Former Athens Co. Sheriff’s Appeal Date Set

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More than a year after former Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly was convicted on 18 counts and filed an appeal to his sentence, he will now see his day in appeals court.

Former Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly

The case will be presented next month before the three-judge Fourth District Court of Appeals, according to court documents filed with the Athens County Common Pleas Court.

In an entry filed by one of the appeals court judges, William Harsha, attorneys in the case are asked to file briefs on two counts for which Kelly was convicted. They were also notified that the appeal will be heard on July 21 in Athens County.

Kelly was indicted in January 2014 in Athens County Common Pleas Court before being convicted in February 2015 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 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.

He filed for appeal on April 9, 2015, with Wood arguing that there was  insufficient evidence for some of his convictions, including theft, 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.

In the appeals court’s document, filed Jun 21, Harsha asks for supplemental briefs from the attorneys, asking if there was sufficient evidence that Kelly was a “public official or party official” when he was a candidate for sheriff in 2008. Two of the charges of theft in office regarded campaign funds in Kelly’s run for sheriff that year.

Attorneys for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office submitted a response to the court’s question on June 24. In the answer to the court, signed by Jocelyn Lowe, James C. Roberts and Melissa A. Schiffel, they argue that Kelly was a commissioned law enforcement officer in 2008, therefore he “met the definition of public official.”

They also wrote that during trial, Kelly “stipulated to the ‘public or party official’ element of these offenses,” meaning both the defense and the prosecution agreed at trial that Kelly was a public official.

“Because Kelly stipulated that this element of the offenses had been met, he waived review of any potential error,” the prosecuting attorneys wrote.

Even if the appeals court found that the Common Pleas Court should not have found Kelly guilty on those charges, the Attorney General’s office said the change wouldn’t require resentencing, therefore the entire case should not be sent back to the lower court.

The sentences for both counts were to be served “concurrently,” meaning the time for both charges would be served at the same time.

“Vacating the convictions for (theft in office) counts 11 and 12 would not impact Kelly’s sentence because the one-year concurrent sentence imposed for count 13 (also a theft in office count) would remain in effect,” the attorneys wrote in the argument.

Wood has not filed a response to the court’s question.