Valley man allegedly stole 2 cars, burned 1
A North Charleroi man is accused of stealing vehicles from a Charleroi auto repair garage and setting one of them on fire.
Tonio Brian-Anthony Howard, 22, of 372 Pennsylvania Blvd., Apt. 5, faces arson and numerous other felony charges stemming from an investigation into burglaries at Ross Automotive.
Howard allegedly stole vehicles from the 621 McKean Ave. business on Feb. 14 and March 20, according to two criminal complaints filed Thursday with Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins in Charleroi.
He allegedly denied stealing a BMW 545 Sedan Feb. 14, telling Charleroi Regional Police Officer Chad Zelinsky he gave a man $20 for the car and subsequently returned the vehicle to the man, whom he never saw again.
Homestead police recovered the BMW Feb. 25 and had it impounded.
Searching the vehicle, Zelinsky found a receipt from a Sheetz convenience store in Monroeville. The receipt was printed 10:54 p.m. Feb. 22, according to the criminal complaint.
Zelinsky alleges that Sheetz surveillance camera footage shows Howard driving the stolen vehicle.
On March 20, police were called back to Ross Automotive for a burglary that occurred overnight. Employees told police someone got inside by breaking a garage bay window.
The burglar stole a gold GMC Envoy, a Sharp cash register and keys to several vehicles on the lot: a red Ford Fusion, a green Range Rover, an orange Nissan Xterra and a Ford Explorer, the complaint states.
Police said the GMC Envoy was found March 27 at the intersection of Second Street and Lincoln Avenue in Charleroi. According to the complaint, the owner, whom police did not identify, was notified and said he would have it towed.
Because the ignition key was missing, a Ross employee disabled the vehicle so it could not be driven, police stated.
At 5:22 a.m. March 28, police and Charleroi firefighters were called to the intersection of Second Street and Lincoln Avenue, where the GMC Envoy was engulfed in flames.
Police found a small, red plastic gasoline container near the vehicle. A clerk at the nearby Sunoco gas station told police a black man with tattoos on his face, neck and arms bought $2.50 in gasoline at 4:29 a.m. The gas was pumped into the red container, according to the complaint.
Police said the store's surveillance camera showed Howard purchasing the gasoline and leaving in a white Dodge Caliber.
Zelinsky stated in the complaint that he responded to a disturbance report 11:45 p.m. Monday at Howard's residence. That's when he identified Howard as the man seen in the surveillance footage from both Sheetz and Sunoco.
Under questioning at the police station, Howard denied involvement in the crimes, allegedly telling Zelinsky he filled the gasoline tank at Sunoco “for his girl,” so she had “extra gas to get back to Detroit,” the complaint states.
Police said a key for the red Ford Fusion was found in Howard's pants pocket.
Zelinsky served a search warrant at Howard's residence 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, where keys for the BMW, Range Rover and Ford Explorer were purportedly found in a duffle bag.
Howard is charged with receiving stolen property, burglary and two counts of theft by unlawful taking for the Feb. 14 incident.
For the March 20 burglary and March 28 vehicle fire, Howard is charged with 15 counts of recklessly endangering another person, three counts of arson, two counts of theft by unlawful taking and one count each of burglary, risking a catastrophe and receiving stolen property.
Howard was arraigned Thursday by Hopkins, who sent him to the Washington County Correctional Facility in lieu of $150,000 bond.
He faces a preliminary hearing 9:30 a.m. April 16 in Washington County Central Court.
Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Area girl celebrates her Quinceanera
- Belle Vernon man faces drug charges
- ‘Sputzy,’ Monessen High ’60 graduates to reunite
- Pony World Series tradition continues at Washington
- Woman marks 70 years on bench at Rostraver church’s organ
- Mon Valley Chamber fundraiser to offer encore for ‘Got Talent’
- Victim of Monessen standoff committed suicide
- Ringgold to seek state’s help funding new school building
- House Democratic Policy Committee meets in Monessen
- Land bank considered in Washington County
- Donora seems ready to sue over school sale