- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2006



Ehrlich vetoes 11 bills

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. vetoed 11 bills that attracted little notice during the 2006 General Assembly session yesterday, three days before his deadline for acting on legislation passed by the House and Senate this year.

Unless the Democratic-controlled legislature comes back to Annapolis for a special legislative session before the end of the year, lawmakers will not have a chance to override the vetoes.

One of the bills would have set up a state program to monitor dispensing of prescription drugs that are subject to abuse. Attorney General J. Joseph Curran had advocated the program as a way to prevent drug abusers from getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, also rejected a bill that would have removed the State Labor Relations Board from the control of the governor and made it an independent agency.

Another bill would have made it illegal for anyone other than a police officer or security guard to wear any attire at a polling place on Election Day that would make it appear a person was performing an official duty.


Defense rests in dog-handler case

The defense rested yesterday in the court-martial of an Army dog handler charged with abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners. Jurors got the Memorial Day weekend off.

After closing arguments Tuesday, the jury will decide whether Sgt. Santos A. Cardona was a sadistic bad apple, as prosecutors contend, or just a military policeman trying to meet the urgent but muddled demands of inept senior officers.

Sgt. Cardona, 32, of Fullerton, Calif., is charged with assault, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, conspiracy to maltreat detainees and lying to investigators in late 2003 and early 2004.

He faces up to 161/2 years in prison if convicted on all nine counts.

He is accused of letting his tan Belgian shepherd, Duco, bite detainee Mohammed Bollendia on both legs, and of competing with another dog handler to frighten detainees into soiling themselves. He also is accused of using his dog to harass and threaten detainee Kamel Miza’l Nayil in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.


Officer killed in crash is laid to rest

Hundreds of people packed an East Baltimore church yesterday to remember a city police officer killed one week ago, when his cruiser was broadsided by one driven by another officer about a block from the Southwest District police station.

Mayor Martin O’Malley, Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm and hundreds of police officers joined the friends and family of Officer Anthony Byrd, for the officer’s funeral.

Officer Byrd’s widow, Chantal, told the packed church her husband loved life, and she and her family wore white today to celebrate his life.

Officer Raymond Cook, the officer driving the other police car involved in last week’s crash, also attended the service.

In his eulogy, Commissioner Hamm not only praised Officer Byrd, but also asked everyone to “pray for Officer Cook.”

The accident remains under investigation.



Federal officials probe discrimination

The city of Manassas now faces a federal housing probe over whether its efforts to fight crowded housing are discriminating against Hispanic families.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint charging discrimination. Two days later, a group of Manassas residents and civil rights advocates filed 11 complaints, accusing the city of selectively enforcing its overcrowding rules and other regulations.

Isabelle Thabault of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee said her organization has counted at least 200 Hispanic residents displaced by city inspections.

“We found many examples where an inspector went to a household based on an anonymous complaint … found no violations, then returned a month later and again found no violations,” she said.

Manassas Police Chief John J. Skinner, the acting city manager, said he could not comment on pending complaints.


Lane openings help ease holiday traffic

State highway officials have done their part to help ease traffic for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is opening lanes today that are temporarily closed for construction or maintenance work on major roadways.

VDOT said most lanes will be clear until noon Tuesday. Construction zones with concrete barriers and orange barrels will remain set up.

Drivers are reminded to obey lower speed limits in highway work zones. The fine for speeding in a work zone can be as high as $500.

Drivers who speed, tailgate or drive recklessly on several Highway Safety Corridors also face higher fines — up to $2,500.


Officials: Blast was suicide attempt

Authorities say a Stephens City man accused of blowing up his home and damaging about 80 others in January triggered the blast when he tried to commit suicide.

Frederick County Fire Marshal Denny Linaburg testified at a bond hearing yesterday that Robert Cook, 55, intentionally caused the blast.

Marshal Linaburg said Mr. Cook removed a cap from the natural gas line leading to the heating unit in his home, let the house fill with gas, then lit a cigarette.

Mr. Cook was described as being very distraught about his wife leaving him.

He was hospitalized for weeks, and was arrested earlier this month on 82 charges, including arson and felony destruction of property.

Mr. Cook is being held without bond.


Missing teen’s body found in car

A body found inside a car parked in a wooded area was identified yesterday as that of a teenager who disappeared Monday, police said.

The body of Allen “Chip” Ellis, 18, was found inside his car Thursday in Henrico County.

The cause of his death was not released, but Henrico and Chesterfield County police are investigating the case as a homicide.

Yesterday, Louis Shawn Lindenfeld, 18, was arrested and charged with grand larceny for the theft of Mr. Ellis’ car, Henrico County police Sgt. Don Lambert said.

He declined to say whether Mr. Lindenfeld was a suspect in Mr. Ellis’ death.

Mr. Ellis vanished after driving from his Midlothian home to the local library, police and family members said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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