- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Car catches fire at Union Station

D.C. firefighters were called to Union Station yesterday to extinguish a fire in the parking garage.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the cause of a fire in a late-model Ford Crown Victoria appeared to be mechanical.

The fire erupted about 11 a.m. on the third level of the garage behind the station. Mr. Etter said the fire was extinguished quickly and no one was injured. He said the car was destroyed, and a Jeep next to it was damaged.

Firefighters took extra precautions when responding because the incident happened on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks in a high-profile location.



Police shoot man at crash scene

Fairfax County police officers shot a man who pulled out a gun yesterday morning after crashing his car.

Police said the 27-year-old man, whose name was not released, was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was being treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.

At least two officers responded to the single-car crash near Copper Mine Road and Sunrise Valley Drive about 3:30 a.m.

At some point, the driver of the car pointed a handgun at the officers and was shot. Officer Don Gotthardt, a police spokesman, said it was not clear whether the man fired at the officers. Police said one officer was slightly injured during the incident.

The officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave.


Family sues over drowning at dam

The family of a teenager who was swept over a dam on the Maury River has filed a $3.35 million lawsuit against the city of Lexington, claiming negligence in the boy’s drowning.

The lawsuit contends that Lexington officials should have posted signs at Jordan’s Point Park warning of the dam’s hazards.

Charles Volpe, 16, drowned in April 2006 after currents swept him over the dam. He had entered the recreation park and was swimming in a popular area just above the dam.

The lawsuit states that the surface water appeared to be calm, but a strong undercurrent pulled the teenager over the dam and the hydraulic force created by the dam pinned Charles to the bottom of the river and caused him to drown.

Since his son’s death, Chuck Volpe has lobbied to get the dam and other low-head dams in the state removed. The General Assembly passed a bill this year that urges localities to warn people of the dangers of low-head dams.


Farmers get relief for drought woes

Loudoun County is one of eight Virginia counties that have been declared primary federal agricultural disaster areas because of a lingering summer drought.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine sought the disaster declaration from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers in Bedford, Bland, Brunswick, Caroline, King George, Lancaster, Loudoun and Orange counties whose crops have been crippled by the drought are eligible for low-interest loans and other federal relief.

The independent cities of Bedford and Lynchburg and 31 neighboring counties also may be eligible for some federal assistance. Requests are pending with the USDA to add more localities to the list of those included in the primary disaster area.


Sun-bathing gator caught at lake

The vacation is over for a 3-foot alligator seen sunning itself near the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

A private contractor caught the reptile Monday on the grass near Lake Holly.

Animal-control officers think the alligator was released into the lake by someone who had the young reptile illegally as a pet. Virginia requires a permit to keep alligators.

There had been reports of two alligators, but if one more is on the loose authorities don’t think people or dogs are in immediate danger.

The gator captured Monday will be held at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk until the state can place it in a refuge.


Guilty foster father wins two appeals

A Newport News man convicted of abusing his three foster children won a partial victory in the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Kenneth Ferguson is serving 25 years in prison for two counts of malicious wounding, five counts of child neglect, and abduction.

Prosecutors said Ferguson beat the children and sometimes withheld food.

The appeals court overturned one malicious wounding conviction yesterday because Ferguson was charged on that count only with unlawful wounding. The court ordered a new trial on the lesser charge.

The court reversed Ferguson’s conviction for neglecting a 17-year-old who was forced, with two younger siblings, to guard against vandals outside a church on a cold night. The eldest child was allowed inside; the others were not.


Soccer coach touched teen

A former youth-soccer coach in Virginia Beach was sentenced to three years in prison for inappropriately touching a teenage boy.

Carl Desei, 36, told the victim and his family in court Monday that he is sorry.

Desei pleaded guilty in May to three counts of indecent liberties. He was charged in February 2006, when he was a coach for the Neighborhood Youth Soccer League.

According to documents filed in Circuit Court, on at least one occasion, Desei touched the 13-year-old after the victim was injured at a soccer match and asked the victim to sit on his lap while the boy did homework.


Social worker accused of rape

A child-protective-services employee for the city of Richmond is accused of raping a 15-year-old girl whom he met while volunteering with Goochland Fire Rescue.

Craig Ferguson, 34, of Goochland, is charged with one count of sexual assault.

Chief Ken Brown with the Goochland County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association said Mr. Ferguson served for four years as a volunteer, and his background check came up clean.

Chief Brown said the department has rigid standards for prospective volunteers because they will be in constant contact with the public.

Mr. Ferguson has been employed since 2002 with the Richmond Department of Social Services. The department suspended him without pay pending the outcome of the charge.


Glitch resulted in false tickets

An electronic malfunction in the E-Z Pass system on two Virginia roads has resulted in thousands of false tickets.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said the errors occurred from February to May on parts of the Dulles Toll Road in Northern Virginia and the Powhite Parkway Extension in the Richmond area.

VDOT said the mistakes could have been caused by an E-Z pass transponder not registering or a license plate being snapped for no reason.

VDOT is dismissing 8,000 tickets and refunding $105,000.



Naked man, 76, caught in window

Frederick police say a 76-year-old man was arrested after he stood naked in front of his window taking photos of children on Market Street.

Police received a report about 1 p.m. Sunday that a man was exposing himself in the 100 block of Market Street.

An officer responded to the call, took up a concealed position and saw the man in the window. The officer arrested John Patrick Schwind, who was charged with indecent exposure.


Plane hits deer during takeoff

A private airplane struck a deer while taking off from Ocean City Municipal Airport over the weekend.

Police said four persons were on the plane, which took off about 10 p.m. Saturday. During takeoff, a deer ran in front of the plane and was struck by the propeller.

The deer then hit the plane’s running gear and underside before the plane left the ground.

Police said the pilot slowed the plane and taxied off the runway. The plane has been temporarily grounded because of damage it sustained.


Arson case hinges on recanted story

A witness who changed his story has become a critical figure in a Frederick County deputy’s arson trial.

Deputy T. Randolph Dorsey is charged with second-degree arson in the burning of a Chevrolet owned by his girlfriend, a police officer, in hopes of using the insurance money to buy a Cadillac.

The prosecution’s case outlined in opening statements in Frederick yesterday hangs largely on the word of Deputy Dorsey’s friend Dale Williams.

Mr. Williams initially backed up Deputy Dorsey’s alibi that they were partying in Pennsylvania when the car was set on fire last September. But Mr. Williams later recanted and said Deputy Dorsey had asked him to lie for him.

The trial is expected to run through Friday.


Teens charged with hate crime

Four Waldorf teenagers have been charged with committing a hate crime and destruction of property after offensive language was spray-painted on mailboxes, vehicles and driveways.

On Aug. 24, a resident reported that her vehicle had been spray-painted and her mailbox had been destroyed. When the officers arrived, they found about 16 other vehicles, mailboxes and driveways that had been spray-painted with obscene phrases, drawings and random markings. “KKK” and “Gay Pride” had been spray-painted on four of the vehicles.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office said three of the accused teenagers are black, and the fourth is white. All of the victims were black.


Robber sentenced to 80 years

A Carroll County judge sentenced a Baltimore man to four consecutive 20-year prison terms for his role in a home invasion in Eldersburg.

Ronald Presco, 37, was accused of being one of two men involved in the burglary, robbery and kidnapping case in December.

His accused accomplice, Steven Jones, was fatally shot five days after the crime when troopers tried to arrest him at a home in Baltimore County. Before he was killed, Jones shot and critically wounded Trooper Eric Workman, who has since returned to duty.

Presco was found guilty in June of 30 charges in the home invasion in the 2000 block of Sunset Drive. Authorities said he and Jones tied up three occupants with wire and duct tape, then drove one of the occupants to a check-cashing store where he worked and emptied out the cash register and safe.


Man, 77, robbed at snowball stand

A 77-year-old man was pistol-whipped and slashed with a knife, tied up and robbed as he opened a snowball stand, police said.

Police said three men entered Pete’s Snowball Stand as the man was opening at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Relatives who happened to stop by saw the scene and untied the man, who was not identified.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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