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Athens County sheriff pleads not guilty on 25 charges

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With 25 charges stacked against him, Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly remains confident that he is innocent.

At his arraignment this afternoon, Kelly pleaded not guilty to all charges. A pretrial hearing has been set for Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. A hearing for contempt of court for failing to respond to a grand jury subpoena has also been set for that date.

A $500,000 bond has been set by the state but will only apply if Kelly does not show up to his scheduled court appearances. Following his arraignment, Kelly was ordered to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail in Nelsonville for fingerprinting, DNA samples and photographs for booking purposes.

The 25 charges on which Kelly was indicted on Jan. 31 include 13 counts of theft in office; four counts of theft; and one count each for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering, tampering with evidence, tampering with records, perjury and failure to keep a cashbook — all felonies. He was also indicted on two misdemeanor counts of dereliction of duty and obstructing official business.

This is not the first time Kelly has been charged with a crime. In 1998, he was one of two Athens County Sheriff’s deputies charged in connection to missing money from a drug raid. He faced a charge of perjury for apparently lying to a grand jury, but pleaded out on a minor misdemeanor charge of failing to cooperate with a special investigation.

Some of the charges Kelly now faces are from events dating back to his 2008 campaign for sheriff. Through a long history of suspicious activity, Kelly has upheld his innocence the entire time.

He has taken to posting about his innocence on the Athens County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page: “I will not step down as your sheriff and will continue with the same strong leadership and professionalism I have served you with for the past five years.”

The Ohio Supreme Court is currently working on a motion submitted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office requesting an interim sheriff during the trial.

The motion includes an affidavit by an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, laying out specifics of Kelly’s apparent crimes, some of which were still being committed while he was already under investigation by the state.

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