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Sheriff withdraws appeal, leaving commission scrambling for interim officer

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An announcement earlier today confirmed Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly is withdrawing his appeal of a state commission’s decision to suspend him from his job, following his Jan. 31 indictment on 25 criminal counts.

After Kelly’s indictment, Attorney General Mike DeWine requested that the sheriff be suspended from duty for the duration of the case. A special three-judge commission was then selected to deal with the matter.

An initial deadline for the decision of March 5 came and went, presumably because the committee ruled for a suspension and Kelly submitted an appeal. The newest deadline for the ruling on his suspension is set for April 2.

“After consulting with my attorney, Brad Koffel, I have decided not to contest the preliminary suspension recommended by the commission of the Ohio Supreme Court,” Kelly said in a prepared statement. “This is a difficult decision, but I want to spend the time necessary to prepare for my September (criminal) case.”

A special meeting has been scheduled for Thursday morning at 10 a.m. for the Athens County Commissioners to interview and appoint an interim sheriff for the county should the committee rule for Kelly’s suspension in the next week.

Even before Kelly’s appeal withdrawal, the county commission wanted to prepare for his suspension by having someone chosen and ready to immediately take the reins at the Sheriff’s Office.

Former sheriff’s deputy Rodney Smith and current sheriff’s Det. Jack Taylor have shown interest in being appointed to the interim sheriff position.

After the county commissioners choose an interim sheriff, the central committee of the Athens County Democratic Party can make its own choice of someone to fill out Kelly’s term, or serve until he is acquitted or has his charges dismissed, in which case he would get his job back.

The committee will likely pick from the aforementioned candidates and is scheduled to make its decision April 8.

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