- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006



Guilty plea in arson case

The last of five persons accused of setting fire to more than two dozen homes under construction in a Charles County subdivision pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

Roy McCann, 23, of Waldorf, Md., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson for the December 2004 fires at Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head. McCann also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute the drug Ecstasy.

McCann, who will remain in jail until his Nov. 8 sentencing, faces 20 years in prison on each charge, along with fines of $250,000 for the arson and $1 million for the drug count.

Authorities said the group set afire or tried to torch 35 homes at Hunters Brooke, kicking in the doors and pouring flammable liquids in the entrances that they lit on fire.

Most of the homes were unoccupied and no one was hurt.

Insurance agent among poker winners

An insurance agent from Rockville won a handsome sum from the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Rhett Butler, 45, busted out in fifth for a $3.22 million payday.

Mr. Butler moved all-in with pocket fours but former Hollywood talent agent Jamie Gold called with a king and jack and got a jack on the board for a higher pair.

“I always compare it to David and Goliath. There are all of these professional card players and then we have just an everyday person like Rhett who got in the game,” said Helen Goodrich, an office manager at Mr. Butler’s insurance agency.

Mr. Gold, 36, of Malibu, Calif., won the $12 million grand prize.


Killer pleads guilty for raping, slaying elderly

Baltimore serial killer Raymont Hopewell pleaded guilty yesterday to five counts of murder, four counts of rape and other charges.

Under a plea deal, Hopewell, 35, will receive four consecutive prison terms of life without parole for four murders. He also will receive five life sentences for other crimes, including rape and another murder.

Hopewell’s victims ranged in age from their early 60s to 88 and were found in their homes during a series of murders from February 1999 through August 2005.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 14.


Judge reprimanded for conduct

The state’s Commission on Judicial Disabilities issued the reprimand to Circuit Judge John Prevas for his conduct on the bench.

The panel found the judge committed three missteps in open court, including shouting in an angry voice and calling a defendant “a jerk” in a 2004 hearing.

The other two incidents occurred on the same day last year.

In one, the judge interrupted his court proceedings to help his longtime companion postpone her jury duty.

In the other, he concluded that he could not trust a witness in a criminal case to tell the truth and entered a finding of not guilty without giving the prosecutor an opportunity to call other witnesses.



FEMA denies appeal for help

The Federal Emergency Management Agency yesterday denied an appeal for individual assistance for those affected by flooding, mudslides and tornadoes during a spate of violent weather in June, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine asked FEMA to reevaluate its July 31 decision to deny assistance for individuals in the counties of Alleghany, Arlington, Augusta, Botetourt, Montgomery and Fairfax and the cities of Alexandria and Salem.

The program makes grants, low-interest loans, unemployment assistance and disaster housing assistance available to homeowners and renters.

Last month, President Bush approved federal assistance for the state government and nine local governments to cover eligible government and private nonprofit costs for damage to critical infrastructure, debris removal and related services.

The decision affected Alleghany, Arlington, Bath, Dickenson, Fairfax, Highland, King George and Rockbridge counties and the city of Alexandria.


Player dies after collapse

A Stafford High School football player who collapsed during practice has died, a county schools spokeswoman said yesterday.

Joey Roberson, 16, died Thursday night or early yesterday morning, spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim said.

A cause of death is not yet known, she said.

Joey had been listed in critical condition Thursday at Inova Fairfax Hospital’s pediatric intensive-care unit after collapsing during his team’s second practice of the day Tuesday night.

Joey told coaches he felt ill and needed to go home, athletic director Wes Bergazzi said. A trainer then called the student’s parents and gave him water, Miss Cottongim said.

The teenager threw up, then collapsed. Officials said they don’t know the cause of his illness.


More segregation-era scholarships awarded

Fifty-three men and women who were blocked from attending school in Virginia during segregation will get scholarships.

The money comes from Virginia’s Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Awards Committee.

Lee Andes of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia said the scholarship fund has a balance of just over $921,000, a portion which will be available for the upcoming school year.

The committee was set up by the 2004 General Assembly to assist Virginians who couldn’t go to school during Massive Resistance between 1954 and 1964. At that time, schools in Prince Edward and other counties padlocked their doors rather than integrate.

Last year, 36 middle-aged adults used the scholarships. Most attend classes part-time.

Philanthropist John Kluge has pledged $1 million to the scholarship fund.

A check-off on the 2006 state tax form also enables Virginians who receive a tax refund to designate a portion of that money to go to the Brown fund.


Teen to be tried as adult in fatal crash

A 14-year-old boy charged with killing a woman when he drove a car into her house will be tried as an adult, a grand jury ruled.

The teen, who was not identified because he is a juvenile, was charged with felony murder, grand larceny, felony hit-and-run, reckless driving and driving without an operator’s license.

He and a 12-year-old boy, who both live in Phoebus, are accused of stealing a Jeep from a convenience store in June to go joy riding before losing control and crashing into a house.

Michelle Hart, 33, was sitting on her sofa watching television while her two daughters played upstairs when the car plowed into her home, killing her. She died at the scene, but the girls were not injured.

The 12-year-old was charged with felony murder and grand larceny.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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