Former Ohio county sheriff gets 3 years prison for theft

Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader. FILE
Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader. FILE

A former Ohio county sheriff has been sentenced to three years in prison after previously pleading guilty to theft in office and other charges

WAVERLY, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio county sheriff who rose to prominence for the investigation of the execution-style slayings of eight family members was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for theft in office and other charges.

Charles Reader, 47, sobbed and begged Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove for mercy during his sentencing in southern Ohio's Pike County, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“You're honor, please don't send me to prison,” Reader told Cosgrove. “I have wronged but I am not ruined. I still have a lot of good in me.”

The former Pike County sheriff was originally indicted on 18 counts that included racketeering. He pleaded guilty in September to two counts of theft in office, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of conflict of interest.

Reader was accused of taking loans from sheriff's office employees and a vendor and stealing more than $14,000 in seized drug money from evidence envelopes to fund his gambling habit. He later returned most of the money to the evidence envelopes, authorities said.

He agreed to be suspended as sheriff in July 2019. He was appointed sheriff in May 2015 by the Pike County Democratic Party and won election to a four year term in November 2016.

Ohio Auditor Keith Faber in a statement on Wednesday said Reader “was entrusted to enforce the law in his community and literally gambled it away.” An assistant chief counsel from the auditor's office served as prosecutor in the case. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the theft.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in a statement said, "Today’s sentencing closes an ugly chapter for Pike County, whose citizens deserve government free of corruption.”

The shootings of eight members of the Rhoden family in April 2016 in rural Pike County made Reader a familiar figure because of the national publicity surrounding the execution-style slayings.

Four members of another Pike County family were indicted in November 2018 in the slayings. All four pleaded not guilty. None of the cases have gone to trial yet.

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