Updated Thu, Jul 17, 2014 10:06 am
The bill for ammunition reportedly bought more than a year ago, according to the company owed the money, is still hung up at the Athens County Auditor’s Office, county officials say.
The bill, totaling more than $22,000, is for ammunition bought through the Athens County Sheriff’s Office from Vance Outdoors, Inc., according to office invoices.
While some was bought for the sheriff’s office, according to suspended Sheriff Patrick Kelly, orders were also placed for individuals outside the agency, like Commissioner Charlie Adkins and attorney Matthew Baker.
Invoices obtained through the sheriff’s office by The Messenger show a total of $22,494 that was more than 90 days past due as of July 1. Interim Sheriff Rodney Smith said the invoices have been turned over to Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson, who approves county payments.
The issue was discussed at Wednesday’s Athens County Commissioners meeting. Commissioner Lenny Eliason said they are still awaiting word from Thompson on how much will be paid through the county.
“(Thompson) is still waiting for some documents verifying how much ammo was given to the county,” Eliason said.
Thompson confirmed that the bill has not been paid because she is still looking into whether the ammo was purchased for a “public purpose.”
“I have to figure out what happened and when it happened,” Thompson said.
The auditor’s office pays only for materials bought for use by the county, Thompson said.
A spokesperson for Vance’s Outdoors, Inc. told The Messenger that the company was working with the county to get the bill paid, according to previous reporting.
Adkins confirmed he had agreed to buy the ammunition, but claims he wasn’t aware it was being bought through the sheriff’s office.
“I was told a group of people was getting together (to buy ammunition),” Adkins said. “At no time did I think this was coming through the county.”
The invoice received by Adkins, however, came from Dawn Deputy, fiscal officer for the sheriff’s office. The total amount did not include tax. Only purchases by government agencies for official purposes can be exempt from tax.
“I told her I wasn’t going to pay something that didn’t have the tax added on and the price didn’t seem right,” Adkins said. “I knew it wouldn’t be ethical.”
Kelly told The Messenger in a phone interview that Deputy Brice Fick asked him if people outside of the office could purchase ammunition through the office. The sheriff’s office purchases ammo in bulk, which allows it to get a decreased price with larger orders.
“He asked if other people could piggyback on the sheriff’s price,” Kelly said. “The only ammo that would have been tax exempt would have been the ones going to the sheriff’s office.”
After the sheriff’s office realized it needed to collect tax payments from those outside the sheriff’s office who had purchased ammo, Fick and Deputy contacted those people, telling them they needed to pay extra, according to Kelly.
Deputy and Fick declined to comment, citing the sheriff’s office communication policy that all comment go through Smith. Smith provided the records on the invoices and said that the documents were also provided to Thompson’s office. With that, Smith said the sheriff’s office’s role in the matter was over.
After Adkins couldn’t get a set price from Vance’s on the type of ammunition he was ordering, he decided to report what he knew to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, he said. When contacted by The Messenger, Dan Tierney, spokesman for BCI and the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said he could not comment on any matter possibly related to Kelly’s criminal charges.
The indictment against Kelly, however, does not include specific charges relating to missing ammunition.
Adkins said he gave his information to investigators before an indictment was leveled against Kelly accusing him of theft in office, money laundering and other charges for which he faces a jury trial in September.
The Athens County Commissioners had received a letter at a previous meeting from Baker regarding ammunition he had paid for but not received.
Baker was the attorney for Kelly in his official capacity as sheriff during the lawsuit filed by now-reinstated Deputy Shannon Sheridan contesting his firing.
Baker wrote in the letter that he had “reached an agreement” with Kelly in April to purchase “a quantity of ammunition from the Athens County Sheriff’s Academy,” according to previous Messenger reporting.
Adkins said he was never aware that the money would be coming out of the sheriff’s academy monies.
Kelly said the sheriff’s academy fund was used “to help with the budget” and he did not believe using that money was unlawful.
“All we were trying to do is lower the price of our ammo,” Kelly said. “It had nothing to do with taxpayer money.”
The plan was to collect the money from everyone, then write one check for the ammo, he added.