Suspected marijuana in the car was too big for the evidence locker, police said.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sacks of marijuana bounced in the trunk as Lawrence M. Owens tossed more than $34,000 from his speeding car during a pursuit, police said.
After jumping from the car on Crescent Street around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, the 47-year-old Farrell man was tackled by members of the Street Crimes Unit. He was charged with aggravated trafficking in marijuana, driving under suspension, fleeing and eluding, resisting arrest, not wearing a seat belt and failure to signal a turn.
At arraignment Thursday in municipal court, Judge Robert P. Milich set Owens' bond at $29,500. He will be back in court May 6.
The pursuit began when SCU Patrolmen Assad Chaibi, Chad Zubal and Greg Mullennex saw the driver of a 1997 Mitsubishi turn right on a red light on Glenwood Avenue onto High Street without stopping or signaling the turn. The officers pulled the car over at High and Edwards Street.
As officers approached, Owens told them he needed to get his "stuff" out of the glove compartment but instead shifted into gear and sped west on Marshall Street and then north on Interstate 680. From there, he entered the Madison Avenue Expressway and took it east to Crescent Street.
During the pursuit, speeds reached 85 mph, and Owens disregarded all traffic control signals, police said.
Owens drove to the rear entrance of a business in the 1100 block of Manning Avenue, jumped out and ran about 40 yards on Crescent before being tackled in the street.
As police handcuffed Owens, they were advised by the radio operator that calls had come in reporting that "someone was throwing money out of a car on the freeway."
Other SCU members searched I-680 north just before the Salt Springs Road exit and 150 yards south. They found the cash on I-680 under the Glenwood Avenue bridge.
Police collected $34,450 from I-680 and the surrounding area. They seized $2,020 from Owens' pants pockets.
In Owens' trunk, police found a gym bag that contained a large cellophane-wrapped bale of suspected marijuana. The officers also found plastic grocery sacks that contained three one-gallon bags filled with suspected marijuana, reports show.
One money-stuffed plastic grocery sack found on the freeway matched the bags in the trunk, police said.
The suspected marijuana confiscated was too large to store in the evidence locker and had to be stored in two duffel bags on the evidence room floor, reports show.
What else was found
Police also confiscated pieces of torn paper from Owens' car that had a pastor's name and Pennsylvania phone number written on them. The number is listed to an address in Hermitage, computer records show.
When arrested, Owens said he wanted a lawyer and declined to answer questions, police said.
Lt. Rod Foley, commander of the Vice Squad, said Thursday that the marijuana haul weighed about 14 pounds. Foley said the street value is roughly $21,000.
A Drug Enforcement Administration agent, based on the large amount of marijuana and cash, has an interest in the case and asked that Owens' Mitsubishi be held for the DEA.