Updated Mon, Jun 30, 2014 12:11 pm
The Athens County Sheriff’s Office is working to pay off thousands of dollars in debt that is owed to an ammunition company, according to county officials.
Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith said the sheriff’s office owes “in the area of $20,000” to Vance’s Law Enforcement, a Columbus company that sells ammunition and other equipment to agencies.
“We’re trying to get the auditor more information (about the bill),” Smith said. “We’re working to get this cleared up.”
A spokesman for Vance’s confirmed that the sheriff’s office has an outstanding balance with the company and that the company is working with the department to pay the debt, but would not comment on exactly how much is owed.
The bill was brought to light after an item regarding ammunition was tabled at a recent Athens County Commissioners’ meeting. The commissioners received a letter from Matthew B. Baker, an attorney out of Westerville, in which he said he was owed ammunition he had paid for in an agreement with now-suspended Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly.
Baker was the attorney for Kelly in his official capacity as sheriff during the lawsuit filed by now-reinstated Deputy Shannon Sheridan.
Baker wrote in the letter that he had “reached an agreement” with Kelly to purchase “a quantity of ammunition from the Athens County Sheriff’s Academy.”
The attorney said he sent Kelly a check on April 10, 2013, for full payment of the ordered ammunition, but by October he had only received part of his order.
“It is my understanding that the remainder of the ammunition will not be distributed and consequently I am seeking a refund for the undelivered ammunition,” Baker wrote.
Attached to the letter was a copy of a check for $1,200 from Baker’s “Lawyers Trust Account.” An affidavit explaining the agreement was also included, stating Baker ordered seven cases of various ammunition.
Commissioner Lenny Eliason said discussion of the letter was tabled until County Auditor Jill Thompson can complete her research on the outstanding bills.
Thompson and her office are working to verify how much is owed and that county money was spent properly, she told The Messenger.
“We’re not going to pay a bill until I know that it was a proper expenditure made through the proper channels,” Thompson said.
Eliason said the expenditures were a “Sheriff Kelly problem,” but said the investigation into the outstanding money is independent of Kelly’s criminal case.
Kelly is facing 23 felony counts and two misdemeanor charges related to theft in office, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, among other charges. He is scheduled to face a jury trial in September.
None of those charges specifically relate to missing ammunition or money owed to an ammunition company.
When asked if the ammunition spending was investigated as part of the criminal case, spokesperson Dan Tierney of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office declined to comment. He said a gag order issued by Judge Patricia Cosgrove banned parties involved in the criminal case against Kelly to comment to the media about “anything that could be connected to the criminal case.”