LAKE COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - Close to 2,000 Northeast Ohio residents have been notified their concealed carry permits could be revoked because of serious questions over the man who may have trained them.
According to the Lake County Sheriff's Office, letters have gone out to around 1,700 people notifying them of "alleged discrepancies" that could render their CCW licenses invalid.
"They thought they were being taught by a certified NRA instructor," said Lake County Sheriff's Captain Ron Walters. "Come to find out, he's not a certified instructor at all."
Walters confirms the agency is actively investigating firearms instructor Luther Norman, 71, of Euclid. Norman, who taught at Double Tap Academy, is accused of teaching CCW courses without having the proper qualifications as required by state law. Norman has not been charged with a crime.
Walters says Norman lost his NRA firearms instructor certification after he was caught in 2013 teaching CCW courses without providing the total number of state-mandated instruction hours.
Despite losing his certification, Walters says the Sheriff's Department investigation has discovered that Norman continued to teach CCW courses and used the name and signature of a legitimate instructor on the course completion certificates. Walters tells us that instructor, Kim Woodson, is also under investigation. Woodson has not been charged.
Kathryn Curry and her husband Danny both have "12 Hour Basic Pistol Course" certificates signed by Woodson.
"Did you ever meet this woman?" I asked Kathryn. "No. Never," she replied.
Curry says it was Norman who trained her and her husband in 2015. She told us they each paid Norman around $200 for the firearms course.
The couple recently received letters from the Lake County Sheriff's Office ordering them to appear in person at the Concealed Handgun License office within 30 days. If they failed to appear, their CCW licenses would be revoked.
Curry says they visited the office and were asked to view "a line up of pictures." They identified Norman as the man who taught them.
Walters told us 90 percent of people interviewed by detectives so far have identified Norman as their instructor.
"The sad thing about this, Carl, is all these people are trying to acquire their CW permits the right way," said Walters.
"We figure 1,700 [people], even if a thousand of them are bad, at $200 a pop for class...he's stealing from all these people," said Walters. "He's purporting to be giving a legitimate product when he's not."
Walters says the Sheriff's Office is preparing to present their evidence to the Lake County Prosecutor's Office.
The investigation into Norman isn't confined to just Lake County. Sheriff's departments in every county across the state have been asked to search their records for other CCW permit holders who were trained by Norman.
Cleveland 19 News has attempted to contact Norman and Woodson for comment, but we have been unable to reach them.
"It's sad, it really is," said Walters. "These people will have to take this class again when they tried to do it right the first time."
The Ohio Attorney General recommends anyone seeking private handgun training to take the following minimum steps before paying for any form of training:
- Verify the person teaching the class is qualified to teach
- Confirm the instructor knows the requirements of the law
- A good instructor will provide you with this publication
- Verify whether a refund or additional training may be available if a county sheriff determines, when you apply for a license, that the course did not meet the law’s requirements