Former Allen County Sheriff indicted for soliciting bribes, extortion, making false statements
The former Allen County Sheriff was indicted in federal court for asking for and taking bribes from drug dealers, people arrested in prostitution stings, suspected gamblers and others.
Samuel A. Crish, 54, was charged in a six-count indictment with multiple counts of extortion, soliciting bribes and making false statements to the FBI.
“The conduct described in these charges is as offensive as it is audacious,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “Demanding bribes from drug dealers, gamblers and johns arrested in prostitution stings reads like something out of a bad movie. This defendant let down the people of Allen County and the men and women who served with him at the Sheriff’s Office. He does not represent the vast majority of law enforcement, and he will now be held accountable for his crimes.”
“Mr. Crish tarnished his badge when he chose to use his official capacity to influence criminal investigations and to protect his self-interests,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony. “He further exacerbated the situation by lying to the FBI in an attempt to conceal his criminal conduct. As Mr. Crish was a law enforcement officer and county sheriff -- sworn to uphold the law -- his conduct is particularly egregious.”
The charges detail Crish extorting or soliciting nearly $100,000 from five people between 2012 and 2016.
According to the indictment:
Crish joined the Allen County Sheriff’s Office in 1991, where he held numerous positions, including commander of the office’s Investigative Division and the West Central Ohio Crime Task Force (WCOCTF). He was elected sheriff in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
In June 2012, Crish approached a person identified in the charges as Person 1 and asked Person 1 for $8,000, falsely stating he needed the money to cover medical bills. Person 1 gave Crish the money in cash in an alley behind the sheriff’s office in July 2012.
Two months later, Person 1 applied for the position of nurse at the Allen County Jail, which Crish oversaw. Based on conversations with Crish, Person 1 understood the job was theirs. Crish stated in October 2012 he would try to hire Person 1 as nurse. In the same conversation, he stated he needed $42,000 to pay his debts and asked if Person 1 could help.
Person 1 took out a home equity line of credit and, on Oct. 12, 2012, gave Crish a check for $42,000 in the alley behind the sheriff’s office. Crish agreed to repay the money in monthly increments of $480. On Dec. 15, 2012, Person 1 was hired by the Allen County Sheriff’s Office to work as the nurse at the county jail.
In 2011, the WCOCTF was investigating Person 2 for drug offenses. That investigation did not result in criminal charges. In 2013, Person 2 called Crish and asked that he not send deputies for a two-day party Person 2 planned in which he charged a cover, sold liquor and generated a profit of up to $15,000.
Crish then sent Person 2 numerous messages asking about money. At some point in February or March 2013, Person 2 gave Crish $20,000 in cash. Crish promised to repay the money plus $5,000 in interest within a few weeks.
Crish and Person 2 met on April 22, 2013 to discuss an undercover operation, and Crish told Person 2 he was “going to get indicted.” Crish also stated he would “take care of it” if Person 2 would forgive half of the $20,000 debt.
Crish made small repayments to Person 2 in April and May 2013. The WCOCTF investigated Person 2 for drug trafficking and Person 2 was arrested on Dec. 5, 2013. Crish was named as a defense witness. Person 2 pleaded guilty in Allen County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 23, 2014 and was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Dec. 2, 2014.
Person 3 operated a used car business and was arrested by members of the sheriff’s office and WCOCTF on Aug. 19, 2015 during a prostitution sting. He was charged with solicitation in Lima Municipal Court.
Crish visited Person 3’s business several times in August and September 2015, at one point asking Person 3 for a $7,000 loan. Person 3 gave Crish a check for $7,000 on Sept. 25, 2015.
Crish met with prosecutors and law enforcement officials about Person 3’s case on Nov. 24, 2015, and demanded the Lima City Attorney’s Office drop the charges. The solicitation case was dismissed on Feb. 18, 2016. Eight days later, Crish texted Person 3 to meet, where they discussed the dismissal of Person 3’s case.
Person 4 operated a used car business in Elida, Ohio. Crish asked Person 4 in September 2015 to work as an informant. He also asked Person 4 to loan him $10,000.
Person 4 gave Crish $10,000 in cash on Nov. 3, 2015. The next day, Person 4 was arrested at a motel in Lima as part of a prostitution sting operation. Following his arrest, Person 4 asked to speak to Crish. All of the other men arrested were charged.
Crish visited Person 4’s business on Nov. 5, 2015, and told him not to worry about the arrest because he was working for Crish.
Crish visited Person 4’s business again on Nov. 17, 2015, and asked for $500. Person 4 insisted Crish would have to pay back the $500, unlike the previous $10,000. Crish called Person 4 in May 2016 and told him he was “fine” referring to the charges for the prostitution arrest.
Person 5 owned a grocery store in Allen County. Crish stopped by Person 5’s business in October 2015 to ask for a loan. Crish inferred during the visit that an agency was coming to investigate Person 5’s business for suspected illegal gambling operations, but that Crish could stop the investigation if Person 5 provided Crish with a loan.
Person 5 gave Crish a $2,000 loan in October 2015, which Crish repaid without interest.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah Hood and Gene Crawford.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
An indictment is a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.