- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 28, 2006


City begins outreach to African immigrants

A new city government office will help improve services to African immigrants, Mayor Anthony A. Williams said.

City officials say there are about 400,000 Africans living in the region. They represent about 16 percent of the recent immigrants to the area.

Mr. Williams said a new Office of African Affairs will help make sure those people can get access to city services and information.

Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat, said the creation of the office marks a milestone for diversity in the city.

The District has similar offices that handle constituent services for Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders and homosexual and transgender people.

Mr. Williams has dedicated money in his 2007 budget to run the programs.

The funds also will help cover the expenses of an African Affairs Commission. That panel will look at ways to improve existing immigrant outreach programs and help set the agenda for new programs.



Stabbing suspect held without bail

A 20-year-old Richmond man accused of stabbing four of his relatives has been ordered held without bail on first-degree murder charges.

Jason Andrew James is accused of killing two persons — a father and daughter — and wounding two others in the attack Saturday at a Richmond-area home.

Mr. James, who is a nephew of the dead man’s wife, was arraigned yesterday morning in Henrico County General District Court and faces a preliminary hearing May 23. The judge appointed an attorney for him.

Mr. James surrendered to police Saturday night. He is charged in the deaths of Herbert Sharpe Jr., 51, and his daughter, Angel Jackson, 26.

Also stabbed were Mr. Sharpe’s wife, Blondene Sharpe, 49, and their son, Bryant Sharpe, 19.


Bail denied for man on child porn charge

A South Boston man has been arrested on child pornography charges.

David Tetterton, 40, is charged with 27 counts of production of child pornography and 27 counts of possession of child pornography, the state Attorney General’s Office said.

Authorities said Mr. Tetterton printed out images of child pornography at a Wal-Mart, and police found additional evidence at his home.

Mr. Tetterton was involved with youth baseball in the South Boston area, and police are trying to identify all the children involved.

Mr. Tetterton was released on bail Saturday, but a judge in Halifax County yesterday denied his bail after objections to his release by state and local prosecutors. Mr. Tetterton will remain in jail pending trial.

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell said details of the charges won’t be released for now.


Va. Tech raises tuition 9.3 percent

In-state undergraduate students at Virginia Tech will pay 9.3 percent more for annual tuition and fees for the 2006-2007 academic year, the school announced yesterday.

The school’s Board of Visitors voted to raise the rates from $6,378 to $6,973 annually for Virginia residents and from $17,837 to $19,049 for nonresidents.

Costs for residents living on campus will rise from $10,834 to $11,739 annually and from $22,293 to $23,815 for nonresidents.

For in-state graduate students, the rates go from $7,977 to $8,540 and for out-of-state students, from $12,835 to $14,057.

Virginia Tech officials said additional money is needed to offset increases in fuel costs and health insurance.

“While we know it is necessary to raise fees to maintain quality, we still are sensitive to the effects on rising costs on students and their families. We are creating and funding programs to keep school affordable,” Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said.

The school is sending out acceptance letters this week and needed to set the fees despite no agreement by state lawmakers on a two-year state budget.


Volunteer pleads guilty to sex abuse

A volunteer at an Arlington assisted-living center pleaded guilty yesterday to sexually abusing residents.

Richard O’Brian, 69, of Annandale, was arrested in January after a worker at the Cherrydale Health and Rehabilitation Center told police she had seen him having sexual contact with a resident.

The center said O’Brian claimed to be a priest with the Catholic Apostolic Church, but church officials said O’Brian hasn’t been associated with the church for 10 years.

O’Brian is being held without bail until he’s sentenced in July.



Former HUD official testifies on housing

A former Housing and Urban Development official testified yesterday in federal court about a plan to relocate Baltimore’s poor across the region.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis has been presiding over the case for more than a decade to find ways to relocate black families from the city’s most economically depressed neighborhoods.

Judge Garbis ruled in January that there should be a regional approach to breaking up the concentration of poor families in public housing. Yesterday was the first day of a hearing to determine how.

One of yesterday’s witnesses was Jill Khadduri, HUD’s former director of policy development, who said the agency has programs to reduce concentrated poverty, but should use “mobility counseling” to help public housing residents relocate.


Diamond ring found after flushing

A $15,000 diamond ring is back on the hand of its owner, five weeks after it accidentally was flushed down a toilet.

A Mount St. Mary’s University worker found Debbie Squiccimarri’s engagement ring on a grate at the campus wastewater treatment plant last week, school spokesman Duffy Ross said yesterday.

Miss Squiccimarri, of Ramsey, N.J., lost the ring when it slipped off her finger into an automatic flush toilet while she was visiting the campus with her daughter on Feb. 20, Mr. Ross said. She returned to the school yesterday to pick it up.

“I had resigned myself to accepting that my ring was gone,” Miss Squiccimarri said in a university press release. “I guess this means I’ll have to send my daughter to Mount St. Mary’s.”


Felon charged in Ponzi scheme

A convicted felon has been charged with operating a Ponzi scheme that bilked more than 400 Maryland investors out of $7.3 million, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. announced yesterday.

The securities division of the Attorney General’s Office has frozen the assets of David M. Robinson of Owings Mills and his company, Liberty Trade International Inc.

Robinson is accused of violating Maryland securities laws by operating a fraudulent investment scheme.

In 1989, he was convicted of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary in Anne Arundel County. In 1995, he was convicted in federal court of four counts of mail fraud in two separate cases.

Robinson was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison on the mail-fraud convictions and was released in April 2003, according to court documents. He founded Liberty Trade International four days after his release.

The documents show that the company raised more than $7.3 million in investment money from September 2004 to February 2006 and that it owed investors more than $4.5 million in principal.

When Robinson was arrested, the company had $1.46 million in its bank accounts.

Mr. Curran’s office said Robinson sold unregistered securities in the form of promissory notes, telling investors that their money was backed by investments in real estate and in a real estate investment trust. He guaranteed returns of as much as 20 percent within 60 days.

Robinson used the money to pay other investors and to finance his lavish lifestyle, the state said. At some point, he bought three new Mercedes-Benzes in a seven-month stretch.


Teachers removed after testing problem

The Carroll County school system has removed two fourth-grade teachers from their classrooms after discovering they violated security for the state standardized-testing program.

Schools Superintendent Charles Ecker says disciplinary action has been taken against a teacher from Linton Springs Elementary and a teacher at Mount Airy Elementary for what happened earlier this month when students took the Maryland School Assessment tests.

Mr. Ecker says the Linton Springs teacher took notes when the reading test was given last year, then included those questions on a worksheet for her current class.

Officials say the teacher shared the worksheet with the Mount Airy teacher, who passed it along to eight other teachers.

Mr. Ecker says the other teachers thought the state Education Department had provided the worksheet to help prepare students for the tests.

When the tests were given, some Mount Airy teachers noticed the questions matched those on the worksheet, and they notified the principal.

The Education Department was notified, and Mr. Ecker has sent a letter home to parents.

He says he’s not sure whether students will have to take the tests again or what the effect will be on the schools’ test scores.


Alcohol a factorin student’s death

Alcohol was a factor in the death last month of a Frostburg State University student, the Office of the State Medical Examiner said yesterday.

John Allen Pickett Jr., 20, of Cambridge, asphyxiated after vomiting while intoxicated, the medical examiner said.

Mr. Pickett died Feb. 25 after being found unconscious in the off-campus house he shared with other students. He was a junior majoring in economics, according to university officials.

“Frostburg State University is shocked and saddened by the autopsy results,” a school spokesman said. “The university will continue with its aggressive alcohol-education program to inform our students on the dangers of excessive drinking.”


Metro celebrates30th anniversary

It was 30 years ago yesterday that Metro first began running subway trains.

The rail system opened with great fanfare — including marching bands, ceremonial ribbons and banners.

The initial Metrorail system consisted only of stops at Rhode Island Avenue, Union Station, Judiciary Square, Metro Center and Farragut North on the Red Line.

More than 51,000 people took a free ride that first day. Two days later, Metrorail had its first revenue day, with about 20,000 people paying 55 cents each to ride.

Thirty years later, Metrorail carries nearly 700,000 passengers each weekday along more than 106 miles of track on five rail lines. The system has 86 stations.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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