- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006


Officials reconsider plans for hospital

D.C. officials have appointed a task force to re-examine a proposal to build a $400 million hospital on the banks of the Anacostia River.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday that the panel will be asked to determine whether there are other options, such as a less expensive urgent-care or other health care facility.

The panel also will be charged with identifying the city’s most pressing health care needs and recommending steps to promote the financial stability of the city’s hospitals.

The mayor had been a chief supporter of the National Capital Medical Center, a joint project with Howard University to be built on the grounds of now-closed D.C. General Hospital.

Howard University officials and residents said the city needs another hospital in an area they say is underserved.

But leaders of other hospitals, including Greater Southeast, have opposed the project, saying they could be financially harmed if it is built.

Two killed in crash after fight, gunfire

Two women were killed in a car crash early yesterday morning when the car slammed into a utility pole in Southeast, D.C. police said.

The driver, Shareese Bowen, 20, of Duke Street in Alexandria, apparently lost control of the car at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Lebaum Street, police said.

Passenger Courtlandt Stasiewicz, 18, of Phoenix Mill Place in Alexandria, also was killed.

Authorities said the two women were in a fight with others outside an apartment building in the 2300 block of Pitts Place Southeast and a gunshot was fired, though it was not known if anyone was hit. The women then sped off in a Chevrolet Beretta at about 1:30 a.m., police said.



State seals deal with two utilities

Some Maryland residents will be able to take part in a program that will defer payment, interest free, on impending rate increases, the Office of the People’s Counsel announced Tuesday.

The OPC reached a settlement with Potomac Electric Power Co. (Pepco) and Delmarva Power and Light Co. to allow residential customers to have the impending rate increase phased in and pay back the deferrals for up to 18 months.

The plan, which will be considered by the Public Service Commission, would phase in the increase with 15 percent June 1, 15.7 percent Feb. 28 and the remainder after June 1, 2007.

Customers, who will have to opt into the program, would be allowed to pay back the deferral, without interest, for a maximum of 18 months starting June 1, 2007.

Pepco serves most of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Delmarva serves the Eastern Shore.

For Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. (BGE) customers, rates could rise as high as 72 percent when caps expire this summer. The General Assembly failed to agree this month on a plan to ease the increase for BGE’s more than 1 million customers.


Pedestrian killed by MARC train

Rail service was halted yesterday afternoon on MARC’s Brunswick Line after a woman was struck and killed by a train.

Montgomery County police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said the woman was hit about 4 p.m. on the CSX tracks near the intersection of Parklawn Drive and Randolph Road.

In an e-mail alert to passengers, MARC said the railroad would be closed — possibly for two to four hours — while police completed their investigation.

MARC said trains were held at Union Station until the tracks reopened.


Street brawl ensues after bayonet stabbing

A man was fatally stabbed with a bayonet Tuesday night, setting off a street brawl that involved about 100 people.

Police went to a Cecil County apartment complex just before 9 p.m. after hearing of a stabbing there. When they arrived and tried to disperse a large crowd, the melee broke out.

Police originally said the victim, Tyreak Wilcher, 24, was injured in the brawl, but later they said it appears the fight broke out after the stabbing. Mr. Wilcher was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was pronounced dead just before midnight.

State police said Mr. Wilcher’s cousin, Elliott Jones, 23, also was stabbed by the bayonet. His injuries didn’t require hospitalization.

Police had one suspect in custody, but wouldn’t release his name until he was charged.


Man gets 30 years in body-in-safe case

A Baltimore man who confessed in August to strangling a woman with an extension cord and putting her body in a safe pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree murder and received a 30-year prison sentence.

Oswald Victor Voigt, 49, pleaded guilty in Baltimore City Circuit Court. He had been charged with first-degree murder.

On Aug. 9, the owner of a business on Lorena Avenue called police after he smelled a foul odor and noticed a trail of blood leading to a safe. Police found the body of Robin Hoey, 36, in a safe. Her body was wrapped in a plastic bag covered by a blood-soaked blanket.

Nine days later, Voigt, a registered child-sex offender, confessed to police he had used an extension cord to strangle Miss Hoey and then put her body in the safe. Charging documents indicated Voigt did odd jobs at the business.

Authorities were never able to establish a motive, and the nature of the relationship between the two was unclear.


Five indicted in fraud investigation

A federal grand jury has indicted five Maryland residents in a scheme to defraud an investment firm of more than $90,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The indictment says Tonya Tyson, 37, of Suitland, was a sales associate at a Ferris, Baker Watts branch in the District when she and the other defendants conspired to forge documents to transfer the money from a customer’s account into an account controlled by Ugochukwu Onwudiegwu, 34, of Baltimore. Prosecutors said part of that money was used for an auto wholesaler’s business owned by Anthony Okoko, 30, of Bowie.

Also indicted were Leslie Reynolds, 60, of Bowie, and Hasina Horton, 31, of Columbia. All five are charged with fraud and aggravated identity theft. Mr. Okoko, Mr. Onwudiegwu and Miss Horton also were indicted on charges of money laundering. And Mr. Okoko also was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin.

Mr. Onwudiegwu is being sought by police, but the rest were arrested yesterday.


Gypsy moth spraying set in eight counties

The state has approved aerial spraying for gypsy moth caterpillars in eight counties starting in May, the Maryland Department of Agriculture said yesterday.

The spraying will treat trees to prevent defoliation on 25,500 acres in Allegany, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard and Washington counties. Increasing moth popu-lations were observed in those counties last fall after two years of decline in the cyclical attacks.

Scattered high egg-mass counts also were found in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Montgomery counties, the agency said. Homeowners in those areas were contacted by letter to let them know of the concern and that treatment is not warranted yet, the Agriculture Department said.

The greatest concentration of high pest populations is in Garrett County, where more than half of the acreage is slated to be treated. Most affected is the Savage River State Forest.

The first defoliation in Maryland occurred in 1980. Since then, gypsy moth caterpillars have defoliated 1,050,030 acres of valuable timber and residential trees in Maryland.


Nigerian physician guilty of holding girl

A physician convicted of holding a Nigerian girl and forcing her to work as an unpaid servant has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison and will be deported after that time.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte listened to a statement from the now 23-year-old victim before sentencing Adaobi Stella Udeozor of Darnestown on Tuesday. The victim had been taken from her family in Nigeria when she was 14 under the false belief that she was being adopted to attend school in the United States, according to evidence presented in federal court.

She was subsequently raped by the man who took her from her family and abused by his wife, prosecutors said.

“I want to make Stella pay the price for what she did to me,” the young woman told the judge.

Udeozor was convicted of conspiracy and harboring an alien for financial gain in 2004.

“You’re sending an innocent person to prison,” Udeozor told the judge before sentencing.

Judge Messitte ordered her to pay restitution of $110,249 to the young woman for her labor.

Her now ex-husband, George, has been arrested in Nigeria and is awaiting extradition. He is charged with the same offenses.

The judge told Udeozor that forced servitude cannot be excused, even though she and other defendants in domestic slavery cases come from cultures where it is allowed.

“You cannot do these things,” Judge Messitte said. “It isn’t what goes in this country.”


Girl, 7, injured by riding lawn mower

A 7-year-old girl was seriously injured yesterday afternoon when she was run over by a riding lawn mower driven by her grandfather, Sykesville fire officials said.

State police said Estelle Hanson got off the school bus about 3:15 p.m. Her grandfather, who was visiting the family in the 5700 block of Kinsmen Courage Court, was cutting the grass. Officials said he did not see her run up behind the mower, and he put it into reverse.

Police say the mower knocked over Estelle and ran over her legs and left hand. She suffered serious injuries to both of her feet and her hand.

She was flown to the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Trauma Center in Baltimore.



Robberies on rise against immigrants

Prince William County is experiencing a surge in robberies against immigrants, police said.

Crime statistics indicate that 97 out of 205 street robberies reported in the county last year involved victims from Latin America, which is double the number in 2004.

Most victims were robbed of cash they were paid from construction and landscaping jobs, police said. Many were targeted while walking alone in dark areas.

Authorities said they have increased their surveillance of construction sites — even interrupting some robberies as they occurred.

Police also have issued crime-alert brochures in immigrant communities and have a full-time translator who offers safety-training courses in Spanish.


Brawl erupts in court as defendant leaves

A courtroom brawl broke out yesterday morning after the fiancee of a Navy man who was killed attacked the man accused of killing him.

Rodney Johnson was in General District Court for a hearing, which was continued. As he was being led from the courtroom, Chavonne White jumped up and approached him. Two men followed her from the gallery, and a fight broke out.

Some people fled the courtroom, some appeared to rush to help Mr. Johnson, and others stood and watched the melee.

Police officers and courtroom security officers broke up the fight.

Two men were taken into custody. There were no reported injuries.

Miss White said she was upset with Mr. Johnson because he had a smirk on his face and winked.

Miss White’s fiance, Antwan Thorne, 23, was shot April 10 while sitting in his car at an apartment complex.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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