One year later, no answers on Crish

LIMA — A year has come and gone since agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered the office of former Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish armed with a search warrant, setting off a chain of events that led to Crish’s resignation less than four months later.

FBI and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents served the search warrant Sept. 7, 2016, at the sheriff’s office. But FBI officials have been tight-lipped since that time about the reasons behind their search, what agents were looking for and how long their investigation might continue.

Special Agent Vicki Anderson of the Cleveland FBI office held true to form earlier this week, stating the the Crish investigation “is still ongoing” and adding that there was “nothing more I can provide at this point.” Anderson previously had said simply that “investigations do take time.”

Lima attorney Michael Rumer, representing Crish, Thursday chose not to comment about any developments in the case. Rumer said he has advised his client to also decline comment.

No charges have been filed against Crish and no arrests have been made, but the former sheriff’s previously unknown gambling addiction did come to light in the months following the FBI raid.

So, too, did numerous civil lawsuits apparently linked to Crish’s gambling debts.

Shortly after the FBI investigation was opened, Crish checked himself into an inpatient treatment program to address an unidentified “serious personal issue,” Rumer said in a written statement earlier this year on behalf of his client. Crish later divulged that he was in a Virginia treatment facility for 28 days because of being a compulsive gambler.

Among the civil lawsuits against Crish was one filed by a convicted drug dealer who said he let Crish borrow $20,000 from him because the one-time sheriff needed the money for gambling. Demond Liles, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for drug crimes, also accused Crish of entrapping him to get out of paying his debt.

The former sheriff did settle two civil suits earlier this year, agreeing to pay more than $41,000 to a pair of individuals with whom he had entered business agreements.

According to a suit filed by Gary P. Richardson, of Harrod, Crish formed a limited liability corporation in January 2006 in which Richardson became a partner. In court documents, Richardson said he invested $25,000 in Crish Enterprise, doing business as Arc Point, in return for a 25 percent ownership stake in the company. Richardson claims he received $1,500 from Crish in October 2014 but had received no payments since that time.

Even though Crish’s attorney argued the partnership between the pair was not a valid contract, the former sheriff on July 26 agreed to pay Richardson $23,500.

In another case settled that same day, Crish agreed to pay $18,000 to John R. Brownell, of Lima, who claimed in court documents that he had made “several personal loans” totaling $21,300 to Crish since 2013.

Others filing lawsuits against Crish include Ray Magnus, of Lima, for $102,000; Greg T. Schiffler, of Lima, for $25,250; and David L. Hefner Sr., of Elida, seeking $17,600. Both Schiffler’s lawsuit and Hefner’s lawsuits said they loaned Crish money for a sheriff’s office dog program.

Crish, a Republican, was elected as Allen County Sheriff in 2008, and his term began in January 2009. He ran unopposed in the November election. He resigned from office Jan. 31.

The Allen County Commissioners on Feb. 1 appointed Chief Deputy Jimmy Everett to the position of interim sheriff, pending the selection by the local Republican Party of a permanent replacement for Crish. Less than a week later, Everett died. On Feb. 8, Matt Treglia, a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office, was appointed by the county commissioners as the interim sheriff. On Feb. 22, the local GOP selected Treglia as the new county sheriff.

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