- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006



D.C. officer charged with insurance fraud

Maryland prosecutors yesterday charged a D.C. police officer with criminal theft and insurance fraud stemming from a claim he made for damage to his personal vehicle in 2001.

Officer Calvin Roots, 39, of Forestville, has been on administrative leave with pay since Jan. 29, Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Officer Junis Fletcher said.

Officer Fletcher said Officer Roots joined the police department in May 1989. He was assigned to the 7th Police District.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. filed the six-count indictment in Montgomery County Circuit Court yesterday, charging Officer Roots with stealing $8,991.95 in insurance benefits from State Farm Insurance Co. in 2001.

Charging documents filed in the case say that from Sept. 8 to Nov. 30, 2001, Officer Roots made oral statements and presented documentation containing false and misleading information concerning an insurance claim he filed on his personal vehicle.

If convicted of theft, Officer Roots could be sentenced to serve 15 years in prison and fined $25,000. He also faces 15 years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine if convicted on the insurance fraud counts.

Officer Roots faces a tentative trial date of May 15.


Woman, toddler killed in row house fire

A woman and a 2-year-old boy were killed in a fire in an East Baltimore row house in which firefighters had installed smoke detectors two years ago, city fire officials said yesterday.

The victims were identified as Lisa Washington, who was in her 20s, and Tyrese Jones, fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said.

Investigators found no sign of the smoke detectors that firefighters had installed in the home in February 2004, and fire crews never heard an alarm sounding, Mr. Cartwright said.

Five persons escaped the two-story brick home in the 2300 block of East Oliver Street by jumping out of windows, Mr. Cartwright said.

The fire broke out about 9:50 a.m. and was under control in about 30 minutes, Mr. Cartwright said. The cause was under investigation.


Ehrlich backs bill on paper ballots

Legislation that would require the state to swap its electronic voting machines for paper ballots for at least one year received strong support yesterday from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who said it would be “inexcusable for us to not be prepared for a catastrophic system failure in the 2006 election cycle.”

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, urged the state Board of Elections to support a bill that is scheduled for debate this week in the House of Delegates to lease optical scanners that would be used to count paper ballots in the September primary and November general elections.

That would give the state two years to study alternatives, including adding printers to the current touch-screen machines.

Mr. Ehrlich joined critics who said the Diebold AccuVote-TS machines used in Maryland in 2002 and 2004 are not reliable because they lack paper records of individual votes that could be used to verify results in the case of fraud accusations or widespread failure of the touch-screen computers.

Mr. Ehrlich issued his comments in a letter to Gilles Burger, chairman of the election board.

The governor also asked for additional testing of the Diebold machines and opposed legislation enacted by the General Assembly over his veto that will allow Marylanders, for the first time, to cast ballots during the week before the primary and general elections this year.


Lesbian crowned ‘king’ of Hood homecoming

Hood College is reviewing its homecoming rules after a lesbian was crowned homecoming king, a college official said.

Jennifer Jones, the 21-year-old senior who beat out three men for the honor, said her victory last month was a plus for the private liberal-arts college.

Waves of discontent are rippling through the 2,100-student campus more than two weeks after Miss Jones was crowned at the Feb. 18 homecoming dance, the Frederick News-Post reported yesterday.

Donald Miller, Hood’s student activities director, said all homecoming events will be reviewed.

“We will look at what students want Hood’s homecoming to be,” he said.



Board to vote on school bonds

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will decide today whether to go ahead with a huge bond sale to pay for school construction.

If the bond sale is approved, the bulk of the $64 million would be used to build a new administration building and a new middle school.

The program also calls for buying land for two new high schools, as well as making repairs to existing schools.

Feds suggest changes for Route 7 lights

The Federal Highway Administration has released a series of recommendations to improve the synchronization of traffic lights on Route 7 from Tysons Corner to Leesburg.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, asked for the federal review after learning that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had problems getting a state-of-the-art traffic control system up and running.

The 14-page FHA report notes several instances where traffic cameras aren’t positioned correctly or experience data errors because of glare at sunrise and sunset.

Mr. Wolf said VDOT needs to better analyze each camera to make sure correct data are collected to improve traffic flow.


Gun rights bill clears committee

A Senate committee yesterday narrowly approved a bill that would make it illegal for most Virginia businesses to prohibit guns in locked vehicles on their property.

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-7 to advance Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter’s bill, which would require businesses to allow employees and customers to keep guns in their locked vehicles while parked on site.

The bill contains exemptions for vehicles on school property and private property where the parking area is gated or restricted. It also would exempt business-owned vehicles, such as delivery vans.

Mr. Lingamfelter, Prince William Republican, said the measure is necessary because many businesses have imposed bans on guns in cars parked in their lots, thus restricting the rights of gun owners to protect themselves.

Critics argue that the bill amounts to a taking of property rights, by restricting businesses from dictating what they want to allow on their properties.

The National Rifle Association has been pushing for similar legislation across the country.


House shelves bill on illegal-alien tuition

Legislation that would deny in-state tuition to some illegal aliens in Virginia has been delayed until next year.

The House Education Committee voted yesterday to carry over the bill into the 2007 session.

Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr.’s bill originally would have denied in-state tuition for all illegal aliens enrolling in Virginia public colleges.

Opponents said the bill would punish young people for the parents’ decision to bring them to this country.

In response to that criticism, the Augusta County Republican amended the bill to allow in-state tuition for illegal aliens who meet certain criteria, including graduation from a Virginia high school and a promise to pursue legal status as soon as possible.

Delegate John S. Reid, Henrico County Republican, said the attorney general’s office has advised him that if the state offers in-state tuition to some people who are not legal Virginia residents, it must offer the same deal to all nonresidents.


Ex-ANC official convicted of fraud

A former Advisory Neighborhood Commission official faces up to 350 years in prison after being convicted of running a Ponzi scheme.

Prosecutors said Robert Hall ran a company called First United Financial Group out of a Northeast office.

He lured investors with promises that those who acted early would get payments, which officials said came from new investors.

The operation eventually collapsed, causing victims to lose more than $747,000.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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