AG’s Office Asks for Dismissal, Overruling of Pat Kelly Appeal

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More than a year after former Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly was found guilty of 18 counts including theft in office and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office say his appeal should be overruled.

Pat Kelly, Former Athens Co. Sheriff
Pat Kelly, Former Athens Co. Sheriff
After his conviction on Feb. 12, 2015, Kelly filed notice of appeal in April, citing insufficient evidence for some of his convictions, including perjury and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, and saying the trial court should not have found him guilty of contempt during the course of the trial.

Kelly was found guilty 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.

In a response to Kelly’s appeal filed in the Athens County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday, attorneys James C. Roberts and Melissa A. Schiffel, who both presented the case that led to Kelly’s conviction, along with fellow Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn K. Lowe, said one part of the former sheriff’s appeal is moot and the other parts “lack merit.”

The first part of Kelly’s appeal related to a contempt charge Kelly received in the middle of his trial. On Jan. 30, the court was notified that Kelly had made a statement to a member of the media about the case, which was against court rules due to a gag order placed on everyone involved in the case. No attorneys, witnesses or other parties involved in the case were allowed to make comments regarding the case until the jury had made a decision. The gag order was also posted on the door to the courtroom.

“An online news source reported that Kelly said ‘are you starting to get the feeling that they don’t have a very good case?’ the appeal response stated.

But Schiffel, Roberts and Lowe said the appeal point is moot either way, because Kelly’s wife paid the fine the same day it was leveled against him.

In argument to the validity of the theft convictions, the attorneys for the prosecution said the eight counts of theft for which they presented evidence had “undisputed facts.” They also put their trust in the jury that convicted Kelly in the case, who listened to all witnesses and presentations of evidence.

“The jury was in the best position to observe these witnesses and determine what weight to give to their testimony,” the court document stated.

This same argument was given in reference to Kelly’s appeal of a charge of failure to keep a cashbook.

The attorneys also argued that food expenditures made by Kelly with public money were done despite his knowledge that the expenditures were not for a “proper public purpose.” They said his spending habits even changed “when oversight from the State increased.”

“This change in behavior, along with the evidence that Kelly knew how to properly document expenditures, provided ample evidence that Kelly knew his conduct was contrary to law,” the appeal response stated.