Former fugitive gets 17 years in Wayne County

The man who authorities say ran a multi-county drug trafficking ring before becoming a fugitive last year was sentenced to 17 years in prison in Wayne County April 6.

Richard Lawless, 49, of Polk, was convicted April 5 after a jury trial of kidnapping, felonious assault and abduction after he and another man, Michael Kouns, 27, of Creston, reportedly kidnapped two people at gunpoint at an address northwest of Wooster. They reportedly assaulted a male victim with a baseball bat after he was tied up.

These crimes were committed while the men were attempting to determine who was working with police – who were investigating a drug trafficking ring Lawless allegedly ran in Ashland, Wayne and Holmes counties, according to the Medina County Drug Task Force – who assisted in the investigation. Kouns previously received two years in prison after pleading guilty to felonious assault.

Lawless fled after authorities raided his Polk residence last summer and reportedly found a kilogram of cocaine, a pound of heroin, a pill press and numerous firearms. He was a fugitive for 52 days, and was reportedly spotted as far away as Utah. He eluded capture in West Virginia before being apprehended in Portage Lakes in Summit County in July 2015.

Lawless still has 37 counts pending in Ashland County, where his residence was. He is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, complicity to trafficking in heroin and cocaine, all first-degree felonies; along with illegal manufacture of drugs, drug possession and drug trafficking. A trial is scheduled for May.

Lawless’ girlfriend Sarah Krupansky, 28, was recently sentenced to 18 months in prison in Medina County for obstruction of justice for using false information to buy a vehicle in the county and helping Lawless escape police by having him stay in a local residence.

Krupansky was found last year with Lawless in West Virginia and arrested during a traffic stop. She has 26 counts pending in Ashland County, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, complicity to traffick heroin, tampering with records, and drug possession.

Lawless is originally from southern Medina County and attended Cloverleaf High School.

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