- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2006


Assessments rise 22 percent in year

Property assessments have gone up an average of almost 22 percent, according to notices mailed yesterday by the Office of Tax and Revenue

Deputy Chief Financial Officer Sherryl Hobbs Newman said the increase over previous assessments reflects the strong real estate market in the city. The assessments are based on recent property sales throughout the District.

City law caps tax increases on occupied residential proper-ties at 10 percent per year.



Day-care provider guilty of cruelty

A day-care provider pleaded guilty to child cruelty charges after leaving nine of her charges alone last spring, authorities said yesterday.

Lisa P. Rickard, 38, entered her plea Thursday to two counts, both of which are felonies.

Rickard ran a day-care center in her Sterling home. Loudoun County and state investigators went there on April 28, looking into an unrelated complaint. After no one answered the door, they went around to the back, where they heard a child crying.

The county sheriff was called, but before deputies could force their way inside, Rickard arrived. The children were not hurt. They ranged in age from 9 months to 3 years.

A day after the incident, Rickard’s husband told reporters his wife had left to pick up their son, who was stranded at his school because of a car pool glitch.

Rickard will be sentenced May 31.


Cell-phone bandit boyfriend sentenced

A federal judge yesterday sentenced the so-called cell-phone bandit’s boyfriend to prison for 12 years.

Dave C. Williams, 19, begged for community service, but Judge Gerald Bruce Lee bluntly told him that bank robbers go to prison, adding that it is not uncommon for him to send them away for 20 or 30 years.

Williams’ attorney suggested that his client went into a down-ward spiral because his father is in prison and his mother is fighting deportation to Guyana.

But Judge Lee called it unfair to blame the parents, and even urged Williams to explain to his relatives in the courtroom why he was there.

Williams admitted using his computer to type the demand note and to driving the getaway car during four Northern Virginia bank robberies last fall. He was on the other end of the phone when his girlfriend, Candice Rose Martinez, chatted away as she robbed the banks.

Miss Martinez will be sentenced by the same judge Friday.

Fire risk high, weatherman says

Most of western Virginia is at a high risk for forest fires today.

The National Weather Service said the increased fire potential is due to very dry and windy conditions, with humidity less than 20 percent.

Virginia’s yearly burning law went into effect last week and runs through April 30. It prohibits burning before 4 p.m. if the fire is in — or within 300 feet of — woods, brush or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

The Virginia Department of Forestry reported that 773 wildfires in the state last year destroyed just less than 4,900 acres of forest land.

Of the fires, 255 were caused by people burning debris or yard waste; 132 were arson; 92 were caused by equipment use; 37 were due to smoking; 35 were started by children; 16 were caused by lightning; 11 were related to the railroads; nine were campfires; and the rest were classified as miscellaneous causes.


College suspends two fraternities

Two fraternities at the College of William & Mary have been evicted from on-campus housing, school officials said.

Kappa Alpha and Psi Upsilon were evicted after judicial hearings on charges that members vandalized their residences.

Psi Upsilon also was suspended for allowing underage drinking and violating campus drug policies. The fraternity was found to have caused $2,500 in damage to the residence where five fraternity members lived, college spokesman Bill Walker said.

After the hearing, campus police responding to a complaint found the chapter was holding a party.

Mr. Walker said the fraternity was suspended from operating at the school until at least the spring of 2008 and was ordered to compensate the school for the damage.

Mr. Walker said Kappa Alpha has a right to appeal the eviction.

In each case, the school will find alternate on-campus housing for the evicted members, he said.


Hotel criticized for hosting conference

A conference sponsored by a group that argues whites are superior to blacks is being held this weekend at the Dulles Hyatt Hotel, prompting criticism of the hotel chain for hosting the event.

The American Renaissance conference is sponsored by the New Century Foundation, based in Oakton. The group’s leader, Jared Taylor, says the white race is losing its identity in America because of multiculturalism and immigration. He expects about 250 people to attend the conference.

A group of student activists at George Mason University has tried unsuccessfully to get the Hyatt to shut its doors to the conference, which has been held at the hotel in previous years.

Hyatt spokeswoman Lori Armon said the opinions of those at American Renaissance do not necessarily reflect those of the hotel or its parent company. But she said the company does not “discriminate against guests or organizations with which our guests are affiliated.”



GOP candidate enters county executive race

A second Republican has entered the race for Montgomery County executive.

Chuck Floyd helped bring to the county a branch of the Minutemen, the group that keeps tabs on illegal aliens and reports them to the authorities.

He said illegal immigration remains a key issue, along with the question of how much influence developers have in government.

“Right now, the Montgomery County government is broken, and I intend to fix it. Right now, the processes don’t work,” Mr. Floyd said on WMAL Radio, where he announced his candidacy yesterday.

The Minutemen have been monitoring day-labor sites run by CASA of Maryland.

“CASA is out of control,” Mr. Floyd said. He also thinks current County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who is running for governor, has let the group “run all over him.”

A retired 20-year U.S. Army veteran and former State Department employee, Mr. Floyd will face former state Delegate Robin Ficker, whom he defeated in the 2004 primary for a U.S. House seat. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, won in the general election.


Committee OKs stem-cell bill

A House committee approved legislation yesterday to provide $25 million a year in state funds for stem-cell research, with a high priority given to research on cells extracted from human embryos.

The 14-10 vote in the Health and Governmental Operations Committee was the first step in what likely will be a protracted and contentious debate in the legislature over one of the most emotional issues of the 2006 General Assembly session.

Many lawmakers oppose funding for embryonic stem-cell research because embryos are destroyed when the stem cells are extracted. They want to limit state aid to research on stem cells taken from adults.

The bill still must clear the Appropriations Committee before it can go to the full House of Delegates for debate. Similar bills have been introduced in the state Senate.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, has included $20 million in his budget for next year that could be used for research on either adult or embryonic cells.


Students win round over in-state tuition

In a ruling that could affect thousands of students at Maryland’s public universities, the state’s Court of Special Appeals has ruled in favor of four students who challenged decisions denying them in-state tuition rates.

The students at the University of Maryland in Baltimore said the formula the state uses to determine eligibility for lower in-state tuition is unfair.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Anthony Conti, told the Baltimore Sun that the ruling means the state may have to reimburse students whose petitions for in-state tuition were denied from 2000 to 2004. However, he expected that the ruling will be appealed.

A spokeswoman for the University System of Maryland would not comment on the decision.

The case will be sent back to Baltimore Circuit Court, where a judge will decide issues that include whether the students will be reimbursed.


Boyfriend charged in shooting of teen

Baltimore County Police have charged a 16-year-old boy as an adult in the shooting of his girlfriend Thursday at his Reisterstown home.

Police said Richard Nelson Foltz IV shot Angela Holyfield, 15, while they were in Richard’s bedroom.

Police arrested the teenager at 5 p.m. Thursday at his home on Ivy Bridge Court. He is charged with first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and felony use of a handgun in a violent crime. He was taken before a court commissioner yesterday morning and is being held on $500,000 bail.

Angela remained at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Cpl. Michael Hill, a police spokesman, said that while the incident still is being investi-gated as an accidental shooting, details coming to light may indicate otherwise. He could not say what those details are.

A bail review is scheduled for Monday.


Man gets 25 years for killing girlfriend

An Upper Marlboro man was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison for the shooting death of his girlfriend last February.

A Prince George’s County judge sentenced James Pierce, 58, for the attack that killed Towana Lee Folk, 48.

Prosecutors said Pierce shot Miss Folk six times after stopping his sport utility vehicle in front of her car on the ramp from Route 301 to Pennsylvania Avenue.

In a November trial, Pierce was acquitted of first-degree murder charges, but convicted of second-degree murder and handgun charges.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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