- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 21, 2009

DISTRICT

Ex-Mayor Barry undergoes surgery

D.C. Council member and former Mayor Marion Barry underwent a kidney transplant procedure at Howard University Hospital on Friday afternoon.

Doctors were operating on Mr. Barry and the organ donor at the same time, university spokesman Ron Harris said. The surgery was expected to take six to eight hours.

The former mayor’s kidney problems are the result of diabetes and hypertension that Mr. Barry has suffered for more than 20 years, a spokeswoman said. The donor is a longtime friend of his, she said.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

Police make biggest city cocaine seizure

Routine intelligence gathering and a relatively brief investigation led to the largest cocaine seizure in the history of the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said Friday.

Officers seized 91 pounds of pure powder cocaine from a house in Southwest Baltimore early Friday, Commissioner Bealefeld said. One man was arrested, but his name was not released because the investigation is ongoing and police are hoping to make more arrests, he said.

“To get a 41-kilo seizure, that’s extraordinary by anyone’s measure in any community in this country,” he said.

The drugs would have sold for between $2 million and $3 million on the street after they were diluted and packaged for sale, Commissioner Bealefeld said. Some of the cocaine inevitably would have been made into crack cocaine, he said.

HANCOCK

Man charged in fire that killed 2 girls

A man acknowledged setting fire to the Western Maryland home he shared with his girlfriend and her two daughters, killing the girls, in hopes of receiving charitable donations, state police say in charging documents.

Clarence E. Meyers, 38, was charged on Friday with first-degree murder, arson and child abuse resulting in death. He was ordered held without bond at a bail review hearing Friday afternoon, Washington County State’s Attorney Charles P. Strong Jr. said.

Nicole R. Gross, 15, and Mary Ann Gross, 12, were killed in the fire Monday night in the rented two-story home in Hancock, where they lived with Mr. Meyers and their mother, Melissa N. Lindeman.

Mr. Meyers told police he sprayed lighter fluid on an electrical panel and a bed next to the furnace in the basement of the home, according to the charging documents. He then used a cigarette lighter to light a piece of paper, part of which fell onto a sofa, igniting it.

He told police he tried to put out the flames, but the fire spread quickly and he fled the basement through an exterior door.

ANNAPOLIS

Bill OK’d requiring signal for lane change

The House of Delegates has approved a measure that would require a driver to signal before changing lanes.

Maryland is one of the few states that doesn’t have such a law on the books.

The bill was passed on a 107-26 vote. It would impose a $90 fine, or a $130 penalty if the violation contributes to an accident.

A violation also would cause a point to be added to a driver’s license. A driver could end up with three points on his or her license if the violation contributes to an accident.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

PASADENA

Police douse fire, arrest 8 suspects

Eight people have been arrested after trying to set Jumpers Cinema in Pasadena on fire, Anne Arundel County Police said.

Officers received a report of people tampering with the theater’s doors around midnight Thursday, police said.

A resident told police about a car with three people inside driving away and an officer stopped that car nearby. Meanwhile, other officers went inside the theater and detained five men, including one with a gas container, leaving the building.

At about that point, police smelled smoke, saw fire inside the building and grabbed fire extinguishers. The officers put out the fire and began questioning the eight people.

A ninth suspect fled the scene and hasn’t been found.

VIRGINIA

RICHMOND

Tourism office says one center to close

Virginia tourism officials want visitors to the state to know that only one of 11 welcome centers is in line to close.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said Thursday that 25 of 41 rest stops and welcome centers could be closed under cost-cutting measures that include layoffs. But the Virginia Tourism Corp. says a single welcome center is in the cross hairs - the one in Manassas along I-66.

The welcome centers are key to Virginia’s tourism industry, providing assistance to some 2 million visitors each year, spokeswoman Tamra Talmadge-Anderson said. Most are located at gateway areas to Virginia.

The VDOT proposal is not final.

NORFOLK

Assistant prosecutor faces drug charge

A Virginia assistant attorney general has been suspended after being arrested on drug and weapons charges.

Norfolk police charged Steven F. Lederman on Thursday with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a felony, and carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor.

A search warrant affidavit filed in Norfolk Circuit Court said police found marijuana in Mr. Lederman’s van after a drug-sniffing dog brought their attention to a bag. The affidavit said the marijuana was inside the bag, wrapped as a Christmas present.

Investigators were acting on a tip when they arrested Mr. Lederman, Norfolk police spokesman Chris Amos said.

Mr. Lederman, 46, has been with the agency since 1997 and works in the Division of Child Support Enforcement. He has been suspended pending further investigation, said David Clementon, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.

RICHMOND

House crushes bid for box turtle nod

The eastern box turtle still gets no respect from the Virginia General Assembly.

The House of Delegates on Friday crushed any hopes the unassuming terrestrial turtle had of becoming the official state reptile.

It met the same fate in 1999.

Delegate Frank Hargrove, Hanover Republican, asked why Virginia would make an official emblem of an animal that retreats into its shell when frightened and dies by the thousands crawling across roads.

If the state needs an official cold-blooded animal, Mr. Hargrove suggested the fearsome rattlesnake instead.

Perhaps the fatal blow was the disclosure that the creature’s scientific name implied too close a relation to a Virginia rival: Terrapene carolina.

RICHMOND

Activists, states win power-line ruling

A federal appeals court ruling in a lawsuit brought by an environmental group and two states limits federal authority in decisions about where power lines should be built.

A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond issued a ruling Wednesday that limits whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can override state decisions on transmission lines.

The Virginia based-Piedmont Environmental Council, the New York Public Service Commission and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission challenged the commission’s interpretation of the 2005 Energy Act.

The council said the ruling “is a blow against heavy-handed federal pre-emption.”

Commission spokeswoman Mary O’Driscoll had no comment on the ruling.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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