WAVERLY — Former Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader — who stood tall and proud whereas within the glare of a world highlight 5 years in the past after a family of eight was murdered in his county and the investigation consumed him and his division — stood slumped over earlier than a decide and sobbed as he begged for mercy in his personal felony case Wednesday.
The decide, after a soliloquy about how a lot Reader had failed his occupation, neighborhood and household, sentenced him to 6 years in jail on felony prices and 6 months within the county jail on a misdemeanor. As among the sentences will run concurrently, Reader will serve a complete of three years.
Reader had pleaded responsible to stealing cash seized from arrests after which protecting it up.
Specifically-appointed Decide Patricia Cosgrove, who retired from the Summit County Court docket of Widespread Pleas in Akron, sentenced Reader in Pike County Widespread Pleas Court docket Wednesday, capping a outstanding and swift fall from grace for a person who wore the best rating badge in county regulation enforcement.
Reader, sobbing in courtroom, mentioned he needed to see his son graduate, attend his daughter’s wedding ceremony, be the husband he has by no means been to his spouse, Ramona. And he apologized for shaming the badge, hurting his household and abusing the belief of his neighborhood.
“Your honor, please do not ship me to jail,” he mentioned by way of sniffles and tears, his face fireplace purple. “I’ve wronged however I’m not ruined. I nonetheless have lots of good left in me.
Cosgrove was unswayed.
When she requested him why he took the cash, he mentioned it wasn’t for playing, as prosecutors say. Reader mentioned he took the cash from drug sellers (he pleaded responsible taking cash from proof seized in arrests) and used it for charity — to plant memorial timber, to pay for his cruisers to be washed in school automobile washes and the like.
Reader, 47, mentioned he all the time changed it in time.
“There aren’t any phrases for the remorse I’ve,” he mentioned by way of sobs.
For subscribers:Reader won’t be the first ex-sheriff in Ohio to go to prison
However the decide, who identified that she has a protracted report of sentencing public officers to jail, additionally identified that he pleaded responsible in September to 2 counts of theft in workplace (fourth-degree felonies), two counts of tampering with proof (third-degree felonies), and one rely of battle of curiosity (first-degree misdemeanor).
Safety on the courthouse Wednesday was like nobody in Waverly has ever seen. Many of the block across the courthouse was cordoned off with police tape, and bomb-sniffing canines have been checking baggage. Dozens of regulation enforcement officers blocked surrounding streets, prowled the courthouse hallways, staged on the sidewalks and stood at submit in close by parking tons. Officers mentioned the additional safety — 60 officers in whole, together with from the U.S. Marshals Service —was the decision of present Sheriff Tracy Evans to make sure nothing went improper.
Charles Reader going through ‘prolonged’ sentence in Pike County courtroom
Earlier than the listening to, prosecutors filed paperwork with the courtroom asking for a “prolonged” jail sentence.
“His sworn obligation was to implement the regulation and, as an alternative, he repeatedly broke the regulation,” wrote Robert Smith, the assistant chief authorized counsel for Ohio Auditor Keith Faber’s workplace, which prosecuted the case. “The defendant has, by way of his felony conduct, achieved every thing in his energy to undermine public assist for regulation enforcement.”
However Reader’s lawyer filed medical and psychological reviews with the courtroom that say that Reader suffers from post-traumatic stress dysfunction, despair and anxiousness and that “he has clearly been traumatized by his profession as a police officer.”
Once more, although, Cosgrove did not maintain again as she unloaded on the previous sheriff and his excuses.
“You select to be on this occupation, ” she advised Reader, her physique language and facial features conveying a reasonably apparent annoyance. “We see horrible issues. Horrible issues … All of us select our occupation and we now have to conduct ourselves with integrity. You probably did your job however you uncared for your loved ones. You didn’t attain out for assist when you must have.”
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“His work consumed him and left him in a precarious psychological state,” protection lawyer James Boulger wrote in a pre-sentence memorandum asking the decide for leniency. “The wheels got here off.”
Numerous accounts within the doc counsel Reader suffers from paranoia and flashbacks and night time terrors from investigating the ugly and brutal Rhoden case.
Initially indicted in June 2019, Reader had faced 18 counts in all, including a first-degree felony charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The remaining 15 counts have been dismissed together with his responsible plea.
A glance again: Pike County grand jury indicts suspended Sheriff Charles Reader
The case towards Reader all began with an nameless criticism filed with the state in November 2018. The allegations initially included taking loans from staff and not less than one man who was a vendor with the county; tampering with proof envelopes that contained money seized from drug arrests after which not being forthcoming to investigators about doing so after they raided his workplace in December 2018; and that he improperly facilitated transfers and public sale gross sales of autos impounded by his workplace.
Reader’s downfall was swift and public, with much of the previous paperwork filed by the state outlining a gambling addiction and marital troubles.
Reader is accused of taking cash from the workplace to fund a rising playing behavior. Information filed by the state present his losses at Eldorado Scioto Downs in Columbus at $595.37 in 2016; $5,526.96 in 2017; and $11,033.54 in 2018. The state additionally says Reader withdrew greater than $2,800 from machines on the ground of the Atlantis On line casino in Reno, Nevada, whereas attending a nationwide sheriff’s convention in June 2017.
He doesn’t owe that a lot cash in restitution, nonetheless, because the state says Reader took $14,475 from proof baggage however ultimately changed most of it. His whole restitution owed is $4,850, which incorporates $1,000 for money taken and then cash made on improper car transfers he facilitated.
“The folks of Pike County are the final word victims of the general unlawful conduct by defendant,” Smith wrote in his pre-sentencing submitting, “as a result of they’re those who will endure from a lack of belief in regulation enforcement on the whole, and within the highest enforcement official within the county particularly.”
4 folks spoke in courtroom on Reader’s behalf to paint him in another way, and greater than two dozen letters of assist from neighborhood members, former lecturers, former coaches and other people he mentored that every one have been filed with the courtroom solid him in a far completely different gentle than prosecutors.
The letters describe a person with a giant coronary heart who was tortured by what he had seen, who let the pressures of his job and the fixed worry that his household was at risk due to his workplace’s high-profile circumstances eat him.
“I may inform my son was affected by posttraumatic stress,” his mom, Brenda Erb, wrote to the courtroom. “We may see that we have been shedding Charlie the best way he all the time was … He was so stressed you couldn’t even speak to him … He was decided that he would discover the murderers who massacred that household if it took every thing he had.”
A few of the letters of assist for the person often known as “the Folks’s sheriff” did handle Reader’s felony habits.
“Charlie has made errors. Who hasn’t?” the Rev. George M. Whitley wrote. “However I consider the nice he has achieved in Pike Co. needs to be thought of.”
He mentioned he has endorsed Reader the previous couple of years.
“I do know issues have taken a toll on his life and well being,” he wrote. “In my view it might not serve justice for him to go to jail.”
And the Rev. Kathryn Elliott, Reader’s former high-school choir instructor, referred to as Reader a person of integrity and religion. Of the playing drawback, she wrote, “Punishing an addict for his or her addition can usually make issues worse.”
Reader was appointed as sheriff in Pike County, in southern Ohio, in Could 2015 and started serving his first full-term in 2016.
The Rhoden household killings and the investigation in Pike County
It was April 22, 2016, when eight members of the Rhoden household have been discovered shot to dying — most whereas sleeping — in 4 places on three properties in rural Pike County. It wasn’t till November 2018 that one other native household was arrested and charged with the killings. Four members of the Wagner family have been in jail since and await trial. They are eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Though the Ohio lawyer basic’s Bureau of Investigation led the investigation, Reader never stopped being a public face of the case until his office was raided a number of weeks after the Wagner arrests.
Rhoden household killings: Custody dispute played role in killing of Rhoden family, officials say
When first indicted on these prices, Reader vowed to combat them and never quit his submit. However he agreed to a voluntary suspension in July 2019.
Even because the case dragged on, nonetheless, he tried to run for a second time period in workplace on the belief he can be acquitted of the costs towards him. He failed, although, to assemble sufficient correct signatures to get on the poll.
Now, with a felony conviction, he can by no means be a regulation enforcement officer or maintain public workplace in Ohio once more.
Reader nonetheless has an ethics charge pending filed by the state in Franklin County Municipal Court docket associated to this case.
On the finish of the listening to that lasted about hour, Reader turned to his devastated household within the gallery. He requested a deputy if he may hug his youngsters. The deputy mentioned no. However Reader’s teenage son, his arms protecting his tear-streaked face, leaned in and acquired one anyway.
Then, in only a few seconds, a cadre of officers led Reader from the courtroom. A couple of seconds later, a cadre of regulation enforcement officers led by way of the courthouse’s again door, and to a ready SUV. The shackles that held the previous sheriff’s legs and arms clanked with each step he took down the concrete stroll.
Charles Reader courtroom paperwork