- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2006


Lawyer convicted of bilking clients

A federal jury in the District yesterday convicted lawyer Reginald J. Rogers of stealing his clients’ savings.

The conviction came one month after a judicial panel barred Rogers from practicing law after an elderly widow said he befriended her, then took her money.

The D.C. Court of Appeals found that Rogers “criminally misappropriated” more than $260,000 from Hattie Mae Goode, 91, after her husband died.

Federal prosecutors said the estate lawyer used clients’ money to pay his personal expenses, including telephone and credit-card bills, college expenses and property purchases.

Prosecutors have begun forfeiture proceedings against Rogers to recoup $513,928, saying he also took funds from other unwitting clients. He was charged with fraud in a 13-count indictment.

Woman found dead in burning minivan

A woman who had been fatally shot was found inside a burning minivan yesterday morning, police said.

Kimberly Jones, 40, was found in the 300 block of Raleigh Street in Southeast.

Capt. C.V. Morris said that robbery did not appear to be a motive in the case and that the fire and the time of the day Miss Jones was killed likely makes the incident “more personal.”

Miss Jones is the 20th homicide victim in the District this month.

Park Service director to resign her post

The head of the National Park Service has announced she will resign, ending a five-year tenure at an agency often at odds with environmentalists.

The Park Service said Fran P. Mainella will leave to spend more time with her family. It is not known, though, when she will be leaving her post.

Critics have said the agency has put too much emphasis on recreation, shifting its focus from conservation.

During Mrs. Mainella’s tenure, lawmakers have also been critical of the ability of U.S. Park Police to protect areas in the District, including the Mall. Park Police Chief Theresa Chambers was suspended in 2003 after speaking publicly about her staff being stretched too thin to guard the national monuments.

Lawmakers who oversaw the Park Service’s budget have also questioned $94 million spent on travel for employees over two years, including an official’s $9,000 trip to Africa.

Mrs. Mainella was the first woman to lead the National Park Service.



Testimony delayed in beheading trial

Testimony in the retrial of two Mexican illegal aliens accused of nearly beheading three young relatives was delayed this week by several medical emergencies within the counsel, a state’s attorney spokeswoman said yesterday.

Adan Canela, 19, and Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 24, are being retried in the May 27, 2004, strangling, beating and slashing deaths of Ricardo Espinoza, 9; his sister Lucero, 8; and their cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10.

Mr. Canela and Mr. Perez are the children’s cousin and uncle, respectively.

State’s attorney spokeswoman Marty Burns said health issues on the defense side forced the court to adjourn early several days this week. The trial, initially expected to last through mid-August, might now take several more days than expected, she said.

Defense attorney Adam Sean Cohen announced during opening arguments June 30 that his wife was expecting a child this month and might result in him missing some of the proceedings.

Jury selection on the case began June 22.

Prosecutors on Wednesday called to the stand a scientific expert to explain to jurors how DNA evidence links the defendants to the killings and testimony was expected to last several days, Miss Burns said.

Prosecutors have called at least 15 witnesses since testimony began July 3.

The defense also is expected to call several witnesses.


Man pleads guilty to stealing benefits

A man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to stealing Social Security benefits.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said Roy Roscoe, 65, obtained a fraudulent identification card for a man who died in 1991.

Mr. Rosenstein said Mr. Roscoe received monthly checks totaling more than $87,000 in the man’s name. He started receiving the checks in September 1992.

He will be sentenced in October on charges of theft of government property.


Montgomery eligible for disaster aid

The federal government has issued a disaster declaration for Montgomery County after heavy rains and flooding earlier this month, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday.

The county is now eligible for federal help rebuilding roads, bridges and other public infrastructure. Mr. Ehrlich also seeks a disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration that would make affected persons and businesses eligible for low-interest loans.

Similar disaster declarations have been issued for Caroline and Dorchester counties.


Officer fatally shoots man after traffic stop

The Prince George’s County police department said an officer fatally shot a man Wednesday night after a traffic stop.

Police said they saw Edward Bennett Douglass, 24, of the 100 block of Daimler Drive, outside a home after receiving a report at 11:31 p.m. that an armed man was loitering there. Authorities said Mr. Douglass fled in a car but was stopped by police at the intersection of Addison Road and Central Avenue.

Police said Mr. Douglass refused to raise his hands and reached for an unknown object when confronted by police. He was shot once in the torso but managed to drive away and then flee on foot before police caught him.

Mr. Douglass later died at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Police said a loaded handgun was found in the car.

The officer who shot Mr. Douglass is a 17-year veteran and was placed on routine administrative leave while the incident is investigated.


Man gets life term for firing at officer

A Howard County man was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for shooting at a Frederick police officer and critically wounding another man in May 2005.

Charles F. Moore Jr., 22, of Columbia, was convicted by a Frederick County jury in January of attempted murder and other charges.

He told Circuit Court Judge Julie Stevenson Solt at his sentencing Wednesday that he plans to appeal.

“From Day One, I’ve always maintained my innocence,” Moore said. “There were no fingerprints on the gun. I cannot stress that enough. An innocent man is going to prison.”

Police arrested Moore on May 20, 2005, in an apartment-complex parking lot after shots were fired as undercover officers were looking for drug activity in the neighborhood.

Sgt. Wayne Trapp testified that he saw Moore shoot Romell Allen, 21, in the abdomen, leg and lower back. When Sgt. Trapp told Moore to drop the gun after identifying himself as a police officer, Moore fired at Sgt. Trapp but missed, Deputy State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith said.


Coupon machines ruled as illegal gambling

The Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that machines that dispense discount coupons for merchandise — and offer buyers a chance to win cash prizes — constitute illegal gambling.

The court upheld a Worcester County Circuit Court finding that a machine owned by Face Trading and placed in a West Ocean City pizza restaurant was illegal under state gambling laws.

Customers who deposited $1 in the machine received a card good for discounts such as $10 off a case of soup or discounts on sports clothing. Each ticket also included a pull tab that told buyers whether they had won a cash prize.

Face Trading argued that the primary purpose of the cards was to offer discounts on merchandise and that cash prizes were incidental to the purchase.

But the appeals court said it was the discount that was incidental to the purchase, noting that advertisements for the machines promoted the cash prizes and citing information that few discount coupons were redeemed.



Former DMV workers sentenced in scam

Two former Department of Motor Vehicles employees were sentenced to prison terms for selling phony driver’s licenses across the counter.

Jamille Lowther, 29, was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in federal prison and fined $10,000 for her role in the conspiracy. Tonita Sykes, 23, was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $9,000.

They were arrested along with Sykes’ sister, Teshara Sykes, 21, in February while working at Norfolk DMV offices. They later admitted in court that they sold phony driver’s licenses for $2,000 each.

Three other defendants who facilitated some of those transactions from the outside also have pleaded guilty.

According to court records, the FBI began investigating the conspiracy last summer when an informant told agents that he could get fake driver’s licenses directly from DMV.


Former prison guard sentenced in sex case

A former state correctional officer will serve time in jail for having sex with an inmate.

A Chesterfield County judge sentenced Bobby Gordon Brown Jr., 56, yesterday to five years in prison but suspended the sentence on the condition that Brown serve six months in jail and pay restitution.

Brown, a former lieutenant with the Virginia Department of Corrections, was convicted in January of having consensual sex with an inmate several times last year at the Correctional Center in Chesterfield.

DNA evidence presented in court Wednesday showed that Brown fathered inmate Sharon Montrey’s baby girl.

Prosecutors said Brown promised to put money in Montrey’s canteen account, get her good prison jobs and help her contact her sister.

Brown’s attorney said Montrey approached the officer and he was tempted because “of his age and male vanity.”


Carbon-monoxide leak sickens hotel guests

A carbon-monoxide leak at a hotel made seven guests ill yesterday, sending them to a hospital for treatment, a Stafford County official said.

Authorities said the seven reported dizziness, but none had life-threatening symptoms.

Fire and rescue crews responded to the Wingate Inn off Interstate 95 after getting a call at 9:30 a.m. They evacuated 118 workers and guests, including 80 at a conference.

Members of the county’s hazardous-materials team found a leak in the boiler room and shut down the boilers, then crews worked to ventilate the hotel. The hotel was opened at 1:30 p.m.

“From what we’ve been told, the hotel is working with the contractor who installed the boiler to determine what happened and what they need to do,” county spokeswoman Cathy Riddle said.

With temperatures in the 90s, the county brought in two air-conditioned buses to offer a cool shelter for guests and workers who were evacuated.

On July 14, a carbon-monoxide leak killed a 91-year-old pastor and sickened more than 100 other people at a Roanoke College dormitory in Salem. Investigators traced the leak to a failure in a natural-gas-powered water-heating system.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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