End of an era in Huron County

Huron County is losing one of its greatest advocates for juveniles today. Sheriff's Lt. Randy Sommers is retiring after 31 years in law enforcement. The 54-year-old investigator has been overseeing investigations involving juveniles since 1983. Sommers also has specialized in sex offenses.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010

Huron County is losing one of its greatest advocates for juveniles today. Sheriff’s Lt. Randy Sommers is retiring after 31 years in law enforcement.

The 54-year-old investigator has been overseeing investigations involving juveniles since 1983. Sommers also has specialized in sex offenses.

Former Sheriff John Borgia hired Sommers in 1976 as a road deputy. Sommers maintained his status as a special deputy while working for the New London Police Department from 1980 until 1983.

He returned to the sheriff’s office in 1983 as the juvenile officer. Seven years later, Sommers was promoted to lieutenant.

Sheriff Richard Sutherland will miss Sommers’ expertise and humor. He added that his lieutenant “always steps up to the plate,” when it comes to Huron County children.

“Randy has done a wonderful job as the juvenile officer,” Sutherland said. “He’s done more for the juveniles (in Huron County) than anyone I can think of.”

When asked why Sommers chose law enforcement as a career, the Wakeman resident said: “Actually, law enforcement chose me.”

After attending Utah State University for two years in the mid-1970s, Sommers came back to Ohio and was working for Fishman Co., a New York-based security firm. His emphasis was on loss prevention. Sommers did audits and theft prevention services for Northern Ohio retail stores.

“I had a lot of cases locally. That’s when Borgia noticed (me),” Sommers explained.

“He noticed the work I was doing in the private sector and offered me a job,” he said. “From there, it was into full-time law enforcement.”

Borgia, the sheriff from 1961 until 1985, went to school with Sommers’ father since the second grade. The pair worked together in law enforcement when Borgia was a deputy and the elder Sommers worked for the Norwalk Police Department in the 1950s and 1960s.

“In those days, there were only a few deputies and they depended on Norwalk for back-up and assistance,” the younger Sommers said.

Borgia said he needed additional deputies when he hired Sommers. The former sheriff called Sommers brilliant, adding that his work as a juvenile officer has been superb.

“His investigative process is very good,” Borgia explained. “He’s a very professional person. … He was a serious person and took the job seriously.”

n Sommers’ legacy

Sutherland praised Sommers’ work as the lead investigator in the “caged children case.”

Michael and Sharen Gravelle, of Clarksfield Township, were sentenced Feb. 15 to two years in prison for using cage-like structures built around bunk beds for punishment and sleeping quarters for some of their 11 adopted children.

The Gravelles are free on bond while the criminal case is being appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear the appeal on the custody case, meaning the children can be placed for adoption. The youngsters have been in several foster homes since Sommers and a social worker removed them from the Gravelles’ home in September 2005.

“Randy had the insight to take this case and work long and hard. The outcome is what we wanted and he should be commended for the job he has done,” Sutherland said.

Sommers had little to say about the case, except to call it “nerve wracking” because of its complexity, the media attention and having “11 lives (and) 11 outcomes.”

When asked about his proudest career achievement, Sommers mentioned the investigation of many child abuse cases in the early 1980s. He said child abuse became a national focus for law enforcement and social workers at the time.

The investigator also mentioned the indictments of Tom Cochran, the Norwalk mayor in the early 1990s, and city finance director Vernice George. Cochran served about a year in prison for misappropriating revolving loan funds available to local businesses.

Sommers said the mayor illegally moved money back and forth from various accounts and to various people. The investigator said it was one of his most difficult cases because the amount and type of people involved as well as the “sheer volume of documentation.”

Bob McDowell, the investigator for Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler’s office, worked the case with Sommers.

“Bob and I traveled all over the United States pursuing that investigation,” Sommers recalled. “(There was) well over 10,000 pages of documentation.”

Sommers, who married social worker Marla White in September, is keeping his options open after he retires.

“I want to experience the life of leisure for a while,” he said. “And I have a Randy-do list that’s pretty long.”

Comments

Good luck in yo...

Thank you for serving the people with dedication and compassion for 31 years.

Good luck with....

your wife!

Cathy (Anonymous)

Good Luck Randy in your retirement. You have been one of the few that took the children's lives into your hands and helped turned many of them around to better their lives.

Thank you for your hard work. May God Bless you in everything you and Marla do.

A Supporter (An...

Congratulations Randy, you are a true professional and you will be missed.

Lemon Bars (Ano...

Good Luck, Randy! ENJOY your retirement!

Casey N. (Anonymous)

I don't even need to say "Good Luck" on your retirement because you don't need it! Enjoy your time...you deserve only the best!! I miss you and Marla!! Hope all is going well for the two of you.

Tom (Anonymous)

Yes, thank goodness this man protected us from that criminal democrat Cochran who misappropriated funds in a wild scheme to make Norwalk a better place. Fortunately, the Freemans and other republicans put him out of business so the money could go where it is meant to go, in the bank accounts of the very rich.

Katie (Anonymous)

Congratulations Dad! Enjoy yourself, you deserve it!

Old Toad (Anonymous)

You're an exceptional human being and a good friend. Good Luck, especially with that new wife, LOL. Hi Mar, love ya'. I think I hear Albert bangin' around. Better go check. See Ya' later.

Retire from WHA...

a life of leisure? Has Randy's "job" not been leisure enough? ..."traveling all over the United States"? How sad to see you go!I am sorry if you ever felt over worked as a "Huron County Sherriff's Lt." what a sad loss this is!

you should reti...

...swiss

Re: WHAT!!! (An...

You really should know a little about what you are talking about before you chime in. If you think that Randy's job was all leisure then you should go to school, take the training and spend ONE day with people like you.

Not so easy.

Marc Criswell (...

There needs to be an end to another era. There is no accountability at Christie Lane. A previous post by a previous Board Chairperson, Lillian Kirkpatrick, praised the "fabulous" incumbent Superintendent. Unfortunately, there will only be a meaningful accounting when the taxpayers say "no more" at the polls. Consider the following as "fabulous". Several years ago the Superintendent cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars as a consequence of a lawsuit for wrongful behavior toward her school principal. This incident was totally ignored by all area media thus promoting ignorance among all county voters. Also several years ago, as a Board member of the Ohio Association of County Boards of MRDD, she colluded with other Board members to allow the Executive Director to resign with impunity for absconding with over $100,000 in illegal contract fees that were paid by not only the Christie Lane Board but also by every other Ohio County Board of MRDD. As you scrutinize her salary and other contractual employment perks, consider the enrollment size at Christie Lane and that she has minimized her duties by eliminating from her direct supervision accounting, school bus, case management, and public relation operations. Further, she is in process of moving preschool operations to the public schools. These functions are now managed by highly compensated middle management employees. The Christie Lane Board and its appointing authorities have assured Huron County taxpayers that they deserve less for more.

re-Marc (Anonymous)

If this checks out this serious stuff. I'm sure this area & county supervisors need examined. Currently & in the past they have been found lacking.

re-Marc (Anonymous)

TYPO checks out is serious stuff. Sorry

pope ottomus (A...

congratulations Randy on your retirement.. i hope that you have the time of your life, you have certainly earned a rest.... enjoy

retirement (Ano...

Comment deleted due to content.

Re: retirement ...

That's real nice of you to be thinking of them. Tell me, when you walk on water do your feet actually touch the water or is it more like floating over the water? Let me know when you do this, I'd like to see, it sounds fascinating. God must be awfully proud of you.

retirement (Ano...

it's more like i am floating over the water, unless of course, i want to wash or rinse the bottoms of my feet, then my feet actually touch the water..thanks for asking though

Tom Heydingre (...

There will be no new contract for Dr. Dee at Christie Lane. The one she has has a golden fleece and noone in their right mind would replace it with one with a rattlesnake skin.

retirement (Ano...

I am amazed at the Reflector. Nasty comments are made about a young man that died from an overdose of drugs and these comments are kept on the blog for everyone to see, yet when you talk about a law enforcement officer that spends Friday nights in the local bar drinking and driving this is deleted. Double standards. Law enforcement is to be setting the example, yet this one has been allowed to break the law and we wish him good luck in his retirement. Shame on all of you.

Re: retirement ...

How do you know so much. Are you there, do you see or do you just hear? Let's commend him on his fine job as a deputy sheriff. Maybe he's not as perfect as you are but then again I don't think anyone is. Thanks for commenting Jesus. Do you use a computer or do you just make this all appear by willing it? Either way it's great stuff. You're the best.

how can you fau...

for doing the job that he was paid to do? i am proud of mr Sommers and feel that he deserves to enjoy his retirement, so have a good second chapter mr Sommers,and may you find a suitable hobby to keep you mentally active... enjoy

LT (Anonymous)

I would be remiss not to comment on your retirement! Thank you from all the children who were unable to help themselves get the help they deserved. Thank you for being such a good person - most of the time. Enjoy your 6 Saturdays and 1 Sunday for many many years to come. I enjoy being your friend!

Re: Opps (Anonymous)

Oops...lol

I bet... (Anonymous)

Randy and Marla are glad the morons are leaving them alone and have focused on the parents of the new year's babies parents.

Re; I bet (Anon...

Ah yes, the grandparents...?

Opps (Anonymous)

I meant focused on the new years babies parents.

You know (Anonymous)

what I mean lol!

WWJD (Anonymous)

Another person who was involved in the Gravelle case has taken an "early retirement." If Mr. Sommers had done his job then the Gravelle children would never have had to go through losing their home and being put into foster care. I hope you feel guilty about this the rest of your life!!