LIMA — Similar to a rally held more than a year ago after former Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish was charged in a federal indictment with extortion and soliciting bribes, an informal gathering was held Wednesday outside the Allen County courthouse to demand a new trial for Lima resident and convicted drug dealer Demond Liles.
Liles’ family and friends were joined by representatives of the NAACP in publicly demanding justice for the man who is currently serving a 25-year sentence at London Correctional Institution for a 2014 conviction for trafficking in cocaine.
Ron Fails, president of the Lima chapter of the NAACP, kicked off the gathering by leading the protesters in a chant of “If There’s No Justice for All, There’s No Justice at All.” Jerry Liles, Demond’s brother, carried a sign that read “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Fails said the gathering was called to “draw attention with reference to the recently convicted” former sheriff of Allen County and the victims the former sheriff left in his wake of illicit activities.
“We applaud the FBI and other law enforcement officials to hold (Crish) accountable for the corruption he was involved with in Allen County,” the NAACP leader said. Fails praised a federal court judge’s decision to order Crish to repay his victims more than $600,000 for unpaid loans he had obtained to finance his gambling debts. But Fails said there were other victims who were not adequately compensated, “and we are demanding justice for them.”
“Sam Crish exploited Demond Liles financially and also led the effort to get him convicted criminally. And others knew of the sheriff’s corrupt activity and simply stood by … from the prosecutor’s office to the judges behind the bench. What is being done to right the wrongs that have been committed against Demond Liles?” Fails asked rhetorically.
“Demond Liles is owed a new trial.”
Liles, now 40, pleaded guilty to four counts of trafficking in cocaine in 2014 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Eleven additional charges were dismissed. Fails on Wednesday said Liles pleaded guilty “because he was intimidated. He was told that if he didn’t plead he would be put away (in prison) for the rest of his life.”
Liles has appealed his conviction, but that appeal was overruled.
At Crish’s sentencing hearing last month in Toledo, prosecutors alleged Liles had been approached by Crish for a $25,000 loan in exchange for help with a child custody case. Crish’s attorneys successfully argued that investigators had misinterpreted a 2013 text message between Crish and Liles in which the sheriff asked Liles,”Do you have access to 25K?” Crish testified that the text was unrelated to any attempt to extort Liles and was simply part of a conversation that revolved around Liles’ intent to open a business.
According to prosecutors, Liles loaned the former sheriff $20,000 with the understanding that Crish would repay that debt, along with $5,000 in interest. The loan was made in exchange for Crish looking the other way while Liles held financially lucrative parties at which alcohol was served and admission was charged, prosecutors alleged.
Liles, in a telephone conversation from prison with The Lima News in June 2018, did not deny holding the parties, nor did he deny loaning Crish money.
“I loaned him money; we was friends, but I didn’t know he was corrupt,” Liles said.