Whitehall board member Howard faces felony concealed-carry charge
A Franklin County grand jury on Sept. 28 indicted Whitehall Board of Education member Brandon Howard, 21, of Cumberland Drive, with carrying a concealed weapon.
The charge is a fourth-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The indictment stems from an Aug. 7 incident in which Howard allegedly was carrying a loaded firearm during Whitehall's National Night Out celebration at John Bishop Park.
Howard was not arrested and surrendered the firearm to police.
According to Franklin County Common Pleas Court records, Howard is scheduled for arraignment at 1 p.m. Oct. 15 in Courtroom 2B of Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
He has no attorney of record, according to the court entry.
Howard was not available for comment Oct. 1, but his father, Whitehall city treasurer Brent Howard, told ThisWeek Whitehall News that the family would respond to the incident.
According to a Whitehall police report, school board member Mike Adkins informed a police officer during National Night Out that Howard was carrying a concealed handgun and did not have a permit to do so.
Police confirmed through the Ohio Attorney General's Office that Howard did not have a concealed-carry permit.
Two officers approached Howard and asked if he had a gun, and Howard told police he was carrying a firearm. Howard told police he had obtained a permit about one week prior to the incident as he is employed with a security company.
Police had personal knowledge that Howard was employed as a security company, according to the report.
Howard told police he did not have the permit but usually keeps it in his vehicle. Police accompanied him to his vehicle, where Howard was unable to locate it and advised police it was at his residence.
While at Brandon Howard's vehicle, Brent Howard and the spouse of another board member arrived, police said.
According to the report, police did not consider Howard a flight risk and believed he recently had obtained the permit.
Officers allowed Brent Howard to take possession of the firearm, police said.
Brandon Howard told police he would present the permit at the Whitehall Division of Police by 4 p.m. the following day, police said. He did not report to the station Aug. 8.
Whitehall police contacted the Franklin County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 8 and was told CCW permits are recoded with the state as they are issued.
On Aug. 9, Whitehall police detained Howard during a traffic stop on Ross Road. Howard told police his employer apparently had told him mistakenly that he had a permit to carry a firearm.
According to the report, Howard told police he was a "victim of relying on what his boss told him" and would no longer carry a gun.
Howard told police his employer never gave him any documentation, contradicting what he initially told police Aug. 7 at National Night Out, police said in the report.
Police retrieved the firearm and confiscated it.
According to the report, Howard told police he assumed the issue would be "just swept under the rug." The officer told him a prosecutor would determine whether charges would be filed.
The gun was sent to a laboratory for testing and after it was determined to be an operable firearm, the case was presented to a grand jury, which returned an indictment Sept. 28.
Howard, 21, is serving his first term on the school board, having been elected in November 2011. He is a 2009 graduate of Hartley High School.
His mother, Ronda, also is a Whitehall board member. Brent Howard, the city's treasurer, is a former city council president.
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