- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

REGION

Man sentenced in sex-slave case

A man who treated a 15-year-old girl he met over the Internet as a sex slave has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

William Diehl of Aberdeen, Wash., was sentenced Tuesday in federal court.

Diehl, 44, drove to the Washington area to meet the girl at a Maryland car dealership, prosecutors said.

Diehl called the girl by a “slave name,” and the teenage girl called him “master.”

Diehl also had a detailed written plan about kidnapping two 7- to-9-year-old girls and molding them into submissive slaves, prosecutors said.

Diehl introduced the teenage girl to his brother as his fiancee, which alarmed the brother. Diehl was arrested in his Aberdeen apartment Feb. 22, 2005.

A Detroit-area man was charged in 2005 of possessing some of the images Diehl took of himself and the girl engaging in sex acts on the drive from Maryland to Washington state.

DISTRICT

Judge upholds order on Palfrey client list

A federal judge yesterday kept in place a court order barring a California woman accused of running a prostitution ring in the District from selling or giving away her client records.

Deborah J. Palfrey had sought to sell years’ worth of phone records to raise money for her legal defense.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler also ruled that Miss Palfrey could not sue former employees, after prosecutors said such suits constituted witness intimidation.

A lawyer representing Miss Palfrey in civil forfeiture proceedings has said she already has given phone records to an unidentified news organization.

Prosecutors have charged Miss Palfrey with racketeering and have seized more than $1 million in accounts and real estate holdings.

She has pleaded not guilty. A status hearing in the case is scheduled for next month.

Gates charity gives $122 million for tuition

A $122 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will give more than 2,000 D.C. students from low-income homes a chance to go to college.

The D.C. College Success Foundation and the D.C. College Access Program yesterday announced a donation to the D.C. Achievers fund that will go to students in Wards 7 and 8 and will offer them counseling over the next 10 years.

This spring, 175 juniors from six D.C. high schools — Anacostia, Ballou and H.D. Woodson high schools; Maya Angelou Public Charter School (Evans Campus); Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School; and Thurgood Marshall Academy Charter Public High School — will receive the scholarships.

The scholarships will be given to students based on a “demonstrated commitment to education” rather than standardized test scores or grade-point average.

Hair salon explodes, injuring man

A hair salon in Southeast burst into flames yesterday, injuring one person.

A 44-year-old man was taken to a hospital with burns to the arms, hands and the back of the head.

Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. fire department, said the combination beauty salon and barber shop called “Hair Affair” suffered “total damage.”

Mr. Etter said there was an immediate burst of flame known as a flashover fire. He said investigators are still trying to figure out what caused it.

Letter prompts look at veterans’ home

Responding to more charges of poor health care for veterans, the Pentagon said yesterday that it is investigating conditions at a historic retirement home.

The Defense Department sent a medical team on an inspection visit Wednesday after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates received a letter from the Government Accountability Office reporting accusations of a rising death rate and rooms spattered with blood, urine and feces at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Northwest.

The GAO letter comes a month after revelations of poor living conditions and bureaucratic delays at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a scandal that has forced the resignations of three high-level Army officials.

That controversy also has prompted a review of the vast network of clinics and hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs found in a separate probe this week to be beset by maintenance problems such as mold, leaking roofs and even a colony of bats.

The retirement home in Northwest, formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home, was opened in 1851 for wounded and disabled war veterans and is home to more than 1,000 retirees.

VIRGINIA

SPOTSYLVANIA

Teen’s threats lead to standoff with police

A Spotsylvania County teenager talked of burning down his house and later threatened police with a gas-powered chain saw during a brief afternoon standoff with authorities, police said.

William Alex Chandler Jr., 19, was arrested Monday afternoon and charged with threats to burn, assault on law enforcement and public drunkenness, Spotsylvania sheriff’s Sgt. Liz Enslen said.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to the home for a domestic dispute.

Mr. Chandler’s mother told police that her son was “going crazy” inside and had barricaded the home, Sgt. Enslen said.

Another family member said the teen threatened to burn the house.

After about 30 minutes, two sheriff’s sergeants went in through a window and confronted Mr. Chandler with a beanbag shotgun, Sgt. Enslen said.

Mr. Chandler was arrested without incident, but he’s accused of threatening a deputy and trying to hit him while being placed inside a patrol car, she said.

Mr. Chandler was being held without bail at the Rappahannock Regional Jail.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

O’Malley signs bill against ground rents

Gov. Martin O’Malley signed his first bill into law yesterday to prohibit the creation of new ground rents.

Ground rents date to the Colonial era and require homeowners to pay small fees on the land their homes occupy. In some cases, unscrupulous ground-rent owners have used the ground rents to evict homeowners for relatively small debts.

Mr. O’Malley said no family should have to lose its home because of an unpaid $24 ground rent.

The problem caught lawmakers’ attention this year after reports in the Baltimore Sun highlighted the problem.

Lawmakers are also looking at more potential bills related to ground rents, including a bill to give homeowners more protections from eviction if they owe ground-rent payments.

SALISBURY

Traffic stop nets $100,000 in car

Police who pulled over a car for speeding found more than $100,000 in the car of a man who identified himself as a student enrolled at the University of Maryland at Eastern Shore (UMES), police said.

The driver tried Tuesday to hide large wrapped bundles of money in his car when police pulled him over on Route 13 near Parker Road, Sheriff Mike Lewis said.

Police said they found $6,000 in his pockets and in hidden compartments in the car. An additional search of the car turned up five bags containing more than $100,000. At the driver’s apartment, officers found several plasma screen TVs and another $12,000.

A related search of another apartment near the UMES campus led to the discovery of 4 pounds of suspected marijuana in large freezer bags. Two other UMES students were in the apartment at the time of the search.

The investigation is continuing, police said, and the men have not been charged.

CENTREVILLE

Bridge repaving plan aims to avoid problems

Preparing for more repairs on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge starting in September, state officials are taking pains to avoid the public-relations gaffes that plagued the project in previous years: the long traffic jams, the communications breakdowns, the embarrassing do-over because of faulty work.

Maryland Transportation Authority officials have prepared a video explaining how they plan to minimize disruption — and mistakes — as they begin the second phase of the $120 million redecking of spans.

And they plan to take their act on tour. They’re meeting with residents in Centreville in Queen Anne’s County today and will be in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Instead of scraping up the surface and pouring new concrete, the agency will take a modular approach to replacing the deck in the highest sections. Working mostly at night, cranes will lift out entire sections and replace them with prefabricated slabs now being manufactured at Sparrows Point.

The lanes will remain open during the week until about 7 p.m. when the contractor will begin closing lanes on the westbound span. By 9 p.m., the entire westbound span will be closed and the eastbound span will be two-way.

State officials will place more emphasis on getting the job done right and less on adherence to a timetable. Work is scheduled to be completed in 2009, said Geoffrey Kolberg, the authority’s chief engineer.

An overemphasis on staying on schedule was a factor in the problems that developed in Phase One, when some of the original paving work had to be torn up and redone because the concrete did not properly adhere to the subsurface. An inquiry ordered by then-Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan found that project managers may have cut corners by continuing to lay concrete when the weather had become too cold.

Officials of the contractor, the Cianbro construction firm, maintained that they had repeatedly warned authority officials about the problems with the bonding chemical in 2002 and 2003 and were ignored.

CUMBERLAND

Trout disease traced to moving sick fish

State fishery workers unwittingly spread whirling disease, an illness fatal to some trout species, by moving diseased fish from one facility in far Western Maryland to another, the Department of Natural Resources said.

The agency had said the parasite might have been spread to the hatcheries from mud on the feet of birds or bears.

The DNR’s discovery of the parasite at the Mettiki and Bear Creek rearing stations in Garrett County in January prompted the destruction of more than 80,000 rainbow and brown trout that had been earmarked for stocking this spring in Maryland lakes and streams.

The Mid-Atlantic chapter of Trout Unlimited, a national conservation group, has harshly criticized Maryland’s handling of whirling disease and offered to help combat it.

DNR said it has replaced the fish with trout purchased from private hatcheries, but it is still studying the consequences of the incident.

STEVENSVILLE

Bay Bridge escorts will cost $25

Starting in May, nervous drivers who need someone drive them over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge will have to pay for the service.

The Maryland Transportation Authority has been providing the service for free but recently said it needs the workers to concentrate on other services, such as removing disabled cars from the bridge. About 4,000 rides are requested each year.

Three local companies will provide the service, beginning May 14. A ride across the bridge will cost $25 for motorists and $30 for bicyclists.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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