New audit shows former Pike Co. Sheriff stole more money than previously thought; auditor, too

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio — A newly released audit from the state of Ohio has uncovered more stolen money from taxpayers.

The State Auditor, Keith Faber, said on Thursday that after a year’s long audit of Pike County’s finances, it was uncovered that former Sheriff Charlie Reader and former Auditor Kayla Slusher both stole more from taxpayers than previously had thought.

In 2021, Reader, then-Sheriff, was sentenced to three years on corruption charges after he was accused of stealing evidence money to fuel a gambling habit. Earlier this year, in an unrelated matter, then-Auditor Kayla Slusher — who had been on the job less than three years — was convicted of theft-in-office after she was accused of misusing a county credit card while vacationing with her family. Both officials were removed from office, with Reader going to prison and Slusher getting probation.

Kayla N. Slusher, the former county auditor, is now a convicted felon.

The Auditor of State’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) determined Slusher made $382 in credit card transactions that were not for a proper public purpose, including personal travel expenses during a trip to Florida. Auditors also determined Slusher overpaid herself $2,227 in 2020. Slusher pleaded guilty in June to a single felony count of theft in office and was sentenced to 11 months in prison, with the term suspended pending her completion of 12 months of community control. She also resigned from her elected position and made full repayment of the finding for recovery against her.

Reader, who has 1.5 years left on his sentence at the Toledo Correctional Institution, was convicted following an SIU investigation after he opened evidence bags and took money seized as part of criminal cases. He also had other people purchase vehicles impounded by the sheriff’s office and sold at auction, including a 2013 Nissan that he later sold at a profit. 

Thursday’s audit outlined multiple additional instances of public monies illegally expended by Reader from the sheriff’s “Furtherance of Justice (FOJ)” fund, including $369 in late fees and finance charges for a Pike County Sheriff’s Office credit card, $285 for costs for the wives of sheriff’s office employees to travel with officers to National Sheriff’s Association conferences, $929 for 46 meals provided at an employee retirement party, and nearly $1,000 in credit card transactions without supporting documentation. 

Reader pleaded guilty in October 2020 to two felony counts of theft in office, two felony counts of tampering with evidence, and one misdemeanor count of having a conflict of interest and was sentenced to serve a total of three years in prison.

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