AP NEWS

Pittsburgh man allowed to serve jail sentence on weekends

March 26, 2019

A 47-year-old Braddock man who was sentenced Monday to 30 days to 23 months in the Somerset County Jail for criminal mischief opted for 15 weekends of incarceration so he could “save the family business.”

Charles Preston Howard took responsibility for his actions but said he is not the same person who committed the crime more than five years ago. He told President Judge D. Gregory Geary that he is a productive husband and “a working man.”

According to court documents, on March 3, 2013, Howard damaged an employee’s vehicle and used a company credit card for personal items not authorized by his employer, Gloria Otto, of Otto Enterprises in Addison.

Geary listened to Howard and his attorney, Tiffany Stanley of Somerset, who requested an alternative sentence so her client could continue to run a business out of his Pittsburgh-area home.

“The problem that I have is it took somewhere around six years for this case to come to fruition,” the judge said.

The delays were mostly the result of Howard not showing up for court hearings, he said.

“I have no doubt in my mind the man who stands before me is not the same man you were five years ago,” Geary said.

The judge said Howard would have been better off taking responsibility for his actions in 2013.

“When you mess up, you need to look in the mirror and say, ’I messed up,” and take responsibility for your actions and move on,” the judge said.

Geary said he would be willing to entertain a work release petition, but Stanley said that arrangement would not work because of the location of Howard’s business.

After some discussion with Stanley and District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, Geary said, “I will consider Mr. Howard serving his sentence on multiple weekends.”

Howard jumped at the idea.

“I want everybody to understand, this is 15 consecutive weekends,” the judge said. “Mr. Howard needs to present himself to the jail over that time every Friday at 7 p.m. and be released every Sunday at 7 p.m. I think it will be more painful to you than serving the 30 days. You want to save the business?”

Howard said he did.

Geary then sentenced Howard to the weekend incarceration, prompting Howard’s wife to stand up in the courtroom and thank the judge for his decision.

Howard must pay court costs, a $300 fine and $925.23 in restitution to Otto. He will be automatically paroled after serving his minimum sentence. He pleaded guilty Jan. 3.