- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2006


Ex-city worker pleads guilty to bribery

A former D.C. Department of Transportation inspector faces up to 14 months in federal prison after his guilty plea this week on a felony bribery charge.

Denard Smith admitted accepting cash for not shutting down an illegal job site.

He pleaded guilty to one count of demanding and accepting an illegal gratuity.

Smith will be sentenced Sept. 6 in U.S. District Court.

FBI agents earlier this year recorded Smith telling a contractor to pay him bribes if he asked for “lunch.”

“You know what I’m saying when I said, ‘Take me out to lunch.’ I can’t say, well, ‘Give me some money.’ You know what I’m saying. I’m taking a bribe here,” Smith is heard saying.

Smith told investigators that from last summer until January, he accepted $4,000 in cash for not fining or shutting down illegal job sites, according to legal papers.

Aunt charged in death of infant left alone

The aunt of a baby who died after being left alone in a hot apartment for 15 hours has been charged with murder.

The office of the District’s chief medical examiner said, however, that it wasn’t the 85-degree weather or lack of water that killed 5-month-old Demarcus Simmons.

Instead, court records indicate the infant suffered a severe blow to the head and had been dead “for some time” before anyone called for help Sunday.

Shirley Jane Wilson, who had been watching her nephew, said she bathed and fed the baby that morning and placed him in his car seat in front of a small fan.

She said she moved the child’s seat to the living room later that day but otherwise didn’t check on him until his mother returned shortly before 10 p.m.



Clinic attack suspect pleads not guilty

A man accused of plotting to attack an abortion clinic with a pipe bomb and handgun pleaded not guilty yesterday and was ordered held until his trial.

Robert Weiler, 25, appeared at an arraignment in U.S. District Court on charges of possessing and making an unregistered destructive device, illegally possessing a firearm and possessing a stolen firearm

Mr. Weiler called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on June 8 from a Western Maryland rest stop to confess to the plan, according to court documents. Authorities said he told them that he had built a pipe bomb, stolen a handgun from a friend and planned to attack a Greenbelt clinic that performs abortions.

The pipe bomb exploded that morning in the Riverdale house of Mr. Weiler’s friend as a bomb technician tried to defuse it.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.


Search expands to find missing teen

The search for a high school graduate who disappeared in Ocean City last week has expanded to his hometown of Elkton.

Nicholas Raymond Gochnour, 18, has been missing since June 14 in Ocean City, where he was celebrating his graduation.

Three officers came to Elkton on Wednesday to gather more information, said Patrolman 1st Class Barry Neeb, spokesman for the Ocean City Police Department.

“They’re re-interviewing the kids he was staying with and interviewing some others they didn’t get to talk to before,” Patrolman Neeb told the Salisbury Daily Times.

No leads have developed from the interviews, said Lt. Matthew Donnelly, spokesman for the Elkton Police Department.

Mr. Gochnour is about 5 feet, 8 inches, weighs between 140 and 150 pounds, and has blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a green fitted New York Yankees hat, white T-shirt, denim shorts and white sneakers. He wore diamond stud earrings in both ears.


Ehrlich signs bill on sex offenders

Minimum prison sentences for child sex offenders and increased monitoring of convicted offenders is now law in Maryland.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday signed the measure passed last week during the special legislative session. It requires minimum 25-year prison sentences for the most serious crimes against children, plus more frequent check-ins of convicted sex offenders.

The law makes it a felony for convicted offenders to fail to register. A five-year minimum prison term for second-degree sex offenses against children also is required under the new law.

The law does not ban sex offenders from parole, as some advocates had hoped.


21 bags of pot ruled out as evidence

A police officer’s error means that 21 bags of marijuana found in a man’s car cannot be used as evidence, a Somerset County Circuit Court judge has ruled.

Judge Newt Jackson ruled that the traffic stop of Sean Hughes was without cause, so the fact that marijuana was found in his car cannot be used against him.

The decision means Mr. Hughes, 23, is cleared.

Mr. Hughes’ attorney, James Anthenelli of Salisbury, said the marijuana won’t be returned to his client.

“I hope he learned his lesson,” Mr. Anthenelli said.

Maryland State Police Trooper Tony Morton told the court that windows in the Ford Expedition that Mr. Hughes was driving were too darkly tinted. Judge Jackson ruled last week that the tint wasn’t enough.

He said there was “no irate driving, no speeding, no weaving, no crossing the center line, no rolling stop” to merit being pulled over.


Two women’s deaths not connected

The deaths of two women whose bodies were found along roads near Aberdeen don’t appear to be connected, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office said.

State Police 1st Sgt. Russell Newell told the Cecil Whig that investigators have not been able to make a connection between the deaths of Lillian Abramowicz Phelps and Sheila Ann Turner.

Amtrak workers found Miss Turner’s decomposed body June 2 in a farmer’s field on a private lane southwest of Aberdeen. Her body was identified June 16.

A resident found Miss Phelps’ body June 14 about a half-mile east of Aberdeen.

Investigators have not released the cause of death for either woman.


Suspect in attack feared aliens, cops say

A woman was arrested after assaulting two persons she thought were aliens, police said.

On Monday, Joan Marie Yater, 46, grabbed a book shop employee at a shopping center by the throat, then knocked over a customer who tried to pry her loose, police said.

Miss Yater told police that the store employees “were aliens and wanted to attack her,” according to charging papers reported by the Easton Star Democrat.

Miss Yater is charged with two counts of second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. She is being held at the Talbot County Detention Center.


Vandals riding ATVs destroy school trees

Vandals on all-terrain vehicles destroyed nearly 300 saplings planted by sixth- and seventh-grade students behind Windsor Knolls Middle School.

“It’s very disheartening, very disappointing,” social studies teacher Lori Saylor told the Frederick News-Post.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said 277 trees valued at $5,000 were broken, run over, uprooted or otherwise destroyed Saturday night.

The trees, planted April 21, are part of a Schoolyard Habitat program funded by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, given through the Potomac Conservancy. The project aims to reforest and improve Bennett Creek and the Monocacy Watershed, Miss Saylor said.

She said the vandals broke through a chain barrier to reach the saplings. Tire tracks showed the ATVs sped down the rows of trees, uprooting some and using an object to damage the stakes supporting the thin protective sleeves.



Guard to create WMD response team

The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to create a response team to deal with biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, officials said yesterday.

The duties are intended to build an enhanced homeland security defense system, the Guard said.

Guard members will undergo an 18-month training and evaluation program before certification.

Units will continue to support traditional state and federal missions while building the WMD unit within Virginia.

Response team members will be capable of extracting victims from damaged structures, providing mass decontamination, medical triage and treatment, and WMD detection.


Man sentenced in baby strangling

A Rockingham County judge sentenced a man to 29 years in prison yesterday for strangling a 16-month-old boy left in his care.

A jury recommended the sentence for Clifford Donald Lamb, 23. The jury convicted him Wednesday of second-degree murder in the April 2005 death of Ikarius Layden Chandler Kubin.

A Rockingham County Circuit Court judge confirmed the sentence and added three years of supervised probation after Lamb’s release.

Prosecutors said Lamb used a cord torn from a mattress to strangle the toddler to silence his crying. Lamb was living with the child’s mother and was watching the baby.

Lamb originally was charged with capital murder. Defense attorneys said he committed the crime but argued that he not be put to death because the crime was not premeditated.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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