WARREN - A 50-year-old ex-convict who served a long prison stretch for staging a standoff in 1996 at a Ponderosa Steakhouse where customers were held hostage for a time was being held in Trumbull County Jail on Wednesday.
Robert Jordan, of Sutton Place N.E., also known as Robert Armstrong or Fitzgerald Armstrong, pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of drugs and driving under suspension and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Feb. 20 in Warren Municipal Court.
Melanie Gambill, of the Warren Police Department, stopped Jordan's car shortly after 5 p.m. Monday on Youngstown Road S.E. near the intersection of Willard Street and reported finding a quantity of suspected cocaine and $508 cash.
Jordan was denied bond and is believed to still be on parole after being sentenced to a 23- to 75-year prison term in 1997 for his role in the standoff at the former restaurant that operated on U.S. 422 near North Road S.E. in Niles. Ponderosa closed in January 2001.
He was first eligible for parole after 13 years.
Jordan and another man were charged after the standoff on April 8, 1996, when police surrounded the restaurant for more than 13 hours after gunmen hid in the attic when police surprised them during a robbery.
Jordan and Gregory Allen of Warren came out of the building several hours into the standoff, but the blockade continued because a third gunman was believed to be inside. The third man was never indicted even though Jordan's confession tells of his involvement.
In August 1996, Allen pleaded guilty to 10 counts of robbery, 10 counts of kidnapping and one count of felonious assault after his indictment.
Allen was sentenced to a mandatory three years in jail for the firearm specification plus concurrent sentences of eight to 25 years on all the kidnapping and robbery charges and eight to 15 years on the felonious assault charge. He was released from prison before Jordan.
Meanwhile, Jordan went to trial and was found guilty by a jury of five counts of kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery and a firfearm specification.
But Judge Andrew Logan handed down a stiffer sentence, citing Jordan's ''horrendous'' past criminal record that included misdemeanors and felonies ranging from receiving stolen property to assault to drug trafficking.