Updated Sun, Sep 1, 2013 3:45 pm
Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly, who has maintained all along that he’s cooperated with state investigators looking into allegations against him, said Friday that the cooperation will stop.
“I would say BCI is out of control,” Kelly said after agents of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation served him Friday with four grand jury subpoenas issued to the sheriff’s office, including a subpoena relating to confidential informants.
“I have cooperated with the BCI investigation, and I am through cooperating,” Kelly said.
“That’s his decision,” responded Attorney General Mike DeWine, who oversees BCI. “This is a very professional organization,” DeWine said of BCI’s conduct.
Kelly has said more than once that he believes DeWine, and the governor, have a political grudge against him.
He called the investigation “a witch hunt” in which “crap” is being thrown against the wall to see what sticks.
“There is nothing to stick,” Kelly said, insisting that he has done nothing wrong.
It’s known that BCI has investigated allegations involving Kelly and his disposal of county records and vehicles, sale of county scrap and audit findings. A grand jury convened in Athens County by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office heard testimony in June and is scheduled to meet again Sept. 20.
Kelly was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury in June, but only stayed for about 10 minutes.
“Now they are moving the witch hunt to a personal informant I have,” Kelly said.
He claimed that BCI wants the name of his informant, which he said he will not give them. The sheriff said use of confidential informants is common in law enforcement, and all payments were properly documented. He said his office has had to deal with a drug problem in the county that has resulted in seven drug-related homicides during his tenure, and, during his first three years in office, 31 overdose fatalities.
One of the subpoenas issued Friday asks for all records relating to confidential informants used by Kelly and his deputies, including payment records, from Jan. 1, 2008 to present.
All four grand jury subpoenas issued Friday are for records, including records of any investigations by Kelly or the sheriff’s office related to public corruption and/or targeting any public official, including any investigations targeting County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn, County Auditor Jill Thompson, Common Pleas Judge L. Alan Goldsberry and former municipal court judge Douglas Bennett.
Kelly said he “won’t deny” that there were investigations involving some of those people, but he wouldn’t say what might have prompted the inquiries.
DeWine said he wants to clarify that the four people named in the subpoena are not under investigation by the attorney general’s office. According to DeWine, Kelly has said he has files on the individuals.
“Certainly, we would like to know if they exist,” DeWine said.
Blackburn said it appears Kelly may have indicated there were investigations by his (Kelly’s) office of other public officials in an effort to deflect attention from himself. Blackburn said Kelly is the one being investigated.
“There is no attention being diverted,” according to Kelly, who said matters that were investigated by his office were brought to his attention before the current BCI investigation.
Kelly said Blackburn’s comments have “no merit.”
“I’m not aware of the sheriff ever investigating myself,” Goldsberry said. “He certainly never had any conversation with me about it. I’m in the dark, I can’t even speculate.”
At one point in his interview with The Messenger, Kelly said that Blackburn was not a target of any investigation by his office. Blackburn said there is nothing to investigate because no one in his office has done anything wrong.
Also subpoenaed are records of actual hours worked by Kelly and his employees, from Jan. 1, 2010 to July 31, 2013.
“I’m saying (to BCI agents) what the heck do you what that for? ‘Well, we just want it,’” Kelly said.
A grand jury subpoena also was issued for records relating to the seizing of copper wire and other articles during a traffic stop by a deputy in 2007 (before Kelly became sheriff). The subpoena seeks information on how the copper and other items were stored, what happend to them and, if they were sold, what happened to the money.
Kelly said the copper wire is currently located in a building that the sheriff’s office uses for storage.
All four subpoenas instruct the records to be provided by to a BCI agent by Sept. 13.