Pat Kelly, former Athens Co. Sheriff, being walked out of court.

Former Sheriff Pat Kelly Sentenced to 7 Years In Prison

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The former Athens County Sheriff who was found guilty on 18 felony counts including corruption and theft in office charges will now spend seven years in prison on the charges.

Kelly, who entered without handcuffs and wearing one of the suits he’d worn during his trial, smiled at family members and made conversation while he awaited the judge. The courtroom was full to capacity, including a press pool that filled the seats previously filled with jurors.

The Athens County Common Pleas courtroom was quiet as Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove detailed the sentence she issued for the former Athens County Sheriff, Patrick Kelly.

Kelly was found guilty on Feb. 12 by an Athens County jury of felony counts including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 12 counts of theft in office, three counts of theft and one count each of perjury and failure to maintain a cashbook. The jury deliberated for 16 hours over the course of two days to come to the decision after listening to three weeks of arguments by defense attorney Scott Wood and prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The charges stemmed from misuse of funds from the Furtherance of Justice account and other sheriff’s office funds, along with campaign funds and profits from scrap metal sales he made during his time as the sheriff. Kelly was also found guilty of failing to keep a cashbook in the sheriff’s office.

One of the prosecutors, Bill Schenk, said the trial has been a “long and arduous process,” and made comments on behalf of Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“From his standpoint this has not been political, vindictive, based on anger or retaliation,” Schenk said.

Fellow prosecutor, Melissa Schiffel, discussed the specific sentencing, including a recommendation for “substantial” prison time. She also discussed letters submitted in support of Kelly, but said she disagrees with the opinions expressed by supporters.

“The letters…ignore the fact that (Kelly) has been convicted of perjury,” Schiffel. “That conviction can not be taken lightly.”

She also said she disagreed with the pre-sentence report which did not recommend substantial prison time, according to Schiffel. The court should take into account Kelly’s attitude during the trial, she said.

“The defendant has shown no genuine remorse,” Schiffel said, adding that Kelly has not returned Athens County property since his conviction, including his sheriff’s badge.

Defense attorney Scott Wood said the prosecutors are trying to use Kelly “as an example.”

“If you consider Pat Kelly as a man…you will find that he has no prior record…you will find that he is a good husband, a good father,” Wood said.

In the pre-sentence investigation, Schiffel said, Kelly continued his claim that the convictions were politically-driven.

Kelly also made a statement during the sentencing hearing. He said he has had time during his isolation at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail to reflect on the events of the last month.

“The prosecution did not prove guilt,” Kelly said. “It just convinced the jury that I was guilty…”

Kelly told the judge that an offer was presented to him to resign, but Schiffel said the claim was not true.

“No such offer was made,” Schiffel said.

Cosgrove sentenced Kelly to three years on the first-degree count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. On the other charges she sentenced Kelly to four years total.

“Quite frankly, to not sentence the defendant to prison would demean the seriousness of the offenses,” Cosgrove said.

The judge also commented on Kelly’s demeanor during the case, saying she believed his “arrogance” had shown through the case.

“The court does believe that all along…Mr. Kelly has seen himself as a victim,” Cosgrove said.

On the charge of perjury, Cosgrove explained multiple instances in which Kelly was held in contempt for lying to the court.

“In the courts opinion, you continued to deny, deny, deny and lie and lie and lie,” Cosgrove said,

Kelly faced a maximum sentence of 27.5 years in prison for all the charges combined.

Since the night he was found guilty, Kelly has been held in the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. Cosgrove revoked his bond based on the conviction of a first-degree felony and ruled that Kelly was a “flight risk.”

He will be given credit for time served, but Kelly will not be eligible for judicial (early) release, according to the Ohio Revised Code. The code designates that some felony offenses committed under the capacity of a public office renders offenders ineligible for the release. In this case, those offenses include theft in office and the corruption charge.

Cosgrove also said retirement funds will be used to pay the restitution in the case.

Kelly was acquitted of counts of theft from a sheriff’s cashbox, tampering with records, tampering with evidence, obstructing official business, money laundering and dereliction of duty.