- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 13, 2008

DISTRICT

Officer admits forging hours

A D.C. police officer has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $180,000 by claiming to have worked overtime to catch speeding drivers, prosecutors say.

Karin Coppens, 49, falsely recorded 3,400 hours of overtime by forging the signature of a supervisor on more than 94 time sheets, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.

Coppens claimed to have earned the money by participating in the police department’s photo radar program from August 2004 through June 2008. But according to charging documents, she was assigned to the training academy and never did the radar detail.

Coppens faces up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $30,000 when she is sentenced in December.

Jacks enters not guilty plea

A woman accused of killing her four daughters pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of premeditated first-degree murder.

Banita Jacks, 33, entered the plea through her attorneys in D.C. Superior Court.

The decomposing bodies of Miss Jacks’ daughters were found in January in the family’s Southeast Washington row house.

Miss Jacks’ oldest daughter had been stabbed and the others strangled, a grand jury said in an indictment this week. The youngest daughter also was beaten. The daughters ranged in age from 5 to 16.

Miss Jacks’ trial is tentatively scheduled for December, but that depends on how soon prosecutors provide the defense with key pieces of evidence, including pending fingerprint and DNA results.

Miss Jacks’ attorneys have 15 days to notify the court if they plan to enter an insanity defense.

Another hearing is set for next month.

MARYLAND

HAGERSTOWN

Lawmaker balks at anthrax theory

U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett is ridiculing part of the FBI’s explanation for the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The Maryland Republican says he’s skeptical about the agency’s conclusion that biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins grew the anthrax in his laboratory at Fort Detrick in Frederick and then mailed it to unsuspecting victims, five of whom died.

Mr. Bartlett, who holds a doctorate in physiology, says the FBI’s theory that the anthrax was crushed to a fine powder by U.S. Postal Service mail-sorting machines is “patently ridiculous.”

He says he’s convinced the anthrax was deliberately “weaponized,” and that Mr. Ivins lacked the equipment to make it.

Mr. Bartlett says he’s looking forward to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III’s testimony before the House and Senate judiciary committees next week.

HAGERSTOWN

Federal officials want buddy system

Biodefense scientists accustomed to working alone with deadly pathogens could be forced to buddy up in the laboratory.

A “two-person” rule prohibiting scientists from working alone in high-containment labs is among the security measures federal and military authorities are considering as a result of the FBI’s conclusions about the 2001 anthrax mailings.

The FBI says Frederick anthrax researcher Bruce Ivins spent a lot of time alone in his lab at Fort Detrick before he purportedly mailed anthrax-filled letters that killed five people in 2001.

Mr. Ivins committed suicide in July before the government could charge him.

ANNAPOLIS

Verdict invalidated by procedural slip

Maryland’s highest court has ordered a new trial for a Baltimore man convicted of vehicular manslaughter because the jury that found him guilty had not been sworn in.

Chester Harris, 30, was convicted of the November, 2003, hit-and-run death of Michael Edwards.

The Court of Appeals concluded that retired Baltimore Judge Thomas Ward sent the jurors to lunch on the first day of Harris’ trial without swearing them in, which was also noted by a clerk in a docket entry.

The high court ruled the jury was not legally constituted and the verdict is invalid.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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