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Kelly under investigation for fund misuse

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Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly is under investigation by the state of Ohio after allegedly misusing funds and destroying public records. This comes after last year’s incident, where Kelly was also accused of assaulting a rival Republican candidate. 

Last year, Kelly was in Jacksonville where David Jenkinson was handing out fliers that had excerpts on them from a news article accusing Kelly’s stepson of rape. Jenkinson suggested that he wanted to bring light to the story for it to be reopened.

“It’s a low-class type of campaigning. For 4 years, we had no problems in this office and then 40 days before the election, this happens. I will not participate in it,” Kelly said.

Just a few months later, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn reported Kelly to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for misusing funds at the sheriff’s office and even destroying public records. Kelly was put under investigation. 

Last May, Kelly insisted no wrongdoing when it was found out that certain and “numerous” files went into a landfill. County Engineer Jeff Maiden said that his department was being used by the sheriff’s office to take public records to the landfill.

Although Maiden stopped this, there were still records missing.

“As far as I’m concerned, we were mislead,” Maiden said. 

In July, Kelly challenged the prosecutor’s office to explain why he couldn’t use $12,000 in funds left over from the academy, which are training classes that paid for the county law enforcement to have basic training. Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson claimed that Kelly wanted to use the money for very general billings such as “academy supplies” and to “restock supplies for academy.”

Blackburn went on to DeWine to ask if Kelly was allowed to use these funds for such purposes. In the meantime, County Commissioner Lenny Eliason told Kelly that the money was to go into a general fund so that the commissioners could appropriate the money for other uses. If Kelly wanted to use funds for specific purposes, then he would have to make a separate account.

Kelly expressed his frustration last month on his Facebook page. In a public statement toward Blackburn, Kelly said, “I believe you as the Prosecutor of Athens County, have lost sight of your responsibilities as prosecutor. You have taken your personal feeling for me and allowed your immaturity to cloud your responsibilities.” This came after Blackburn refused to defend him in court. 

In a letter to Kelly, Blackburn said, “The Athens County Prosecutors office represents the Athens County Sheriff and not you individually. The Office of County Prosecutor is not able to provide legal advice or represent Patrick Kelly. If you need representation for your own criminal or civil liabilities, you will need to hire a personal attorney.”

The Athens County Commissioners are not happy about the turn of events, either. Charles Adkins, an Athens County Commissioner, said that he did not know how long it was going to take for this to play out.

“Any time an elective official is indicted, the Ohio Supreme Court can have the office holder suspended. They can still get their pay. If they are found not guilty, they can come back. If they are found guilty, the office holder can seek restitution,” Adkins said.

He also said he is “saddened by this occurring. It is a disruption to the county. I hope this gets resolved sooner or later.”

Blackburn and Kelly’s secretary could not be reached for comment.

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