A southeastern Ohio county sheriff facing corruption charges appeared in court on Monday.
Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly was arraigned Monday afternoon on 25 charges including theft in office, tampering with records and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Kelly entered a not guilty plea.
The 63-year-old Kelly, who was indicted Jan. 31, said he is innocent and confident he will be exonerated.
Kelly is accused of improperly using public funds to buy meals and personal apparel, selling county property to a scrapyard, stealing copper wire from a county garage and failing to keep a cashbook tracking money he received in an official capacity, among other allegations.
The indictment also said his campaign didn't properly handle and report donations, and funneled money through a personal bank account.
10TV spoke with Kelly after the arraignment.
When asked about the Ohio Attorney General’s motion filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, requesting Kelly’s suspension, the sheriff said, “Why would I even entertain stepping down, when I know that I have not committed a criminal act? Why would I do that? I don’t need a vacation with pay. I am responsible to Athens county and the office that I was elected to do. I take that very seriously.”
Kelly’s predecessor, Former Athens County Sheriff Vernon Castle, was in court on Monday for his arraignment.
“I would think the normal person facing that many charges would want to get out of it as soon as possible and resign, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what he’s going to do… sometimes it’s just time to go,” said Castle.
Ohio University students, who are part of the college republicans, protested outside the courtroom on Monday.
“And just to see it get torn apart by one guy, who’s on a collision course with reality soon. It’s just so sad,” said OU student, Colton Henson.
“We still have a county that has to function, and if our sheriff is too busy fighting these legal battles, how is he going to serve this county,” said OU student, Wil Lloyd.
Kelly said he will remain in office and will rely on a strong legal team to fight his battle in court and a strong department to continue law enforcement in the county.
“I’m innocent. And we will have our day in court, and there we will prove it,” said Kelly.
The judge set a personal recognizance bond of $50,000.
Kelly is expected back in court on February 28.
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