Lawless faces kidnapping charges; pleads not guilty
A Polk man who has been the subject of a months-long drug investigation was arraigned on charges he, along with another man, allegedly kidnapped and assaulted two people.
Richard Lawless, 48, of 355 County Road 902, pleaded not guilty to two charges of kidnapping (first-degree felonies), felonious assault (second-degree felony) and two charges of abduction (third-degree felonies) in Wayne County Common Pleas Court.
Lawless remained in the Wayne County Jail as of Friday on a bond of $100,000 cash or surety.
He was indicted with a codefendant, Michael Perry Kouns, 26, last known address of 3951 Winkler Road, Wooster, in June. Kouns also has pleaded not guilty to all charges and remained jailed with the same bond as Lawless.
The charges against Lawless and Kouns stem from an incident on Winkler Road in Chester Township near Overton where they allegedly kidnapped and abducted a man and woman at a home.
Lawless allegedly assaulted the man with a metal baseball bat.
Gary Hubbard, director of the Medina County Drug Task Force, explained the victims, both in their 20s, are people Lawless believed tipped off authorities about his alleged drug trafficking.
Lawless has been the subject of a months-long federal drug investigation -- charges are forthcoming, Hubbard said -- which led to a search warrant executed at one of his alleged stash houses May 27 on Myers Road near West Salem.
Hubbard said he "can't get into that right now," but noted it is "a good case."
His agency is working with Ashland and Medina sheriff offices, Medway Drug Enforcement Agency, Cleveland DEA and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
Don Hall, director of Medway, said his office assisted with the warrant execution, along with Medina's drug agency and agents from the DEA office in Cleveland.
Hubbard said Lawless was interviewed at the time the warrant was executed, but not arrested as the investigation was ongoing. And then he went on the run from authorities.
Hubbard said not only was he subject to the federal drug investigation, but Lawless also had a warrant for his arrest in Ashland County for a weapons violation.
Lawless was on the run from authorities -- including in West Virginia, when he eluded a state trooper in that state -- before his arrest July 17 in Summit County by the United States Marshals. When he was located, Lawless tried to flee from the marshals on foot.
Hubbard added Lawless has "been well-known to us" for several years and has been active in the drug trade for most of that time.
A pretrial conference for Kouns has been set for Monday in front of Judge Mark K. Wiest; the next court hearing for Lawless has not been set.
By STEVEN F. HUSZAI @the-daily-record.com