A former Montesano police chief has pleaded not guilty to stealing 51 bottles of liquor from a Tacoma grocery story earlier this month.
Ray Sowers, 50, posted bail and was released from Pierce County Jail this week. He is charged with second-degree theft for the Jan. 9 incident.
Charging documents give this account:
A woman noticed Sowers stumble through the grocery store parking lot and pull several liquor bottles from inside his pants and jacket. He then placed them into the backseat of his car. When Sowers went back inside the store, the woman peered inside the vehicle and noticed multiple bottles strewn across the floor and seat.
She notified the store manager, who reviewed security footage and saw Sowers stealing the alcohol.
Police stopped Sowers nearby and Sowers claimed the alcohol came from work. When officers told him that made no sense, he replied, I know.
The stolen alcohol is worth more than $1,500, prosecutors said. Two bottles of vodka found inside Sowers car were not stolen.
Sowers spent 26 years in law enforcement until 2010, when he pleaded guilty to theft and identify theft charges. He was sentenced to six months in jail for using department credit cards to make $17,000 in purchases for home electronics and other items.