Police said a man reported that a couple wanted him to move a body from their apartment.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- A Pratt Street man accused of planning to dispose of the body of an Austintown man who died in his apartment faces several charges
Police went to the Pratt Street apartment Saturday evening after another man reported that William F. Stadler, 43, who lives in the apartment, and Stadler's girlfriend asked him to help them move a body out of their apartment.
Stadler is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, because he's accused of driving the deceased man's car without the man's permission; possession of drug paraphernalia, because police said they found a suspected crack pipe; obstructing official business, because police said he denied the death; and failing to report a death.
All the charges are misdemeanors, and the motor vehicle charge carries the stiffest penalty, with a maximum six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine upon conviction.
Innocent plea: Stadler pleaded innocent to the charges, and Judge Thomas W. Townley of Niles Municipal Court set a pretrial hearing for Wednesday. Bond was set at $2,500.
The man was talking to the couple at the Bella Napoli Bar about 6 p.m. Saturday and reported the incident to police.
The girlfriend, who had not been located, also may be charged, authorities said.
He said the couple told him a man overdosed on drugs in their apartment and his body was lying on the kitchen floor.
They wanted him to help them put the body in the dead man's car and leave it somewhere.
Denied report: Capt. Guy Simeone said that when police initially went to Stadler's apartment investigating the man's report and inquiring whether someone was sick or injured, Stadler denied it.
Stadler eventually let police into the apartment, and they found Robert Abbey, 50, of County Line Road, Austintown, dead on the kitchen floor.
Simeone said Stadler told police that Abbey went to Stadler's apartment Saturday to inject OxyContin. Afterward, Abbey fell out of a kitchen chair, hit his head on a corner of the stove and fell on the floor, Stadler told police.
OxyContin, a powerful painkiller often prescribed for cancer patients, has become an illegal street drug, authorities have said.
Several deaths in the Mahoning Valley have been attributed to its recreational use.
Stadler said that Abbey had been dead for about two hours and that he hadn't called police or emergency personnel because he thought his girlfriend was going to do it.
It's a crime not to report a death to authorities.
Drug paraphernalia: Simeone said police didn't find syringes in the apartment, but they found a suspected crack pipe, resulting in the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.
A ruling on a cause of death for Abbey is pending from the Trumbull County Coroner's Office.
During his arraignment, Stadler told the judge he earned $400 per week working at a car dealership but couldn't afford an attorney.
"I've got $22 downstairs, and that's all the money I have in the world," he said.
Failure to report a death carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail or a $250 fine.
The charges of obstructing official business and possession each are punishable by a maximum $750 fine and 90 days in jail.