- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007

DISTRICT

Ex-employee admits stealing from NAS

A former employee of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding the academy of $1.2 million.

Aubrey Randolph Scott, 46, of Germantown, admitted in U.S. District Court to submitting hundreds of phony invoices in amounts less than $2,500 for a bogus company called Paper Perfect Reproductions.

Because of the small amount of the invoices, prosecutors said Scott was authorized to approve the payments, which were sent to a mailbox that he had rented.

Scott used the money to buy items including a BMW and jewelry and for his own mortgage payments, prosecutors said.

Scott faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 25 by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, though prosecutors said his sentence is likely to be three to four years.

MARYLAND

OCEAN CITY

Man goes overboard from stolen boat

Maryland Natural Resources police and Coast Guard crews searched yesterday for a man who reportedly went overboard when the intoxicated operator of a stolen boat ran aground.

About 1 a.m., the Coast Guard received reports of a boat stolen from the Ocean City Fisherman’s Marina. Less than an hour later, Coast Guard crews found a 48-foot sport fishing boat run aground near the Route 50 bridge.

Christopher Bornaschella, 24, of Chincoteague Island, Va., told police that he met the man at a resort bar. He said the two were going fishing when the crash happened.

Natural Resources police spokesman Sgt. Ken Turner said the search will resume today if needed.

The arrested suspect is charged with felony theft, reckless operation and three alcohol-related violations. He is being held at the Worcester County jail and has an outstanding Virginia warrant for theft.

ANNAPOLIS

Lobbyist appeals ethics suspension

An attorney for lobbyist Bruce Bereano yesterday appealed an ethics suspension in Maryland’s highest court, arguing that the State Ethics Commission doesn’t have grounds to take action against him.

The commission moved about five years ago to suspend Mr. Bereano for 10 months and fine him $5,000 for violating a state law prohibiting lobbyists from signing contracts that make fees contingent on successful representation of a client’s interests.

Tim Maloney, Mr. Bereano’s lawyer, said the 2001 law didn’t go into effect until after Mr. Bereano entered the contract with a company that provides foster care services, and thus the law shouldn’t be applied retroactively.

“There is no evidence in the record, and the reason there is no evidence in the record is it didn’t happen,” Mr. Maloney told the seven-member Court of Appeals.

If anything, his client, a gregarious and controversial fixture in Annapolis for years who has had legal trouble before, has acted “out of an abundance of caution” in his activities, Mr. Maloney said.

But Steven Sullivan, an assistant attorney general, described Mr. Bereano’s position as “grossly unbelievable.”

Five of the court’s seven judges recused themselves from the case without explanation. Five retired judges sat in for them.

Mr. Bereano was convicted of mail fraud in 1994 for overbilling clients and funneling the money to political campaigns. He was disbarred in 2000.

ANNAPOLIS

Court hears case on sexual consent

Judges on Maryland’s highest court asked lawyers tough questions yesterday while reviewing a lower court’s ruling that rape cannot be committed if a woman consents to sex and then withdraws consent during intercourse.

Court of Appeals judges used a variety of hypothetical conditions to question why forced sex wouldn’t constitute rape, if a woman said she wanted to stop, despite having consented at first. Some also pondered how long it would take, from when consent was withdrawn, before crossing the line from consensual sex to rape.

The case stems from a 2003 case in Montgomery County involving Maouloud Baby, who was 16 at the time, and a classmate, Michael Wilson. Mr. Baby was convicted of raping a woman in her car.

The woman testified that she consented to sex, if he would stop when she told him to stop. She said when the two were having sex, she told him to stop, but he continued for 4 or 5 seconds.

The Court of Special Appeals overturned Mr. Baby’s conviction last October. Wilson pleaded guilty to second-degree rape and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

HAGERSTOWN

Student’s drug death leads to indictments

A federal grand jury indicted two persons on charges of supplying prescription narcotics that killed a 17-year-old Boonsboro High School student.

Robert C. Eichelberger, 36, of Hagerstown, and Kathleen Ann Harris, 38, of Olney, are accused of distributing methadone that led to the death of Harry L. “Trey” Angle III on July 26. The victim wasn’t named in the indictment that federal prosecutors announced Monday, but he was identified yesterday by his maternal grandmother.

“He was a good boy, and I miss him very much,” Virginia A. Angle said.

Each defendant is charged with distributing drugs and conspiring to distribute drugs that caused the death. Beside methadone, they are charged with distributing oxycodone, also known as OxyContin, and Percocet; and hydrocodone, also known as Lorcet and Vicodin, from January through Sept. 25.

Man gets 18 years in death of physicist

A Fairbanks, Alaska, man found guilty of drunken driving and manslaughter in the death of a Maryland physicist was sentenced Monday to more than 18 years in prison.

Authorities said Byron Frank Geisinger, 47, slammed his full-sized pickup truck into the back of a sedan rented by Yong-Ki Kim, 74, who was sightseeing about a year ago with his wife and son.

Mr. Kim of Germantown was killed. His wife and son suffered minor injuries.

At the sentencing in Fairbanks Superior Court, Judge Randy M. Olsen said that he thought alcohol played a role in the accident in addition to brake problems.

“I am astonished that that vehicle was being driven in that condition,” he said.

Judge Olsen imposed another 10 years of probation during which Geisinger is not to drink or possess alcohol or enter an establishment that sells it. Also, his driving privileges were revoked for life.

Mr. Kim’s son, Edward Kim, told the court that Geisinger had no respect for laws restricting his driving and likely would drink and drive again when released.

“If we were malicious and uncaring people, we would ask you to release the offender with all due haste,” he said. “Release him to drink alcohol and drive with wanton recklessness among the citizens of Fairbanks.”

Yong-Ki Kim was a semi-retired senior scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He was an internationally respected authority on the calculations of atomic structure and collision properties and its application to a variety of practical problems such as semiconductor problems.

FREDERICK

Man gets 30 days for beating dog

A Frederick man was sentenced to 30 days in jail for punching his mother’s dog in the face.

James K. Flohr Jr., 31, was sentenced Monday in Frederick County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to aggravated animal cruelty. Judge John H. Tisdale also ordered a psychiatric evaluation and told Mr. Flohr to avoid “abusive contact” with Spike, his mother’s 11-year-old dachshund-corgi mix, during two years of supervised probation after his release.

Mr. Flohr also must avoid contact with other animals and refrain from alcohol and drugs while on probation.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kirsten N. Brown urged Judge Tisdale to bar all contact with Spike, but Assistant Public Defender Matthew H. Fogelson argued that such an order would leave Mr. Flohr homeless. Mr. Flohr’s recently widowed mother wants her son to live with her, partly to share expenses, he said.

Investigators said Mr. Flohr was drunk Jan. 14 when he grabbed Spike by his front paws and repeatedly punched the animal in the face while threatening to disembowel him with a knife he carried.

BALTIMORE

Business admits to selling small crabs

A Crisfield businesswoman pleaded guilty yesterday to selling illegal, undersized Chesapeake Bay crabs, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Isabel Dryden was fined $10,000 and ordered to forfeit the crabs that were seized. She also must allow increased access to her facility, N.R. Dryden and Co., by federal and state agencies and put into place training programs to prevent more violations.

According to a statement provided to the court, the investigation began when the government obtained information that crabbers from Tangier Island, Va., were selling soft-shell blue crabs from the Bay to seafood dealers in Crisfield, including N.R. Dryden.

Many of these crabs were found to be smaller than 3½ inches in length, in violation of Maryland law, according to the court documents.

Special agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an officer from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, posing as representatives from a business in West Virginia, bought 240 dozen crabs worth about $1,500 three times in 2005 and 2006 from Dryden. About 80 percent of the crabs were undersized.

n n n

Some of the undersized crabs seized recently from Crisfield seafood wholesalers were fed yesterday to two North American river otters at the Maryland Zoo.

The crabs were donated to the zoo by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

The first of three companies involved in the federal investigation, MeTompkin Bay Oyster Co., pleaded guilty last month to federal charges to purchasing and selling undersized crabs.

MeTompkin was fined $50,000, and it forfeited more than 3,200 dozen crabs.

VIRGINIA

ROANOKE

Historic hotel closed for safety reasons

The owners of the historic Patrick Henry Hotel have lost a court bid to stall the closure of the downtown property for safety concerns.

A Roanoke Circuit Court judge on Monday denied an injunction to extend an expired temporary occupancy certificate. Without it, the owners will be forced to close the property listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

While the hotel has not had guests since April, attorneys for the owners were hoping to keep open areas where special events are held.

Court documents show the hotel had numerous events booked into 2008 and will lose an estimated $88,600 in revenue if they are canceled.

The hotel had until the end of last month to update the sprinkler system on its first two floors to comply with safety codes, which were mandated in 1990 for hotels higher than three floors. Guest rooms on floors three and up already had been closed.

The hotel’s owners said the first two floors should not have to comply with fire codes specified for hotels because they are not used for guests.

The hotel was built in 1925.

NEWPORT NEWS

Report voices concern for crab numbers

The 2007 blue crab harvest in the Chesapeake Bay is likely to be among the smallest on record since 1945.

A report by the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee said the blue crab stock in the Bay continues to warrant concern. The committee is led by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and includes scientists from Maryland and Virginia.

The Bay is home to an estimated 273 million crabs.

The harvest, which just ended, likely will total 48.7 million pounds, but could range from 32.3 million to 65.1 million pounds. Last year’s harvest brought in 48.9 million pounds.

New ways to monitor the population, rebuild the stock and ensure the blue crab does not become overfished are also recommended in the report.

NORFOLK

Vick finishes course in animal empathy

Michael Vick has completed an eight-hour class in empathy and animal protection, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said.

The animal rights group said Vick, who pleaded guilty last month to federal dogfighting charges, took the course during his second visit to the organization’s headquarters in Norfolk and returned a third time to take a written test.

PETA said Vick completed the course Sept. 18. It did not reveal his score on the test, which includes essay and long-answer questions.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback, who has been suspended by the NFL, also was indicted last week in the rural county where he built a house on 15 acres that had been home to the dogfighting enterprise since 2001.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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