Contact with family influenced the fugitive's decision to turn himself in.
By KANTELE FRANKO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- The man who police say led them on a chase in two counties last week and is a suspect in area pharmacy break-ins is in jail on $1 million bond after being arraigned Monday on four felony charges.
Judge David A. D'Apolito of Mahoning County Court set bond for Christopher Aczel, 33, of West Calla Road, North Lima, who faces three counts of felonious assault and a felony count of fleeing and eluding. Seven additional charges of drug trafficking also were served separately on Aczel.
The judge stipulated that the defendant and his family members surrender any weapons he might have.
Aczel, whom police had considered to be armed and dangerous as a fugitive, denied possessing any guns.
But officers and investigators have independent sources confirming Aczel's possession of several weapons, including a pistol and a revolver, said Sgt. Bob Magnuson, commander of the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force.
Aczel surrendered to the task force at the Beaver Township Police Department Monday morning without incident and in the presence of four officers.
Aczel's family members and the family's longtime relationship with township Detective Rick Martin influenced his decision to come forward, Magnuson said.
Aczel was arraigned on charges stemming from a two-county police chase July 12 during which a Jeep driven by Aczel rammed an unmarked cruiser containing three officers at Tippecanoe Road and U.S. Route 62 in Canfield. Officers had tried to serve a search warrant on Aczel, who pulled over and then sped away, police said. The pursuit led to a wooded area in Portage County, where Aczel abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot.
Magnuson said the high bond was appropriate because of Aczel's actions and his potential danger to the community.
"If he's a danger to police officers, he's certainly a danger to the citizens of Mahoning County," he said.
Potential drug problem
Aczel also is suspected of breaking into several area pharmacies in recent months, including Thursday night's break-in at the Cornersburg Family Discount Drug on Canfield Road, Youngstown, where someone escaped with unspecified amounts antidepressant and antibiotic drugs.
Police previously have said Aczel might be drug-dependent because he tended to look for Schedule II narcotics, those with a high potential for abuse.
But Magnuson said Aczel took "street-type drugs that are easy to sell," such as the narcotic OxyContin.
He said Aczel has a history of misdemeanor charges, some involving drugs.
Though no other arrests have been made, Aczel "has been connected to other people," and officers will continue to investigate his involvement in breaking and entering at the pharmacies, Magnuson said.