Ohio sheriffs disagree over Pike County ‘criminal gang' warning

Posted at 2:31 PM, Jun 30, 2017

The neighboring sheriffs of Pike County and Scioto County are in disagreement over “criminal gang” activity allegedly headed to southern Ohio this weekend, the Journal-News reports.

The social media friction between Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader and Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini follows Reader’s unusual Facebook post Monday alleging “gang members” were headed to Pike and neighboring counties for the purpose of “‘taking out’ believed snitches.”

Reader warned MS-13, an international criminal gang, and, or the Konvicted Family gang intended to spread “HOTSHOTS” of heavily laced heroin that could cause “an extremely large amount of overdoses.”

Donini’s department disagreed with Reader in a Facebook message.

“As the result of meeting with narcotics officers assigned to the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force, Sheriff Donini … would like to emphasize to the residents of Scioto County that there is ‘absolutely’ no credible evidence to corroborate the truth to this rumor!” the office posted Tuesday on Facebook.

Reader, a Democrat, department replied on Facebook to Donini, a Republican.

“The Scioto County Sheriff’s Office was NOT involved in the execution of the search warrants in Pike County nor any interviews conducted by the law enforcement agencies that were a part of the investigation,” Reader’s department posted.

“Scioto County would NOT have the information that we obtained in aggressively attacking the drug epidemic in Pike County,” the post said, adding, “I’m sure they stay busy enough in Scioto County.”

The Pike County post states that a person arrested in a multi-agency, multi-search warrant and multi-arrest operation was “in fact identified as a Konvicted Family gang member with ties to others in Pike County.”

Pike County is north of Scioto County, which shares an Ohio River border with Kentucky. Waverly, the Pike County seat, and Portsmouth, the Scioto County seat, are on U.S. 23.

Waverly is about 95 miles southeast of Dayton.

In his message, Scioto County’s Donini said the public is “urged to be responsible and to refrain from circulating ‘unverified’ facts and to do so simply fuels hysteria and pandemonium within our community.”

In April 2016, eight members of the Rhoden and Gilley families were killed in Pike County near the confluence of the Pike, Scioto and Adams county lines. The Facebook posts did not reference the Pike County murders, which have become synonymous with the rural community.

The two county departments have worked in concert in past operations, but different drug task forces serve the counties.

Scioto County is served by the Southern Ohio Drug Task Force, which includes the FBI, the Portsmouth Police Department, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office and the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office.

Separately, the U.S. 23 Pipeline Drug Task Force serves Pike County and nearby Fayette, Highland, Pickaway and Ross counties.

WCPO is a news partner of The Journal-News.