Former police chief arrested for stealing 51 bottles of liquor

TACOMA -- A former Montesano police chief was arrested for stealing 51 bottles of liquor earlier this month from a Tacoma Safeway, again violating the terms of a previous conviction agreement.

According to Tacoma police, Ray Sowers, 50, was spotted pulling a bottle of liquor out of his jacket and putting it into his car Jan. 9  near a Safeway in the 6000 block of 6th Avenue in Tacoma. The woman who spotted him told store security that he  "was stumbling around" outside his car before returning to the store.

Store security reviewed footage and called police just as Sowers allegedly drove from the store with more stolen liquor.

Tacoma police pulled over Sowers a short distance away from the store. The officer said Sowers was intoxicated when contacted, and told police that he had received multiple bottles for free "from work." When officers told him that didn't make sense, he reportedly said "I know," and protested his ensuing arrest saying, "they're not all stolen."

He was arrested and charged with second-degree burglary for stealing $1,537.92 dollars worth of liquor. Two bottles of vodka in his car were not stolen, police said.

Sowers was a 26-year veteran of law enforcement, and had formally served as Montesano's police chief. He resigned after the Washington State Patrol found he bilked thousands of dollars from city coffers, using stolen public funds to buy personal electronics and appliances.

He was also arrested in June for driving under the influence, the Aberdeen Daily World reported, and was out on bail when he was stopped Jan. 9. After his arrest he posted bail and was released.