Grand Jury Requested By Ohio AG's Office Continues To Hear Testimony

By
Athens Messenger staff reports
Steve Robb - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Fri, Jun 7, 2013 4:51 pm

UPDATE 4:45 p.m. Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly, responding to a subpoena issued by the Ohio Attorney General's Office to appear before an Athens County grand jury on Friday, was called into the area where the grand jury was meeting but only stayed for about 10 minutes.

Afterward, Kelly declined to comment to The Messenger, saying that as a law enforcement officer he was bound by the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.

Assistant Attorney General William Schenck said Kelly has now been released from the subpoena.

Asked if Kelly had refused to testify, Schenck would not comment. Schenck also declined to comment when asked if he mirandized Kelly.

It is the policy of the Ohio Attorney General's Office that if a witness is the target of an investigation, they are informed of their rights prior to being asked questions.


UPDATE 6/7/13 @ 10:32 a.m. An assistant attorney general estimated Thursday that a grand jury meeting in Athens could meet for a total of 10 days. It is believed that at least one issue being examined is Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly’s disposal of county records in a landfill.

William Schenck, an assistant attorney general and senior adviser to the attorney general, said after Thursday’s initial session of the grand jury that he did not make as much progress as he had expected. Only three witnesses testified, including County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn and County Commissioner Lenny Eliason.

Schenck would not discuss what is being presented to the grand jury, although he did confirm that the attorney general’s office has been investigating allegations involving Kelly, including an assault complaint, state audit findings and destruction of county records.

“We are not out to indict anyone,” Schenck said, describing it as an investigative grand jury. “We’re here to find out if one or more persons should be indicted. ... Our only agenda here is to truly find out what is true and what is myth.”

Schenck estimated that 15-20 witnesses will be presented to the grand jury. And although he estimated the grand jury will meet a total of 10 days, those are not expected to be 10 consecutive weekdays. The grand jury is to resume Friday.

“There is more than one person who has had allegations made against them,” Schenck said, although he would not elaborate.

The first person to appear before the grand jury on Thursday was Blackburn, who spent about three hours in the room with the jury. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public, and it is not known what Blackburn spoke about. He would not comment afterward.

It is known that Blackburn has been involved in a dispute with Kelly involving county records. Blackburn has said he believes Kelly disposed of records belonging to the county prosecutor’s office, which Kelly denies. Blackburn also has said that he asked the attorney general’s office to investigate the matter.

However, the attorney general’s office has been conducting an investigation since September, after an assault allegation was made against Kelly by a man who claimed Kelly had stuffed a flier in his (the man’s) pocket.

Eliason, who also is chairman of the Athens County Records Commission, said he was asked questions about public records, and about what are called RC-2 and RC-3 forms. An RC-2 is a records retention schedule and is part of the process for legally disposing of records. An R-3 is to be filed with the historical society at least 15 days prior to the proposed destruction of records on the retention schedule, in order to allow records to be saved that are deemed to be of historical value.

Eliason has previously told The Messenger that Kelly did not file RC-3 forms prior to taking records to the landfill. Although Kelly denies disposing of prosecutor’s records, he has taken records from his own office to the landfill and told The Messenger it was part of an effort to free-up space at the downtown sheriff’s building. Kelly also has said all the records taken to the landfill had been microfilmed.

Eliason said he also was asked questions about emails he provided to an investigator from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, which is part of the attorney general’s office. The emails, given in response to a public records request, related to the sheriff and disposal of records.

Eliason testified for about 45 minutes, but said he was told he is subject to being recalled.

The other person who testified is an employee of Athens County 911, but Schenck said the person’s appearance before the grand jury was not related to the man’s employment. Schenck would not elaborate. Working with Schenck is Assistant Attorney General James Roberts.


An assistant attorney general estimated Thursday that a grand jury meeting in Athens could meet for a total of 10 days. William Schenck, an assistant attorney general and senior adviser to the attorney general, made the comment during a break in the grand jury session, which convened at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

Schenck would not discuss what is being presented to the grand jury although he did confirm that the attorney general's office has been investigating allegations involving Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly, as well as an assault complaint, state audit findings and records destruction.

"We are not out to indict anyone," Schenck said. "We're here to find out if one or more persons should be indicted ... our only agenda here is truly to find out what is true and what is myth."

Schenck estimated that 15-20 witnesses will be presented to the grand jury.

"There is more than one person who has had allegations made against them," Schenck said. He said the grand jury will meet again on Friday.

The first person to appear before the Grand Jury today was Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. Grand Jury proceedings are closed to the public, and it is not known what Blackburn spoke about.

It is known that Blackburn has been involved in a dispute with Kelly involving county records. Blackburn has said he believes Kelly disposed of records belonging to the county prosecutor's office, which Kelly denies. Blackburn also has said that he asked the attorney general's office to investigate the matter.

However, the attorney general's office has been conducting an investigation since September. after an assault allegation was made against Kelly by a man who claimed Kelly had stuffed a flier in his (the man's) pocket.

Schenck has been assisted at the grand jury by Assistant Attorney General James Roberts.

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