- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006


FBI e-mail hacker avoids prison

A federal judge yesterday sentenced a former government computer contractor to three years’ probation for hacking the e-mail passwords of all FBI employees in 2004.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon also sentenced Joseph T. Colon to six months of home detention and ordered him to pay $20,000 in restitution.

Mr. Colon had pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of a computer for accessing a secret system containing data about witness protection and counterespionage.

Prosecutors said Mr. Colon used an FBI agent’s password to get into a secret network while he was performing computer work at the FBI’s Springfield, Ill., office.

Mr. Colon’s attorney, Richard Winelander, said in court pleadings that Mr. Colon was only trying to do his job, transferring one computer network to another.

He said Mr. Colon was frustrated at the FBI’s slow pace in getting him access to the network so he could perform his work on time and within budget.

FBI officials said the security breach caused by Mr. Colon’s hacking cost thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars to fix.

The FBI temporarily shut down the classified system to make sure national security was not compromised, officials said.

Mr. Colon, who had been employed at BAE Systems, has lost his job and his security clearance.



New evidence brought to beheading trial

A private forensic specialist testified yesterday in the trial of two illegal aliens accused of nearly beheading three young relatives that a granular substance found on several articles of clothing worn by the victims is a mineral commonly used in construction.

Prosecutors are trying to link the substance to defendant Policarpio Espinoza Perez, a construction worker at the time of the killings.

Mr. Perez, 24, is being retried with Adan Canela, 19. Mr. Perez is the uncle and Mr. Canela is the cousin of the three children: Ricardo Solis Quezada, 9; his sister Lucero Solis Quezada, 8; and their cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10. The children were found strangled, beaten and nearly beheaded in May 2004 in a Baltimore County apartment.

The men and children are all illegal aliens from Mexico. The first trial ended in a hung jury last year. Much of the DNA evidence being presented was retested this year at the request of detectives.

Testimony continues today.

Defense attorneys argue that the substance, which was not introduced at the trial last year, may have come from a playground or other area that the children visited that day. Earlier in the day, the judge dismissed a second juror after she did not show up for court. The female juror was replaced with an alternate. A male juror was dismissed Monday after being arrested over the weekend on domestic violence charges.


Drug dealer’s wife pleads guilty to aiding

A Salisbury woman pleaded guilty yesterday to laundering money for her husband, who was dealing drugs out of the Salisbury restaurant they owned and operated together.

Wendy Apostolopoulos, 37, had faced charges of conspiring to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, heroin and other drugs. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the money-laundering conviction, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29.

Her husband, Paul Apostolopoulos, 36, pleaded guilty last month to possession with the intent to distribute and conspiring to launder money and deal drugs. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case to transporting stolen goods. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 15.

A statement of facts said Paul Apostolopoulos sold drugs from 1999 to 2005, largely out of his restaurant, Pesto’s Bar and Grill, which has been turned over to the government along with the rest of his and his wife’s assets.

Michael Holl of Baltimore, who sold cocaine daily while working as a cook at Pesto’s, also pleaded guilty to drug dealing and conspiracy. Christopher Llinas of Berlin, an attorney who bought drugs from Paul Apostolopoulos, pleaded guilty to obstructing a drug investigation.


Crime declining in Prince George’s

Police Chief Melvin C. High said figures for the second quarter of 2006 show a continued drop in both violent and property crimes in Prince George’s County. So far this year, 61 persons have been killed in the county, compared with 85 at this time last year. Every other violent crime category also was down or showed no increase.

Commercial robberies are down 49 percent from last year, residential robberies are down 2 percent, and carjackings have dropped 27 percent.

Chief High credited the decreases to the department’s initiatives in the past year and hard work by the command staff and officers on the streets.

County Executive Jack B. Johnson said the county’s police budget has increased by $66 million in the past three years and police staffing is at historic high levels.


Police identify boy who drowned at camp

Police have identified the boy who drowned Wednesday during a swim lesson at a community pool in Rockville.

Montgomery County police said Elie Scott, 7, of Rockville, was pulled from the pool shortly after 11 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center on Montrose Road.

Police said the boy was one of five youngsters taking part in a regularly scheduled swim lesson as part of the school’s day camp. There were at least 15 other children in the pool at the time, and two lifeguards were on duty.

The lifeguards saw the boy at the bottom of the pool in 4 feet of water, pulled him out and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Police are investigating it as an accidental death.


Police investigate cause of teen’s death

Police are awaiting a toxicology report that they hope will determine what caused the death of an Elkton teen whose body was found last month off Cape May, N.J.

Nicholas Gochnour, 18, was last seen June 14 arguing with several people outside an Ocean City nightclub. His body was found nearly two weeks later. He had been celebrating his high school graduation in the resort town.

Investigators are also waiting for a drift analysis from the Coast Guard that should determine if it were likely that Mr. Gochnour’s body floated from Ocean City to Cape May, said Patrolman 1st Class Barry Neeb, an Ocean City police spokesman.

The drift analysis was turned over to the Coast Guard Research and Development Center in Groton, Conn.

The toxicology report from the New Jersey medical examiner was delayed because of wrangling between Gov. Jon Corzine and that state’s General Assembly over their state budget, which led to a weeklong government shutdown.

Police need to see the toxicology report and the drift analysis before they can decide what steps to take next, Patrolman Neeb said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gochnour’s friends and family continue to provide police with “tidbits of information,” Patrolman Neeb said. They indicated he was not a good swimmer and said it would be unlike him to go swimming.


Body identified near Appalachian Trail

Bones found near the Appalachian Trail in northern Washington County have been identified as the remains of an area resident whose family last heard from him in the 1980s, police said yesterday.

A wallet found with the bones on July 7 contained an identification card of Charles Calvin Lessner, who would have been 54 now, Maryland State Police said.

Mr. Lessner, a Vietnam veteran and black-belt karate enthusiast, had lived with his girlfriend in the Cascade area, police said. Authorities asked for the public’s help in locating anyone who knew them.

The remains have been turned over to the state Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death.



Prison staff defends inmate grooming rules

The state corrections department is defending its grooming policy for inmates.

Department Director Gene Johnson said in a court hearing Wednesday that it is necessary to require inmates to have short hair — for security, health and hygiene.

The Virginia American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the 1999 policy in a suit filed by five Rastafarian and Muslim inmates who say it violates their religion. Inmates who will not comply are kept in segregation.

U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams already had ruled the grooming policy is unfair to inmates wishing to practice their religion. In the hearing, the state had to show the policy served a compelling government interest.

Mr. Johnson testified that the policy prevents a prisoner from changing his appearance by shaving a beard and cutting hair if he escapes. He also said inmates have been known to hide contraband in hair and beards.

James Aiken, a corrections specialist, testified for the ACLU that such policies are not necessary for security. He said that if they were necessary, every prison system in the country would have them.

Judge Williams did not indicate when he would rule.


Drilling starts to reach long-buried locomotive

A team trying to reach a locomotive buried in a collapsed tunnel for nearly 81 years is began drilling yesterday into the hillside of Jefferson Hill Park.

The crew will lower a camera into the hole to determine whether Chesapeake & Ohio Railway locomotive 231 can be retrieved. It was trapped when a tunnel collapsed in 1925.

The effort is being supported by the city — which owns the property — and the Virginia Historical Society. The locomotive will be displayed on its property if it is successfully removed.

An engineer and two workers were killed in the collapse. Historians think at least one body is still inside the tunnel.

The team will spend about a week reviewing the images. It will then meet with city officials and consulting engineers before deciding whether the locomotive can be taken out.

If they can move the train, the project may take several more months while organizers figure out funding and where to concentrate excavation efforts.


Standoff ends quietly after officer shot

A five-hour standoff in Roanoke that started with the shooting of a police officer ended peacefully yesterday evening when the suspect surrendered to police.

Authorities said Ricky Edward Davis Sr., 50, shot Vinton Police Sgt. Ben Cook in the foot before retreating to his house in Roanoke on Wednesday afternoon.

Sgt. Cook told the Roanoke Times that two fellow Vinton police officers went to Mr. Davis’ house to question him about a case they were investigating. Sgt. Cook said the officers found Mr. Davis and two other persons in a vehicle, and thought they saw him with drug paraphernalia. The officers called Roanoke police for backup.

Sgt. Cook said he was nearby and showed up for backup. He said officers found Mr. Davis sitting in a lawn chair outside his house, and he stood up and started shooting.

According to court records, Mr. Davis faces a pending charge of possession of OxyContin with intent to distribute. He has been previously convicted of malicious wounding and taking indecent liberties with a child.


Woman charged with starving horses

A St. Charles woman is the second person charged with animal cruelty after authorities found 12 emaciated horses under their care and two others dead of starvation.

Mary Grace Bloomer, 34, was charged Wednesday with 14 counts of animal cruelty and released on $10,000 bond. She will be arraigned Monday in Lee County General District Court.

Mrs. Bloomer’s husband, Grant Bloomer, 37, was arrested Monday on the same charges.

Authorities found the 14 horses last week after a neighbor called the Lee County Animal Control Office to report that the animals were in poor condition.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Peters, who went to the scene with an animal-control officer, said they found five severely malnourished horses in a grassless lot. Nine others, two dead, were in a nearby barn in small, filthy stalls.

Sheriff Gary B. Parsons said the malnourished animals were transferred to their former owner, and that officers would check on them to make sure they received proper care.

From wire dispatches and staff reports°

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