Thursday, March 07, 2019

Former Allen County Sheriff pleads guilty to extortion and soliciting bribes

The former Allen County Sheriff pleaded guilty to for asking for and taking bribes from people arrested in prostitution stings, suspected gamblers and others.

Samuel A. Crish, 56, is scheduled to be sentenced later this year. He pleaded guilty to multiple counts of extortion and soliciting bribes.

“The conduct Mr. Crish admitted to is as offensive as it is audacious,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “Demanding bribes from 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 self-interests,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith.  “As a law enforcement officer and county sheriff sworn to uphold the law, his conduct was abhorrent.  We are pleased that Mr. Crish has now accepted responsibility for his actions.”

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.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Crawford.

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