Self-proclaimed activist indicted

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – An ex-candidate for the Warren Board of Education is being sought by police after he was indicted on several charges by a Trumbull County grand jury last week.

Roderick Lewis Jr., 23, claimed to be a community activist, but prosecutors said all he cared about was himself. They said he tried to trick an elderly woman into giving him her credit card by claiming to be a police officer.

“This was a sad case of simply an individual who took advantage of what he could from a very nice old lady,” said Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker.

Police said Lewis stole a 92-year-old Howland woman’s purse while she shopped at Kohl’s department store in June and racked up more than $2,000 in charges at Walmart and Kmart. But authorities said he didn’t stop there.

Shortly after she canceled her credit cards, she got a phone call from a man claiming to be a Niles police officer. Prosecutors allege it was Lewis pretending to be Lt. Jeff Cole, who actually works for the Warren Police Department.

The victim said she thought he was legitimate since she recognized Cole’s name from the news.

He told her he was investigating her stolen purse. She gave him personal information and at one point when she received her new Visa card, police said Lewis, who was still impersonating Cole, asked her to give him her new card as part of the investigation.

The woman left the card in an envelope in her mailbox. He showed up and took the card, and even beeped and waved to the victim before he took off, police said.

Soon after, more charges started showing up on the victim’s credit card statement. Becker said it’s a lesson for everyone if someone calls or shows up claiming to be a police officer.

“Obviously ask to see some identification and you may want to check with superiors and call the police department phone numbers listed in the phone book,” Becker said.

Lewis has not yet been picked up by police, but he is expected to be arraigned on Friday. He is facing charges of theft from an elderly person, three counts of misuse of credit cards, theft, attempted misuse of credit cards and impersonating a police officer.

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