The defendant had a sheriff's courtesy card.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A 44-year-old Howland man has pleaded innocent to charges of criminal trespass, obstructing official business and impersonating a police officer.
John J. Jewell of Deer Creek Lane is accused of searching in a wooded area for money stolen from a bank robbery and when confronted by authorities, identifying himself as a deputy sheriff.
Municipal Judge Terry Ivanchak released Jewell on $1,500 bond and ordered him to return to court April 11.
If convicted of all the charges, Jewell could face up to seven months in the Trumbull County jail.
What happened: Howland police were called around 9 p.m. Wednesday by a resident on Highland Terrace S.E. saying a vehicle was parked on his street and a man was in the wooded area behind his home with a flashlight.
Police and FBI agents have been searching the area, bordered by Howland-Wilson Road, since Monday where four men accused of Monday's robbery of the Seven Seventeen Credit Union, 6813 Commerce Drive, Hubbard, may have thrown the money.
The men were arrested nearby, but no money has been found.
Howland officers arrived Wednesday and identified themselves as police officers.
They reported that they asked Jewell what he was doing and he told them he was looking for "the money."
Police asked Jewell if he was searching "in the capacity of a law enforcement officer representing the Trumbull County Sheriff's office and Jewell said yes and that Sheriff Thomas Altiere was aware of the situation.
"John J. Jewell .. .produced an identification card from the Trumbull County Sheriff's Office," their report states.
Sheriff: Altiere said Thursday that he did not authorize Jewell to search for the money. He added that Jewell is not a deputy but has a "courtesy card" from the sheriff's department.
Police said Jewell told them that if he found the money, he was going to return it to the bank.
The report further notes that Jewell smelled of alcohol and told officers he had consumed four beers.