Sheriff Kelly Not Sure How He Will Respond to CI Records Subpoena

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Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly said Friday he will comply with three grand jury subpoenas served on him Aug. 30 by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, but hasn’t decided what he will do about the fourth.

An Athens County grand jury convened by the AG’s office in June heard testimony from witnesses connected to allegations involving Kelly that have been under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

There were witnesses related to the sale of county scrap metal and the disposal of county records, although it’s known BCI has also been looking into other matters involving Kelly.

The grand jury, which has tentatively been scheduled to meet again on Sept. 20, will instead meet this coming Tuesday.

That fourth subpoena seeks all records relating to confidential informants used by Kelly and his deputies.

On Friday, Kelly called the subpoena “unprecedented” and “irresponsible,” claiming it will compromise the ability of his department — and other law enforcement agencies — to work with confidential informants.

“That’s something the attorney general ought to be concerned about,” Kelly said.

Given an opportunity Friday to respond, Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Jill Del Greco said there would be no comment.

Kelly said he is seeking outside legal advice about the subpoena.

“As for what I will do in the future, I don’t know at this point,” Kelly said.

Previously, The Messenger asked Attorney General Mike DeWine how his office would have responded if it had received such a subpoena, but he declined to comment.

DeWine said his office does not comment on grand jury subpoenas, although he said he was making an exception regarding one of the other Aug. 30 subpoenas.

As The Messenger previously reported, that particular subpoena sought records of any investigations by the sheriff’s office targeting public officials, including County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, County Auditor Jill Thompson, Common Pleas Judge L. Alan Goldsberry and former municipal court judge Douglas Bennett. DeWine said he wanted to make it clear that none of those people are under investigation by the attorney general’s office.

After Kelly said Friday that he will comply with the three subpoenas, The Messenger ask if there are, in fact, any files to turn over.

Kelly declined comment.

Also subpoenaed were records of all hours worked by Kelly, his deputies and other employees from Jan. 1, 2010 to July 31, 2013. Kelly said Friday that the records are being compiled.

The other Aug. 30 subpoena sought records relating to copper wire seized in 2007 during a traffic stop by then-sheriff’s deputy Shannon Sheridan.

As The Messenger previously reported, the subpoena seeks records of what happened to the wire and, if it was sold, what happened to the proceeds.

Kelly said that after receiving the subpoenas, he notified BCI that the wire was at a garage the sheriff’s office uses for storage.

On Thursday agents from BCI and representatives of the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office went to the garage and found three spools of wire, according to Kelly.

He said it’s his understanding that the county prosecutor’s office now has the wire.

Blackburn declined comment Friday, saying he does not comment on ongoing investigations, nor on requests for assistance his staff receives from the attorney general’s office.

The Messenger asked Kelly for a copy of the original report from the 2007 traffic stop and was given a three-page printout.

The document indicates that the copper wire was stolen in Athens, that the case was turned over to the Athens Police Department, but that police never retrieved the wire. It also states that five spools of copper wire were seized during the traffic stop.

In a Facebook posting Friday, Kelly claims that Sheridan — who is currently contesting his firing by Kelly on unrelated matters — brought the copper wire to BCI’s attention.

On Aug. 30, after receiving the subpoenas that indicated BCI might be expanding its investigation into additional areas, Kelly expressed exasperation and asserted that BCI is just throwing allegations against the wall to see if anything sticks — although DeWine responded that BCI is “a very professional organization.”

Kelly also said he would no longer cooperate with the investigation, although on Friday that position seemed to change.

“We will certainly cooperate with any law enforcement agency,” Kelly said.