- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006


Feds seize funds tied to prostitution

Federal agents have seized more than $427,000 in cash and stocks from a woman accused of running a money-laundering scheme from her District-based prostitution business, court records obtained yesterday show.

The woman, Deborah Jean Palfrey of Vallejo, Calif., could not be reached for comment by the Associated Press.

An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court describes a two-year investigation into a scam that netted Miss Palfrey more than $750,000 since January 2000.

Her clients may have included wealthy doctors and lawyers in the District and its suburbs, but no well-known names have so far surfaced, said a law-enforcement official.

The escort service, Martin Pamela & Associates, advertised in newspapers, on Web sites and in the Yellow Pages.

It operated since 1993 “as an out-call prostitution business” of college-educated women with other jobs, the affidavit says.

The women, all at least 22 years old, told investigators that Miss Palfrey urged them to work for her at least three nights each week and charge their clients up to $300, according to the affidavit.

It said that the prostitutes would send half of their fee to Miss Palfrey using money or postal orders, illegally laundering the money so it would be hard to trace.

Miss Palfrey then deposited the money into at least five bank accounts, which paid for her mortgage, car lease and an estimated $136,000 worth of stocks, the affidavit claims.

Investigators with the Internal Revenue Service seized $427,137 in money and stocks from the accounts Oct. 3 with search warrants issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola.


Blood reserve levels low, officials say

Area patients awaiting a blood transfusion might have to keep waiting because the reserve supply of blood has fallen to insufficient levels, Red Cross officials said yesterday.

The Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region does not have enough units of blood on the shelves to provide to hospitals.

“We need the communities’ help in building our inventory up to a safe and sufficient level,” said Hector Garcia, senior director of donor services.

In some cases, a trauma victim can require more than 100 units of blood, he said.

Donors must be in good health, at least 16 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds, not have received a tattoo in the past year and not have donated within the past 56 days.

Anyone interested in donating blood should call 800/GIVE-LIFE.



Cardinal, priest hurt in fatal crash in Italy

Cardinal William H. Keeler was injured in an accident in Italy that killed another priest and injured a third, the Archdiocese of Baltimore said.

Cardinal Keeler and the two other priests were driving Saturday through the city of Terni, about 60 miles from Rome, when a car struck the passenger side of their vehicle, archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said.

Father Bernard Quinn, 78, a retired priest from the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., was riding in the back seat and was killed, Mr. Caine said.

Monsignor Thomas Smith, 75, a pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Lancaster, Pa., was driving, and Cardinal Keeler, 75, was in the front passenger seat, Mr. Caine said.

Monsignor Smith had several broken ribs, and Cardinal Keeler suffered a broken ankle. Both remain in a hospital near the crash scene.

The three priests were friends and vacationed together often, and they usually drove themselves, Mr. Caine said. Cardinal Keeler is a former bishop of Harrisburg.

“They’ve known each other for many, many years and basically, when they took vacations, they took them together, so this would be an annual or a semiannual thing,” Mr. Caine said.

The cardinal was due to return later this week to Baltimore.


Boy found dead after dad killed self

Montgomery County police are trying to determine how a 23-month-old boy died after he was found in an apartment with his father, who had killed himself.

Police found the boy, Jacob Matthew Dunn, and his father, Gerald Robert Wells, 39, Sunday night in Mr. Wells’ home. The boy was unresponsive on a bed, while Mr. Wells was in a bathroom with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

The child’s mother called police after she went to the apartment, found the door locked and saw her son on the bed through a window, said Officer Melanie Hadley of the Montgomery County police.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate Jacob, but he was declared dead at a hospital. The body was sent to the Maryland medical examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.


Jury convicts man of murder in retrial

A jury has convicted Jack L. Hammersla Jr. of first-degree felony murder and second-degree murder at his second trial in the death of a 68-year-old woman.

The Washington County Circuit Court jury acquitted Hammersla, 49, on Friday on a charge of first-degree premeditated murder.

He bludgeoned Shirley P. Finfrock to death Nov. 12, 2003, at her Smithsburg home.

A jury convicted him of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder in 2004, but the Maryland Court of Special Appeals overturned the verdict in February. The appellate court ruled that evidence that Hammersla pawned jewelry stolen from Miss Finfrock’s home should not have been submitted at his trial.

Prosecutors intend to ask for life without the possibility of parole, according to court records. Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley said he would schedule a sentencing hearing within 30 days.


Man arrested on arson charges

A Silver Spring man accused of setting several fires has been arrested, Montgomery County fire officials said.

Nahom Abay, 20, of the 700 block of Sligo Avenue, was apprehended Sunday night and charged with first-degree arson, first-degree malicious burning, and numerous counts of arson to a trash container and reckless endangerment.

The investigation began when several small fires were found in and around apartment buildings in Mr. Abay’s neighborhood earlier this month, fire officials said. Other fires had occurred in June and July.

Fire investigators identified Mr. Abay as a person of interest, and he was arrested near his home after a resident tipped off investigators.

He is being held without bail in the Montgomery County jail.


ID found in taxi leads to easy arrest

A man who left his coin purse in the back seat of a taxicab has been charged with robbing the cabbie, Anne Arundel County police said.

Inside the coin purse were the driver’s license, Social Security card and paycheck of Williams Ludlow, 30, of Severn.

The 44-year-old cabdriver with Diamond Cab Co. told police that he picked up Mr. Ludlow in Baltimore on Friday night and dropped him off near Innkeeper Drive in Severn. Police say after Mr. Ludlow got out of the cab, he started hitting the driver on the head, stole his cash and a pack of cigarettes and ran away.

The cabbie called police and gave dispatchers Mr. Ludlow’s address. About 12 minutes later, officers showed up at Mr. Ludlow’s front door.

They waited for the cabdriver to arrive and identify Mr. Ludlow.

“We didn’t really have to do much,” said Officer Sara Schriver, a police spokeswoman. “Sometimes criminals aren’t as clever as they think.”

Mr. Ludlow is being held on $100,000 bail at the county’s Jennifer Road Detention Center.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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