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Ohio Sheriff in Court on Corruption Charges

ATHENS (Tom Bosco/Kate Liebers) -- A sheriff accused of corruption fought for his career as well as to stay out of prison.

Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly made his first appearance in front of a judge Monday, after he was indicted on 23 felony and 2 misdemeanor charges. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges as a small group of protesters gathered outside the courtroom.

Kelly said little after the hearing but the former sheriff and Kelly's former political opponent, Vern Castle, had a few words. He said he can't understand why Kelly hasn't resigned.

"I would have been embarrassed to be here," Castle said. "I would have had an attorney do it and I would have just went away as quickly as I could."

Castle's campaign against Kelly followed accusations that Kelly had committed perjury in 1998 when he was a deputy. Kelly later pleaded guilty to lesser charges.  

"If a person is prone to not tell the truth, it's usually not a one-time shot," Castle said. "I'm not surprised."

Kelly faces charges that include theft in office, money laundering and running a criminal enterprise. He allegedly used county money to buy shirts for himself and pay for tailoring, and allegedly stole copper wire from the Athens County garage and sold it for scrap.

Kelly has maintained his innocent in court as well as on Facebook and said he won't resign.

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