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Pat Kelly and his defense attorney Scott Woods following Kelly being handcuffed and setenced to 7 years in prison on March 20, 2015. (ARIELLE BERGER | FILE)

Former Athens sheriff petitions for dismissal of charges in federal court

Former Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly has filed a petition in federal court asking that charges against him be dismissed.

Kelly was sentenced to seven years in prison in March 2015 after being found guilty in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas of 18 counts, including theft in office, perjury, failing to keep a cashbook and engaging in a corrupt pattern of activity.

In April 2015, Kelly first appealed the guilty ruling. The Fourth District Court of Appeals of Ohio reaffirmed Kelly’s conviction in December 2016. Kelly appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court in February 2017, but the court declined to accept jurisdiction of his case in June.

Kelly filed the petition on the grounds that the Athens court erred in finding him guilty of criminal contempt and that there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty on the remaining counts. 

In a brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Jan. 8, Kelly said his defense attorney failed to object to erroneous jury instructions. 

Kelly previously argued in his failed appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court that the Athens court instructed the jury that Kelly could be a part of a criminal enterprise even if he was acting alone, while the prosecution had defined a criminal enterprise as more than one person working together. That allowed the jury to find Kelly guilty of a different crime than he was accused of, he argued.

Kelly is asking the court to find that his civil rights were violated during his trial and dismiss the charges against him or grant him a new trial.

Kelly is incarcerated in the Franklin Medical Center, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction website. About four years of his prison term remain.


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