- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Rail car problems plague Metro’s growth

Metro is having trouble with its plan to ease overcrowding on trains because of problems with repairing old rail cars and bringing new ones into service.

That means the transit agency likely will have trouble coping with this year’s growing ridership.

About a third of Metro’s rail cars in use or in production have structural or mechanical problems — some caused by the manufacturers. Officials were hoping to have 100 new rail cars ready by the end of this year. But now because of necessary repairs, Metro is estimating it will have just 50 new cars by January.

A Metro inspector discovered problems with the new cars while they were still on the production line in Spain. Officials were to meet yesterday with the manufacturer to come up with a solution.

The system needs 758 of its 952 rail cars for the morning and evening rush hours, leaving little time for repairs on the existing fleet.



New highway signs give travel time estimates

The State Highway Administration is testing a new electronic sign it hopes will help ease traffic jams on major commuter routes.

The signs are being tested on Interstate 70 between Mount Airy and the Baltimore Beltway. They are designed to give commuters up-to-the-minute estimates on travel time, giving them the option of taking an alternate route.

The time estimates are calculated with a network of sensors that measure traffic speed and volume.

Officials said the information system is designed to be more timely and specific than the message board system used on some other Maryland interstates.

If the test goes well, the new system could be installed on the other highways.


Prison escapee caught after chase

After a chase into Pennsylvania, police captured a prison inmate who walked away in late April from a dishwashing job at a country club.

A Hagerstown Police Department officer ended the pursuit Monday by using his cruiser to pin a stolen car driven by Nick Swan against a guardrail, police said. No one was hurt.

Swan, 32, of Hagerstown, was being held without bail in Pennsylvania on charges filed through Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg.

Swan was an inmate at the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown when he left a work detail at the Fountain Head Country Club, authorities said. He was serving a 2-year sentence for drug possession.

Officers attempted to stop Swan about 2:45 a.m. Monday in Hagerstown after he nearly rear-ended another car, said Lt. Richard Reynolds of the Hagerstown police.

Swan led police on a chase, swerving at one point toward an officer’s cruiser, Lt. Reynolds said. Police said he also tried to swerve toward another officer setting up “stop sticks” in an attempt to puncture Swan’s tires.

Swan got onto Interstate 81 and drove into Pennsylvania, where he left the highway and then attempted to get back on the interstate.

He struck a guardrail and tried to ram an officer. That’s when another officer used his vehicle to pin the car against the guardrail.

Swan was charged with reckless endangerment, theft of more than $500, resisting arrest, assorted traffic charges, aggravated assault, fleeing and eluding, drug possession, possession of a stolen vehicle and two counts each of first-degree and second-degree assault.


Psychiatrist guilty of Medicare fraud

A Mount Washington psychiatrist pleaded guilty yesterday to billing the Medicare program $200,000 for services that were never provided.

Roman Ostrovsky, 48, engaged in the scheme by billing for thousands of 45-minute therapy sessions he did not perform, prosecutors said.

The scheme was discovered because there were many days he billed for more than eight hours of services, and one day where he billed for 19 hours at his practice in Pikesville.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II sentenced Ostrovsky to 12 months of home confinement. In addition, Ostrovsky has to pay $400,000 and will be on probation for two years.


Former CEO charged in theft of $3.1 million

The former chief executive officer of two Bethesda investment companies has been indicted in the theft of $3.1 million from the firms and failure to pay more than $400,000 in income taxes on the ill-gotten gains.

In a 33-count indictment unsealed yesterday in U.S. District Court, John J. Lawbaugh was accused of diverting money to off-the-book accounts while he led 1st Atlantic Guaranty Corp. and SBM Certificate Co. from 1997 and 2002.

The indictment charges him with wire fraud, mail fraud, theft from a registered investment company and income tax evasion. Each count carries a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison for a conviction.

Mr. Lawbaugh, 36, of Poolesville, was charged in a 2003 civil suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission involving the same crimes.



Man pleads guilty in speedboat crash

A Moneta man pleaded guilty during a pretrial hearing Monday to plowing his speedboat into the back of another boat on Smith Mountain Lake last summer, killing a couple.

Mark de Tournillon Sr., 46, admitted he was drunk when his boat hit the back of a cabin cruiser at 65 mph Aug. 20, killing Lawrence and Judith Lewis as they made their way home from having dinner with friends.

The plea came during a hearing intended to determine whether autopsy and crime scene photos could be used as evidence in de Tournillon’s trial, which was scheduled to begin next week.

Last week, de Tournillon, the owner of a marina, lost a battle to keep evidence of his intoxication out of his trial. Hours after the accident his blood-alcohol content was 0.12 percent, well above the 0.08 level at which someone is presumed drunk.

Bedford County Circuit Judge James Updike revoked de Tournillon’s $50,000 bond Friday when he found out he was charged April 19 with driving while intoxicated in Broward County, Fla.

He also was convicted two years ago of recklessly operating his boat on Smith Mountain Lake.

Two civil cases totaling $12 million have been filed against de Tournillon by the Lewises’ estates.


Teen pleads guilty in deputy’s death

A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree murder in the slaying last year of a deputy sheriff.

Joe Thomas II, who was 15 when the crime occurred, entered his plea in Petersburg Circuit Court. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 27.

Thomas shot Dinwiddie County sheriff’s Deputy James E. Weaver, who was transporting the teenager in June 2005 from court to a juvenile detention center.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Cassandra Burns said Thomas was riding in the back seat of Deputy Weaver’s patrol car when he managed to shed his ankle and wrist restraints and grab the deputy’s service revolver.

Deputy Weaver, 59, died at a Richmond hospital.

Thomas fled but was later picked up with the gun in his possession.

Under the plea agreement, a capital charge was amended to first-degree murder and a grand larceny charge for stealing the pistol was dropped. Thomas also pleaded guilty to abduction, felony escape, two related firearms charges and possession of a firearm while under age 18.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide