10 Investigates: Embattled Sheriff Sold County Property at Junkyard
Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly sold numerous cars and piles of equipment at an Athens County scrap yard, according to several witnesses and documents uncovered by 10 Investigates.
Kelly is facing felony charges because the Ohio Attorney General says Kelly sold county property and kept the money, among other allegations. Kelly has vocally denied the charges.
"We did buy from the Sheriff," said Peggy McKee, owner of McKee's Auto Recyclers. "But we buy from everybody."
McKee has not been charged with any crime.
10 Investigates found documents that show Kelly sold at least 7 cars to McKee's. Some of the titles show the owner as the Athens County Commissioners. Most of the cars sold for a few hundred dollars.
"He scrapped his cars. And we paid him," said McKee. "I don't know what happened after that."
McKee said that Kelly never brought titles to the cars. Instead, Kelly claimed they were "being held," according to McKee.
Generally, it is unlawful for a scrap yard to accept a car with no title, said Bureau of Motor Vehicle spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer.
Still, McKee said she did not suspect any illegal activity.
DeWine named McKee as involved in Kelly's criminal "enterprise."
Election records tied McKee's and another man named as part of the alleged enterprise to Kelly.
Owners of McKee’s contributed to Kelly's most recent election campaign.
So did a man on the Athens County Democratic Central Committee, Pearl Graham.
Graham described himself to a reporter as a good friend of Kelly's.
DeWine describes Graham as an uncharged contributor to Kelly's enterprise.
Graham acknowledged using a personal truck to haul county property from the Athens County Fairgrounds to McKee's at Kelly's request.
"He put fifty dollars in my pocket for gas," said Graham.
Graham said he hauled mostly "junk" for four days and did not profit. It was not suspicious to the 75-year-old because he and Kelly are friends, Graham said.
"If I would come to your garage and haul trash away, would this be a criminal enterprise," Graham asked as he denied allegations of wrongdoing.
Kelly did not respond to emails requesting comment for this story.