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Former Monte police chief charged with stuffing stolen liquor down his pants in Tacoma

Just months after completing another jail stint, former Montesano police chief Ray Sowers was booked into Pierce County jail on Jan. 10 for allegedly stealing dozens of bottles of booze, stuffing them down his pants and repeating the process multiple times at a Safeway in Tacoma

Sowers, who court records show still has a Montesano address, is already on bail for a Driving Under the Influence charge in Grays Harbor District Court with a court date for that charge to be handled at the end of the month. It’s his second Driving Under the Influence charge in a one-year-timespan.

Sowers was sentenced to 30 days in the Grays Harbor County Jail on Aug. 13 for violating parole for the original theft charge that cost him his police career. In September of 2011, Sowers was sentenced to six months in jail, which included some stints off for work release, and two years of community custody after his release. Sowers had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree theft and second-degree identity theft for using his position as chief to spend more than $17,000 of city money on personal expenses. He had used city money to buy GPS devices, computers, DVD players, a television, painting supplies and many mundane items, such as laundry detergent and cleaning supplies.

Sowers resigned from his post in September of 2010.

Sowers was arrested for DUI in August of 2012 and then, again, on June 20, 2013. The latest DUI charge will be heard by the court at the end of the month. He was supposed to have refrained from drinking alcohol, which may come into play this time around because of the charge in Tacoma.

Sowers, who is now 50 years old, is charged with Theft in the Second Degree in Pierce County Superior Court after a witness spotted Sowers at his car, where he “appeared to be having difficulty walking at, at one point, stumbled towards the ground,” according to a declaration for determination of probable cause.

Sowers was placing “numerous bottles of liquor into the backseat.”

A Tacoma Police Officer and the manager of Safeway “reviewed security footage and stated the footage depicted the defendant going to the liquor store aisle where he then placed numerous bottles of liquor in his coat pockets as well as tucking them into his pants and then leaving the store without paying for the liquor and then returning a short time later and repeating the process.”

“A total of 51 bottles from Safeway had been taken for a total value of $1,537,” the declaration states. “There were two bottles of vodka in the vehicle that Safeway indicated had not been taken from their store.”

Sowers “was later contacted by law enforcement when he was seen pushing a silver vehicle … with another citizen attempting to push the vehicle into the Chevron gas station.”

Grays Harbor District Court records notes Sowers has an ignition interlock device on his vehicle, a 2004 green Ford Excursion — which means he was using a different vehicle in Tacoma. The District Court records show that Sowers had no problems getting his Excursion to work with regular reports turned into the court while he was on parole.

After being arrested, Sowers claimed to officers he got the alcohol “from work.” Sowers is out on bail from Tacoma via a bail bond of $15,000. Sowers signed a release paper promising not to consume or possess alcohol and to have no contact with Safeway.

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