Ohio Attorney General Asks Court To Keep Gun Records Closed

By
Susan Tebben - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Thu, Apr 3, 2014 11:49 am

Special prosecutors in the case of suspended Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly are seeking a court order to prevent public disclosure of concealed carry gun records.

In a motion filed Wednesday, Ohio Assistant Attorney General Melissa A. Schiffel asked the court to issue an order “covering all documents and materials related to concealed handgun licensure.”

In the motion, Schiffel cited Ohio Revised Code which explains that “the records that a sheriff keeps relative to the issuance, renewal, suspension, or revocation of a concealed handgun license ... are confidential and are not public records.”

“Improper release of confidential concealed handgun license records is a felony of the fifth degree,” she said in her motion.

Kelly faces a 25-count indictment in Athens County Common Pleas Court for charges that include engaging in corrupt activities, money laundering, theft in office, obstruction of justice and other charges. Schiffel is one of the special prosecutors in the case.

Schiffel declined to speak Wednesday specifically about the Kelly case when contacted by The Messenger.

“Generally, concealed carry (documents) are private,” Schiffel said. If the court ordered that this motion be granted, it would make certain everyone involved in the case was aware of the Ohio law under which the records are protected, she said.

The Messenger reported Sunday that Kelly claims more than $35,000 is missing from combined funds of the concealed carry program and BCI background fund. Dawn Deputy, fiscal officer for the sheriff’s office, reported that the missing funds go back to 2004 and was only recently discovered when she began looking at the funds more closely after the attorney general’s office subpoenaed the records.

Schiffel also filed a document certifying that material related to a witness in the case would not be disclosed.

“Specifically, we have withheld the identification and recorded statement of a witness,” she said, adding that she had “reasonable, articulable grounds to believe that disclosure will compromise the safety of a witness, victim, or third party, or subject them to intimidation or coercion.”

The document also explained that the special prosecutor believed the witness, victim, or third party would be subject to “a substantial risk of serious harm” should the information be made public. Instead, she asked that the recorded statement be heard only in front of the judge.

The special prosecutor again declined to speak about the specifics of the document or the case.

“I think that (document) speaks for itself,” Schiffel told The Messenger.

Kelly’s attorney, Bradley Koffel, could not be reached for comment on either document.

Also filed was a motion to modify a discovery order. Schiffel asked that the court modify the discovery order to require the state produce discovery only in electronic format due to the volume, specifically more than 30,000 documents.

Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove has not ruled on any of the documents.

The next court date scheduled in the case is a status conference on May 1.

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