- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007



Missing hiker found at relative’s home

A Warrenton man who set off a three-day search through Shenandoah National Park has been located at a relative’s home in West Virginia, a park official said yesterday.

Leo Joseph Leger Jr., 35, hiked into the park at U.S. Highway 211 Monday night, and his wife reported him missing the following day. As many as 50 people, including volunteers from Virginia and Maryland, dog teams and a helicopter took part in the search effort that began Tuesday.

Mr. Leger hiked south for two days, leaving the park at Route 33 and then walking into nearby Elkton, a park statement said.

From there, he hitchhiked and walked to Madison, W.Va., where contact was made between Mr. Leger and his wife, park spokeswoman Julena Campbell said.

Mr. Leger, a frequent hiker in the park, had been showing signs of depression, Miss Campbell said. He left his home at about 7:30 p.m. Monday and left a phone message for his wife at about 11 p.m., just after reaching the park.

“We’re happy that it’s over and he can go back to being with his family,” Miss Campbell said.


Cheney to address Assembly opening

Vice President Dick Cheney will address the Virginia General Assembly during its opening session Wednesday in Jamestown, his office said yesterday.

The speech will mark the second time Mr. Cheney has addressed a state legislative body as vice president, spokeswoman Megan McGinn said. Mr. Cheney will speak at Historic Jamestown Memorial Church.

The visit is expected to draw attention to Jamestown 2007, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the nation’s first permanent English settlement.

“This is a great opportunity for the kickoff to be recognized on a national scope,” said House Speaker William Howell, Stafford County Republican, who was one of several lawmakers who invited the vice president. “I think it’s entirely appropriate.”

Lawmakers will convene at Jamestown for the day and return to Richmond for the session. Renovations to the 200-year-old Capitol will keep the legislature out of the building a second year. They’ll meet in the Patrick Henry Building.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat who took his oath of office in Williamsburg one year ago, will deliver the State of the Commonwealth address from Jamestown on Wednesday.

Jamestown 2007 spokesman Kevin Crossett called Wednesday’s events a chance for America to “complete the circle.”

“Jamestown was the site of the first representative body” in 1619, he said. “To return to the same grounds where our democratic system of government really got its start is exciting.”


U.S. Mint to release Jamestown coins

U.S. Mint officials will release two commemorative coins next week honoring the 400th anniversary of Jamestown.

The Mint will produce up to 100,000 gold coins and up to 500,000 silver coins.

The gold coins will be of a $5 denomination and will feature images of Capt. John Smith and a Virginia Indian, and the Jamestown Memorial Church, the only structure remaining from the settlement’s earliest years.

Silver dollars will feature images representing Indian, European and African cultures that converged at Jamestown, the nation’s first permanent English settlement.

Officials said they will sell the coins through the end of 2007, or until they run out.

The coins will be issued in a special ceremony Thursday in Jamestown featuring Edmund Moy, director of the U.S. Mint.


Ceremony planned for Guard members

As many as 177 Virginia National Guard members from Fredericksburg, Leesburg and Manassas will take part in a federal mobilization ceremony tomorrow.

The ceremony in Fredericksburg is aimed at recognizing their service in support of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Guests will include Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

The soldiers entered active federal service yesterday and are leaving Fredericksburg tomorrow to travel to Fort Dix, N.J., where they will prepare for overseas deployment.

They will be on active duty for at least 18 months. That could be extended to as long as 24 months.



Arsonist admits to gun, drug charges

The ringleader behind a 2004 arson that damaged or destroyed dozens of homes in Charles County pleaded guilty yesterday to gun and drug charges in U.S. District Court.

Patrick Walsh, 22, already is serving a nearly 20-year term in federal prison after he was convicted in 2005 of planning and helping to set fires at the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head.

Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to possessing firearms while being a drug user and a count of conspiracy to distribute the illegal drug Ecstasy.

Prosecutors said Walsh bought two handguns from a friend in October 2004, about the same time he was using Ecstasy. The drug use made his gun possession illegal under federal law. He also admitted helping to sell about 750 tablets of Ecstasy during 2004.

Walsh could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years on the gun charge and 20 years for the drug count.

However, his attorney, William Purpura, said he expected Walsh to receive a term between four years to five years when U.S. District Judge Roger Titus sentences him on March 23.

Walsh likely will serve that sentence at the same time as his arson term, Mr. Purpura said.

Walsh and four others were either convicted or pleaded guilty to the early-morning fires on Dec. 6, 2004. No one was injured and most of the homes were unoccupied, but the arson caused $3.27 million in damage.

Prosecutors cited a variety of motives for the fires, including anger by some of the white perpetrators that most of the new homeowners were black.


Driver arrested in double fatal crash

Anne Arundel County police have charged an Annapolis man in a crash that killed two persons who had been on their way to a dialysis treatment center.

Jason Robert Dehn, 24, of Annapolis, was arrested in Baltimore Thursday night and charged with two counts of auto manslaughter in the deaths of Terry Wayne Wright Sr., 56, and Mary Agnes Davis, 48, both of Annapolis.

The victims’ families have questioned why police let Mr. Dehn go Dec. 30 after, according to them, he failed a preliminary breath test, was driving on a suspended license and ran from the accident scene.

Detectives held off on charges because Mr. Dehn and his passenger each said the other was driving the 1993 Mercedes when it hit a van of dialysis patients on Admiral Drive, said Cpl. Sara Schriver, a county police spokeswoman.

She said detectives weren’t confident they could prove Mr. Dehn was the driver until Wednesday, when they applied for and received the warrant. It took the county’s Fugitive Unit about 26 hours to find Mr. Dehn and serve an arrest warrant.

Mr. Dehn was driving his employer’s Mercedes east on Jennifer Road shortly before 5:30 a.m. Dec. 30 when its brakes failed, police said. He said he tried to stop the car using the emergency brake, ran a red light and hit the van that was transporting patients to a dialysis treatment center off Industrial Drive.

After the crash, Mr. Dehn and his passenger got out of the car and fled, but were found later, police said. Medics took all four passengers in the van to hospitals. One passenger remained in critical condition last night, while the other was released from the hospital shortly after the crash.

If convicted on both counts, Mr. Dehn could face up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.


Auditor faults state agency

Maryland’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration failed to monitor substance abuse treatment programs adequately, a state audit has concluded.

Among the failings the audit cited were 80 providers never receiving a site visit and Baltimore failing to provide reports for four months, and not correctly controlling cash receipts.

The programs received $125 million in grants last year.

It is not the ADAA’s role to treat addicts. It is, however, the only agency responsible for the regulation of the substance abuse prevention, intervention and treatment services statewide.

ADAA Director Peter Luongo said that mandate is part of the problem. He agreed that site visits were not conducted or that written reports were not sought.

But he called those shortcomings a “resource issue.”


Goose hunter pleads innocent

Eastern Shore charter boat captain and restaurateur Levin “Buddy” Harrison pleaded not guilty yesterday to misdemeanor charges of illegally hunting Canada geese.

Mr. Harrison, the operator of the Chesapeake House restaurant on Tilghman Island in Talbot County, has been charged with taking geese over a baited area in January 2006 and exceeding the daily limit of two geese.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said he was caught with eight geese in his possession. His business, Harrison’s Country Inn and Sportfishing Center, also has been charged.

He faces up to six months in prison and a $15,000 fine.


Advocates push end of death penalty

Stricter oversight of Maryland’s crime laboratories and better standards governing eyewitness identifications during police investigations are among the proposals criminal justice advocacy groups and some lawmakers plan to push for in Annapolis this year.

They also will seek the repeal of Maryland’s death penalty.

Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley has said that while he personally is opposed to the death penalty, he would defer to court rulings, giving opponents of capital punishment cause for optimism.

Executions were halted last month after the Court of Appeals ruled that Maryland adopted its execution protocols without complying to provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Cynthia Boersma, legislative director for the ACLU of Maryland, said advocates also plan to argue that repealing the death penalty would save the state money.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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