- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006


Polls show Steele gaining

Two polls released yesterday show a diminishing lead in Maryland’s U.S. Senate race for Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin over Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

In a poll commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Mr. Cardin, a Democrat, led Mr. Steele, a Republican who is vying to become the nation’s sixth black U.S. senator, 47 percent to 43 percent.

Public Opinion Strategies, an Alexandria-based polling firm, performed the telephone poll of 800 likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Also in that poll, Green Party candidate Kevin Zeese, who spoke at an anti-war rally yesterday in front of the White House, had 2 percent, and 6 percent were undecided.

The poll reported also that 36 percent of voters would “definitely” vote for Mr. Cardin, and that 33 percent were “definitely” Steele supporters.

In a separate poll, conducted by Zogby International for Reuters news agency, Mr. Cardin led Mr. Steele 45 percent to 37 percent. The poll of 600 likely voters had a margin of error of four percentage points.

An Oct. 2 poll released by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. showed Mr. Cardin with a 47 percent to 41 percent lead. The poll, published in the McClatchy Newspapers and MSNBC, surveyed 625 likely voters by phone and had a margin of error of four percentage points.

These latest poll results are closer than those in polls from Potomac Inc., published in the Baltimore Sun on Sept. 25, and from Zogby published in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 28.

The Potomac poll showed Mr. Cardin leading Mr. Steele 51 percent to 40 percent. The Zogby poll showed Mr. Cardin leading 52 percent to 39 percent.


Mother of slain boy charged with neglect

The mother of a boy who was found dead on a golf course this summer was arrested yesterday on charges of reckless endangerment.

Shanda Harris, 41, was charged with one count of reckless endangerment and four counts of criminal neglect for allowing a convicted sex offender near her children, prosecutors said.

The body of her son, Irvin Harris, 11, was found on a municipal golf course near his home July 31, three days after he disappeared. Police charged Melvin Jones Jr., 52, a twice-convicted sex offender, in the killing.

After a child-welfare investigation, authorities charged Miss Harris with failing to take the appropriate steps to keep Jones away from her children. Police think she knew about Jones’ prior convictions since 2002.


Task force ponders getting ex-cons home

A state task force is considering whether ex-convicts from prisons in Western Maryland should be released in their home counties instead of in the Hagerstown area, where some tend to stay.

Under the current policy, inmates released from the three state prisons near Hagerstown and two institutions near Cumberland are taken in vans to Hagerstown’s Greyhound bus station along Interstate 70. They are given a ticket home and typically wait about 30 minutes, with cash in their pockets, for the bus to arrive, according to a presentation yesterday by Ed Lough.

George Gregory, a Department of Corrections spokesman, said inmates on supervised parole, who have time left to serve, must tell the state agency where they plan to live, and the state checks up on them.

Those who have finished their sentences are not subject to checkups on their whereabouts, Mr. Gregory said.


Officers charged in vehicle arson

Two law-enforcement officers have been arrested on arson charges after an alibi witness recanted his statements.

The fire near Buckeystown on Sept. 2 ruined the vehicle owned by Brunswick police Officer Elizabeth Anderson. She and her boyfriend, county sheriff’s Deputy Randy Dorsey, have been placed on administrative leave.

According to charging documents, Deputy Dorsey’s friend, Dale Williams, initially told investigators they had been drinking in Harrisburg, Pa., on the night of the fire. But he changed his story Sept. 11, fearing he would go to jail.

Investigators think the suspects wanted insurance money from the fire to buy a Cadillac Escalade.

Deputy Dorsey is charged with second-degree arson and first-degree malicious burning. Officer Anderson faces the same charges, as well as fraud and conspiracy charges.


Closing arguments given in guard trial

Attorneys gave closing arguments yesterday in the case against two former correctional officers accused of beating an inmate to death.

Dameon Woods and James Hatcher are charged with second-degree murder and other crimes in the killing of Raymond Smoot, 51, last year.

Prosecutor Lisa Phelps told jurors that Mr. Woods even bragged about kicking and stomping Smoot in the May 2004 incident at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center.

She also told jurors that the reason why no blood was found on the two men is that they had ample time to change clothes.

Defense attorneys argued that others were responsible for the slaying and that Mr. Woods and Mr. Hatcher were made scapegoats as part of conspiracy by other correctional officers.

Judge John M. Glynn dismissed charges Wednesday against a third man, Nathan Colbert, who also was on trial.


Gas main rupture causes evacuations

A gas main rupture on York Road yesterday caused several businesses and residences to be evacuated, officials said.

The six-inch main between Seminary Road and Ridgely Road was ruptured by construction equipment at about 10 a.m. and produced a 20-foot-tall cloud of natural gas vapor, spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.

There was a risk of ignition because of overhead power lines.

All businesses and residences in the immediate vicinity were evacuated and Baltimore Gas Electric Co. crews turned off the main so repairs could begin.

The repairs were completed at about 5:30 p.m. and BGE crews began restoring gas to the buildings, a BGE spokeswoman said.

No injuries were reported.


Lawyer sentenced in drug ring case

An Eastern Shore lawyer was sentenced yesterday to two years of probation — including one year of home detention — for covering for his drug dealer during a federal investigation.

Christopher Llinas of Berlin pleaded guilty in federal court in June to obstructing a federal drug investigation by concealing and arranging the removal of drugs.

Llinas arranged to remove cocaine and marijuana from a Salisbury bar raided by federal agents in July 2005. The bar’s owner, Paul Apostolopoulos, has been charged with drug dealing and money laundering. Authorities said he often sold drugs to Llinas.

Llinas also removed prescription pills from the home of a member of his dealer’s drug organization.

In a plea agreement, Apostolopoulos admitted that his Pesto’s Bar and Grille was often used to store and sell cocaine, heroin, marijuana and prescription pills.


Official, contractor charged with bribery

An official at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a contractor have been indicted in a bribery scheme involving contracts for work at the military medical center.

Kevin Roach, 45, of Fredericksburg, Va., is accused of accepting thousand of dollars in cash and the use of a pickup truck from contractors in return for steering work to the contractors.

Mr. Roach and Louis Pisani Jr., 40, of Silver Spring, were charged in an indictment unsealed yesterday in U.S. District Court. The indictment charges the men with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

According to the indictment, Mr. Roach accepted payments from Mr. Pisani and another contractor, typically 10 percent of the value of the contract, one of which was worth up to $1.2 million.

Mr. Pisani ran a company called Platinum Contractors Inc. and owned half of a moving firm, Home Sweet Moving and Storage, both of which received contracts through Mr. Roach. The indictment names Mr. Pisani’s partner, Leon Krachyna Jr., as a co-conspirator, but he was not charged.



UVa. president donates $500,000

University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III and his wife, Betsy, donated $500,000 to the school’s $3 billion fundraising campaign.

The gift will provide scholarships for the children of university faculty and staff.

Mr. Casteen, who has been president of UVa. since 1990, lobbied unsuccessfully to get state funding for a similar employee benefit when he was the state’s secretary of education in the early 1980s.

“We are often involved in recruiting key faculty members, and when you talk to a faculty member whose children are teenagers … quite often the deciding factor if we lose the person is that the other institution offers some plan like this, and we don’t,” he said.

The gift follows the announcement that former UVa. football players Tiki and Ronde Barber have pledged $1 million to Virginia.

Ronde Barber is a cornerback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Tiki Barber is a running back with the New York Giants.


Fired worker settles harassment suit

A man was awarded $20,000 to settle a lawsuit after he was fired for complaining about post-September 11 harassment at his job at a major shipping company.

The suit by Kaled Saleh, a U.S. citizen born in Yemen, said co-workers at Maersk Line called him a “terrorist” and other derogatory names in the months after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) represented Mr. Saleh and announced the settlement this week. The case was scheduled for trial next week in Norfolk federal court.

Maersk had denied the charges.

Mr. Saleh received above-average performance reviews while being employed by Maersk from 1997 to 2002. He said in the court papers that he found himself out of a job in May 2002 after complaining about the harassment.

The EEOC said that as part of the settlement, Maersk must issue its employees an updated harassment policy and conduct annual anti-discrimination training of its management.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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