- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Swastikas painted at synagogue

A prominent D.C. synagogue has found three swastikas painted on the wall of its parking lot.

Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg said this is the first incident involving the anti-Semitic symbols that he has heard of at the Adas Israel temple. The synagogue is located in Washington’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, just off Connecticut Avenue in Northwest.

Staff members at the synagogue have reported the incident to police.

The swastikas were painted on a retaining wall at the far end of the parking lot. The symbols were painted facing a side street along the Conservative temple.

Pants judge appeals loss of lawsuit

Roy Pearson has appealed his $54 million lawsuit against the dry-cleaning shop that misplaced his trousers, shrugging off legal setbacks and international ridicule.

Mr. Pearson, an administrative law judge, filed a notice of appeal with D.C. Superior Court yesterday, indicating that he won’t abandon the crusade that has turned him into a symbol of America’s lawsuit-happy legal culture.

Mr. Pearson asked his neighborhood dry cleaners to pay him $1,150 when they misplaced a pair of trousers he brought in for a $10.50 alteration in May 2005. The owners of Custom Cleaners said they located the garment a few days later, but Mr. Pearson said the pair they offered him was not his.

He said the shop’s “satisfaction guaranteed” sign misled customers who, like him, were dissatisfied with their experience.

A judge ruled against Mr. Pearson in June, saying he did not interpret the sign in a reasonable fashion.

Powerball sales spike with jackpot

As tickets sales began to rise for last night’s $122 Mega Millions lottery drawing in Maryland and Virginia, tickets sales for tonight’s $181 million Powerball drawing were snowballing.

Since Powerball’s last drawing Saturday, about 250,000 Powerball tickets had been sold in the District by yesterday. D.C. Lottery spokesman Bob Hainey anticipates D.C. vendors selling about 600,000 tickets total before the drawing.

“When the Powerball jackpot gets up around $120 million to $150 million, people get excited,” Mr. Hainey said, “and sales increase.”



Drugs, alcohol cited in fatal crash

Virginia State Police said alcohol and drugs played a role in a crash in June on the Capital Beltway that killed four young women.

Toxicology tests confirm that the driver Elaine Thackston, 20, had both alcohol and marijuana in her system. The tests show the Fairfax woman’s blood-alcohol content exceeded the legal limit of .02 for anyone younger than 21.

Police said Miss Thackston’s car cut through a safety zone and into the path of a tractor-trailer about 11 p.m. June 14.

Investigators said they are still trying to determine where and how the girls got the alcohol.

The victims were Miss Thackston and Sarah Renee Carter, 19, who both attended George Mason University; and Lydia Margaret Petkoff and Renee Shelkin, both 18 and graduates that day of West Potomac High School.

One girl survived the crash.



Killing suspect refuses medicine

A Pasadena man accused of killing his mother is refusing to take the medication that prosecutors say will allow him to be ruled mentally competent to stand trial.

The case against Zachary Neiman, 26, is on hold for at least another six months. He has pleaded not criminally responsible in the July 2006 shooting of Rae Bajus, 53, who was killed with a shotgun as she sat on a sofa.

Under a state law changed two years ago, someone found incompetent to stand trial for murder can be held in a state psychiatric hospital for up to 10 years before being able to ask a judge to dismiss the charge. But experts say the judge could also rule that the person is still dangerous and order another commitment.

The state can seek a hearing to force Mr. Neiman to take the medication but would have to show he is a continued danger to himself or others.


Inspectors take look at worn bridges

Teams of inspectors from CSX and the city yesterday began a review of five bridges that had lower inspection scores than the Minnesota highway bridge that collapsed two weeks ago.

The five bridges repeatedly have passed city and CSX inspections, but the deaths in Minnesota spurred safety concerns.

Both CSX and the city agree the bridges need repair, but they are wrangling over who will pay.

Seven major highway bridges in Maryland are also getting checkups, including those with truss designs similar to that of the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota. That inspection could take four months to complete.


Police catch suspect in assault at bank

Police in Cambridge have identified a suspect in an assault and robbery that happened near dawn Thursday when a worker showed up to clean a bank.

Police have charged John Wilkins, 20, of Cambridge, with attempted murder, assault, false imprisonment, robbery and a gun crime. Mr. Wilkins is accused of assaulting Beverly Jones as she arrived at the Bank of the Eastern Shore.

She was beaten and robbed, and police said her assailant tried unsuccessfully to use her automated teller machine card to get money at another Cambridge bank.

Court records show Mr. Wilkins also faces charges in burglaries last year of several vehicles in Cambridge.


Man charged in two beach rapes

A District Heights man is being held without bail after he raped two teenagers who were swimming at Sandy Point State Park over the weekend, police said.

Juan Payz Reyes, 33, is charged with two counts of first-degree rape. He was being held at the Anne Arundel Detention Center.

According to court documents, Mr. Reyes approached an 18-year-old in the water and asked her to have sex with him. When she said no, he threatened to slit her throat, and he raped her.

Shortly thereafter, he approached a 13-year-old in the water and assaulted her, court documents say.

The two females were part of a group trip from Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore.

Mr. Reyes told police that the acts were consensual. Police said he tried to flee, but his truck was cut off by a bus driver, who prevented him from leaving the park.


Canal festival won’t be canceled

Town officials now say they will not cancel next year’s Canal Day festival, even though the annual event has been plagued by drunken behavior and lewdness.

Mayor Bill Kiessling said the town will work harder to curb rowdiness on the boats in the canal basin. The festival raises money for local attractions.

The Coast Guard is in charge of patrolling the basin and will limit the number of boats next year to 150.

Mr. Kiessling said he hopes tighter enforcement will allow the festival to continue.


Trooper attacked during traffic stop

After several hours of searching yesterday, state police found a man sought in the assault of a trooper during a traffic stop on Interstate 95.

The search centered in woods on the south side of the Millard Tydings Bridge over the Susquehanna River.

Sgt. Russell Newell said a trooper stopped a vehicle with two men inside for a traffic violation about 1:30 p.m. He said one of the men attacked a trooper and fled.

The other man was taken into custody immediately.

The trooper was taken to Harford Memorial Hospital with injuries described as not life threatening.


Serial bank robber gets 12 years

A federal judge sentenced a man to almost 12 years in prisons for robbing nine banks of almost $32,000 in two months.

U.S. District Judge William Nickerson also ordered Antonia Hurd, 31,to pay restitution, federal prosecutors said.

Hurd pleaded guilty to robbing tellers at the banks from April 5 to June 8, 2006. He took between $2,000 and $7,300 from each bank. Prosecutors say he robbed banks in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Ellicott City, Jessup, Owings Mills, Reisterstown and Timonium.


Vendors must comply with immigration law

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold has issued an executive order requiring people and companies that contract with the county to comply with federal laws regarding employing illegal aliens.

The order creates provisions for new language to be added to contracts that will explain the requirement to comply with federal law.

Noncompliance will result in a termination of contracts, according to the order.

The order marks another step among many that several counties have taken to deal with illegal aliens, which include providing Immigration and Custom Enforcement training for local police officers and limiting illegal aliens’ access to county services.


Skateboards banned on streets, sidewalks

Bummer, dude. Officials have banned skateboarding on sidewalks and streets within the town limits.

The council voted 3-0 recently to approve an ordinance setting up $250 fines for people who skateboard on public areas ruled off-limits for skateboarders. After the ordinance takes effect next Wednesday, skateboarders in the Queen Anne’s County town will have to limit their sport to play areas, open spaces or private properties with permission of the owner.

“I have a problem with the kids being in the street anywhere,” said council member Frank Ogens. “Where I live, it’s an older population. Their reaction time isn’t as good, their sight isn’t as good. It becomes an issue.”

The town council debated the ordinance for eight months. An earlier version would have banned skateboarding even in parks, but that provision was removed. Some council members also called for a similar ban on scooters, but that wasn’t included.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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