- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio sheriff charged in a corruption case is facing questions about his ammunition purchases while in office.

Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly used his office’s purchasing power last year to buy ammunition for one of his lawyers, a county commissioner, his office’s fiscal officer, and deputies to use for practice shooting, rather than while on duty, according to The Columbus Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1tpUnsn ).

Records show the ammunition was bought at a discounted rate and without sales tax.

Athens County prosecutor Keller Blackburn questioned whether using the favorable terms to buy ammunition ordered by civilians and off-duty officers was appropriate. “There are several issues with it,” he said.

Blackburn said he referred the matter last summer to investigators at the Ohio attorney general’s office. He said he also plans to forward the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office, so he can review whether federal laws were violated.

Meanwhile, a bill of $22,592.41 has not been paid while county officials seek to resolve questions about the purchases.

Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson has refused to approve the bill’s payment. “I have no evidence to lead me to believe that this was a proper transaction for a proper public purpose,” she said.

Kelly, who has pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges, said he could not answer the newspaper’s questions about the purchases because of a judge’s gag order. But he said the indictment does not include charges related to the ammunition purchase.

The charges against Kelly include theft in office, tampering with records and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. He is suspected of improperly using public funds to buy meals and apparel, among other allegations.

Rodney Smith has been serving as the interim sheriff since Kelly was suspended following his indictment.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, https://www.dispatch.com

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