- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007



Ehrlich grants final pardons

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday pardoned 18 persons in one of his final acts as governor, bringing the total clemencies given by him to 249.

The persons pardoned yesterday were convicted of crimes ranging from welfare fraud to prostitution to theft and gun offenses.

The earliest crime was in 1962, when William C. Lewis Jr., now 62, had to pay a $25 fine for shoplifting. Mr. Lewis was also charged for court costs: $4.75.

The most recent crime was in 1998. Jennifer Anne Yoak Siegmyer, now 31, was convicted of theft and sentenced to probation.

All those pardoned had requested clemency, often because an arrest record prevents them from employment or some other endeavor.

“I am honored to have granted clemency to hundreds of people, who worked hard to better their lives and make a contribution to society,” Mr. Ehrlich said in a statement that called the pardons his last.

Mr. Ehrlich’s last full day in office is Tuesday.


Mayor cleared of ethics violations

Baltimore’s Board of Ethics has said incoming Mayor Sheila Dixon has been cleared of ethics violations relating to a company with city contracts that employed her sister.

The board on Thursday released a statement saying information before the board did not reveal any cause for issuing a complaint against Mrs. Dixon.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the decision was unanimous.

Mrs. Dixon brought up Utech, a company that employed her sister at the time, during a council hearing in February.

The hearing dealt with whether cable provider Comcast was still employing minority subcontractors.

The city’s ethics law does not allow public officials to be involved in any matter that involves the interest of a relative or a relative’s employer.


2 children killed in house fire

Two children were killed early yesterday when a fire swept through their family’s home on the Eastern Shore.

The fire was reported shortly after 2 a.m. Investigators think it started around a kerosene heater on the first floor, said Worcester County Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon.

A firefighter found a 12-year-old girl on the second floor but she could not be revived. The body of a 3-year-old boy was found on the second floor after the fire was brought under control, Marshal McMahon said.

The other members of the family of nine were treated for minor injuries at area hospitals.


Woman admits faking $250,000 in postage

A Maryland woman pleaded guilty yesterday to counterfeiting more than $250,000 worth of metered postage.

Julie Hoffman, 32, of Lonaconing, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to the statement of facts presented to the court, Hoffman owned a business, Hoffman Candles and Hoffman Mailing Solutions, in Lonaconing that mailed about 1,000 envelopes and packages daily for customers.

She advertised that she could mail any item to anywhere in the country, regardless of item’s weight or size, for 20 cents.

In 2003, Hoffman began counterfeiting postage by printing legitimate sets of postage from the Web sites www.Stamps.com and www.Endicia.com, and then making copies on her own adhesive-backed labels, Mr. Rosenstein said.

Hoffman provided her employees with the counterfeit postage for mailing packages and letters, but didn’t tell them it was counterfeit, Mr. Rosenstein said.

Within two years, Hoffman was counterfeiting almost all the postage in her business, costing the Postal Service at least $251,011.90, Mr. Rosenstein said.

Hoffman faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 6.


Police probe woman’s death

A contractor who had been trying to reach a woman for several days found her body lying on the floor of her Easton home, police said.

Mary Ann Morgan, 49, was found Thursday morning when the contractor looked through a window and saw her body inside the home, police said.

Her body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Baltimore since police couldn’t determine the cause of death at the scene. Police are awaiting autopsy results.

The Easton Star-Democrat reported court documents listing Miss Morgan as a complainant in multiple Talbot County District Court cases claiming five persons stole various items from her.


Ex-Klan leader charged with child sex abuse

The former leader of a Ku Klux Klan group has been charged with sexually assaulting an underage girl.

Gordon C. Young, 40, of Sharpsburg, Md. was being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $350,000 bond.

Charging documents state that Mr. Young forced the girl, whose age wasn’t disclosed, to perform oral sex on him at his home Oct. 22 and 25.

He is charged with two counts each of second-degree sex offense, second-degree assault and sex abuse of a minor. The offenses carry maximum prison sentences totaling 100 years.

Mr. Young announced Nov. 27, about three weeks after the girl had contacted authorities, that he was disbanding his World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

He told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail at that time he was becoming state leader of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group.

Jeff Schoep, leader of the Minneapolis-based National Socialist Movement, told the Herald-Mail Thursday that Mr. Young “was not currently active” in the organization.



Man pleads guilty to child porn charges

A Springfield man has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges.

Rodrigo Omabtang, 45, has admitted producing, transporting, possessing and attempting to receive child pornography between January and May of last year.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria said Omabtang had photo albums, videotapes and more than 1,700 computer disks containing child pornography in his Springfield home.

Court records indicate that two of the tapes showed him sexually abusing a young girl at his home and at her mother’s home in the District. Prosecutors said Omabtang was baby-sitting the child when the assaults occurred.

Omabtang could face up to 65 years in prison when he is sentenced March 23.


Fire kills 3 children, critically injures 5

Three children were killed and five persons hospitalized in critical condition after a fire tore through a house early yesterday, fire officials said.

Three boys, ages 6, 11 and 15, were found dead at the scene, Petersburg Fire Marshal Charles Moore said.

An infant, a 14-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and two adults were in critical condition at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond. Two other adults were hospitalized with less serious injuries, Marshal Moore said.

All 10 victims were related, he said.

The three children who were killed were on the top floor of the two-story home, which collapsed. Firefighters had to cut out the front porch to get to their bodies, Marshal Moore said.

Marshal Moore said officials spoke with several of the victims before they were taken to the hospital and do not think the house had a smoke detector.

Officials were called to the scene at 2:23 a.m. and spent 30 minutes extinguishing the blaze, Marshal Moore said. The rear wall of the home was the only part of the structure left standing.

Fire officials did not know the cause of the fire. The victims’ identities had not been released.


7 children, 2 adults hurt in bus crash

Seven students and two adults were treated for injuries after a school bus accident yesterday afternoon in Richmond.

The bus was carrying 22 middle school students when it collided with a van. Police said it appears the bus driver might have failed to yield the right of way.

Seven students suffered minor injuries. Two of them were taken to the hospital by ambulance.

The driver of the bus and the driver of the van suffered minor injuries.

Authorities had not decided if any charges would be filed.


Convictions upheld in teen alcohol case

The Virginia Supreme Court yesterday upheld the convictions of a now-divorced Albemarle County couple who hosted a beer bash for teenagers on their son’s 16th birthday.

Judges ruled that a police search of the family’s property was constitutional.

George and Elisa Robinson were convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

On the night of the party, Albemarle County Police Cpl. Scott Cox entered the Robinson’s driveway to investigate.

The Robinsons said Cpl. Cox had a legal right to go directly to the front door and knock, but that he ventured beyond that to the back yard, violating the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.

The case helped persuade the General Assembly to pass legislation last year to tighten the state law that prohibits adults from serving alcohol to underage guests.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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