Ohio sheriff calls state probe a ‘witch hunt’

Athens County sheriff upset about subpoenas, will halt cooperation with Ohio investigators


ATHENS, Ohio — A southeast Ohio sheriff says he has had enough of a state investigation of his office, calling it “a witch hunt.”

The Athens Messenger reported that Athens County Sheriff Patrick Kelly says he will no longer cooperate with Ohio investigators. He was upset after being served Friday with four grand jury subpoenas by agents of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

“I would say BCI is out of control,” Sheriff Kelly said. “I have cooperated with the BCI investigation, and I am through cooperating.”

Attorney General Mike DeWine said the BCI “is a very professional organization.”

Of Sheriff Kelly’s pledge not to cooperate, Mr. DeWine said: “That’s his decision.”

Investigators have been looking into the sheriff’s office, which previously has been ordered to repay thousands of dollars in what audits called improperly spent money.

The new subpoenas want records including actual hours worked by Sheriff Kelly and his employees, records about copper wire that was seized several years ago, records about use of confidential informants and their payments, and records about any sheriff’s investigations of other county officials.

Sheriff Kelly says the state is throwing everything it can against a wall to see what will stick.

“There is nothing to stick,” he said.

County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said Sheriff Kelly apparently has indicated that the sheriff’s office has investigated other public officials.

Mr. Blackburn is among those the state wants any sheriff’s files on.

Mr. Blackburn said there is nothing to investigate because no one in his office has done anything wrong, and that Sheriff Kelly is trying to deflect attention from the investigation of the sheriff’s office.

Mr. DeWine said his office isn’t investigating the other officials but wants to know if Sheriff Kelly does have files on them.