By Ed Runyan
Roderick Lewis Jr., who ran for Warren Board of Education last fall, has been indicted on charges accusing him of charging more than $2,100 on credit cards stolen from an elderly person and impersonating a police officer to extend the criminal activity.
Lewis, 24, of Stewart Drive Northwest, will be arraigned later this week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on the six felony charges.
Lewis, a 2009 Warren G. Harding High School graduate, finished fourth out of four candidates running for the Warren Board of Education in November. He received 12 percent of the vote.
He was honored in 2009 with a Warren Community Stars award and has been in the news several times in recent years for helping provide school supplies to Warren children and for his effort to revive a Burton Street park.
The theft, misuse-of-credit cards and impersonating-an-officer charges carry a possible penalty of about 10 years if convicted.
Howland police, who investigated, said the 92-year-old victim and her niece called them June 9 regarding her aunt having lost her purse at the Kohl’s Department Store on June 5 and finding out that fraudulent charges of about $2,050 had been made using her credit cards that day at Walmart and Kmart.
She canceled all her credit cards but received a phone call a short time later from a male, who said he was a detective for the Niles Police Department and he was investigating the theft of her purse.
The woman said the man took personal information from her and told her she didn’t need to call police because he was working on the case. He didn’t give her contact information, and his phone number came up “private” on her home phone.
The man called her several more times over the next three days, including June 8, when she received a new Visa credit card, and the man said she should put the new credit card in her mailbox, and he would stop by and get it to “run it through the police station.”
A short time later, a man in a dark brown automobile pulled up to the mailbox, beeped, waved and drove away. The woman told her niece what happened that night, and her niece contacted the credit card company and found that three more transactions of $43, $39 and $69 had been made on the new card.
Howland police advised them to cancel all of the credit cards. No one from the department was available to discuss how it identified Lewis as the suspect, and the police report doesn’t explain.