Former Shelby County deputy faces new prostitution-related charges

W.J. Steinke's employee ID badge photo from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

SIDNEY, Ohio (WDTN) – The former Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy and former employee of The Ohio Department of Public Safety faces new felony charges Thursday.


William J. Steinke has been indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury on one count of promoting prostitution — a fourth-degree felony, one count of soliciting, a first-degree misdemeanor and possession of criminal tools, a first-degree misdemeanor.

In late October, Steinke was arrested on charges related to soliciting a prostitute after a lengthy investigation into his alleged crimes.

Steinke was picked up in a sting operation within Shelby County in October. The woman he was with is a known prostitute in the area, according to Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart. Earlier, she had provided the office with information that one of her clients was a former county employee, sparking the interest of law enforcement.

Deputies learned that Steinke told the prostitute in the sting operation that he would set her up at the Red Roof Inn in Piqua where she could “take care of him” and then he would send in a few other men he knew, so she could “take care” of them too, said James Frye, Chief Deputy with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. That mention would be grounds for the newest felony charge, Frye said.

In their investigation, they found that Steinke was picking up prostitutes throughout Shelby County, as well as far south as in Dayton, Lenhart said. He used a “burn” phone while committing crimes.

Steinke went by the fake name of “Don” while committing crimes, Lenhart said.

William Steinke (Shelby County Jail).
William Steinke (Shelby County Jail).

While Steinke was a deputy at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, he had a few issues, according to his personnel files obtained by 2 NEWS. A few turned their cheeks to the red flags along the way, until Steinke’s retirement.

Around 3:15 a.m. on November 5, 2006 near the intersection of Fessler Buxton and Stoker Road in Shelby County, Steinke pulled over a 16-year-old teenager for “erratic driving and speeding” according to his personnel file.

His file shows that Steinke ran the teen’s plates, but never filed a report.

The teen admitted to Steinke that she had been drinking that evening, but was not on drugs. She told him that he was trying to get to her dad’s house and was lost in the back country roads.

Steinke pulled up a map and showed her where she was, then asks if she has a boyfriend and told her numerous times that she was a “pretty girl,” according to an interview with the teen at the time — taken by a Lieutenant with the sheriff’s office.

While searching for contraband, he touched the teen inappropriately on several occasions during the body search, according to the interview.

Steinke never checked the jacket nor the pockets of the jacket,” the report reads. The teen’s “mom thought the officer owed her an apology but [the teen] was adamant that she never wants to see him again and is fearful that he knows her name and address.”

Steinke then allowed the teen to drive off on her own, knowing she had been drinking, the report reads. The teen later crashed her car in Darke County and caused $4,000 in damage to her mother’s car.

Though not illegal, the sheriff at the time, Kevin O’Leary, allotted the funds to pay $2,220.36 for the damage done to the vehicle, according to auto body estimates made at the time — obtained by 2 NEWS. This move is ethically frowned upon, Lenart said, but it would have had the approval for the move from the prosecuting attorney at the time.

After that incident, Steinke was “forced” into retirement by his superiors just days later — November 9, 2006.

W.J. Steinke's employee ID badge photo from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.
W.J. Steinke’s employee ID badge photo from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Another instance arose previously in Steinke’s career, where he was caught looking at pornographic material on his government-issued computer, Frye said. Then-Sheriff O’Leary walked in on Steinke, catching him. O’Leary never made a notation in Steinke’s personnel file, and never punished him for the incident, Frye said.

Steinke initially joined the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in 1977 “as interest in law enforcement continued,” according to his resume, obtained by 2 NEWS. He was hired full time by the sheriff’s office in 1983.

In recent incidents, when Stienke’s wife was away, he would pick up women at previously-arraigned locations, put them in his car and drive them to his house to have sex. When Steinke and the prostitute would get close to his house, he would have them get down on the floor boards of his car and cover them under a blanket, so no one would see the women,” the sheriff’s office tells 2 NEWS.

William Steinke is not in custody as of Thursday afternoon. He is expected to appear in court provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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