- The Washington Times - Monday, March 12, 2007


Reputed madam makes deal on client list

A California woman accused of running a prostitution ring in the D.C. area has said she will turn over her client phone records to an “investigative news organization” to help find witnesses for her defense.

In an e-mail to WTOP Radio, Deborah Jeane Palfrey said she will be turning the records over to the organization to “assist me with my needs.” Any financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“I have decided to hand over all phone records, logs and invoices (including those presently unknown to the government) to what I believe to be one of the most reputable and respected investigative news organizations in the country,” Miss Palfrey wrote.

Miss Palfrey previously had said she planned to sell the client phone records in order to help pay for her defense.

One of her attorneys, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said he has fielded offers from about 12 parties interested in the records.

Mr. Sibley did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. In her e-mail, Miss Palfrey did not specifically state if any clients would be identified publicly — but did not rule out the possibility of names becoming known.

“Correspondingly, if information by chance is discovered during the course of the overall investigation as I prepare my defense, which will assist this country out of the shameful and immoral abyss it has fallen in recent years, then so be it,” she wrote.

Metro fires driver in fatal accident

Metro yesterday dismissed the driver of a bus that struck and killed two women on Valentine’s Day as they crossed a downtown street.

Victor Kolako, who is scheduled to go on trial June 8, had been on administrative leave since the accident. He is charged with two counts of negligent homicide.

Mr. Kolako’s bus struck Sally McGee and Martha S. Schoenborn, both of Alexandria, as he was making a left turn at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.



Priest indicted on 12 more charges

Arraignment for a Roman Catholic priest accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from two rural parishes was postponed yesterday after a grand jury indicted him on 12 additional charges.

The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis was indicted in January on one count of felony embezzlement. The grand jury added 12 additional counts late Friday, defense attorney Jack Maus said.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond has said Father Rodis embezzled more than $600,000 from Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass and St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral. Father Rodis, 50, was pastor of the churches from 1993 until his retirement in May.

Louisa Circuit Judge Timothy Sanner rescheduled the arraignment for March 30. Father Rodis remains free on $10,000 bond.

The delay disappointed many of the approximately two dozen parishioners who attended the hearing.

“I came expecting to hear a plea,” said Bill Hynes, a member of St. Jude. “I want to see justice done and done soon.”

Father Rodis used a cane as he walked into the courtroom, then sat silently and expressionless against a side wall until his case was called.

“He wouldn’t look at us,” said Ellen McGough, another St. Jude parishioner.

Father Rodis did not speak during the hearing or to reporters afterward.

Mr. Maus said Father Rodis, if convicted, could be sentenced to up to 20 years on each count.

The investigation also uncovered court records listing Father Rodis and Joyce Sillador-Rodis as husband and wife on a deed of trust for a mortgage on a house they shared with three children in Spotsylvania County.

Father Rodis has denied being married to the woman, although neighbors say he has referred to her as his wife for the past decade.

Mrs. Sillador-Rodis and the children have moved to New Mexico, Mr. Maus said.


I-64 traffic to detour for beam installation

Eastbound traffic on Interstate 64 just west of Richmond will be detoured tonight while crews work on a bridge.

The work, which also closed the road last night, is part of the Interstate 295 flyover project in western Henrico County. Crews will put two beams over I-64 east, requiring drivers on I-64 east to use a detour, the Virginia Department of Transportation said.

The detour from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. will affect only those traveling through the Short Pump area. Delays are expected.


City admits charges didn’t smell right

An argument over perfume between library employees will cost Virginia Beach about $1,700.

The Virginia Beach City Council has agreed to reimburse a librarian for legal expenses she piled up defending herself against charges that she assaulted a subordinate over perfume.

Librarian Neva White was acquitted of misdemeanor assault and battery, and will receive a check for $1,668.

Library Director Marcy Sims called the charges “unfounded.”

According to court documents, Kilsa Carmona accused Miss White of grabbing her arms Oct. 11 and demanding that Miss Carmona tell her whether she was wearing perfume.

Miss Carmona said that she refused to answer, and that Miss White took her to an office and repeatedly asked about the perfume. Miss Carmona resigned five days later.

A judge acquitted Miss White in November.

A city attorney said that after reviewing the case, city officials think Miss White was “unjustly accused” and qualified for the reimbursement.


Judge dismisses suit over toll-road transfer

A Richmond Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit to stop the upcoming transfer of authority over the Dulles Toll Road to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The suit, filed in January by two Northern Virginia residents against a handful of state transportation officials and agencies, argued that the state lacked the authority to undertake the transfer without the General Assembly’s permission.

It also said the “contracting away of the power to tax” by allowing the authority to collect road tolls is invalid.

The authority’s board of directors on Dec. 20 unanimously approved a 50-year deal with Virginia to operate the highway and manage construction of the $4 billion, 23-mile Metrorail extension to Washington Dulles International Airport. Part of the rail route would travel alongside the toll road.

The authority plans to use toll money to fund a large part of the rail construction, but plaintiffs Patrick Gray and James Nagle want their tolls to go only toward maintaining the road.

Judge Margaret Spencer issued the three-paragraph order Friday, saying she would elaborate on the reason behind her decision in a later written opinion.

The state had argued for dismissal citing sovereign immunity, which protects government agencies from lawsuits by individuals.

Patrick McSweeney, attorney for Mr. Gray and Mr. Nagle, said his clients will wait for the judge’s opinion before deciding whether to appeal.



Speed cameras debut in mobile vans

Montgomery County is using cameras to catch speeders.

Under a program begun yesterday, cameras are placed in residential neighborhoods and school zones with speed limits of 35 mph or less.

The Safe Speed program initially will involve six cameras in mobile vans that will rotate through various locations. Fixed cameras will be added later.

Motorists caught traveling more than 10 mph above the posted limit will be issued warnings by mail for a 30-day period. After that, citations and $40 fines will be issued.

Police departments in Chevy Chase Village, Gaithersburg and Rockville also will use speed cameras.


Space heaters blamed for fatal house fire

Fire investigators say a fire Thursday night that killed an Annapolis couple started accidentally.

The two-alarm fire in the 200 block of Halsey Road killed Reuben and Helene Alley, both 88. Mr. Alley died at the scene, and his wife died the next day at a hospital.

Investigators found several portable electric heaters in the first-floor living room that ignited combustible items nearby.

There were no working smoke detectors in the home.

The damage from the fire was estimated at $500,000.


Truck, cars crash on Severn Bridge

At least four vehicles, including a tractor-trailer, crashed on the Severn River Bridge yesterday, sending five persons to hospitals with minor injuries and spilling about 300 gallons of fuel, authorities said.

The accident was reported about 1:18 p.m. on the eastbound side of Route 50 on the bridge, said Lt. Frank Fennell, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County fire department. He said some fuel ended up in the water, but he didn’t know how much.

The Coast Guard and the Maryland Department of the Environment were on the scene.

Traffic was blocked in both directions. A westbound lane was opened about 2:20 p.m. and an eastbound lane was opened about 3 p.m., Lt. Fennell said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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