Complaint: Pike County sheriff stole confiscated money for gambling, gave impounded cars to family

Posted at 4:59 PM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-18 15:57:35-05

The anonymous complaint that sparked an investigation into Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, who for two years oversaw the investigation of the brutal Rhoden family murders, alleges that he stole money confiscated from drug busts to fuel a gambling addiction, allowed his daughter to drive impounded cars and created an atmosphere of terror within the sheriff’s office.

“Reader just does whatever he wants and no one ever calls him on it,” the complainant wrote to the office of Ohio state auditor Dave Yost, adding later: “We are scared to death of him. He is unstable and threatens people.”

Reader said he had hired Chillicothe attorney James Boulger but declined to otherwise comment on the case Dec. 14, when Pike County Prosecutor Rob Junk filed court documents requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor from the state auditor’s office.

In a text message to I-Team reporter Hillary Lake on Monday, he said he had not seen the complaint and again declined to comment. Reader's attorney, Jim Boulger told the I-Team he believes the issue "could be cleared up pretty quickly."

A Pike County judge signed off on the appointment of special prosecutor Robert F. Smith the same day the request was filed.

Pike County Commissioner Tony Montgomery, who said Junk informed him Dec. 14 there were search warrants and subpoenas issued for the sheriff’s office, was unenthused to see another potential news item emerge from his small, rural county.

“This is the last thing we need with the Rhoden murders and trials,” he said. “Another reason to be in the news.”

The complaint reads in full:

Sheriff Charles S. 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 this safe and using it for personal use. He is a compulsive gambler and never has any money. He has borrowed money from Deputy William Stansbury in the amount of several thousand dollars because he gambled his own money away. He has borrowed large sums of money from Roger Risner, one of his special deputies and who works for the prosecutor for the same reason. He owes local car dealer Lance Vallery over 20,000 dollars. Vallery’s girlfriend Rhonda Potter was Reader’s secretary that he had an affair with. Reader just does whatever he wants and no one ever calls him on it. He has also taken cars out of his impound lot and given them to his daughter to drive. We are scared to death of him. He is unstable and threatens people.

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