The following is a release of a letter authored by Clinton County Commissioners President Josh Uitts and Clinton County Council President Alan Dunn.
June 14, 2021
As most of you are aware, the Clinton County Commissioners and Council recently sought injunctive relief from the Court system in our dispute with Sheriff Rich Kelly and Matron Ashley Kelly. The purpose of the injunctive relief was to stop what appear to be unlawful expenditures from the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department Commissary Fund. This fund, which statutorily operates outside of any direct oversight by the Commissioners or Council, contains the proceeds of sales made to jail inmates from the Sheriff’s commissary service. The expenditure of these monies is limited to a few statutorily enumerated uses, all of which are designed to directly benefit the jail facility and its staff.
In recent months, certain questionable expenditure items have been brought to our attention which would not meet these enumerated criteria. These expenditures include monthly payments totaling $56,000 in 2019 and $113,000 in 2020 made to a limited liability corporation owned by Sheriff Rich Kelly and Matron Ashley Kelly. We can only speculate that these payments to the LLC have continued into 2021. The fiscal activity of the fund is currently being investigated by Indiana State Police Detectives and the forensic accountants of the Indiana State Board of Accounts, both of which have indicated that the investigation could continue for weeks or months.
During this time of uncertainty, County leadership asked the Court for more direct oversight on expenditures made from this fund to insure that any expenditures are only made for lawful purposes. Sheriff Kelly instructed his legion of attorneys to file a motion to dismiss our request. Our request and his motion were both denied by the Judge. Instead of granting the injunction or motion to dismiss, the Judge ordered the Sheriff to produce all of the documentation that was requested in our injunction and for there to be a settlement conference between both parties.
We are very pleased with the determination made by the Judge. It confirmed that after being reviewed by a neutral and unbiased party, the legal action we have taken was justified. The lack of cooperation and transparency are the reasons that prompted our legal action. All along, our only intention in this process has been to prevent unlawful expenditures from the commissary fund and to seek transparency. We have not sought damages, limited the lawful use of the fund, or any other action that would bring harm to the defendants or the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. We only want to make sure the taxpayers are protected. We look forward to the settlement process, and the cooperation and transparency that have been ordered by the Judge.
Clinton County Commissioner President
Clinton County Council President