Protecting families

Matt Westerhold
Jan 13, 2014

In Sandusky County, law enforcement is a family business.

Sheriff Kyle Overmyer is the son of a retired sheriff's deputy and one of the men in charge today. His brother-in-law is sheriff's Captain Michael Meggitt.

The chief deputy is Bruce Hirt, whose son-in-law, Zach Zender, was recently promoted to detective with the Sandusky County sheriff's office.

Sheriff Overmyer's sister, Tracy Overmyer, is the Sandusky County clerk of courts.

Franklin Kaiser, a fired jail guard supervisor, is the son of former Sandusky County sheriff's deputy Bill Kaiser, who retired from the sheriff's office and now is a double-dipper working for Sandusky County prosecutor Tom Stierwalt.

Franklin Kaiser got kicked out of the family business, however, when he was fired in early-2012 after allegedly participating in, and allowing, a 21-year-old schizophrenic inmate who was denied her medication to be sexually exploited for hours in an observational jail cell.

Click here for that story

The firing was slow in coming, however, and it didn't happen until after the Register learned of the incident and reported on it. And it wasn't the first troubling incident involving Franklin Kaiser.

After the firings, Sheriff Overmyer and Stierwalt's office made a deal with Franklin Kaiser to pay him and another involved jail guard $5,000 each in taxpayer money for their silence concerning that vulnerable woman's exploitation for Frank Kaiser's and the other jail guard's sexual gratification.

The $10,000 payout approved by Stierwalt is in addition to paid-leave costs taxpayers shouldered for Frank Kaiser and the other guard for more than a month.

And, if not for an anonymous tip to the Register, there's likely a chance the jail guards involved would never have been fired at all. The entire messy situation likely could have been buttoned up and deep-sixed, never to be revealed to the public.

When Stierwalt was forced to reveal details after a public records request from the Register, he released a report filed by the Fremont Police Department that appears to be an attempt at a whitewash, or was whitewashed after it was filed.

Stierwalt left the exploited inmate's name in the report, but he blacked-out the names of the jail guards, including Frank Kaiser, the son of his trusted employee. There doesn't appear to have been any compassion for the victim from the prosecutor, but he seems to have been intent on protecting the guards by redacting their names.

“These are the kind you can talk to because whatever you say, no one will ever believe because they are crazy,” one of the unidentified guards, with apparent experience exploiting mentally ill people at the jail, told another guard, according to the Fremont police report.

Stierwalt appears never to have taken any effective action other than to arrange paying the guards for their silence and protecting their identities, while at the same time he offered no similar consideration for the victim, leaving her name in the report.

Overmyer was content.

“I believe the incident has been fairly and justly dealt with in accordance with the high standards of service that is expected by employees of the Sandusky County sheriff's office and that the public deserves,” Overmyer said in a prepared statement in late February 2012, after the firings and payouts to the guards.

Stierwalt also took no apparent corrective action when an inmate died of asphyxiation after Franklin Kaiser allegedly shattered the cartilage in the inmate's neck and left him to die on a shower room floor at the jail in 2007, according to court documents. 

Click here for related news articles

Welcome to Sandusky County, a place to live, grow and die always fearful of the public officials voters elect and the “high standards” they maintain.



It may be a circus in your opinion, but the fact is Sandusky County's crime rate is a lot lower than Erie county. So those folks there must be doing something right.


Could it be lower because the crimes are being committed by the ones who are supposed to enforce the laws and they are being hidden? Interesting thought!


That's because they don't go to any 'scene of the crime', thus, lower crime rates can be reported. If they do happen to receive an inmate--probably from another LE branch, then they can make fun of them until the good 'ole boys are needed at a donut eating contest.


Papa, you say "Hiring family members is a common practice in both the Public and the private sector." No disagreement there, but it doesn't make it right!
How would you like to be passed over for a job you have invested years of school, payments of school loans, hours of work, years of dedication to a job/company/school to someone's relative that hasn't worked as hard or put in the time and effort?
The conflict of interest rises and integrity thins out when there are family members' butts to cover.

dorothy gale

While I sometimes disagree with Mr. Westerhold's opinions and find the paper to be less than acceptable, in this instance I have no problem with his take on this. Law enforcement agencies are filled with corruption, starting at the very top and spilling down on everyone below. Law enforcement officers are in a position of POWER and when they misuse or abuse that power, it adversely affects all of us. If it seems like the editor is belaboring the point perhaps it is because there is no end to the corruption and abuses of power in law enforcement! Maybe he will stop writing about it when it ceases to be an issue! Mr. Westerhold, thank you for continuing to shine a bright light on the dark and dirty doings of local law enforcement agencies. These people are supposed to protect and serve us, a responsibility that gives them power, and they should not be allowed to continue to abuse that power and expect it to be a secret.

Little Giant

The primary reason the crime is higher in Sandusky when compared to Fremont is Metro Housing. Metro Housing and the degenerates that use it are more inclined to commit crime.

my oh my

Perfect example with a city commissioner when their brother received a promotion within the fire department and was also hired over others that were more qualified in Sandusky......It exists everywhere.

The governed

Keep up the good work Matt Westerhold.


Good to see some real journalism. We surely can not rely on the News Mess in Fremont to take the lead on any of this. Stick to your guns Matt, as law enforcement surely does stick to theirs. Accusations of being anti-cop are laughable at best. The police (prison guards included), being in that position of authority, can and will get away with things they shouldn't. Should they always be given the benefit of the doubt by looking the other way and never peeking under the rug?
Holysee thinks not. I ask the same question asked earlier: Just what fund did that 10,000 simoleons come from? Who pays the 3/4 mil if the lawsuit prevails? These questions are among the many reasons why we need real journalists like Matt. No one else seems to be taking a hard look at this and we in Sandusky county have to rely on an Erie county newspaper to even look at the dirty rug much less have look underneath.
Sad sad sad.


KnuckleDragger do know that the GOB network in Huron County IS a problem...soon to be resolved?