- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006


Suspicious package closes Union Station

Union Station was evacuated last night after a suspicious piece of luggage was discovered.

The station was closed and passengers were stranded for three hours.

An Amtrak police officer found the baggage unattended about 7:45 p.m.

D.C. and U.S. Capitol Police sent their bomb squads to aid Amtrak police.

Police opened the package and found only personal items — nothing dangerous, said Officer Quintin Peterson, a spokesperson for D.C. police.

During the incident, trains from the north were stopped at New Carrollton so passengers could take Metro into the District. Trains from the south were stopped in Alexandria.

At least one Amtrak train from New York let off passengers at New Carrollton.



Police identify workers killed in trench collapse

Investigators yesterday released the names of two brothers killed when a trench collapsed at a home in Avenel on Wednesday afternoon.

Jose Rigoberto Guevera, 18, and Jose Sergio Guevera, 25, both of the 4600 block of Burlington Road in Hyattsville, were trapped in a deep, narrow trench that collapsed while they were applying a waterproofing material to the foundation of a house in the 9200 block of Potomac School Drive, Montgomery County police said.

Three men were initially trapped, but one of the men escaped. A fourth man was uninjured.

Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said the men’s bodies were recovered about five hours after they were buried. One man was completely buried, and the other was buried up to his neck.

Officials said it does not appear the trench was properly constructed.


Cell-phone records used in beheading trial

Phone records presented in court yesterday place one of two illegal aliens accused of nearly beheading three young relatives in the vicinity of the crime scene about the time of the killings.

Bruce Levine, a cellular-phone tracking specialist for Sprint, testified yesterday that Policarpio Espinoza Perez was near the crime scene when he began to receive several seconds-long phone calls from relatives about 4:30 p.m. on May 27, 2004.

The records show Mr. Perez then began to rapidly move away from the apartment where the children were killed, to areas near the Baltimore Beltway and Interstate 83.

The records also show that he was near the crime scene two nights before the killings, when a neighbor said she saw Mr. Perez, 24, and his co-defendant, Adan Canela, 19, lurking in the bushes by the children’s bedroom window.

Cellular companies are able to determine, usually within a 1-to-2-mile radius, the general location in which a call originates and ends by examining signals received by phone towers in any given area, Mr. Levine said. The companies cannot pinpoint exact locations.

Defense attorneys said that the phone activity is suspicious but that prosecutors cannot prove Mr. Perez was in possession of the phone. They also said Mr. Canela did not have a cell phone and there is no evidence proving he was with Mr. Perez at the time of the killings.

Prosecutors have no motive, but they suspect relatives know more about the killings than they have divulged and are hiding a “family secret.”


Woman pleads guilty to animal neglect

A Clarksburg woman pleaded guilty yesterday to five counts of animal neglect.

Maria Yordan Torres, 53, of the 12400 block of Dancrest Drive, admitted that she held 16 dogs in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. Another dog was found dead.

She faces a maximum sentence of 450 days in jail when sentenced by District Court Judge Mary Beth McCormick on Oct. 5.

Montgomery County animal-control officers initially visited Miss Torres’ home in April 2005 after receiving a report of a dog left outside without shelter. They found the dog was underfed and confiscated it. They issued Miss Torres a citation for animal cruelty.

On Jan. 4, animal-control officers seized 28 dogs in unsanitary conditions and in need of veterinary care from her home after they found a dead dog in her yard during an unscheduled visit.

While shaving the dogs at the animal shelter, officers found that most of the dogs had urine and feces soaked into their coats. Of the 28 dogs, only eight puppies and four adult dogs were determined to be in good condition.


Feds agree to help with sewage treatment

Federal agencies operating in Maryland will not pay a sewage fee the state imposed to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, but the Pentagon will spend $22 million to upgrade wastewater treatment plants at five large military installations.

An agreement announced Wednesday ends almost two years of negotiations on the federal government’s refusal to pay what it considers to be a state tax.

The fee, the centerpiece of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s Bay cleanup efforts, is commonly known as the “flush tax,” although the governor insists it is a fee, not a tax. The money will be used to upgrade treatment of sewage, which is a major pollution source for the Bay, and the governor’s plan won plaudits from environmental groups.

Under the agreement announced at a ceremony at the Naval Academy, the Pentagon will upgrade treatment plants at Fort Meade, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Detrick and the naval support facilities in Annapolis and Indian Head.

The “flush tax” amounts to $2.50 a month for individual homes, although payments by commercial and industrial users are based on how much sewage they generate, with payments up to $10,000 per month.

State officials said the payment by the Defense Department would have been about $1 million a year and that the promised improvements far exceed that amount.


Woman robbed, raped in laundromat

Anne Arundel County police said a woman was raped and robbed inside a Brooklyn laundromat late Wednesday night.

Police said a 62-year-old woman told police she was closing up the Village Laundromat in the 700 block of Church Street when a man choked her, threw her to the floor and sexually assaulted her.

Detectives said the man also stole money from the victim and the business. He fled in the woman’s car — a 2005 blue Pontiac Vibe with Maryland tag 9AVG18.

Police said the man was described as a 30-year-old black man about 6 feet, 2 inches tall, with a medium build and wearing a tan-and-red striped shirt, jeans and white sneakers.


Potomac searched for missing swimmer

Crews searched the Potomac River yesterday for a swimmer who disappeared the evening before.

John Bentley, chief of Washington County’s special operations unit, said the unidentified young man went swimming with two friends near Dam No. 4 on Wednesday.

“Two came out, one did not,” Mr. Bentley said.

He said rescuers searched for more than an hour Wed-nesday before stopping because of darkness about 9 p.m.

Josh Anders said he called 911 shortly after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday after he and a companion, Aaron Leggett, saw a man in the river calling for help.

The trio apparently swam from the Maryland side to the West Virginia bank, where there was a rope swing, said Mr. Leggett, who had been putting in his boat when he and Mr. Anders heard the cries for help.

Mr. Leggett said he last saw the missing swimmer about 250 yards downstream from the boat ramp on the other side of the river.



Two project managers face pollution charges

The federal prosecutor’s office said two men in charge of finishing a Mecklenburg County highway project have been indicted on pollution charges.

Loch Lawrence Louman, 47, and Rick Callahan,43, — both from Washington state — are charged with discharging pollutants in J.H. Kerr Reservoir in violation of the Clean Water Act. They also are charged with depositing refuse into a navigable waterway.

Mr. Louman was the construction project manager, and Mr. Callahan was the project manager. They are accused of dumping construction waste, scrap equipment and slurry — a mixture of water, concrete and plasticizer — into the reservoir.

The men will be arraigned Aug. 22.

If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.


Driver fatigue cited in fatal crash on I-81

State road crews were still cleaning up debris early yesterday morning from a fatal tractor-trailer crash that had closed part of Interstate 81 near Weyers Cave on Tuesday.

Virginia State Police said driver fatigue probably caused the crash that killed a 3-year-old California boy and spilled more than 1,100 containers of liquid fabric softener.

Trooper Chad Zenzen said charges against the driver are pending.

Authorities said the boy and the other three passengers were ejected from the tractor-trailer in the crash Tuesday evening. All three were injured. The boy’s stepmother, Maria Escobar, 26, was driving.

The tractor-trailer — belonging to a California trucking company — was headed south on I-81 when the driver lost control. The rig went off the embankment, overturned and struck a support beam on the overpass.


UVa. dean replaced after court deal

An associate dean will temporarily replace the longtime head of the Office of African-American Affairs at the University of Virginia in response to reports that the administrator is linked to a drug case.

Sylvia Terry, associate dean of the office, will take over all of M. Rick Turner’s responsibilities, the university said Wednesday.

University officials placed Mr. Turner on administrative leave last Friday after learning of an agreement he signed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville acknowledging that he had lied about knowledge of the activities of a known drug dealer.

Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, Mr. Turner has agreed to 12 months of probation and might be called to testify in future court hearings.

Neither side in the case would comment.

Mr. Turner has been dean since 1988.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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