Ruff waives preliminary hearing

Aaron Krause • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:53 PM

Retaliation defendant Randy Ruff will be taking his chances with a grand jury.

Ruff, 37, of 3233 Austin Drive, Lot 3, Willard, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Norwalk Municipal Court. That means the case will be transferred to Huron County Common Pleas Court for a possible grand jury indictment.

The defendant is accused of threatening to harm Huron County Sheriff’s Lt. Annette McLaughlin, who investigated and arrested him in connection with a March 3 break-in. McLaughlin, who was in the court building Wednesday, declined to comment.

Erie County Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Sigsworth investigated the threat allegations on behalf of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association (BSSA). In mid-June, the Huron County Sheriff’s Office received a tip that Ruff was accused of threatening McLaughlin for spearheading the break-in case. Sheriff Dane Howard then requested the BSSA get an outside investigator.

“There were very specific threats. I’m not going to go into the details of what they were,” Sigsworth said last week.

Both of Ruff’s accomplices — David J. Barnett Jr., 35, and Sean M. Picklesimer, 18, both of Willard — have been sentenced through common pleas court for their roles in the Greenbush Road, Willard, break-in. The trio kicked in a door of the home and stole six firearms, a small amount of ammunition, a 32-inch flat screen TV and five PlayStation games.

Each of the suspects were arrested about six hours after the break-in was reported. Authorities have said Ruff was the “ringleader” and Picklesimer was “led astray” by Ruff.

Having developed several leads, McLaughlin and Deputy Scott Plew established surveillance at two Willard-area locations about 3 a.m. March 4. After only being there for about five minutes, McLaughlin spotted the suspect vehicle and initiated a traffic stop in which Ruff was a passenger.

On July 12, Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway ruled the two long guns and 9 mm handgun seized during the traffic stop won’t be allowed as evidence. Prosecutors have filed an appeal arguing essentially that they can’t move forward with the break-in case because there’s not enough evidence to pursue it.

Ruff has been in custody at the Huron County Jail since being arrested during the traffic stop initiated by McLaughlin.

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