On Friday January 31, Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly was indicted on 25 counts – including 23 felony charges and 2 misdemeanors – for his role in allegedly running an organized crime scheme from his office. According to the indictment, which was served Friday afternoon, Kelly is accused of engaging in corrupt activity for misusing public funds to pay for meals and personal clothing, as well as other various charges.
The indictment accuses Kelly of running an enterprise and includes the following allegations:
- Using public funds with an accomplice to pay for meals and personal apparel.
- Stealing copper wire from the Athens County garage.
- Transferring the salvage title of a vehicle not properly owned by the Sheriff's office.
- Running an "enterprise" consisting of selling Athens County property to a scrap yard and splitting payments with an accomplice.
- Misusing campaign donations.
- 13 counts of theft in office, four counts of theft, and single counts of failure to keep a cashbook, tampering with records, tampering with evidence, perjury, and money laundering.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine discussed the case at a news conference in Athens, but did not provide more details about Kelly's criminal scheme. Although the indictment was served after a lengthy special grand jury investigation beginning in 2012, Kelly has stated that he will not step down. If convicted of the most serious charge – engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (a first-degree felony in Ohio) – Kelly faces 11 years in prison.
Although concerns are now being focused on whether Kelly will be suspended from office, the case is expected to play out in the following months. DeWine has commented that this is an unfortunate case, but also one that highlights the fact that no one is above the law.