STOW — What started out as a couple of alleged shopliftings snowballed into seven felonies and three misdemeanors that Stow and Tallmadge police have filed against an Akron man.
According to Stow Municipal Court records, Tallmadge police got things going by charging 40-year-old Richard P. Howiler II with third-degree felony robbery Nov. 29.
Then on Dec. 1, Stow joined in by filing a third-degree felony escape charge, as well as drug possession and four counts of possession of criminal tools, all fifth-degree felonies, and misdemeanor charges of criminal simulation, theft and obstructing official business.
Howiler did not enter pleas to the felonies and pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanors at his Dec. 1 arraignment. According to a complaint Stow police filed with the court, it was while he was there for his arraignment that Howiler allegedly tried to escape from a court holding area by hiding in a plumbing access closet.
Howiler was being held in Summit County Jail on a 10 percent of $500,000 bond as of Dec. 6.
Tallmadge Police Chief Ron Williams said that after Howiler allegedly tried to purchase some items with a credit card that was declined at the West Avenue Autozone store Nov. 12, he ran from the store without paying for merchandise. Williams said the charge became a robbery because Howiler allegedly "wrestled with the [store] manager in the doorway."
Howiler fled the area on foot, leaving a vehicle he was using behind. The vehicle contained items allegedly stolen elsewhere, along with nine different driver’s licenses, said Williams, and police determined he was wanted by Fairlawn police and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office for alleged identity theft.
Police then contacted the vehicle’s registered owner, a relative of Howiler’s, who said Howiler had borrowed the vehicle and not returned it.
"He was positively identified through a photo lineup," said Williams.
Then on Dec. 1, Stow police responded to a report that Howiler had tried to leave the Hudson Drive Wal-Mart store with clothing totaling more than $500 in value. Police said Howiler falsely identified himself and they found him in possession of suspected meth, as well as alleged criminal tools, including bureau of motor vehicles bar code images of various driver’s licenses, a bar code reader, 40 blank Wal-Mart gift cards, and a credit card reader. Police said Holiler also possessed a counterfeit $50 bill.