Former Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday morning almost a month after he was found guilty of 18 of 25 accounts in February.
Kelly’s sentence will commence immediately.
Kelly was handed three years in prison for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, which included Kelly instructing friend Pearl Graham to facilitate criminal actions by selling county property, and then ignoring the county’s requirement to provide car titles when scrapping vehicles at McKee Auto Parts & Recycling. Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity is a first-degree felony.
Additionally, Kelly was sentenced to two years for perjury by visiting Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove and two years for separate counts of theft.
The charges Kelly was found guilty of — handed to Kelly by Cosgrove after a nearly three-week long trial — included 12 charges of theft in office, one charge of perjury, one charge of failing to keep a cashbook, three charges of theft and one charge of engaging in a corrupt activity.
He was also ordered to return all Athens County property — including his badge and gun — within 24 hours, which he had neglected to do before the sentencing hearing.
Kelly’s sentence also included five years of post-release control and three additional years for each charge.
Scott Wood, Kelly’s attorney, said, though, Kelly attended to appeal the case.
The court room was full Friday morning as Pat Kelly’s supporters and family members, Athens County residents, police officers, BCI agents and media occupied the gallery.
Kelly’s family sat in the bench behind where the former sheriff would be handed his sentence.
A crowd of supporters stood as Kelly entered the room unhandcuffed and dressed in a suit just before 11 a.m. Friday morning. Some offered kind words; some just wanted to shake his hand. His family quietly embraced him and Kelly kissed his wife.
The crowd of onlookers continued to stand silently until a court constable asked them to sit nearly twenty minutes later.
During statements from the state, Assistant Attorney General Melissa Schiffel asked the Kelly be given a “substantial incarceration for a substantial amount of time.”
“The defendant caused serious economic harm to Athens County,” Schiffel said.
Total stolen funds amounted to around $6,800, Cosgrove later added.
“Six thousand dollars to Athens County, which is financially strapped, is a lot,” Cosgrove said.
As Cosgrove handed down the charges, she reproached Kelly for his actions as an elected official of Athens County, especially focusing on Kelly’s charge of perjury.
“You continued to deny, deny, deny and lie and lie and lie,” Cosgrove said.
Kelly received two years for perjuring himself during his indictment and during his trial when asked about the records he kept concerning confidential informants.
For the charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity — something Cosgrove said Kelly had engaged in even before his time in office began — Kelly received a three year sentence.
Cosgrove said that Kelly’s lack of remorse greatly influenced her decisions when it came to sentencing.
“Mr. Kelly has seen himself as a victim,” Cosgrove said. “You’ve torn this county apart with your conduct and your arrogance.”
Kelly was given the chance to speak on his own behalf before the sentencing and used the time to assert he was innocent and that the trial was an attack on him.
“When people of power use their political positions to destroy for personal political gains, the system weakens,” Kelly said.
Kelly also said that during the trial, “valuable testimony and evidence was continually suppressed.”
“I am the only one here that knows the truth,” Kelly said. “The prosecutor did not prove guilt, just convinced the jury I was guilty… The truth does change, and the truth is on my side.”
Despite Kelly’s statements, Cosgrove said “the circumstantial evidence in this case was overwhelmingly guilty.
As Kelly was placed into handcuffs, he paused to talk to his family. After a brief moment, he was lead from the courtroom.
A smattering of applause followed him, and a member of the crowd even cheered, “We’re proud of you, bud.”