A comment from a public information officer with the state auditor’s office seemed to indirectly confirm there still is an ongoing state investigation into alleged misconduct by Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader.
The Portsmouth Daily Times recently called the state auditor’s office in hopes of obtaining an update on an investigation into Reader, which was launched in December. In responding to a reporter’s question, Public Information Officer Jake Gordon of the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office stated, by policy, he is not allowed to “share details” regarding ongoing investigations.
As has been previously reported, Pike County Court of Common Pleas Judge Randy Deering on Dec. 13 approved the appointment of a special prosecutor from the auditor’s office to oversee an investigation into Reader’s alleged behavior. The special prosecutor was appointed at the request of Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk.
Junk did not respond to a recent request for comment.
In his formal request for appointment of a special prosecutor, Junk first noted he has frequent contact with the county sheriff. His request, which was filed the same day it was granted by Deering, reads, in part: “It has been brought to my attention that there have been allegations of misconduct in office on the part of the Pike County sheriff. Due to the working relationship and my status as legal counsel for the office of the sheriff, I am requesting the special prosecutor be appointed in this matter.”
According to paperwork released to the media by the auditor’s office in mid-December, on Nov. 9, the auditor’s office received an anonymous complaint regarding alleged improper actions by Reader.
The complaint alleges Reader “keeps the cash confiscated on drug cases in a small safe in his office that only he has access to. We believe he is taking money from the safe and using it for personal use.”
The complaint goes on to describe Reader as a compulsive gambler who never has any money of his own. It charges him with borrowing several thousand dollars from investigators connected with the sheriff’s department. The complainant or complainants also allege Reader owes a local car dealer more than $20,000 and further claims he has taken impounded cars off the police lot for use by his daughter.
“Reader just does whatever he wants, and no one ever calls him on it,” the complaint reads in part.
“We are scared to death of him. He is unstable and threatens people,” it concludes.
According to the auditor’s website, the office receives hundreds of complaints annually regarding fraud in government or by public employees. Those tips can come from public employees, concerned citizens or auditors who discover something suspicious in the course of their work.
The Special Audit Task Force, a group of auditors and investigators led by the state auditor evaluates tips and complaints received by the auditor’s office. If the task force decides the case falls under the authority of the auditor of state’s office and may involve probable fraud or theft, the complaint is then sent to the Special Audit Section and the Special Investigations Unit for further review.
“The Special Investigations Unit works to aggressively root out fraud and public corruption,” according to the auditor’s website. “Investigators gather information that is not readily available during (a) special audit, which may include bank statements or credit card records that must be obtained through a subpoena. Additionally, SIU investigators may conduct interviews to identify persons responsible for the loss of public funds.”
Reader has not responded to media requests for comment on any investigation into his alleged conduct.