Karen Howard To Remain Caged N.j. Denies Early Release For Wife Of Eagles' Pr Man

Posted: February 17, 2000

Karen Howard blew it again.

Her first mistake left one man dead on the side of a highway after she struck him with her Ford Explorer and drove off.

Her second keeps her behind bars.

Howard, wife of Eagles public relations director Ron Howard, was denied parole yesterday, mostly because she violated the rules of work-release. Camden County Jail Warden David Owens Jr. ended her work privileges last Thursday "for disciplinary reasons." She'd already received one warning, he said.

Neither Owens nor state parole board officials would specify the violation, but Owens said she didn't leave her job site.

Prisoners on work-release have to follow 12 rules. Among them: They can't go home without permission, have friends or family visit, make personal phone calls, use alcohol or drugs or associate with people who have criminal records.

"When you're in prison and given the opportunity to simulate some part of being in the community . . . but then you get removed from work-release, it is very serious, very disturbing," said Andrew B. Consovoy, parole board chairman, who conducted the two-hour hearing with board vice chairman William T. McCargo.

"She gave an explanation, but it was not too revealing," Consovoy said.

"She blew it.

"She's got some major issues. This was not an accident," Consovoy said, referring to the work-release violation. "She was warned at some time, but she kept doing something she was told not to do."

Camden County Prosecutor Lee A. Solomon had no comment yesterday. Howard's attorneys did not return phone calls.

Howard, 36, will remain behind bars until July 23, unless she is given time off for good behavior. If she had been granted parole yesterday, she would have been free in 30 days.

Howard was unemotional during the hearing, according to Consovoy and McCargo. No one else was in the room.

"She was kind of emotionally flat," Consovoy said.

Howard did make a few statements to the parole board officials, including that she wanted to be released and go home. "She said she wanted to get out and be a mother," Consovoy said.

But when the hearing ended, Howard, in orange prison garb, was escorted across the lobby, not looking distraught.

Howard started serving a 360-day sentence Sept. 29 after pleading guilty to striking Robert Hoagland, 29, of Atco, and leaving the scene of the October 1998 accident.

Howard and her son, now 5, were headed home to Evesham, N.J., after spending a day in the family box at the Eagles game. Hoagland and his wife, Maureen, also had been at the game to celebrate their first-year wedding anniversary.

The Hoaglands' Mustang got a flat tire on I-76 in Gloucester City. Robert was crouched near his car on the shoulder to change the tire when Howard approached in her Explorer.

As she turned to tend to her son in the back seat, she swerved and hit Hoagland. She got out of the car and asked if everyone was OK. When she saw otherwise, she drove off. Hoagland died in his wife's arms on the side of the road.

Howard went home, washed the car and made arrangements to have the front-end damage repaired. On a tip, investigators traced the car to her.

Howard started work-release Nov. 2 as a health-insurance-benefits clerk in Camden County. Sometimes, prison officials escorted her to work. Other times, her employers drove her or she took public transportation, Owens said.

Howard lived in a 16-person work-release prison unit with bunk beds, showers and a TV that could stay on 24 hours.

She will be moved to another unit with fewer privileges, Owens said. Exercise will be restricted to one hour a day, and she can take a shower only during certain times.

"She's in a much more institutional setting," Owens said.

Once Howard is freed, she will face five years of probation. Tomorrow, Camden County Superior Court Judge Louis F. Hornstine will hold a hearing to reconsider her sentence.

Send e-mail to lakerb@phillynews.com

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