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Jill Thompson, the Athens County Auditor, is the first witness of the day for the ongoing State v. Patrick Kelly trial in the Athens County Pleas Court, at 1 S. Court St., in Athens, OH, on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. 

Kelly confident after former employees testify during day 4 of trial

Suspended Sheriff Pat Kelly’s trial continues as Jill Thompson, former employees take the stand.

In between testimonies from former Athens County Sheriff’s Office employees and county officials, suspended Sheriff Pat Kelly made it apparent he’s confident as ever he won’t be charged after his criminal trial.

“Are you starting to get the feeling that they don’t have a very good case?” Kelly was overheard telling an NBC-4 (Columbus) reporter after Michelle Williams, his former administrative assistant, was questioned and cross-examined by both parties.

Williams, Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson and Vicki Marshall, Kelly’s former fiscal officer, took the stand Thursday at the Athens Common Pleas Court.

Reports of records dumping, accounts out of the auditor’s control and receipts involving the purchase of a couple of suits and some meals took center stage.

First to take the stand was Thompson, who was questioned about fund accounts Kelly used that weren’t within her control, such as the Furtherance of Justice account, which is money set aside by state law for sheriffs to use under rather broad limits. She said she witnessed numerous problems with such accounts in the past.

The prosecutors displayed receipts from eight deposits into various accounts and said these receipts should have had pay forms to go along with them. Thompson testified that none of the eight did.

Those eight receipts totaled $3,091.15.

The state then questioned Thompson about Kelly’s office improperly disposing public records. As auditor, Thompson serves on the county’s records committee, which must approve records retention schedules. She was asked if she could recall a time where she was concerned about records being destroyed.

She said at one point between 2012 and 2013, she was called in by Athens Commissioner Charlie Adkins to view footage.

“I saw what appeared to be … employees of the Sheriff’s Office carrying boxes of documents and putting them in the dump truck,” Thompson said. “I was asked to call a meeting (of the records committee) to the best of my recollection by (Lenny) Eliason.”

At that meeting, Thompson brought up that Kelly’s records retention schedule was improper, according to a recording of the meeting played at the trial. After, Thompson was heard saying, “(Kelly) winked at me,” on the same recording, which was presented as evidence.

“It scares me that you’re my neighbor, Pat,” she said on the recording.

The defense then insinuated that Thompson and Kelly had contention in their day-to-day interactions and that she was out to get him.

Williams, the former administrative assistant who worked in the Sheriff’s Office from 2002-2012, was next to take the stand.

She worked under both Kelly and his predecessor, Vernon Castle. Among other duties, she balanced and took care of the Furtherance of Justice account, as well as having access to the cash box in Kelly’s office.

She was questioned about a receipt from suits purchased by Kelly from a Men’s Wearhouse using FOJ funding. She said she did not believe the purchase was appropriate, but Kelly told her he had checked with the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and they had said it was fine.

The defense asserted that the sheriff was permitted to spend $600 on uniforms, and he paid the remainder of the receipt with his personal credit card.

Williams was then asked about Kelly’s penchant for spending FOJ money on meals and whether it was appropriate. She said sometimes, Kelly wouldn’t even provide her with receipts after repeated nudging.

Two of the meals in questions were at Ponderosa Steakhouse, 741 E. State St., and Tumbleweed Southwestern Grill in Chillicothe. They were labeled as being from a “chiefs meeting” with fellow law enforcement leaders, even though Williams, who scheduled chiefs meetings, said she had only organized two during her time under Kelly. The two meals in question came on back-to-back days, and one included items from the kid’s menu.

However, the defense argued that Kelly frequently met with other chiefs, even when Williams did not organize the meetings. Also, the defense said that, according to a state audit of Kelly’s time in office from 2009-2013, $7,500 of a possible $140,000 of Kelly’s salary designated for FOJ was spent on meals.

The last witness, Marshall, had worked in the sheriff’s office for 33 years. She prepared the budget and maintained payroll expenses through the year.

She said the only time he seemed to waste office money was the suit purchase in question.

But she would also claim Kelly was a “good ol’ boy,” and that he was aggressive in pursuing criminals. A prosecuting attorney asked whether that was a justification for Kelly’s alleged theft.

“No,” she said.


— Julia Fair, William T. Perkins and Chelsea Sick also contributed to this report

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