Grand jury vendor paid $324,000

Team Ray's website modified; 'joint venture' with clerk of courts changed to 'pet project,' reference to Ohio Attorney General removed
Register
Mar 28, 2014

Update, March 28: It's a "joint venture" with clerk of courts Tracy Overmyer, or it's a "pet project" they wanted to build together.

Either way, a vendor used by Sandusky County Common Pleas Court has been paid more than $324,000 in less than four years since Overmyer's appointment to the court clerk's job in January 2010, according to records from the Sandusky County Auditor. 

See the paid invoice listing

And Team Ray Technologies' Rockware Justice division also got called out by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday for "deceptive advertising" and for allegedly making "false claims" at its website about its services. 

Click here to read letter from Ohio AG

"The Ohio Attorney General requests that Rockware Justice and Team Ray Technologies LLC immediately cease from engaging in deceptive acts and practices by representing they have sponsorship, approval or affiliation with the Ohio Attorney General's Office," Sandy Lynesky, the AG's chief in the consumer protection unit, wrote Monday. 

Get Sunday's Register for more about the services Team Ray provides Sandusky County Common Pleas Court. Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy the Register at a newsstand near you.  

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Original post, March 25: The software vendor that claimed to have a "joint venture" with Sandusky County clerk of courts to subcontract grand jury work and other administrative functions of the clerk's office changed its website overnight Monday. 

The modifications came after the Register reported objections expressed by a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to statements on the website suggesting it had an affiliation with the AG's office.

Click here to read that previous article

References to a "joint venture" with Sandusky County clerk of courts Tracy Overmyer, and a reference the state AG's office both were removed. The modified version reads:

"Rockware Justice was started as a pet project in conjuction with the Sandusky County Clerk of Courts in 2004.  The vision was to develop a case management software system utilizing the latest in technology that did not have fixed maintenance costs that increase every year like other case management systems.  The software suite includes case management, judicial calendar, and cash book managing segments.  After years of research and development, the system was successfully launched in April 2010." (See link to modified version)

The version of the statement prior to the objection from Ohio AG spokesman Dan Tierney reported by the Register on Monday read this way:

"Rockware Justice was started as a joint venture between the Sandusky County Clerk of Courts and Team Ray Technologies. Originally initiated to develop an affordable and user friendly Common Pleas Case Management System utilizing the latest technology available. The software suite includes a case management segment, judicial calendar, and cash book manager. The system was successfully launched in April 2010. Retail packages for Municipal and County Courts are being developed. Additional functionality is being added to integrate Rockware Justice with the Attorney General of Ohio and other state, local and third party agencies." (See link to original version)

Tierney said Monday that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the AG's office had no affiliation with Team Ray or Rockware Justice, which is based in Bellevue.

"The Ohio Attorney General's Office intends to send letters to both Rockware Justice and Team Ray Technologies to cease their claim of affiliation with our office," Tierney wrote in reply to an inquiry from the Register sent to him Saturday. The Register asked Tierney to provide copies of those letters when they were sent. 

A joint venture is defined as an association of two or more individuals or companies engaged in a solitary business enterprise for profit without actual partnership or incorporation. Overmyer has not responded to a public records request from the Register inquiring about the nature of her relationship with Rockware Justice.

The Register asked for any contracts, requests for proposals or other documentation that might exist that would provide a more complete understanding of that arrangement. The Register also asked for information about how the Rockwell programming is designed to meet the requirements of state law regarding grand jury selection.

On Feb. 18, the Register sent Overmyer a public records request for documents required by the Ohio Revised Code related to the grand jury selection process of the investigation into the death of Jacob Limberios on March 2, 2012. Overmyer initially responded that those documents were sealed under a secret gag order issued by the presiding judge, visiting judge Dale Crawford. She later told the AG's office she did not have any documents responsive to the request. 

The Register sent an additional request to Overmyer this morning, and also asked Ryan Ray, CEO of Team Ray Technologies/Rockware, to provide more information about the relationship between his company and Overmyer.

DeWine filed a court motion last week asking Crawford to affirm the grand jury's fndings despite "procedural" mistakes he said might have occurred in the selection process, referring to an apparent violation of the requirements in the Ohio Revised Code. DeWine filed the motion after the Register reported Overmyer's inability to provide the required documentation. 

The grand jury no-billed the investigation on Nov. 20, opting against filing any criminal indictments. DeWine said earlier this month he did not believe any grand jury would have returned indictments based on the evidence presented by his office. It's not clear why DeWine opted for a grand jury if there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. 

DeWine's investigation determined Jacob Limberios accidentally shot himself, in contrast to the findings of Sheriff Kyle Overmyer, Tracy Overmyer's brother, and Sandusky County Coroner John Wukie, who ruled his death an accidental suicide. DeWine also determined that evidence was destroyed in the hours immediately after Jake was killed, and other evidence was not collected by Sheriff Overmyer, who was assisted at the home where Jake was killed by Captain Michael Meggitt, Tracy Overmyer's husband.

Read the petition for removal of prosecutor, sheriff

Wukie, who did not investigate Jake's death, refused to order an autopsy after he died. Wukie also has refused to correct the death certificate to reflect the findings of DeWine's investigation, insisting Jake's death was a suicide despite multiple witness statements that it was an accident and the suggestions from DeWine and others he was incorrect in his original suicide ruling. 

Wukie refuses to respond to inquiries from the Register or return phone messages, and his attorney, Dean Henry, refuses to provide a working email address for Wukie. 

Click here to read related articles

Comments

holysee

Keep up the good work SR!

holysee

AGREE! Keep up the good work SR!

MiddleRight

Maybe the Register can find out how much the county paid them for 6 years of developing software.

Maybe the county should have purchased existing software.

Matt Westerhold

The Register already made a public records request this morning to Sandusky County Auditor William Farrell for that information. Thanks for the suggestion MiddleRight.

DickTracey

Matt, I hope you graphic designers are busy working on the "Six Degrees of Sandusky County" chart! Like the investigative reporter did for the Steubenville rape case, since the whole town was connected to the football team and had reasons to cover it up.

http://www.thewire.com/national/...

Now you can add Team Ray! I can't wait to see how they are "connected".

the office cat

But did anyone talk to the Common Pleas Court Administrators who actually directs the jury selection process?

Did anyone learn that TeamRay etc. does not pick jurors?

Did anyone learn that the Court uses software developed by RockWare but that RockWare plays no role in selection?

Did anyone learn that the 41,000+ names provided by the BOE each trimester is put in the computer in the Courthouse and utilizes the software program to randomly select approximately 2,000 jurors each trimester...including 75 GRAND JURORS.

Peninsula Pundit

And to do that costs $81,000a year?
I'll do it by hand for that kind of money!

sash

Jury selection seems to be only a very small part. I would want to see what other counties pay when they outsource IT support and software development before getting too excited.

Babo

There was no reason to pay anybody to develop court software, let alone over $300,000 to a local company with no expertise in this specialized area. Court software has been around for over 15 years.

Also, was this software approved for use by the Supreme Court of Ohio?
I may be mistaken but I think all court related software must be approved by the Supreme Court.

Finally, where was and is Sandusky County Administrator Warren Brown
during all of these mistakes in Sandusky County offices? He was the former Clerk of Court and ought to understand the importance of following the law procedurally and contractually. If anyone should be sympathetic to families who have lost loved ones and look to government to provide answers and accountability; County Administrator Brown is that person. How does he explain the actions and lack of accountability of the County in the Limberios, Burdine, Jones, Naus, sexploited inmate, and other cases?

the office cat

"Rockware Justice was started as a pet project in conjuction with the Sandusky County Clerk of Courts in 2004."

That would have been under then-Clerk of Courts Warren Brown, current County CEO with Commisioners (a post he designed) and presently a Primary Election candidate for SANDUSKY COUNTY AUDITOR - the county's money watchdog.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Office Cat. The Register is currently working on five different news articles about these topics. If you read the documents the information on which you're comment already has been made available to readers in the documents linkjed in this news coverage. It also is one of the followup articles being developed. This has to taken one step at a time, and if you're expecting "all the facts" you're going to be disappointed. The Register presents the information we are able to gather from public documents supplied by public officials, who at times are reluctant to be forthcoming with those public documents and with explanations or answers to the legitimate questions being asked. Information about Mr. Brown was made available to us in the linked documents on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Today is Sunday. You might consider being a bit more patient, but we do appreciate that you, and others, are following this coverage as it is being developed. 

Babo

This story just keeps getting better and better in terms of public officials' and their pals' continuing missteps and alleged obstruction of justice. As they say the horse is already out of the barn. The grand jury process was corrupted. Now it's just about determining the extent of that corruption and all the players

By changing prior published statements concerning the Clerk of Courts and Team Ray's relationship and roles; team Ray has admitted those statements were false and against its interests. That is additional evidence and possibly an admission by yet another potential co conspirator of a conspiracy to obstruct justice by manipulation of grand juries in Sandusky County.

Also, county prosecutor Stierwalt (counsel to the county and county officials on all legal matters) and Sheriff Overmyer (Chief Law enforcement officer in the county) are nowhere to be found while these illegal contracts and alleged criminal acts including undermining of the grand jury process occurred. Yet another charge in a Petition to Remove Stierwalt and Sheriff Overmyer for misconduct in office and evidence that they too may have had an alleged role in obstructing justice.

More popcorn please!

the office cat

Sheriff Overmyer explained how his sister Tracy Overmyer's office conducts jury instruction. He said, roughly, the Board of Elections screens names and sends them to the court.
Of course that's entirely WRONG. The BOE sends ALL registered voters names to the Clerk. The Court Admnistrator puts them in the computer which kicks out about 2,000 names needed for ALL juries in the county.
But I guess the SR doesn't want to report ALL the facts.

Matt Westerhold

Please see the reply above, office cat.

DickTracey

Sorry Team Ray, but you know what happens when you sleep with dogs!

For you youngsters, the answer is "you wake up with fleas" or in this case, "the Register on your a$s!

DickTracey

This is awesome! Think of the possibilities! You have on off-site company design you software to pick your jury pools. It sounds so fair and hands off. Imagine the possibilities!

The sheriff, prosecutor or lawyers can now request what they want in their jury. "I need white women over 40, that don't own guns, that love cats, that voted democrat and make less than $22,000 a year."

We have designer babies, now, ladies and gentlemen we have Desinger Jury's!

holysee

+1

the office cat

You have to use somebody's software to sort from 41,000+ registered voters. Is it unusual to work with software companies to develop software that eventually will be marketed to other buyers?
Developing the software began in 2004 under Warren Brown and didn't come into fruition until 2010.
Focus on the real story - why did the judge seal the jury records?

sash

Grand Jury proceedings are secret by law. The only question would be if the process of jury selection was sealed.

Darkhorse

How legal is it for a design firm to be picking a jury? Wow, and no one caught onto this until now? What happened to the standard or don't all courts have the same standard to pick a jury?

Babo

Article in News Mess within which Sheriff Overmyer claims under staffing in the jail contributed to Inmate's suicide. Reads like he's asking to be sued.

holysee

And where is the cacophony of Sandco supporters complaining about the tenacity of the Sandusky Register doing it's job? I assume they are at Whitey's reading the news mess paper and eating their grease.

Peninsula Pundit

He's referring to you, FremontAlice.

lmalley77

Matt Westerhold, I am ELATED that you did NOT back down and did NOT shut up and did NOT give up when alot of people were on here telling you to!!! I have ALWAYS asked that nobody give up on this case, and every little piece that gets unraveled just adds more fuel to the fire of the miscarriage of justice that Jake and alot of others did not deserve!!! I don't know about some people, but I didn't notice a strong sense of others feeling the same as I do until you broke the story of the child porn patrol officer! Since then, and since the stories and follow ups that have followed, more and more people are beginning to see what is actually going on in Sandusky County!!!! So, thank you Matt Westerhold!!!!!

holysee

+1

holysee

Hear hear!

slightthroat212

a great big OOOOOPPPPPSSSSS here is in order for the county clerk, team ray and all the way up the ladder. Good for you, Mr. Westerhold. Now where does THIS money trail lead. Always follow the money and the trail it to which it leads. It sure doesn't stop at the clerks office. What judge does it lead to now??????

sandusky2012

how many appeals will be made now knowing that the jury selection was tainted? sounds to me like a lot of felons should appeal their cases how much will that cost?

the office cat

Did anyone call the Common Pleas Court Administrator to ask how juries actually are selected - in light of the fact a new trimester of jurors was picked for the January-April term. 75 Grand Jury, 1,200 Common Pleas, 200 County Court, 30 Bellevue Municipal, XXX Fremont Municipal.
The Administrator gets the 41,000+ names of active and inactive voters from the BOE and - in the Sandusky County Courthouse - enters them into the County Computer which utilizes software developed by Rockware - they have been using a computer program nearly two decades to randomly select the required number.
It only takes a phone call....
Every trimester 75 grand jurors are drawn.

holysee

New Study: Nearly Half Of All Americans Are Dangerous Stupid Idiots
http://www.latimes.com/science/s...

Julie R.

One would think the AG's office would have cause to press some kind of charges over that company's false reference that they were affiliated with the OAG.

Julie R.

Didn't both the Erie County & the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Court offices say "they were working with the AG's office" over the $23 million found in Cuyahoga County and the $4.3 million found in Erie County of unclaimed funds dating back to the 1980's belonging to people that were never told they might be entitled to monies after the conclusion of their cases? Considering how this Sandusky County Clerk of Court entered into a joint business venture with this software company who falsely represented they were affiliated with the OAG, I'm beginning to wonder about the other Clerk of Court offices, too. Are they really working with the AG's office?

Formerly from N...

http://www.thenews-messenger.com...

WHY ISNT THIS NEWS ON THE TOP OF THE PAGE???????

Babo

Maybe because it is another public relations release promoting politics over law from your boss AG DeWine's office.

I'm still waiting for you to provide legal proof that Dale Crawford as a retired judge has authority to preside over a grand jury in Sandusky County, Ohio.

Formerly from N...

FREMONT — The judge who presided over assembling the special grand jury in the Jacob Limberios case said he does not believe allegations that the jury was tainted are valid.

“It makes no sense to me where the complaint is,” visiting Judge Dale Crawford of Columbus said in an exclusive interview with The News-Messenger. “If you find out what the problem is, I’d love to know.”

The Sandusky Register has alleged that the grand jury that reviewed the criminal investigation into the death of Jacob Limberios was not convened according to Ohio law.

The grand jury determined in November that Limberios, 19, of Castalia, accidentally shot himself in the head while partying with three people on March 2, 2012, at a rural home near Clyde. The jurors declined to charge anyone with a crime.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office believes the grand jury was assembled properly but asked Crawford to take a second look, according to Sandusky County Common Pleas Court records. Crawford said he plans to review the procedures, but he doesn’t know when he’ll get to it.

“I’ve been very busy,” Crawford said. “Quite frankly, it’s not something that’s at the top of my list to be doing right now.

“I’m not in any hurry because nobody’s been indicted.”

Sandusky attorney Dan McGookey — who had represented the Limberios family until mid-January and is apparently representing them again — filed a motion requesting an extension of time to respond by Friday to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office motion to have Crawford review the grand jury procedures.

But McGookey does not have standing to challenge the grand jury, Crawford said.

Nonetheless, Crawford said he will still review what McGookey submits.

The only people who have standing to challenge a grand jury are the prosecutor and anyone the jurors indicted, Crawford said.

And no indictments were returned, making the allegations moot, he said.

The Attorney General’s Office found the only issue with the grand jury process was a newspaper advertisement was not published, said Dan Tierney, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.

“That’s a proceeding that means nothing,” Crawford said.

McGookey and Limberios’ parents, Mike and Shannon Limberios of Castalia, were not available for comment Tuesday evening.

Sandusky County Clerk of Courts Tracy Overmyer said she completed the process to assemble the grand jury correctly.

She said she has been accused of failing to release records regarding the grand jury, but she said some or all of the records are sealed. She was waiting on a legal opinion from the Sandusky County Prosecutor’s Office to determine what she could legally release.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, and the only information that becomes public is whether or not an indictment has been released, Crawford said. The names of the jurors are sealed.

“That’s the norm,” Crawford said.

Additionally, someone attempted to obtain the names of the grand jurors in the Limberios case, Tierney said. A person claiming to be calling for Attorney General’s Office special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter asked the clerk of court’s office and attempted to get a list of the jurors, Tierney said.

No one from the Attorney General’s Office made the request, and the clerk’s office did not release the information, Tierney said. The incident has been reported to the court.

The Attorney General’s Office became involved last summer, something Limberios’ parents and McGookey wanted to see happen after they alleged Sandusky County botched the case.

The night Limberios died, witnesses said he was holding his gun by his head before it went off. Sandusky County Coroner Dr. John Wukie ruled the death a suicide without going to the scene or examining the body.

During their investigation, agents from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation — an arm of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office — also found a defect in Limberios’ gun that caused it to fire sometimes without the trigger being fully pulled.

The Limberioses and McGookey had declined to comment in January on why McGookey was no longer representing them. But last week, he filed the request for an extension of time to respond on their behalf.

In a Jan. 16 email to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Shannon Limberios said she and her husband were pleased with the investigation the Attorney General’s Office did, a statement that contradicted McGookey’s assessment of the inquiry.

“We believe that you left no stone unturned and were very thorough in dealing with the information that was available to you,” Shannon Limberios wrote.

“Thank you for all you have done, your professionalism and help in finding out what happened to our son.”

Formerly from N...

True unbiased reporting. Im sure this will get deleted because anythying against the Register's social experiment does.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Fomerly. The Register already provided a link to this News Messenger article previously. It didn't hurt for you to post it here, also, but it i is a violation of the guidelines. Also, your statements about that, and about the Register obviously aren't accurate.

Jim Lahey

I do not understand what the issue is. If the court has truly been using this system since 2010, that means that every official in that court; every defense attorney, every prosecutor, every judge that knew about it apparently never made an issue about it. Because if it was illegal, they wouldn't use it.

So if a defense attorney never raised an issue about it, why is the Register doing so? Another attempt accusing our public officials of corruption.

Matt Westerhold

Thanks Jim. The Register simply reported the information about the company that claimed it was created as a "joint venture" with the clerk of courts and suggested it had an association with the Ohio AG's office. It was the AG's office that raised an objection to that and wrote to the company ordering it to remove the reference to the AG from its website, and it was the company, which has received more than $300,000 from county taxpayers in the last four years, that later modified the language it used on it's website to describe the relationships it has with public offices. 

Jim Lahey

Yes maybe that was your intention, but let's not kid ourselves. When you print out all of those comments from the petition website to have public officials removed from office, it's clear what your intention is.

By the way, there is also another petition on change.org to stop selfies. Yeah, that website is really legitimate to me.

thedarkknight9

Mr Lahey 2 things,

1. Is Randy out eating cheeseburgers? (great username lol)

2. If the Register was looking for corrupt officials, wouldn't you think they would be trying to expose Erie County for something? They pay taxes there, and not in Sandusky County. Trust me on this one, I'm one of Jacob's closest friends and you haven't experienced what I have with both counties. Erie has great officials, I've met a few with this investigation and they have been extremely nice. Sandusky County, on the other hand have been tormenting poor Ella from day one. I'm not even talking about just how they handled the case, but how they avoid Mike and Shannon's requests, questions about certain things, and especially getting back evidence or releasing public records. Ask Mike how long it took for him to get back things of Jacobs. Go ahead. It's like we live in Gotham City.

Jim Lahey

Nope, and yeah, Randy and the mustard tiger

Ctwhalers

I wish some of you would stop being part of the problem and do something about it. Jim you sound like you part of the problem when you seem to defend sandusky county and the wrongs they have done. The register is only doing it's job unlike the messenger who only reports after the register

Jim Lahey

I understand why the Register has covered the Limberios story as much as they have. People have the right to critique law enforcement, the courts, etc. And they should do that because it's important. The family came to the newspaper because they were not happy with the way it was handled, and I do believe the Register had good intentions in the beginning. They are just doing what they think is right and there is nothing wrong with that.

The issue that I take with it is now they are making it a point to disgrace public officials. The Register is trying to paint them as corrupt, trying to claim that they are abusing their power. And every time they get an answer from a public official they don't like, they write a story, bash them, and try to attack their character's. I have a problem with that.

I believe these men and women have honestly done the best that they can do, given the mistakes that were made. The public officials involved in this case are human just like anyone else, and no matter what public officials do (namely, law enforcement), someone is not going to be happy. Someone is always going to come out on the wrong end.

I do not believe that there is one public official in any of these stories that are corrupt. I refuse to believe that. And people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe, it's their right, but it's not the right of the Register. The Register should not put their opinion in the paper, because when they do most people read it as the truth. It's wrong. That's my issue.

DGMutley

I agree with Ctwhalers,

"FRI, 03/28/2014 - 4:59AM
I wish some of you would stop being part of the problem and do something about it. Jim you sound like you part of the problem when you seem to defend sandusky county and the wrongs they have done. The register is only doing it's job unlike the messenger who only reports after the register"

When are you going to do something about it?

You keep sidestepping this issue by putting the blame on everyone except the ones at blame. It's time for you to step up.

Peninsula Pundit

$324,000 to pick folks to sit on a jury?
That's outrageous on the face of it!
That would pay for a couple firemen, at least!

Babo

I agree, especially since court software has been around for quite some time and there was no reason to pay someone to "reinvent the wheel". I suspect this idea was hatched to find some way to steer a contract to a company as means of tapping into the technology fees that a Common Pleas Court and Clerk are allowed to assess every filer. There may have been a pot of money sitting in technology fees burning a hole in somebody's pocket.

Matt, A suggestion: have your reporter request the records (collection and disbursements) for the technology fees the clerks office collected for the past seven years.

Jakes Dad

$324,000 could also do the following:

1) Perform 162 questionable death autopsies.
2) Fix the broken video cameras in the jail.
3) Hire more staff at the county jail.
4) Hire a public relations manager for Sandusky County to return phone calls the currently do not get returned.
5) Fix the Sandusky County phone system so that calls might get actually returned.

Ctwhalers

I totally agree jakes dad. They are not to bright in Sandusky county to figure it out. It takes people like us to do there job for them.

Jakes Dad

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained A duplicate post.

pntbutterandjelly

My guess is...the software was probably made in India as a lot of "supposed programmers" around here do. (fact)

holysee

About the same as using slave labor to pull common rocks out of the ground called diamonds and limiting their supply to sell them at astronomically inflated prices. It's called capitalism and the more you inflate the prices, the more you are praised as an "entrepeneur". Who cares where the software really came from?
Team ray needs to be celebrated as a model capitalist.
Misleading claims on the website? No different from the marketing and advertising we are subjected to every day. HOORAY FOR ADBLOCK PLUS!
As for the pot of money waiting for tech frees, the much larger pot of money burning a hole in the pockets of the prison industrial complex is what puts harmless pot users and other low level law breakers in prison at the substantial expense of tax payers with no benefits to be seen.

holysee

See "lobbyist"

slightthroat212

This is one of my final posts as I am leaving today...I have collected as many of these stories as I can and forwarded them to friends I have back home connected with "people in high places" that I worked with that can do things you could only dream of here in Sandusky an even in Columbus. They have assured me they will look into some of this at their level and see if they can't come up with something you guys here may have missed. They have, in fact, done some research already on this story about ALL these cases and aren't real happy at what they see. If they can do anything they will contact me and I will get in touch with Mr. Westerhold first from my new home. I have the address at the SR.

This has gone well beyond one child's father. Corruptness knows no boundries nor no race, creed , color or religion. It is sickness that goes unchecked and spreads. It cannot stand the light of day. But watch out.,..It lurks in dark corners and is not stagnat to one area alone. Be careful, Sandusky. You are not safe yourself. I can swear that to you. Be terribly careful. I am seeing evidence of that here, whether you like it or not. Don't scratch to close to your surface here. You cannot afford to go too deep before you hit some of your own. It lies JUST BENEATH the surface here. It will take someone like Jack Limberois to bring it out. Then watch out. I only hope the SR will take it to the mat for that person as it has done here. I believe it will. Great job, Mr. Westerhold. Keep the good fight. Kentuky Here I come.

Good luck to you all

DickTracey

Ok, now I'm really confused! Tracy Overmyer just started in 2010?

I swear those shoulder pads went out in the early 90's.