- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006



Plainclothes officer critically wounded

A plainclothes police officer assigned to Baltimore’s organized crime division was shot yesterday and was “fighting for his life,” authorities said.

Officer Dante N. Hemingway, 28, was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center with three gunshot wounds to the chest, neck and stomach after the 1 p.m. shooting in the Westport neighborhood. He was not wearing body armor.

Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm said it was not clear what led to the shooting. He said Officer Hemingway’s unit normally deals with prostitution. He was on duty at the time.

A suspect was shot in the leg and was being treated at the trauma center.

Commissioner Hamm quoted the officer as saying “I hurt, I’m in pain” after the shooting.

Officer Hemingway suffered heart, lung and kidney injuries, Commissioner Hamm said, and surgeons plan to perform more surgery tomorrow.

The shooting occurred in an apartment complex in a working-class community just south of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Police cars and officers swarmed the area after the shooting.

Officer Hemingway, a Baltimore native, joined the department in July 1999 and is assigned to the vice unit of the department’s organized crime division, police spokesman Matt Jablow said.

He has received several departmental commendations in his career, including an award for saving the life of another officer, Commissioner Hamm said.


Bank robbery suspect to remain in jail

A 19-year-old New Carrollton man will remain in jail for what police said was a plot to force younger teens to rob banks.

Sean Wallace appeared at a hearing yesterday in Prince George’s County District Court, where a judge ordered him to remain held while a grand jury investigates the case.

Mr. Wallace is charged with false imprisonment, armed robbery and assault.

Police think Mr. Wallace was the mastermind behind three similar incidents that occurred in January and February. Banks in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties were robbed by teens that police later described as victims.


Physician sentenced for animal cruelty

Prince George’s County’s former health officer will have to serve 20 days of house arrest and five years of probation for neglecting his animals.

Dr. Frederick Corder, a pediatrician, pleaded guilty last month to three misdemeanor animal cruelty counts and was sentenced Wednesday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

The sentence also calls for 100 hours of community service and $12,000 in restitution to the agencies that cared for two ponies and six dogs after they were seized last June from Dr. Corder’s home in Harwood.

The ponies had overgrown hooves, and one was euthanized.

Dr. Corder resigned as Prince George’s County’s chief of public health days after the charges were filed.


Two guards stabbed; prison locked down

Two officers at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup were stabbed Wednesday night by three inmates, authorities said. One of the officers remained hospitalized in stable condition yesterday, authorities said, and the maximum-security prison was put on lockdown.

Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said an officer was conducting rounds about 9 p.m. when he was attacked by three inmates with weapons. Another officer nearby heard the commotion and went to the area, where he also was attacked, she said.

The attacked officers called for help and the inmates were subdued. A 29-year-old officer was treated and released yesterday. A 23-year-old officer was in stable condition. The department declined to identify the officers further.

Maj. Doggett said the inmates involved in the attacks were serving 80 years or life sentences for homicide and weapons crimes.


Girl recants report of school sex assault

Anne Arundel County police now say a sexual assault reported to have occurred earlier this month at High Point Elementary School didn’t happen.

Police said the 9-year-old girl recanted her statement Wednesday.

The girl reported on March 14 that she was assaulted in a school bathroom a few days earlier by an unknown man. After an extensive investigation, police called the report unfounded.

The girl will not be charged.


Three admit buying meth ingredients

Police detained three young persons from Evansville, Ind., Tuesday evening after they were seen at a drugstore buying large amounts of over-the-counter cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, Anne Arundel County police said.

Police said the three admitted they planned to resell the medicine for a large profit in their home state to people they knew who would use it to make methamphetamine.

In all, police seized 103 boxes of the medication bought from several local stores.

Lt. Dave Waltmeyer said the two men, ages 21 and 22, were on spring break from a trade school and traveled to Maryland with a 17-year-old girl to buy the cold medicine because Maryland has less stringent regulations for its sale.

The three persons broke no Maryland laws and were released. Lt. Waltmeyer said they still could face charges in Indiana.


Teen sues restaurant for letting her get drunk

A teenager who sneaked into a charity bartender contest to drink is suing the restaurant for causing facial injuries she suffered in a drunken fall in the parking lot.

Tyler C. Bauer, 18, of New Market, is seeking $200,000 in damages from TGI Friday’s, according to the lawsuit filed March 22 in Frederick County Circuit Court.

Miss Bauer said the restaurant was negligent in allowing her to consume beer and liquor purchased for her by an 18-year-old companion and an older man on Oct. 11.

The lawsuit says Miss Bauer, then 17, shattered her teeth, lips and gums when she passed out and fell on her face in the parking lot with a blood alcohol level of 0.238 percent — nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 for operating a motor vehicle. Police reported that Miss Bauer had fallen off the tailgate of a pickup truck while leaving the bar.

The Frederick County Liquor Board fined the restaurant $1,600 in January for allowing Miss Bauer and her underage friend to drink.

A TGI Friday’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.


NSA worker sentenced for keeping documents

A former National Security Agency employee who was convicted of taking home classified documents was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte departed from federal guidelines when he sentenced Kenneth Ford of Waldorf.

The guidelines called for a nine-year minimum sentence, but Judge Messitte noted that there was no evidence Ford tried use the documents for anything malicious.

It was never established why Ford had the two boxes of computer records and other files in his kitchen after he left his job at the Fort Meade-based agency in early 2004.

Ford said he was framed by an ex-girlfriend.

In departing from the guidelines, Judge Messitte said the recommended sentence was too strict and was rejected in other cases in which people had documents that weren’t used for espionage — including the cases of former White House aide Samuel R. Berger, Anthony Deutsch and Wen Ho Lee.


Former City Museum to house music center

The building that housed the District’s City Museum is getting a new tenant.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams said the National Music Center has agreed to occupy a large portion of the old Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon Square for at least the next three years.

The Historical Society of Washington will remain in the building.

The music center, to be known as “The Gig,” will offer performances, classes, exhibits and special events that officials said will showcase the variety of music in the District and the country.

Yamaha Corp. of America has agreed to supply the center with instruments.

The City Museum opened at the Carnegie Library building in 2003 and closed a year later.


Moran suggests fees for entering museums

The Smithsonian Institution, which has not charged people to visit its museums for 160 years, should begin doing so to pay for critical repairs, a congressman from Virginia says.

A member of the appropriations panel that approves Smithsonian funding, Rep. James P. Moran, made the suggestion during congressional hearings in which a Smithsonian official said the complex is crumbling because there is not enough money.

“Personally, I don’t understand why we don’t charge a fee,” Mr. Moran said Wednesday, adding that charging $1 a person would be reasonable. “If you have 25 million visitors, that would be $25 million.”

Mr. Moran, a Democrat, said keeping the Smithsonian free is becoming more difficult to justify given the large amount of money it needs for operations and repairs and the mounting demands on congressional funds.

Sheila Burke, Smithsonian’s deputy secretary and chief operating officer, said the idea of charging a fee had been considered and rejected three times by the Smithsonian Board of Regents.

She also noted that the laws creating the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Portrait Gallery and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden prohibit admission fees.

In addition, Charles Lang Freer’s will, which provided for the creation of the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art, stated there could never be a charge.

This year’s proposed budget earmarks $51 million for repairs, but Miss Burke said the Smithsonian needs $94 million a year to take care of a backlog of repairs.



Man pleads guilty to 1987 slaying

A man who was linked to a slaying 19 years ago by a DNA “cold hit” pleaded no contest to first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of an 87-year-old woman.

Thomas Lee Crowder Jr., 46, could be sentenced to life in prison in the fatal stabbing of Bertha Sommardahl in her apartment.

His sentencing was scheduled for June 5.

The case was cold until December, when Crowder was linked to the killing by a DNA hit.

The DNA swab was taken when he was convicted on cocaine-related charges last year in Roanoke County.

Virginia law requires that law-enforcement agencies collect DNA samples from felons.

The link to the slaying was a bloody handprint found on Miss Sommardahl’s windowsill. Crowder subsequently confessed to police, prosecutors said.

The state lab puts the odds of the DNA found on Miss Sommardahl’s body belonging to anyone other than Crowder at 6 billion to 1.

Under a no-contest plea, a defendant gives up his right to appeal. Although Crowder did not admit guilt, he declined to contest the evidence against him.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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