Meeting Set For Appointment Of Sheriff

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Athens County Democrats are scheduled to meet this coming Wednesday to appoint a replacement for former sheriff Patrick Kelly, according to County Democratic Chairman Alan Trout.

Rodney Smith has been serving as acting sheriff and is expected to be appointed when the Athens County Democratic Central Committee meets at 6 p.m. at the municipal courtroom in Athens City Hall. Democrats make the selection because Kelly was elected as a Democrat.

Smith has been serving as acting sheriff under an appointment made by the county commissioners after Kelly was found guilty Feb. 12 of 18 felony charges. Smith also served as interim sheriff while Kelly was under suspension awaiting trial.

Democrats had hoped to make Wednesday’s appointment sooner, but postponed action after County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn pointed out conflicting language in Ohio law, with the issue being at what point would Kelly officially vacate the office of sheriff.

One section of Ohio code indicates that Kelly would retain the title of sheriff until he was found guilty, which occurred Feb. 12. Other statutes refer to “conviction” rather that a guilty verdict, and there is Ohio case law stating that a conviction does not occur until the defendant is sentenced, which is to take place Friday, March 20.

The sheriff’s position will be on the ballot next year and Smith has said he will be a candidate.