- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

DISTRICT

Council approves Rubin as fire chief

The D.C. Council yesterday confirmed the appointment of Dennis L. Rubin as chief of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty appointed Chief Rubin, 54, in March after the retirement of Chief Adrian H. Thompson. Chief Rubin comes from Atlanta, where he was fire chief for three years. He takes charge of a department with more than 2,000 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $170 million.

Senators sponsor D.C. voting bill

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said he is supporting legislation to create new House seats for his home state and the District.

Mr. Hatch joined Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, in sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, passed by the House last month. It would give residents of the District a vote in Congress for the first time in two centuries. Mr. Hatch says fellow Utah Republican senator, Robert F. Bennett, also will co-sponsor the bill.

Most House Republicans joined the Bush administration in opposing the bill, saying the Constitution denies voting rights to the District because it is not a state.

Mr. Lieberman said he thinks the co-sponsorship will lead to the breakthrough that will bring an end to what he calls 200 years of disenfranchisement.

The White House is still threatening a veto if the bill clears Congress.

VIRGINIA

CHARLOTTESVILLE

UVa. elevator drops four floors suddenly

Three persons attending a concert on the University of Virginia campus escaped injury after an elevator plunged four floors.

The UVa. music department’s promotions director and two friends were on the Old Cabell Hall elevator Saturday night when it rapidly descended. The car stopped abruptly, dropped again, then stopped once more before falling to the bottom of the shaft and slamming against the emergency buffer.

Several people on the outside helped the passengers pry open the door.

Department Chairman Richard Will said the elevator was repaired Monday but remains closed until further tests are conducted.

UVa. spokeswoman Carol Wood said the elevator had been acting up and that workers had replaced the 20-year-old motor last week. She said a 2-inch fitting either broke or popped off, causing the elevator to lose hydraulic pressure.

COLLINSVILLE

Brother pleads guilty to dismembering sister

The brother of a woman whose dismembered body was found buried in her back yard and a in nearby woods pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

James Alton Motes, 54, entered the plea Monday in Henry County Circuit Court, where he had been scheduled for a two-day trial.

Special prosecutor Cliff Hapgood said Motes did not show remorse for the Jan. 2, 2006, strangulation of Nancy Motes Wingfield. “She needed to die,” Mr. Hapgood quoted Motes as saying, the Martinsville Bulletin reported.

He said Motes gave investigators three reasons for killing Mrs. Wingfield: She had made a rude comment to a young niece. She was trying to keep him apart from his family. And she “wanted to die.”

Judge David Williams accepted his plea and set formal sentencing for July 25. The maximum sentence is life in prison.

Motes had come to live with his sister in fall 2005.

Mr. Hapgood said Motes told investigators that he strangled Mrs. Wingfield with a piece of rope as she lay on her bed. He then took the body to the bathroom and spent several hours cutting it into 19 pieces with a hacksaw and steak knife. He carefully wrapped the body parts in plastic and cleaned the bathroom so thoroughly that only one spot of blood was found, the prosecutor said.

Motes, who was hospitalized later in the month after drinking antifreeze, provided authorities their break in the investigation drawing a map with five locations marked on it. Using it, investigators were able to find the body parts.

VIRGINIA BEACH

Police will question immigration status

City police will begin asking those arrested for driving under the influence and public drunkenness if they are in the country legally, the police chief announced yesterday.

Virginia Beach police always asked where a person was born, but if the birthplace is a foreign country, officers will now ask about the person’s immigration status, Chief A.M. “Jake” Jacocks said.

Officers currently ask only those arrested for felony crimes whether they are in the country legally, but police will begin asking those arrested for alcohol-related misdemeanors. Those are the only misdemeanor arrests that fall under the policy change, Chief Jacocks said.

The change comes after two teenagers were killed March 30 when their car was struck by a vehicle driven by an illegal alien who had alcohol-related convictions.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

N.Y. man arrested for 911 prank calls

A Brooklyn, N.Y., man has been charged with making hundreds of bogus 911 calls to emergency dispatchers and law-enforcement agencies in four states, Maryland State Police said yesterday.

Bobby Collins, 31, was charged with telephone misuse, false reports of crimes and telephone harassment. He made nearly 400 false reports to 911 centers in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York, state police said. He bombarded the 911 center in Baltimore with more than 250 calls in less than a month, police said.

City and state police officers arrested Mr. Collins on Sunday morning after the Baltimore Police Department received a call that an officer had been shot. The call was a hoax, police said.

Police began receiving the false emergency calls in late March.

ROCKVILLE

Father convicted of gun possession

The father of the boy who brought a gun to a day care center and shot another child pleaded guilty Monday to firearms charges.

John L. Hall Sr., 57, admitted in Montgomery County Circuit Court to possession of a firearm as a felon. Judge Eric Johnson imposed the mandatory sentence of five years in prison.

Montgomery County police said Hall’s 8-year-old son brought a .38-caliber revolver to the For Kids We Care center in Germantown on Jan. 24, 2006, and accidentally shot a 7-year-old girl in the arm.

Prosecutors said Hall kept the gun and bullets in a closet the boy could open. They think the child put the gun into his backpack.

Hall also pleaded guilty to assault in an unrelated case stemming from an April 14, 2006, confrontation with his former girlfriend. Prosecutors said he began yelling at her in front of her apartment building, then followed her into the building, where he punched her and slashed her with a knife. The woman was not seriously injured.

Hall was given a 10-year, suspended sentence in the assault case.

HAGERSTOWN

Gypsy moth spraying doubles acreage total

Aerial spraying to control leaf-munching gypsy moth caterpillars will begin this week, the Maryland Department of Agriculture said.

The effort by the state, the U.S. Forest Service, local jurisdictions and private landowners is targeting 50,000 acres in 11 counties this year. The acreage is nearly double last year’s total, reflecting an upswing in the cyclical infestations.

Last year, gypsy moths defoliated nearly 15,800 acres, mostly in far western Garrett County, the agency said.

Garrett County accounts for about 30 percent of the acreage to be sprayed with pesticides this year, according to the Agriculture Department’s Web site. The other counties, by descending order of acreage, are Frederick, Washington, Carroll, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery, Allegany, Harford and Cecil.

BALTIMORE

Health department investigates fraud

A fraud investigation involving more than $1 million at a kidney disease program at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene may lead to civil and criminal action, Secretary John Colmers said yesterday.

Mr. Colmers said authorities are investigating fraudulent activities by a former Department of Health and Mental Hygiene employee. Details were not released.

The department began an internal investigation after receiving information from banking officials showing financial irregularities within the department’s kidney disease program.

Mr. Colmers said that the 2,400 patients in the program have not been affected and the services they are receiving continue uninterrupted.

He said the department will pursue available civil and criminal actions once the law-enforcement investigation is complete.

Additional controls have been instituted to prevent similar fraud, Mr. Colmers said.

BALTIMORE

O’Malley’s wife hospitalized

Judge Catherine Curran O’Malley, the wife of Gov. Martin O’Malley, was “feeling well and resting fine” at a hospital after feeling faint yesterday at a charity event, the governor’s office said.

Catherine O’Malley, 44, an associate judge in Baltimore District Court, was to remain overnight for monitoring at the University of Maryland Medical Center after being taken there by ambulance. Her husband was with her.

The O’Malleys attended the seventh annual House of Ruth Maryland spring lunch at M&T; Bank Stadium, and Judge O’Malley spoke at the event. After she returned to her seat, she said she had a headache and shortness of breath, said Rick Abbruzzese, an O’Malley spokesman.

The House of Ruth provides shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Mr. O’Malley postponed a visit this morning to DuVal High School in Prince George’s County. The governor had been scheduled to tour new classrooms under construction.

ELKTON

Neighbor saves couple from fire

Authorities credited a neighbor for saving an elderly couple when their home caught fire Monday evening.

Robert Gilley, 38, was at home when he smelled smoke from his neighbors’ home.

“I heard ‘pop pop pop pop,’ and I said, ‘Wait a minute, something’s going on,’ ” Mr. Gilley told the Cecil Whig newspaper.

Mr. Gilley broke into the back door and found Ralph Neal, 91, hunched over. After dragging him out, Mr. Gilley returned to the burning home to find his wife, Joan Neal, 83.

Mr. Gilley tried to lead her out, but she was confused and said she didn’t want to leave.

“I just put her on my back and carried her out,” Mr. Gilley said. “She was telling me to go get the water hose.”

The Neals were treated for smoke inhalation at Union Hospital and released.

“He definitely needs a pat on the back,” Deputy State Fire Marshal Joseph Zurolo Jr. said of Mr. Gilley. “If he hadn’t been able to get them out of the house, we would have had an unpleasant ending.”

REGION

Metro area among the most polluted

The metropolitan area made the American Lung Association’s annual bad air list.

The association ranked the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia area 20th on its list of most polluted cities in America. The Hagerstown, Md.-Martinsburg, W.Va., area tied for 24th with the Philadelphia metro area, which includes Cecil County in Maryland.

Los Angeles topped the list, followed by Pittsburgh; Bakersfield, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; Detroit and Cleveland.

The lung association based the rankings on ozone pollution levels produced when heat and sunlight come into contact with pollutants from power plants, cars, refineries and other sources. The group also studied particle pollution levels emitted from these sources. Particle pollution is a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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