Ex-Chief Who Staged Traffic Stop Sentenced

ASHLAND, Ohio (AP) - A village's former police chief who staged a traffic stop to cover up an accidental shooting was sentenced Monday to five years in prison.

Tim Sommer, 53, admitted to investigators that he staged a traffic stop March 19 to cover up accidentally shooting a hole in the windshield of his cruiser.

While staging the traffic stop, Sommer accidentally shot himself in the leg. In a call to a dispatcher, the chief said he was shot by a man in a white car that he had stopped for not having license plates.

Sommer pleaded guilty in July to two counts of theft in office and one count of forgery. He pleaded no contest to one count of making false alarms and two counts of theft in office.

Before he was sentenced, Sommer apologized to his family and friends for embarrassing them and he apologized to the village of Perrysville.

"My heart has been with the village since it happened and it always will be," Sommer said. "I also lost a lot of good friends because of my actions."

Some of the charges resulted from an investigation of his tenure by the Ashland County prosecutor's office and sheriff's department following the staged traffic stop. The investigation found Sommer forged payroll checks and stole $1,550 donated for bulletproof vests and $1,245 in fines.

"A public trust has indeed been violated and may take a long time to restore," Ashland County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Runyan told Sommer at the sentencing.

Runyan sentenced Sommer to five years in prison and $6,000 in fines. Sommer also must pay $15,195 in restitution, mostly to cover the money various agencies spent responding to Sommer's false plea for help.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)