AREA BURGLARIES Gains seeks to unify cases
The suspect remains in jail.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains wants to consolidate far-flung burglary cases and directly present the evidence to a grand jury to prevent suspect William J. Harrison's court hopping.
"Why transport him all around?" Gains said Wednesday. "I want to present his cases in one day to a grand jury."
Detectives in several communities say Harrison, 42, of Crescent Drive, Struthers, has admitted committing a series of burglaries.
Directly presenting evidence to a grand jury eliminates the need to arraign Harrison in a lower court, schedule a preliminary hearing in the lower court, then wait to see if a judge binds the case over to a grand jury after the hearing.
Without a direct presentment, Harrison would be traveling to Struthers, Youngstown, Boardman and Campbell for court hearings. He also has pending cases in Trumbull County.
"When his case gets presented, I want all the detectives here to testify the same day and then issue an all-inclusive indictment," Gains said. "Why keep carting him all over the county?"
Gains said he has instructed Boardman and Campbell to "pack up their cases" for direct presentment. Harrison faces at least six burglary charges in each of those communities.
The prosecutor said he asked Carol Clemente-Wagner, Struthers law director, to dismiss Harrison's five burglary charges there so that they can be directly presented in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. She agreed to dismiss the charges, he said.
Gains pointed out that Harrison began serving a 180-day jail sentence Wednesday. He was convicted of driving under suspension in Struthers. "He's not going anywhere. It's not like he could make bond and get out," the prosecutor said.
Harrison will not be charged with six counts of burglary in Youngstown now that Gains has pushed for direct presentment.
"They'll be brought here," he said of the charges.
Youngstown Municipal Court still retains a receiving stolen property charge related to the burglaries. A preliminary hearing on that is set for Tuesday.
Gains said he will contact other Mahoning County police agencies that may be considering burglary charges against Harrison and tell them of his plan. Some cases are still under investigation, he said.
The evidence against Harrison will be brought before a grand jury as soon as feasible, the prosecutor said. If more charges crop up after the indictment, it can be amended, he said.
The investigation that led to Harrison's arrest began after a series of burglaries on Youngstown's South Side. The section hardest hit was the Brownlee Woods-Buckeye Circle area.
Youngstown Detective Sgt. Pat Kelly, head of the street crimes unit, said Harrison has been cooperative -- admitting seven burglaries -- and given up names of burglars and fences, those who buy and resell stolen goods.
Kelly said Harrison committed burglaries because of a heroin addiction.