The Houston Chronicle, chron.com
BYLINE: CINDY HORSWELL, HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
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Liberty County, TX
Judge gives him 1-year term on federal charge
A veteran peace officer from Liberty County has been ordered to report to prison on Aug. 1 to begin a one-year sentence imposed on Thursday for felony firearm and mail fraud violations.
Harry Kelley, a former captain with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office, had asked the federal court in Beaumont for probation, while prosecutors recommended the 55-year-old spend at least three years behind bars.
"We expected a greater sentence in light of the fact that Kelley had abused his position," Robert Hobbs, with the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Thursday afternoon. "But the felony convictions mean Kelley will never work as a peace officer again."
Kelley received less than the minimum federal guidelines for punishment.
Defense attorney Jack Zimmermann said the case would be appealed.
"Any time a client of ours goes to prison, it's not a victory for us," Zimmermann said.
U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield denied Kelley's request to be released on bond while his case was being appealed and ordered him to report to prison on Aug. 1.
Kelley, a 25-year veteran, was terminated from his job at the sheriff's department after his conviction in February. He has been working as a salesman while awaiting sentencing since then, his attorney said.
Jurors convicted Kelley of conspiring to improperly acquire at least 100,000 rounds of .40-caliber, hollow-point semiautomatic ammunition that by law can only be used by law enforcement. Documents showed Kelley exchanged the powerful ammunition for 86 new weapons that he sold through a business he ran called "K Ventures."
Jurors also convicted Kelley of scheming to acquire six Glock pistols that shoot non-lethal projectiles for training that can be purchased only by law enforcement agencies. The jury found he did not have the authority to make the purchase for the Cleveland Police Department and intended to turn over these weapons for non-law enforcement use.
Property room inquiry
The jury also found he conspired to buy laser sights that are restricted to government, military and law enforcement agencies. He pretended the sights were for the sheriff's department but actually turned them over to a gun store owner in Humble, jurors decided.
At the same time, the jury found there was insufficient evidence to convict Kelley of the most serious offenses they were considering — illegally selling more than a hundred weapons taken from the Cleveland police and sheriff's property rooms.
Kelley had been a detective and custodian of the evidence room for Cleveland police until his supervisor there, Henry Patterson, was elected sheriff in 2009. Patterson hired Kelley and made him a captain and allowed him access to the property room there.
Kelley declined any comment Thursday. The sheriff's department also declined comment, said spokesman Rex Evans.
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