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Metro Briefs

- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2007

REGION

Homeless population on the decline

The latest survey of homeless people in the Washington area shows a slight decline over the past year, while the number of formerly homeless in permanent housing is on the rise.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments said researchers found about 11,700 people living in shelters or on the streets in the region, a 3 percent reduction from last year's tally. It is also the first drop in the count since 2004.

The survey also found that almost 4,700 formerly homeless people are living in permanent housing programs, up 37 percent since 2004.

DISTRICT

Smelly package draws bomb squad

A foul-smelling package that led to the evacuation of a post office next to the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum contained two cans of spinach and a dirty diaper, authorities said.

"No wonder it smelled," said Deborah Yackley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service. "I don't know why it was being mailed."

A postal worker alerted police shortly before 11 a.m. after getting a whiff of the package sitting on a counter with no one around to claim it, authorities said. The package had no postage and no address.

D.C. police bomb technicians X-rayed the package and a hazardous materials team inspected it before determining that it contained nothing dangerous. The evacuation lasted several hours.

Teen charged with killing boy, 13

A teenager from Northeast has been charged with second-degree murder in the drive-by shooting of 13-year-old Terry Cutchin.

Domenic Denzell Bonds, 16, of the 1800 block of Bryant Street was arrested at his home at about 1:50 a.m. yesterday He is charged as an adult.

The victim was shot at about 10:20 p.m. June 2 as he was walking in the 1400 block of Girard Street Northwest. A 23-year-old man who was injured in the same incident has been recovering from a gunshot wound to the arm.

Last Saturday, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced that the reward for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the killing would be doubled to $50,000.

Yesterday morning, Chief Lanier credited investigating officers and help from the community in making the arrest. The investigation into the case is continuing.

Six teens arrested in Metro station fight

Six teenagers have been arrested in a stabbing outside a Metro station last month stemming from a gang fight.

Metro Transit Police said two separate fights broke out May 19 in the bus shelter area of the Addison Road-Seat Pleasant station, one between members of rival gangs and another involving neighborhood teenagers.

In the gang fight, a 15-year-old boy told investigators that he was attacked by six members of the gang. He was stabbed four times and hit on the head repeatedly with a stiletto-heeled shoe.

Carynn Gray, 19, of Silver Spring, is charged with attempted murder, assault and intent to injure. Charles Mallory, 18, of Lanham, and Brandon Dodd, 18, of Silver Spring, are charged with assault. Two teenage boys and a teenage girl — all from Prince George's County — also face assault charges.

Fenty hires head of facilities office

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty yesterday named Allen Y. Lew to head the new Office of Public Education Facilities Management.

Mr. Lew has served as chief executive officer of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission since 2004. While there, he led the effort to renovate RFK Stadium and managed the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium project. He previously led development of the Washington Convention Center, which opened in 2003.

Mr. Lew will take over management of school modernization under Mr. Fenty's school reform plan, in charge of construction and maintenance of new buildings. He also said he will immediately tackle the school system's backlog of emergency repairs.

His office will spend about $2.3 billion over the next few years to modernize the city's 141 school buildings.

VIRGINIA

RICHMOND

State places second among trash importers

A state report shows that Virginia is still the second-leading trash importer in the country.

Virginia took in almost 7.3 million tons of trash from Maryland, the District and other states last year. That's up 3.5 percent from 2005.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says Pennsylvania is still atop the trash heap, handling more than 9 million tons of out-of-state garbage in 2006.

Environmentalists worry that items such as medical waste, sludge, asbestos and incinerator ash threaten groundwater and soil.

Import supporters say modern landfills are safe and the trash provides revenue for struggling local governments.

State officials have tried to limit out-of-state trash imports. But courts have said that laws against trash imports violate interstate commerce protections.

ALEXANDRIA

Tot allowed to join parents in America

After two years of inaction, U.S. immigration authorities have approved a request for the 3-year-old son of a U.S. citizen to emigrate from Morocco and join his family in Virginia.

Abdeloihab Boujrad, 38, of Alexandria, and his wife, Leila, have been trying to get authorities to allow their son, Ahmedyassine, to join them. The toddler has been living with an aunt in Morocco since 2005.

The application had languished since June 2005 without any action by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. An Islamic civil rights group that took up Boujrad's cause suspected the delay was caused by a similarity in Ahmedyassine's name to the founder of the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004.

The decision to approve the application came a day after the Associated Press and other reports detailed the Boujrads' plight.

"The matter has been resolved favorably," USCIS spokesman Dan Kane said yesterday. "Once the issue was brought to our attention, we worked expeditiously to resolve it."

Mr. Kane would not comment on what caused the delay.

Mr. Boujrad said yesterday that he also did not receive an explanation for the delay when he received a call that morning telling him the application had finally been approved. But he was so ecstatic that he did not care.

"I was shocked," Mr. Boujrad said of the good news." They said, 'We apologize for the delay.'"

MARYLAND

SALISBURY

Death penalty sought in pastor's killing

Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis Ruark is seeking the death penalty against a man charged with killing a retired Delmar pastor.

Antonio Herneisen, 40, of Dagsboro, Del., is charged in the April 2 beating death of the Rev. Van Crawford. Police said Mr. Herneisen had been borrowing money from Mr. Crawford.

Mr. Herneisen was arrested in Delaware and returned to Wicomico County earlier this month to face the charges of first- and second-degree murder, armed robbery and related offenses.

Mr. Ruark filed his death penalty notice Wednesday.

The trial is scheduled for August.

BOWIE

Passenger stabbed on Metrobus

A passenger stabbed on a Metrobus yesterday afternoon was in critical condition, authorities said.

One suspect was taken into custody, Metro Transit Police said.

A Metro spokeswoman said the stabbing happened shortly before 5 p.m. on the B-22 bus at on Kent Hill Drive near Tasker Middle School. The route runs from the New Carrollton Metro station to Bowie State University.

BALTIMORE

Man pleads guilty to defrauding IRS

A Clarksville man has pleaded guilty in a scheme to defraud the IRS of more than $1.3 million, federal authorities said.

Ketan Shah, 50, was accused of submitting false expense claims under a contract with the IRS. He was an executive with Public Affairs International in Silver Spring, a firm hired to organize federal tax law seminars from 2000 to 2003.

The firm was to use attendance fees to cover expenses and any balance was to be returned to the IRS. But prosecutors said Mr. Shah generated false documents to collect more money.

The U.S. Attorney's Office also filed a $4.2 million civil complaint against the firm and its president, Brosim Ekpone, of Potomac.

ELKTON

Two boys charged in playground fire

Two boys have been charged with setting a fire that destroyed a school playground last month.

The boys, 12 and 14, were turned in by fellow students and arrested Wednesday at their homes.

The May 26 fire caused $40,000 in damage to a playground that was built eight years ago at Gilpin Manor Elementary School in memory of a student who died.

The boys, not named because of their ages, were charged with malicious burning and were being held at a youth facility in Chestertown.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Josep h Zurolo Jr. said authorities are not sure about a motive for the suspected arson.

GREENBELT

'Wig Lady' thief guilty of identity theft

A Massachusetts woman dubbed the "Wig Lady" because she donned disguises while swindling bank customers pleaded guilty yesterday to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in U.S. District Court.

Carol Silva, 55, of Westbury, Mass., used stolen credit cards, checks, account numbers, driver's licenses and Social Security cards to steal up to $30,000 from 10 persons in the Washington area from March to July 2006. She faces a maximum sentence of 32 years in prison when sentenced Aug. 29.

Authorities think Silva was part of a larger ring that would pick women's pockets or steal their personal belongings from places such as supermarkets or the Metro system.

Silva was arrested in Boston in November. Another woman, Jacqueline Belim, 46, of Capitol Heights, pleaded guilty to the same charges in April. Belim's husband, Charles Belim, the accused ringleader, remains at large.

From wire dispatches and staff reports