ShareThis Page

North Charleroi man to stand trial for car thefts, arson charges

| Friday, April 18, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Tonio Howard
Tonio Howard

A North Charleroi man accused of stealing vehicles from a Charleroi auto repair garage and setting one of them on fire will head to trial.

Charges against Tonio Brian-Anthony Howard, 22, of 372 Pennsylvania Blvd., Apt. 5, for two separate incidents were held for court Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Ethan Ward in Washington County Central Court.

Howard allegedly stole vehicles from Ross Automotive at 621 McKean Ave. on Feb. 14 and March 20, according to Charleroi Regional police.

Howard allegedly denied stealing a BMW on Feb. 14, telling Officer Chad Zelinsky he gave a man $20 for the car and subsequently returned the vehicle to the man, whom he never saw again. Police said they acquired surveillance footage of Howard driving the stolen vehicle.

On March 20, police were called back to Ross Automotive for a burglary that occurred overnight. Howard is accused of stealing a GMC Envoy, cash register and keys to several vehicles on the lot.

Police said the 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 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. which was pumped into the red container, according to police.

Police said the store's surveillance camera showed Howard purchasing the gasoline and leaving in a white Dodge Caliber.

Zelinsky served a search warrant at Howard's residence 12:45 p.m. April 2, 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 remains in the Washington County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bond for the Feb. 14 incident and $100,000 bond for the March 20 and 28 incidents.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.