- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006


Government worker guilty of fraud

A former D.C. government economist has pleaded guilty to an immigration fraud conspiracy in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Federal prosecutors said John Sliva, 57, of Arlington, did special favors for two law firms submitting immigration papers for people to obtain green cards through an employment program.

They said Sliva admitted to expediting the documents and fraudulently backdating them by as much as three years. In return he got special dinners, gifts and a wallet with $100 in it.

Sliva faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced May 6 in Baltimore federal court.

Lawyer Irwin Fredman, 73, of Bethesda also pleaded guilty in the scheme. His sentencing has not been scheduled.

A trial is pending on similar charges against lawyer Sergei Danilov, 44.



Man indicted in day care shooting

A grand jury yesterday indicted the father of the 8-year-old boy who police said brought a gun to a day care center and shot another child.

John L. Hall Sr., 56, of Germantown, was charged with one count of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and one count of reckless endangerment.

On Jan. 24, police were called to the For Kids We Care center in Germantown, where they said Mr. Hall’s son had brought a .38-caliber revolver. A 7-year-old girl was shot in the arm.

Montgomery County prosecutors said Mr. Hall kept the gun and ammunition in a closet. They think the child put the gun into his backpack.

According to court documents, Mr. Hall was arrested 14 times from 1968 to 1989 in Baltimore city and Montgomery and Frederick counties. His record includes two felony convictions for assault with intent to maim, which authorities said prohibited him from having the gun.

No trial date was set, but prosecutors said, if convicted, Mr. Hall faces a mandatory five-year prison sentence without parole, and could get as long as 10 years.


ABC cameraman leaves Navy hospital

ABC News cameraman Doug Vogt, injured with anchorman Bob Woodruff in an Iraqi roadside bombing Jan. 29, has checked out of the National Naval Medical Center.

Mr. Vogt and his wife, Vivian, are on their way home to France, where he will undergo further treatment.

ABC News President David Westin described the couple as being “in good spirits and looking forward to getting back to their children.”

Mr. Westin said Mr. Woodruff, who is recovering from head wounds and other injuries at the Bethesda hospital, is being brought out of sedation slowly.

He said Mr. Woodruff has been out of bed in a chair and his physical strength continues to impress his medical team.


Thieves targeting idling vehicles

Police are searching for a group of car thieves who spent yesterday morning targeting cars left running.

Prince George’s County investigators said each stolen car had the ignition on but was unattended.

One of the victims was Tina Ridley, who said her boyfriend pulled up to get her and her children at her Forestville home. But in the brief time that took, the thieves pulled up in two cars and stole the Honda belonging to Miss Ridley’s boyfriend.

The angry couple gave chase in Miss Ridley’s car, and she said they spotted the thieves trying to steal a fourth car. One suspect pulled a gun and opened fire. No one was hurt.

The thieves left in two cars heading toward the District. Police said they stopped to steal yet another car, and officers caught one suspect who they said is just 13.


Judge cuts bond in Oprah scam

A Prince George’s County judge yesterday reduced the ball for a man accused of bilking dozens of people out of money for a bus trip to see “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in Chicago.

Terrence M. Hawkins, 44, of Temple Hills, was expected to be released after family members satisfied conditions set by a Circuit Court judge during a hearing which Mr. Hawkins did not attend.

“He’s already paid $5,000 back to the victims,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Isabel Cumming, the prosecutor assigned to the case. She did not challenge a defense request to have Mr. Hawkins’ original bond of $35,000 reduced to $30,000.

Judge Michael P. Whalen stipulated that Mr. Hawkins come up with 10 percent of the bail in cash to secure his release pending a June 8 trial date.

“The money will be held by the court for restitution at a later date,” Miss Cumming said.

A 17-count indictment returned by a Prince George’s County grand jury says that from December 2004 to April 2005, Mr. Hawkins was paid $500 by clients of his tour bus company — many of them elderly — for bus rides to Chicago for tapings of the popular daytime talk show. No trips ever occurred.

Prosecutors said as many as 70 people may have paid for the trips, and the $30,000 bail represents their total outstanding losses. Defense attorney Richard A. Finci said the state of Maryland has suspended Mr. Hawkins’ authority to operate his bus service since his arrest.



Abortion bill killed in Senate committee

A bill that would have subjected stand-alone abortion clinics to regulations similar to those observed by hospitals died in a state Senate committee yesterday.

The Senate Education and Health Committee also killed a measure that would have required doctors who treat women who develop complications due to abortions to report it to the state.

Both bills failed to report on 9-6 votes.

Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William County Republican and steadfast abortion foe, has introduced his clinic regulations measure for several years.

Mr. Marshall argued the need for the bills by saying he had asked the state Department of Health how often it had inspected ambulatory abortion clinics over the past year. The answer, he said, was not once.

But opponents said Mr. Marshall’s bill was all about obstructing abortion rights, not safety for women. Dr. Wendy Simons Klein, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Virginia Commonwealth University, called the bill deceitful. She said it would return Virginia to the dangerous days of “back-alley abortions.”

Delegate Bill Janis, Henrico County Republican, said his bill on notification does not aim at abortion providers. Instead, it merely catalogs health problems that later arise from abortions.

Opponents raised similar objections to Mr. Janis’ bill as they did to Mr. Marshall’s. But Amy Seibert of the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the reporting requirements could unconstitutionally violate women’s privacy rights.


Taxi driver sought in two assaults

Police in Fairfax County yesterday were trying to figure out whether a rogue taxi driver is responsible for two assaults.

On Wednesday night in the Lincolnia area, investigators said a 19-year-old woman out walking saw a cab pull up nearby. Soon after, a man came up from behind, inappropriately touched her, then pulled her toward the cab.

The victim put up a fight and was pushed to the ground and punched by the man, who got back into the taxi and drove away. The teen suffered minor injuries but declined treatment.

Police said the same man had approached the woman earlier Wednesday to offer a ride, which she declined.

Investigators want to know if the attacker is the same man who on Saturday night sexually assaulted a woman he was driving from Alexandria to Annandale. In that case, police said the woman was touched inappropriately several times.


Cell-phone bandit accomplice in court

The boyfriend of the “cell-phone bandit” could get a life sentence today when he is sentenced in U.S. District Court.

Dave C. Williams pleaded guilty Dec. 1 in federal court to conspiracy and weapons charges. Williams admitted helping Candice Rose Martinez rob four Wachovia Bank branches in Vienna, Springfield, Manassas and Ashburn during October and November.

Martinez gained a degree of notoriety — as well as her nickname — when television stations worldwide played a surveillance video of her calmly chatting on a cell phone while pulling one of the bank jobs. More than $48,000 was stolen.

Williams admitted being on the other end of the call, as well as driving the getaway car in each heist. Prosecutors said he once worked at the Vienna bank.

Man arrested in student’s death

Police have arrested a West Virginia University student from Alexandria and charged him in the stabbing death of another student.

Tyler Baumann, 21, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ryan Johnston, Sgt. Harold W. Sperringer said.

Mr. Johnston, 21, a WVU student from Washington, Pa., was found on the front porch of a Morgantown residence Feb. 12 with a knife wound to the chest. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police have said the stabbing resulted from an altercation between two groups of people, but they have not released a motive.


House panel snuffs no-smoking bill

A House of Delegates subcommittee yesterday unanimously killed a bill to ban smoking in Virginia restaurants and most other indoor public spaces.

Opponents of Sen. J. Brandon Bell II’s bill said it amounted to excessive regulation of private businesses. But the Roanoke Republican said the bill was intended to protect Virginians from the health hazards of secondhand smoke.


Child bitten by bear at park

Officials at Maymont Park said a child was bitten by one of the wildlife exhibit’s two black bears.

Maymont officials said Wednesday night that they had been informed about the incident by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Their statement said the wound was not severe.

Maymont officials met yesterday with the game department and the Virginia Department of Health to assess the situation. Officials had not released the name or age of the child.

The Maymont exhibit’s two male black bears came to the park from the game department. The older bear was orphaned and given to the park as a cub.


Man arrested in 1977 slaying

Henrico County police used DNA evident to arrest a man in a nearly 30-year-old murder case yesterday.

Benjamin Richard Johnson, 61, was charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 16, 1977, death of Henry William Long.

Mr. Long, 26, was shot and stabbed during a botched robbery at the Shakey’s Pizza Parlor where he worked.

In 1996, an investigator resubmitted blood evidence from the scene to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s DNA databank, which contains DNA profiles of Virginia’s felons.

Johnson was arrested in 2004 on a felony weapons charge and was required to submit a DNA sample that was placed into the databank. Police got a match last July and identified him as a suspect.

Johnson was serving a two-year sentence at the Sussex Correctional Facility when Henrico investigators served him with a murder indictment Wednesday.


Pregnant woman shot; fetus dies

A pregnant woman was shot in the stomach early yesterday and police said they had no suspects for what did not appear to be a random attack.

The woman’s fetus later died.

Emergency personnel responded to the Barton Ford car dealership after the woman, 22, called police at about 4 a.m. She was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where she was in good condition, Suffolk police spokeswoman Lt. Debbie George said.

Her name was not released.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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