3-judge panel to consider suspension of Pike County sheriff

UPDATE @ 6:30 p.m. (July 17): A special commission of three retired judges will consider the suspension of Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader.

The sheriff was indicted June 2 on 16 charges, including theft in office and conflict of interest. Reader agreed to be suspended from public office for the duration of the criminal case against him, state Auditor Keith Faber announced last week.

The order did not indicate why the three-judge panel was necessary.

Special commission members include:

  • Retired Judge Janet R. Burnside, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
  • Retired Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove, Summit County Common Pleas Court
  • Retired Judge John G. Haas, Stark County Common Pleas Court

Also, Jesse Mosser, staff attorney in the Office of Chief Legal Counsel at the Supreme Court of Ohio, will serve as secretary to the special commission.

All meetings will be closed to the public and records will not be available until the special commission issues its written report or concludes its proceeding, according to the order.

UPDATE @ 6:30 p.m. (July 10): Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader will be on suspension for the duration of the criminal case against him, state Auditor Keith Faber announced this afternoon.

“Charles Reader has chosen to accept his suspension from office while the criminal case pending against him proceeds,” Faber said in a prepared statement.

“His decision enables the community to maintain confidence in the sheriff’s office while the legal process continues,” Faber said in the statement.

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Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader appeared in court Tuesday for the first time after he was indicted on 16 charges.

Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber announced last week the grand jury presented Reader with seven charges of conflict of interest, four charges of theft in office, two charges of thefts, one charge each of tampering with evidence, tampering with records and securing writings by deception.

Reader pleaded not guilty during his initial arraignment. The auditor’s office requested Reader be released on his own recognizance and also asked that he not come into contact with any witnesses, WBNS 10TV in Columbus reported.

Reader also was asked to turn in all keys and key fobs to the courthouse.

An anonymous complaint filed against Reader alleged he kept money from cases in a safe to which only he had access. The accuser also told the auditor’s office that Reader took money from other deputies and owed money to local business owners, 10TV reported.

“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,” Faber said. “We do not take these charges lightly and recognize that no one is above the law.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the case against Reader will not affect the Pike County capital murder cases involving the Wagner family.

“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,” Yost said. “Ohio sheriffs act with integrity and honor, and this rare occurrence does not reflect the excellent work they do daily throughout their counties.”

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