- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006


Capitol evacuated for power outage

The U.S. Capitol was evacuated shortly after noon yesterday after the building lost power.

Electricity was restored about a half-hour later, but officials kept the building evacuated until the cause of the outage was determined, said Bob Stevenson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.

Mary-Beth Hutchinson, a spokeswoman for Potomac Electric Power Co., said the electricity was shut off automatically after there was “a momentary drop in voltage due to customer operations up the lines” away from the Capitol.

“The protective equipment sensed the significant change in voltage and tripped,” she said.

Nearby office buildings were not affected by the outage. Before the evacuation sirens were activated, more than 100 visitors sat in the darkened House gallery. They left with everyone else when the alarm sounded, walking calmly toward exits.

Ex-schools employee admits taking bribes

A former D.C. public school system business manager pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to taking bribes in exchange for steering contracts to a small Maryland telecommunications firm.

Lorelle S. Dance likely will receive 18 to 24 months in federal prison for approving contract work for Wiggins Telecommunications and a shell company run by the firm’s president, Charles S. Wiggins.

Wiggins pleaded guilty earlier this year and is awaiting sentencing.

Court records showed that Wiggins paid Dance and an unnamed school principal nearly $50,000 for their help in getting the school system to pay more than $300,000 to Wiggins Telecommunications and more than $60,000 to Motts Sales and Service, a shell company run by Wiggins.

Prosecutors said Motts was created solely to funnel money from the school system to Dance and another unnamed person. Dance left the school system in 2003.

The investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

S.C. lawmaker wants Swamp Fox statue

A lawmaker from South Carolina thinks it’s time for a statue of Francis Marion, the famed Swamp Fox of the American Revolution, to stand in Marion Park.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, has introduced a bill authorizing a statue of Marion on National Park Service property on South Carolina Avenue Southeast.

Marion waged war against the British using hide-outs in the swampy Lowcountry of South Carolina as his operations base.

“Marion gained quite the reputation for his elusiveness, but I am surprised his statue is still missing from Marion Park,” Mr. Wilson said. “By allowing a private organization to raise funds to establish a memorial in honor of the Swamp Fox, this bill helps commemorate his legacy and famous fight for freedom.”

Money for the project will be raised through the nonprofit Palmetto Conservation Foundation.



Teacher cleared of touching student

It took a jury 10 minutes to find a middle-school teacher not guilty of second-degree assault in a case involving a Rising Sun Middle School student who accused him of touching her inappropriately on the thigh.

After the seven men and five women on the jury announced their decision, Lee Gibbons, 44, mouthed “thank you” three or four times.

“I’ll just let the trial speak for itself,” Mr. Gibbons said softly outside the courtroom to family and friends.

Mr. Gibbons, a special-education teacher in Cecil County since 1994, was reassigned to the system’s central office after the accusation.


Baseball player critical after on-field collision

A teenager was critically injured yesterday in a collision on a baseball field, authorities said.

The 13-year-old, whose name was not released, collided with a 15-year-old as both were running after a fly ball in a game at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County fire department.

The younger boy had to be revived by paramedics and was taken to Children’s Hospital in the District with life-threatening head injuries and facial trauma, Mr. Piringer said.

The 15-year-old regained consciousness on his own, Mr. Piringer said. He also was hospitalized, though his injuries were not considered life-threatening.


Girl, 16, charged in shooting at mall

Baltimore County police have charged a 16-year-old girl wanted for attempted murder in a shooting last week outside Security Square Mall.

Police said Tanya Harris of Woodlawn was arrested late Friday in the shooting of Lensey Hamilton Jr., 26, who was hit five times.

Police said the teenager asked Mr. Hamilton for a ride and then tried to rob him at gunpoint. She was arrested without incident after her foster parents notified police when she returned to their home.


Peeping Tom charges filed in mall incident

A Laurel man accused of photographing an 8-year-old boy in a restroom at Arundel Mills mall has been charged as a peeping Tom.

Anne Arundel County police said Andrew Malone, 32, entered the men’s restroom Friday evening and used a camera phone to photograph the boy in a stall.

Mall security detained Mr. Malone until police arrived. Police said he had a picture of the boy on his cell phone when he was arrested.


Handbags disappear; deputy charged

A Cecil County deputy has been charged with theft and misconduct after a sheriff’s department investigation into the disappearance of several fake designer handbags from an evidence storage room.

Deputy 1st Class Felix Cervantes has been on suspension with pay since Dec. 28. The investigation began in early December after police received a tip about the handbag from one of Deputy Cervantes’ acquaintances, Sgt. Bernard Chiominto said.

Sgt. Chiominto said three of the handbags had been recovered.



Charges dismissed in fatal bus crash

A judge dismissed charges yesterday against the driver of a trash truck that collided with a school bus last year, killing two children.

James Wallace Jr., 42, of Fairfax, was charged with reckless driving and failing to maintain control in the April 18 accident.

After hearing testimony from four witnesses called by the prosecution, Circuit Judge William T. Newman Jr. ruled that the government failed to present evidence supporting the charges during a bench trial that lasted less than four hours.

“This case cannot go forward,” said Judge Newman, acknowledging the outcome of the collision. “Five people were injured, and two people died.”

The crash killed Lilibeth Gomez, 9, and Harrison Orosco, 7, who were students at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School.

Mr. Wallace still is recovering from his injuries.

Last month, school bus driver Pamela Sims, 37, of Arlington, was acquitted of charges of reckless driving and failure to pay full time and attention.

Both drivers could have faced up to a year in jail had they been convicted.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard E. Trodden declined to comment.


Bail set at $5,000 for high school teacher

A special-education teacher was arraigned yesterday on charges that she had sex with two teenage students.

Courtland High School teacher Bonnie Sue Davis, 35, was ordered held on $5,000 bail and forbidden from having any contact with the students, ages 14 and 15, prosecutor William Neely said.

Miss Davis is being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail. A preliminary hearing was set for May 26 in Spotsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.


Device left on cruiser had no explosives

Lab tests found no signs of explosives in a metal cylinder placed on the hood of a Waynesboro Police cruiser last week.

Sgt. Brian Edwards said that someone put the 6-inch device on the car Friday night outside the police department. It looked like a pipe bomb with a fuse sticking out, he said.

Sgt. Edwards said police are treating the incident “as an act of terrorism because this was designed to strike fear in the hearts of the citizens and police and thwart the actions of government.” He said they have no suspects.

A Virginia State Police bomb squad from Appomattox destroyed the cylinder using a remote-control robot.

The device did not appear to have any elaborate mechanism or electronics, Sgt. Edwards said.


Exam standards reset for police recruits

City officials have reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over charges that the math exam given to police recruits discriminates against blacks and Hispanics.

The agreement filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk said the city will change how the exam is scored.

The new standards require applicants to score at least 70 percent on the reading and grammar test and an average of at least 60 percent on all three parts of the exam, said Mark Stiles, the city’s deputy attorney.

Applicants previously had to score at least 70 percent on the math section of the National Police Officer Selection Test used to screen and select entry-level officers. Although the test is given by police departments nationally, each department can determine what it takes to pass.

The city also will allow 124 applicants who failed the math test from 2002 to 2005 to resume participation in the hiring process. They would have passed under the new standards.

In February, an investigation by the Justice Department found that from 2002 to 2005, about 85 percent of white applicants passed the math test, while 66 percent of Hispanic applicants and 59 percent of blacks passed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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