Former Allen County Sheriff sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for asking for and taking bribes from people arrested in prostitution stings, suspected gamblers and others
The former Allen County Sheriff was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for asking for and taking bribes from people arrested in prostitution stings, suspected gamblers and others.
Samuel A. Crish, 56, previously pleaded guilty to multiple counts of extortion and soliciting bribes. He was sentenced to 136 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $606,221 in restitution.
“The former sheriff earned every day of this sentence,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. “His conduct is an affront to the men and women in law enforcement and the citizens he pledged to protect and serve. Using his office and badge to demand bribes from gamblers and people arrested in prostitution stings is beyond offensive.”
"Mr. Crish will now serve the well deserved punishment handed down by the judge for his abhorrent criminal behavior,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith. “Law enforcement officers take an oath to enforce the law, not break the law."
Court documents detail Crish extorting or soliciting tens of thousands of dollars from several people between 2012 and 2016.
According to court documents:
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.
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.
The FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigated the case, and it was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Crawford.