- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006



Convicted executive pleads to charges

Nathan Chapman Jr., who was convicted two years ago of defrauding the state pension system, pleaded guilty yesterday to making false statements on a loan application for a house and 6 acres of land, federal officials said.

Chapman and his former wife, Valerie Chapman, also agreed to surrender about $40,000 in funds resulting from the transaction that have been frozen since March 2004, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

U.S. District Judge William Quarles sentenced Chapman to one year of probation, in addition to the 7-year prison sentence he received in November 2004.

Chapman has been free pending an appeal, which was argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit last month.

Chapman’s guilty plea yesterday stems from charges that were severed from his 2004 trial in Baltimore. He made two false statements in connection with his loan application, prosecutors said.

The U.S. attorney’s office said he advised Sandy Spring National Bank loan officers that he would raise the $242,000 necessary to pay the balance of a down payment on the house and property in Clarksville and the settlement costs by selling stock he owned in one of two financial-services companies he had founded.

When listing his personal liabilities, Chapman did not disclose that in the past 18 months, he had borrowed $723,527 from his two publicly held companies.

The U.S. attorney’s office said there is no evidence that Mrs. Chapman was aware of either false statement.


Test election seeks electronic-poll flaws

Voters skeptical about the reliability of the electronic poll books that caused major problems during the primary election can take part in a test today that will help determine whether those flaws have been fixed.

State election officials and the manufacturer of the machines, Diebold Inc., will conduct the test from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the BWI Airport Marriott Hotel.

“It’s literally going to be a mock election basically all day. We’re going to have four precincts represented,” Jessica Goon, spokeswoman for Diebold, said yesterday.

The results of the test voting could determine whether the electronic poll books are used for the Nov. 7 general election or whether Maryland returns to the old system in which printed lists of registered voters were used in polling places to check in voters.

Linda H. Lamone, state elections administrator, said that if any problems develop during the test today, “We are going to have to assess what we’re going to do.

“The local election directors have communicated to us that they really want to use them,” she said.

Mrs. Lamone said last week that she will scrap the electronic poll books unless she is assured that the problems have been fixed.


Former officer arrested again

A former city police officer accused of raping a woman in a police station was arrested Sunday night after leading police on a car chase.

According to court documents, Jemini Jones, 28, ran a red light and refused to stop when police tried to get him to pull over.

The documents also said that Mr. Jones had a loaded gun in the car and that he is not allowed to have a weapon.

Mr. Jones was indicted Jan. 6 on charges of having sex with a 22-year-old woman in exchange for her release.

Two other officers were charged in the case.


Retrial begins in beating case

Jury selection began yesterday in the retrial of a man convicted in 2004 of beating a 68-year-old woman to death with a board during a home burglary.

Jack L. Hammersla’s conviction for premeditated first-degree murder was overturned in February by the Court of Special Appeals. The appeals court found that the trial judge had improperly allowed testimony about statements made by a man who had been placed in Hammersla’s cell at the Washington County jail after offering to inform on him.

Hammersla, 49, of Hagerstown, was sentenced to life without parole in August 2004 for the slaying of Shirley Finfrock of Smithsburg.

The retrial is scheduled to run through Friday.



Off-duty officer hits, kills bicyclist

A 50-year-old bicyclist was killed just before dawn yesterday when struck by a sport utility vehicle driven by a police officer.

At 5:15 a.m., about two hours before sunrise, Jose Maria Carranza Claros of the 6800 block of Barrett Road near Falls Church was on his bicycle in the median of Arlington Boulevard near the intersection with Annandale Road. Mr. Claros turned north to cross the westbound lanes of Arlington Boulevard.

He was struck by a 2004 Toyota Highlander, driven by a 36-year-old Fairfax County police lieutenant en route to his job at the Criminal Justice Academy. The officer, who was uninjured, is a 12-year veteran of the county police department, spokesman Lt. Richard Perez said.

Mr. Claros was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Lt. Perez said alcohol consumption does not appear to be a factor.


Kaine dedicates part of historic water trail

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine yesterday dedicated a new James River trail that lets travelers explore as Capt. John Smith did in the early 17th century.

The ceremony was held at Westover Plantation on the James River.

Virginia recently released travel maps for Captain John Smith’s Trail — a boat and auto tour along the James River following Smith’s footsteps. It is the first segment of what authorities hope will become a national water trail.

The trail was developed in time for the 400th anniversary commemoration of the founding of Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement. The route includes Jamestown, plantations, parks and museums, and places where Indians lived thousands of years before the English arrived.

Virginia’s trail is divided into three loops, each of which can be toured in a day. Some sites are more accessible by boat; others are best reached by car.


Dry summer blamed for delaying fall color

A dry summer is being blamed for delaying the arrival of colorful autumn foliage.

Kelly Vogelpohl, a naturalist at the Piney Run Nature Center in Sykesville, Md., said a few yellow and red leaves are beginning to appear along the lake, most on trees known for dropping their leaves early.

While the shortening of the day is the key factor in prompting trees to stop producing green sugar-making chlorophyll in their leaves, the dry summer most likely interrupted sugar production, John Hazel of the U.S. Forest Service said.

Mr. Hazel said that some red color is beginning to appear on the black gums and sumacs in the woods around his office in Morgantown, W.Va., which is more than two weeks later than normal.

The delay is occurring throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Foliage Hotline is reporting about 40 percent leaf color change in Garrett County, particularly in elevations of 2,500 feet and more.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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