 2018.

The complaint accuses Reader of keeping money from drug cases in a safe in his office.

The tip further claims Reader uses that money to pay for a gambling addiction.

“Reader just does whatever he wants and no one ever calls him on it,” the complainant alleged. “We are scared to death of him. He is unstable and threatens people.”

Reader’s charges include seven charges of conflict of interest, four charges of theft in office, two charges of theft, one charge each of tampering with evidence, tampering with records, and securing writings by deception.

Auditor of State Keith Faber released the following statement on Friday after the indictment.

“This has been a long and intensive investigation with unfortunate and very serious results. It is our job to hold public officials accountable and root out fraud, waste, and abuse in our communities. We do not take these charges lightly and recognize that no one is above the law,” Faber said. “While this is a major step toward seeking justice, our team is fully prepared to present these findings to a jury as this matter moves forward. I’d like to commend everyone who worked on this case for the immense amount of effort and detail that has been dedicated to the investigation.”

The Auditor’s Special Investigations Unit took a lead role in the case that started over a year ago.

Sheriff Reader’s office investigated the Rhoden family massacre.

Four people were arrested in November for the murders of eight people in Pike County on April 22, 2016.

George “Billy” Wagner III, 47
Angela Wagner, 48
George Wagner IV, 27 
Edward “Jake” Wagner, 26

In addition, Rita Jo Newcomb, the mother of Angela Wagner and the grandmother of George Wagner IV and Edward “Jake” Wagner, faces obstruction of justice, perjury and forgery charges in connection to the murders.

Charges against 77-year-old Fredericka Wagner were recently dismissed.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued the following statement regarding Reader’s indictment on Friday.

“This will have no impact on the Wagner capital murder cases, 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,” Yost said.

If government fraud is suspected, please contact the Auditor’s office online, by phone at 1-866-FRAUDOH, by letter, or email.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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