- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007


Ramps to close for bridge repair

Some access ramps will be closed beginning tomorrow as part of the continuing repair of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, Department of Transportation officials said. Ramp D — westbound to Route 50 in Virginia — and Ramp E — westbound to the northbound George Washington Parkway — will be closed tomorrow until Thursday from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., weather permitting.

The yearlong rehabilitation of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge is mostly complete.

The $6.9 million project consisted of a concrete deck overlay and repair of the bridge over the Potomac River.

Repairs include concrete repair to the deck surface, replacement of the existing joint assemblies at the abutments and other upgrades.



Counterfeit goods worth $1 million seized

Local, state and federal authorities seized an estimated $1 million worth of counterfeit designer goods from 11 businesses Friday after a months-long investigation.

The operation was the biggest in the city’s history and one of the biggest in the state, said Lorain Crain, a master police detective in Newport News’ economic crimes unit.

“Operation Nike” involved officials from the Newport News and Hampton police departments, Virginia State Police, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspector and trademark investigators.

Officials swept across the city Friday with search warrants for the stores. No arrests were made, but police said charges are pending.

Authorities said the stores were selling counterfeit brand-name goods, such as fake Baby Phat and Coach items.

Investigators bought at least $200 worth of goods at each store, enough to warrant charges of grand larceny by false pretenses, Detective Crain said.

Newport News police began investigating the businesses in December after receiving complaints that counterfeiters were hurting legitimate businesses.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates counterfeit goods drain $200 billion to $250 billion a year from the national economy, as well as 750,000 jobs.


Web site to feature unidentified bodies

Officials plan to add photographs and information about Virginia’s 47 unidentified unclaimed bodies to a national Web site in the hopes of providing answers to those seeking lost loved ones, they said.

“All medical examiners have these cases,” said Virginia Chief Medical Examiner Marcella Fierro, “and they just haunt you because you know somebody is looking, and we haven’t been able to get a connection before.”

The National Association of Medical Examiners and the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners have developed the Web site, which includes 380 cases from across the country.

Visitors to the Web site can search by various identifying factors, such as ethnicity, age and bodily features. Relatives seeking information on lost loved ones also will be able to submit a DNA sample to confirm an identity.

Virginia officials are hoping to post their information by summer.

The body of one unidentified Hispanic man has been kept in the Richmond morgue since 1982. Information about his clothing and pictures of his reconstructed face and jewelry eventually will be available on the Web site.



Officials want to open facility where boy died

Leaders of a shuttered school for juvenile offenders said they hope to reopen the facility eventually.

Bowling Brook Preparatory School closed under pressure this month, following the death in January of a Baltimore teen during a struggle with staff. State and federal authorities are investigating the death of 17-year-old Isaiah Simmons III.

Brian Hayden, program manager at Bowling Brook, said officials are trying to resolve financial problems without selling the property. A local bank filed court papers this month claiming that the school’s closure put it in default of a $1.7 million loan.

Community leaders in Carroll County started a letter-writing campaign to try to persuade Gov. Martin O’Malley to allow Bowling Brook to reopen.


Student charged with passing fake bills

A student at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, has been charged with passing several counterfeit $100 bills in Salisbury stores.

Jeremiah Collins, 20, of Prince George’s County, was charged following an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and Princess Anne police. He was taken into custody Thursday.

Authorities said the counterfeit bills were real bills of lower denominations that had been altered to look like hundreds.

Olakuple Alesh, another student at the same school, was arrested last week on similar charges. He’s accused of passing a $1 dollar bill that was altered to look like a $50 bill.

Six other students from Prince George’s County were arrested last year on counterfeiting charges, but investigators said there doesn’t appear to be any link between the cases.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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