- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 17, 2007

DISTRICT

Man jumps fence around White House

The Secret Service yesterday arrested a man it said scaled a White House fence with a package and falsely claimed he had a bomb.

The incident led to a security lockdown around the White House for more than three hours.

Secret Service officials used a water cannon to destroy the package, which contained no dangerous materials.

Secret Service spokeswoman Kim Bruce said the man, Catalino Lucas Diaz, 66, was charged with unlawful entry, threatening with a bomb and throwing a missile.

She said he was thought to be from Florida but had no fixed address.

The area along Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, was closed at 11:10 a.m. after the man jumped the fence along the northeast side of the White House.

It was reopened at 2:30 p.m.

Trash collectors sickened by cleaner

Authorities said fumes from muriatic acid are likely to blame after three of the city’s trash collectors experienced breathing problems yesterday.

D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the workers began having problems about 9:30 a.m. while collecting recycling bins along Bancroft Place in Northwest.

Mr. Etter said hazardous-material workers later found a container in the truck that contained traces of muriatic acid, an industrial cleaning agent.

The acid had been exposed to water, creating a vapor.

The men were treated and released from the hospital.

VIRGINIA

RINER

2 teens arrested over gun at school

Two middle school students were arrested yesterday and charged with bringing a gun to school, and Montgomery County police said they were also looking into whether the students spoke of shooting the school’s principal.

The boys, ages 14 and 15, were arrested at about 9 a.m. after the older boy was found with a .22-caliber revolver and ammunition on school property, authorities said.

Officials were alerted by another student, who told a school resource officer that the boy had a gun, Sheriff Tommy Whitt said.

It was not immediately clear why the 14-year-old was arrested, said Sgt. M.E. Hollandsworth, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. He said the investigation is continuing.

It also was not clear who owns the weapon and how the boys obtained it.

The charge of bringing a gun onto school property is a Class 6 felony.

A preliminary investigation revealed that at least one of the boys talked of shooting the school principal, the school resource officer Sheriff’s Deputy Kirk Hendricks and at least one student, authorities said.

Classes went on following the arrests.

The school is about 35 miles southwest of Roanoke.

CHARLOTTESVILLE

Woman charged in theft of lawyer’s ID

A Louisa woman faces federal charges after police say she used the identity of a lawyer at the law office where she worked as a secretary to open two credit accounts and rack up more than $145,000 in purchases and cash.

Police charged Paula Jean Hufner, 27, Thursday with identity theft, access device fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and mail fraud.

If convicted on all counts, Miss Hufner faces up to 102 years in prison and a fine of up to $2.75 million.

Miss Hufner used the lawyer’s name, Social Security number and birth date to apply for the credit cards online, adding herself as an authorized user, according to the indictment by a federal grand jury.

The credit accounts were used to purchase items including a boat and a boat trailer, and several checks drawing on one account also were sent to Miss Hufner, the indictment said.

She also is accused of raiding more than $80,000 from the lawyer’s bank account, in part to pay down balances on the cards.

A federal judge granted Miss Hufner a $20,000 bond.

RICHMOND

Southside delegate forgoes re-election

Delegate Allen W. Dudley has announced he will not seek an eighth term in the House of Delegates seat he has held since 1994.

Mr. Dudley, Franklin County Republican, barely survived a challenge in 2005 from Democrat Eric Ferguson and leaves open a competitive district heading into November’s election for all 140 House and Senate seats.

“I’ve been in the House for 14 years. That’s long enough to spend in one body like that,” Mr. Dudley, 59, told the Roanoke Times.

Mr. Ferguson has announced his candidacy for the seat.

Mr. Dudley won the seat from Virginia’s rural Southside region in 1993, upsetting a heavily favored Democrat by 161 votes out of more than 20,000 cast.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

Slavery apology approved in Senate

Maryland’s state Senate yesterday approved a resolution apologizing for slavery, joining other states that have considered formal statements recently to atone for slavery’s wrongs.

The resolution expresses “profound regret” for the role Maryland played instituting and maintaining slavery and “for the discrimination that was slavery’s legacy.”

The resolution carried in Maryland by a 44-0 vote. A similar resolution is pending in the House this session.

If it passes there, Maryland would be the second state to issue such an apology.

Virginia’s legislature passed a resolution last month also expressing “profound regret” for that state’s role in slavery.

Lawmakers in Missouri and Congress have proposed similar measures.

In Georgia on Thursday, a panel of lawmakers signed off on a plan to create a Confederate heritage month, but legislative leaders in Atlanta reacted cooly to a push to apologize for the state’s role in slavery.

ANNAPOLIS

Measure to remove barriers to divorce dies

In a deadlocked vote after vigorous debate, a bill seeking to remove religious barriers that prevent someone from remarrying in good standing within a religion after obtaining a civil divorce died on the Maryland Senate floor yesterday.

The measure failed to get the necessary majority for passage on a 22-22 vote.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, said the legislation was needed for Orthodox Jewish women who seek a divorce and can’t get one without their husband’s consent under Jewish law.

A civil divorce doesn’t dissolve a marriage under traditional Jewish law. An Orthodox Jewish woman wanting a divorce needs to obtain a signed writ of divorce, which is called a “get.” But only the husband has the power to grant it.

Miss Gladden, Baltimore city Democrat, argued that Orthodox Jewish men sometimes force their wives to give up property rights, alimony and child custody to receive a get, which enables a woman to remarry in the religion. The bill would have required couples who are getting divorced to file an affidavit saying they have agreed to drop religious barriers to remarriage that they control.

But Sen. Rona E. Kramer, Montgomery County Democrat, led opposition to the bill, contending that the measure crossed the line between separation of church and state. She also said the bill was too broad, and could potentially enable government to interfere in a variety of religious matters.

BALTIMORE

Ex-officer sentenced for making threats

A former Western Maryland police officer will serve four years and three months in federal prison for threatening the lives of black schoolchildren and Hagerstown’s first black city council member.

Jeffrey Shifler told a federal judge he was remorseful for his actions and that he did not mean to harm his victims. He said the threats were an attempt to get back at city police leadership for what he considered his wrongful firing.

Shifler pleaded guilty last year to two civil rights crimes. The 51-month sentence fell at the low end of federal guidelines, which prosecutors requested.

Alesia Parson-McBean, the Hagerstown city council member who received the threatening letters, told the court that the threats were an arrogant act that “is not uncommon in Hagerstown, where white men believe they can do what they want and get away with it.”

BALTIMORE

Judge delays trial of ex-senator, wife

A public corruption trial against former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell Sr. and his wife will be delayed until fall, a federal judge announced.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Frederick Motz said in a statement there were “irreconcilable conflicts of interest” that would prevent the Bromwells’ attorneys from continuing to represent them. The judge didn’t disclose the conflicts.

Jury selection was supposed to begin Thursday.

Mr. Bromwell and his wife, Mary Patricia, face racketeering charges that accuse the former senator of accepting bribes from a local construction company executive in exchange for the former politician’s help in securing publicly funded contracts.

Mrs. Bromwell is accused of accepting a salary for a no-show job at a subcontractor controlled by the same construction company, Poole and Kent Co., in return for the company’s use of her husband’s influence.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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