- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

DISTRICT

Open hydrants affect hospital

Residents in Southeast opening fire hydrants to cool down caused problems Tuesday, city officials said. Firefighters have had to turn off about 25 hydrants a day since the heat wave started Saturday.

Hadley Hospital, in Southeast, reported low water pressure Tuesday and that was a result of the open hydrants. Several residents in Southeast also reported low pressure, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority said.

Pepco also reported low pressure at generator sites, but said the issue was resolved before customers’ power supply was affected.

Firefighters also have responded to roughly 150 additional calls for service a day since the heat wave started, said department spokesman Alan Etter. Additional calls have been directly related to the heat, he said. Roughly 400 requests are phoned in daily, but the number increased to 550 over the weekend, Mr. Etter said.

Bus fire slows New York Avenue

A bus destroyed by fire on New York Avenue in Northeast, major approach route to the District from Interstate 95, snarled traffic Tuesday. The driver was treated for smoke inhalation.

There were no passengers on the Peter Pan bus when the fire broke out at about 4 p.m., fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

The charred bus didn’t block anything, but the sight caused rubber-necking that slowed rush-hour traffic, Mr. Etter said.

It’s not clear what caused the bus to catch fire, but it appeared to start in the engine, Mr. Etter said.

City worker stole welfare funds

A former D.C. Department of Human Services employee was convicted of conspiring with another worker to steal about $5,000 in welfare funds.

Charles M. Brown, 57, faces up to nine years in jail and $500,000 in fines when he is sentenced in August. The thefts occurred in 2004 and 2005.

Jurors in D.C. Superior Court convicted Brown on all 11 criminal charges, including identity theft, conspiracy, and fraud in obtaining public assistance.

Brown worked for the city government from 1999 until he was fired in July 2006, said Alan Heymann, a spokesman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

Local tomatoes not a threat

Maryland tomatoes aren’t part of a national scare over tomatoes and salmonella.

Tomatoes grown in the state are not associated with a multistate salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 167 people and caused restaurants and grocery stores to yank tomato products originating in 17 states, the state Department of Agriculture said.

Consumers who are not sure where their tomatoes came from should contact the store or place of purchase, authorities said.

Most tomatoes in the state aren’t ripe yet. Maryland is 19th in the nation in harvested acres of tomatoes, with 120,000 pounds raised commercially in 2006.

CUMBERLAND

Police seek grave robber

Police issued an arrest warrant for a local man in connection with the theft of $90,000 worth of brass vases from cemeteries in the past several months.

David Wayne Baker, 32, faces six counts of felony theft, one count of theft scheme and six counts of destruction of a funerary object, police said.

Mr. Baker stole brass vases from three cemeteries and sold them to scrap dealers, police said. Each vase was worth an estimated $360.

BALTIMORE

Police: Owner had own house torched

An Owings Mills man who was behind on his mortgage payments arranged for someone to burn his house on Caves Road, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. A firefighter was injured fighting the January blaze.

Keith T. McMahon, 41, has a detention hearing Wednesday. He was charged Tuesday with arson.

Mr. McMahon, who had an office in his home, was having financial difficulties and arranged for someone to set fire to the house in exchange for $10,000, according to the criminal complaint. On Jan. 28, the house burned and a firefighter was hurt when he fell through the floor to the basement.

Mr. McMahon could be sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison, to a maximum of 40 years.

VIRGINIA

CHESAPEAKE

Dean indicted in sex assault

A former Regent University dean indicted on 13 felony sexual assault charges has turned himself in to Chesapeake police.

Stephen McPherson, 39, was being held at the Chesapeake jail without bond after arriving Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

A grand jury indicted McPherson on charges of object sexual penetration, forcible sodomy and taking indecent liberties with a child by a custodian.

According to indictments, the charges stem from events between May 2000 and May 2002 that were reported to Chesapeake police in July 2007.

McPherson began work at Regent in Virginia Beach as a writing instructor and eventually became dean for student affairs before resigning in 2007. Regent was founded by conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson.

ALEXANDRIA

Portsmouth judge joins U.S. bench

The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Portsmouth Judge Mark Davis to a federal District Court judgeship here Tuesday.

Judge Davis, 46, has served as chief of the Portsmouth Circuit Court since July 2006. It is a lifetime appointment.

Judge Davis graduated from the University of Virginia in 1984 and worked in Sen. John W. Warner’s Washington office. Mr. Warner, a Republican, and Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat, recommended Judge Davis.

Judge Davis received a law degree from Washington and Lee University in 1988. In the 1990s he worked as a lawyer for RMS Titanic Inc., the firm that salvaged thousands of artifacts from the wreck of the ill-fated cruise ship and is still fighting in court for compensation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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