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Wednesday, February 5,2014

Ohio attorney general's motion lays out case against sheriff

By Jim Phillips
Dewine Press Conf Lori Crook_DSF3769
Photo Credits: File photo.
Photo Caption: The office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, shown here, prosecuted the case.

A motion by the Ohio Attorney General's office, asking the state Supreme Court to remove Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly from office, includes details of exactly what Kelly allegedly did to earn indictment from a special grand jury Friday on 25 criminal counts.

The motion, filed by Assistant Attorney General James C. Roberts Tuesday, includes an affidavit by an agent of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), laying out specifics of Kelly's alleged crimes - some of which, according to the document, were still being committed while he was already under investigation by the state.

The sheriff has categorically denied doing anything illegal. Shortly after being served with the indictment Friday, he told reporters that he runs "the most professional organization in the state of Ohio… If there was a problem with the sheriff, (my own officers) would have been the first to investigate me."

The allegations in the AG's legal filing include a number of alleged offenses by the sheriff of various types:

Selling county property: Kelly is alleged to have sold numerous county items including vehicles and copper wire as scrap to McKee's salvage yard in Nelsonville, then pocketed the cash. More than $2,900 from this source is unaccounted for, the affidavit says. Items sold include a worn-out bread truck, the sale of which was the subject of an Athens NEWS story that ran in August 2013.

Direct theft of agency cash: Kelly allegedly took more than $4,000 out of his office's cashbox between May 2009 and July 2011. BCI claims that records found in a search of Kelly's work computer show that the money "was allocated to Patrick Kelly by Patrick Kelly."

Misuse of campaign funds: Kelly allegedly told the manager of his 2012 re-election campaign to pick up a $500 cash contribution from an unidentified donor for his campaign, then deposit the money into a personal bank account held by the campaign official and his wife. The man has allegedly told investigators that, on Kelly's instructions, he wrote a $500 check to Kelly's campaign, signing his wife's name to make it appear the donation was from her. While he was writing the check in Kelly's presence, the affidavit claims, the sheriff told him to make the check out, not to the sheriff's re-election campaign, but to Kelly himself. The money allegedly never showed up in Kelly's campaign finance reports.

In addition to that money, the affidavit alleges, more than $2,000 in cash "is unaccounted for related to campaign donations made to Patrick Kelly's 2008 campaign."

Buying meals with public monies: Kelly allegedly spent more than $4,500 of public monies in restaurants. For more than $3,000 worth of these expenditures, he never got receipts, and never showed that they were justified expenses. For more than $1,500 he did get receipts, but didn't justify the spending.

In addition to this money, BCI claims, Kelly allegedly spent "thousands of additional public dollars on other meal expenditures that were documented, but some of which were personal expenditures."

The document cites a $54 meal receipt from an Athens restaurant, allegedly for lunch for employees after a parade March 27, 2011 - only there was no parade in Athens County on that date. Though the occasion of the meal was described as a "chiefs meeting" to discuss the sheriff's narcotics enforcement team, the date was a Sunday, numerous "kids' meals" were on the receipt, and the restaurant's law enforcement discount was not applied.

Improper issuing of concealed-carry weapons permits: Kelly allegedly has, on one or more occasions, told his staff to issue CCW permits to an applicant without doing a background check as required by law.

Evidence tampering: Kelly allegedly "altered and falsified" records that he turned over to investigators, to cover up theft of cash funds "purportedly used by (him) to pay confidential informants." These records were obtained by a subpoena, which Kelly tried unsuccessfully to contest.

At a hearing last September, the document says, Kelly attended a hearing before the appointed judge in the matter, and testified under oath. When the judge asked him whether he had turned over all the documents the state had asked for relating to confidential informants, Kelly said yes. This was a lie, the affidavit alleges, because when BCI searched Kelly's computer, it found a document he hadn't turned over.

IN SEEKING TO have the Ohio Supreme Court oust Kelly, the AG's office is invoking a state legal procedure to remove public officials charged with felonies, which rarely comes into play, and which was inspired by the case of Fairfield County Sheriff Gary DeMastry, who in 2001 was convicted of multiple offenses involving misspending and lying about it.

As reported in the Columbus Dispatch Monday, since the law went into effect a few other central Ohio sheriffs have faced charges of misusing public funds, but in some cases have stepped down before they were forced out, or have pleaded to misdemeanor charges and kept their jobs.

In 2011, the story notes, the Supreme Court did suspend Shelby County Sheriff Dean Kimpel after he was charged with sexually assaulting a deputy.

Roberts' motion argues that the charges Kelly is facing include multiple felonies "relating to (his) administration of, or conduct in the performance of, the duties of the office of Athens County Sheriff, which adversely affects the functioning of the office and the rights and interests of the public." Therefore, Roberts writes, the AG's office is asking the Supreme Court to commence the procedure to suspend Kelly while he's awaiting trial.

The motion noted that Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn asked the Ohio Attorney General in September 2012 to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against Kelly.

As reported in The Athens NEWS around that time, however, Blackburn had been in touch with the state long before this point, regarding questionable spending by the sheriff of public monies.

An email obtained from the Ohio Auditor's office in a public records request showed that in February 2012, Blackburn told an official in the agency that he had "become aware of at least one expenditure that I have concern about," made by Kelly from his "Furtherance of Justice" fund.

In this expenditure, later cited as improper in a state audit of Kelly's office, Kelly spent $600 from the fund on what the audit described as "suits, suit jackets and tailoring" for himself. After Blackburn raised his concerns to Kelly, the sheriff reimbursed the FOJ fund.

MEANWHILE, THE HEAD of a statewide sheriffs' organization said Tuesday that while the group is taking no public position on Kelly's case, it's certainly following it closely.

"We're well aware of it, and we're watching it with great interest," reported Robert A. Cornwell, executive director of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association.

Asked whether the BSSA takes any position on whether a sheriff facing a 25-county felony indictment should step down, Cornwell said, "No, we do not. Because the sheriffs are individually elected by each county, and there are only four ways a sheriff can be removed" - namely Supreme Court suspension, resignation, retirement or death.

"We're going to let the criminal justice system take its course," he added.

Click here to download the motion in PDF form.


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This is absolutely AMAZING! We here in Brown County Ohio have had a corrupt activities enterprise involving our Republican Sheriff Wenninger since October 9, 2003, when his criminal trial record for falsifying his election documents in 2000 was sealed from public view.  It was most recently kept sealed again by the Republican Common Pleas Court Judge Gusweiler.

Dennis Varnau, and Independent, ran against Sheriff Wenninger in 2008. He challenged Sheriff Wenninger's legitimacy by filing a protest with the Board first, but it was dismissed because as an Independent he could not challenge a Republican or Democrat. He sought a mandamus writ to force the Board to accept the protest, but the courts said he had a FUTURE remedy in quo warranto if he lost the election.  He lost, as certified by the Board, on November 25, 2008. Varnau filed a quo warranto petition 3 months and 2 days later, well within the three years statute of limitations allowed by Ohio law. Every court, including the Ohio Supreme Court, did not even give Varnau a basic due process hearing on the merits of his case in quo warranto, but instead dismissed it, saying Varnau violated "laches."  How could Varnau violate "laches" if he filed 3 months and 2 days after acquiring standing to file his petition?  

Varnau also wrote the AG about this corrupt activities enterprise, that now has a homicide attributed to it with an alleged "hanging" in the county jail by jail personnel on October 5, 2013, and four weeks after his second letter to the AG, he and his wife were audited by the Ohio Department of Taxation.  

The AG, Governor, Ohio Supreme Court Justices, 12th District Court of Appeals, county judges, and past representative and senators in the Ohio legislature are aware of that Sheriff Wenninger was never qualified to hold the office of Sheriff. To this day Sheriff Wenninger does not even have a valid peace officer certificate, but is still in office.  

It's the BIGGEST Republican cover-up in Ohio's history because too many Republicans would fall if it was ever properly investigated!



Amazing COINCIDENCE, don't you think, that both this Sheriff (Kelly/Athens) and the Sheriff (Maier/Stark Co) who were/are each being prosecuted out of office are all Democrats...??  

In the Stark Co case, the charge was lack of proper credentials, which even the Ohio Supreme Court (coincidentally 6-1 Republican-to-Democrat) did make room in their extra busy judicial schedule to oust the sheriff (5-2 in favor of ousting)...  

Now wasn't that just another demonstration of 'justice' in ohio-republican tradition, where the OSC almost always dump anybody's appeal in the circular file (93% get the can, 7% get 'adjudicated' like Stark Co)..

Makes you thoroughly doubt the justice infrastructure in Ohio has any merit left with all the fraud on the Court being perpetrated by none other than the judges..




Hey Varnuke, very interesting. I looked up the court case and you are right.  The independent candidate got screwed, glued, and tattooed every step of the way. But all this begs the question:

What has any of it to do with Sheriff Kelly's war on the Mexican Drug Cartel?


I am not familiar with Sheriff Kelly's war on the drug cartel, but am familiar with the details of one marijuana heist by someone in our own SO who allegedly made off with the "goods" for his own benefit. Knowing this fact, and the extent that the AG, Governor, courts, and others have bent over backwards to protect the illegally-sitting sheriff in our county for over a decade, makes many more than just me wonder why those in power up the chain take such pains and go to such great lengths to keep the truth about our illegally-sitting sheriff concealed from the public view.

Someone has a HUGE interest in keeping our illegal sheriff in office. Could it be drug money? Couple that with the fact that the current Chief Deputy, who has had the alleged reputation of being the largest dope dealer in high school, and the one who made off with all that dope described above, in 2005, when he was head of detectives; and, today who threatens any municipal corporation peace officer in the county with criminal prosecution if they respond outside of their jurisdiction to a county scene without first getting his permission; and, that he does not want any police departments in the county doing any drug investigation operations without his knowledge, does that satisfy some kind of circumstantial suspect relationship interest with say, any "drug cartel?"

When you see seven seasoned justices dismiss a solid factual case in quo warranto on the procedural basis of an equitable defense that cannot apply under existing law, without even getting to the merits of the case, and then, the same court with a majority of the same Republican justices remove the Democrat Stark County Sheiff on the merits, and go after the Democrat Athens County Sheriff, when the Republican Brown County Sheriff is guilty of much more serious crimes involved in his corrupt activities enterprise, what's going on there in that cascade of events? Where is the AG on that investigation?

How can fraud on the State Supreme Court in a quo warranto case, and all courts deny public access to a Sheriff's criminal trial record when the Sheriff's trial court dealt with whether or not he "knowingly" falsified his election documentation pertaining to his qualifications to be sheriff? The criminal case would have never gone to the jury if he was qualified, for if he was qualified the case would have never made it through a grand jury. The Republican trial judge sealed the criminal trial case record from public view, where the trial judge clearly stated that he was not qualified to even be a candidate for sheriff. And a quo warranto case is never allowed to get to the merits of whether or not he was qualified, when lower courts threw out a mandamus request based upon his challenger supposedly having a future remedy in quo warrano, which was denied later on, like one big "bait and switch" trick by the courts to avoid dealing with having to throw out one of their Republican buddies in office. Why was he told there was a future remedy available in quo warranto when there wasn't in the end? Why wasn't it thrown out based upon "laches" by the Ohio Supreme Court on its first appeal from the District Appeals Court? It stinks to high heaven, to say the least, and the AG is well aware of the corrupt activities going on in Brown County, which are much more serious than the charges in Athens County.



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