- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2006



Ex-educator sentenced for money laundering

A former administrator in the Prince George’s County school system was sentenced yesterday to 6 years in prison for money laundering in a drug conspiracy case.

Before being sentenced, Pamela Hoffler-Riddick, 45, apologized to the community and her family.

“The choices I’ve made, I’ll have to bear the brunt of it,” she said in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of nearly 20 years, arguing that Hoffler-Riddick should get the maximum, given her status in the community. She was an educator in Virginia Beach before moving the Maryland.

U.S. District Judge Walter D. Kelley Jr. sentenced Hoffler-Riddick to the low end of federal sentencing guidelines and said he would have given her less time had the rules allowed.

“To say this is a tragedy is quite an understatement,” the judge said.

A jury convicted Hoffler-Riddick of using hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds for cars and homes.

She lost a job as a regional assistant superintendent in Prince George’s County after her arrest.

Hoffler-Riddick was one of 40 persons charged in connection with a ring that federal agents said distributed $20 million in marijuana and cocaine.

Defense attorneys had argued that Hoffler-Riddick’s ex-boyfriend, a key witness in the trial, lied and contradicted himself and thus wasn’t credible.

Hoffler-Riddick was given 45 days to report to prison.


New mayor opposes day-laborer center

The day-labor site in Herndon may have changed the face of politics in Herndon.

Steve DeBenedittis, a resident who opposed the center, was elected mayor yesterday, defeating incumbent Michael O’Reilly.

Mr. DeBenedittis received 1,363 votes, 130 more than Mr. O’Reilly.

The center opened late last year, replacing a chaotic unofficial site in a 7-Eleven parking lot as a spot for employers to recruit day laborers.

There also was turnover on the Town Council, as only Dennis Husch and Harlon Reece were re-elected. Connie Hutchinson, Dave Kirby, Bill Tirrell and Charlie Waddell were elected to fill the other seats.

The mayor and Town Council take office July 1.


Driver dies after crash sends truck into lake

A truck driver died when his rig crashed into a logging truck that had spilled its load, sending the trucker’s vehicle into Lake Gaston, Virginia State Police said yesterday.

Despite the efforts of a state police dive team, Charles Aubrey Wright, 60, was found dead after the crash Monday. The Mecklenburg County resident was not wearing his safety belt, police said.

The crash on Route 626 in Brunswick County occurred when a tractor-trailer driven by Raudell Lee Stainback took a curve at a high speed and crossed the center of the road. When he tried to pull back into his lane, his log-laden trailer overturned, police said.

The rear of Mr. Stainback’s trailer struck Mr. Wright’s truck, which had been traveling in the opposite direction. Mr. Wright’s truck then ran into the lake.

Mr. Stainback, 51, of Henderson, N.C., has been charged with reckless driving, police said. He received minor injuries.


Student protesters to write apologies

Seventeen University of Virginia students who protested low wages for school employees will write letters of apology for the disruption.

The school’s student-run judiciary committee yesterday convicted the students — who spent four days sitting inside a campus building last month — of unauthorized entry into a university facility, disruption and failure to comply with university officials.

The students demanded that the minimum wage be raised from $9.37 an hour to a “living wage” of $10.72 an hour.

They will have to write letters to university police, administrators and employees in Madison Hall, where they staged the protest outside President John T. Casteen III’s office.


Mermaid missing from city sidewalk

Someone has pilfered a 10-foot, peach-skinned mermaid who stood in front of a court reporting firm.

The mermaid figurine — named Courtney — was the last piece in the city’s Heart and Art Mermaid Story system. Walkers are supposed to exercise while going from mermaid to mermaid.

But police said someone decided to filch the fiberglass mermaid Sunday morning. A jogger said the mermaid was in front of Tayloe Associates at about 7:30 a.m. An hour later, a few bolts were left.

The missing mermaid is described as having brown hair and a long green tail. She was last seen in a yellow bustier with a glass-beaded belt. She has a tattoo of a gavel on her stomach and a stenograph in her hand.



Employee rescues man stuck by glue in the loo

A Wal-Mart employee found a 20-year-old Salisbury man glued to the toilet seat in the store’s bathroom Sunday night.

The man, whose name was not released by police, was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, where the toilet seat was removed, and he was treated and released.

“The man had gone into the bathroom and sat down” on the seat coated with glue, said Lt. Cheryl Rantz of the Salisbury Police Department. “He was banging on the wall when the employee came in.”

A similar incident occurred at a Denny’s not far away on April Fools’ Day.


Rescued sea lions make debut at zoo

The National Zoo will show off its two newest additions to the public today.

Two female sea lion pups go on display for the first time in Washington since they were rescued last year from beaches in California.

The pups — Calli and Summer — are said to be playful and feisty, and they are in the process of being trained to do demonstrations for the public.

Calli and Summer each weigh about 70 pounds, but the zoo said they will grow to between 200 and 250 pounds.

The two pups will enter the public exhibit at 10 a.m.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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