- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Catoe to put forth Metro fare increase

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. plans to propose a fare increase next week.

The amount of the potential fare increase wasn’t announced yesterday, but officials with the transit agency say Mr. Catoe will spell out the details to the Metro Board on Sept. 13. The new fares would take effect in January.

Normally, fare increases are proposed in December and take effect in June. But Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said Mr. Catoe wants to move forward with the plan rather than wait. She said the earlier start will likely mean a lower fare increase.

In the past, Mr. Catoe has advocated tying a fare increases to an index, such as the consumer price index.

Any fare increase must be approved by the board, and the proposal won’t necessarily be the one that’s put in place.


Watergate to sell everything inside

Everything must go at the Watergate Hotel.

The Washington landmark, made famous by the Nixon scandal, is selling beds, sofas, silver teapots and even toilets to prepare for a major renovation.

The sale begins tomorrow at the hotel and will last until all items are sold. It is expected to draw thousands of people and yield $700,000.

Bargain hunters can choose among items such as an ordinary wooden desk for $85 or frying pans for $6.

Officials with the liquidation company running the sale hope a $10 admission fee during the first three days will deter people only interested in sightseeing.

The hotel is part of a complex of six buildings, including one where the 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters occurred — a crime that led to President Nixon’s resignation. Four of the burglars stayed at the hotel.



Truck crash victims were in vehicle’s bed

Two of the three teenagers who were killed in a pickup truck crash in Southwest Virginia were riding illegally in the bed of the vehicle, Virginia State Police said.

Sgt. Michael Conroy said yesterday that the third victim was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected in the crash Sunday in Carroll County, about two miles north of the North Carolina line.

Sgt. Conroy said Allison Rebecca Turman of Willis and Ashley Leonard of Cana, both 14, were riding in the bed of the 2000 Dodge Dakota that overturned and caught fire. Three other teenagers in the truck were injured.

State law prohibits anyone younger than 16 from riding in the bed of a truck, with some exceptions.

Allison’s cousin, Brianna Peak, 17, of Dugspur, also died in the accident.

State police did not release the names of the other occupants of the truck, who were all treated at a hospital and released. They were from Virginia and between 14 and 17 years old.

Sgt. Conroy said the 15-year-old driver was unlicensed. He said police have not decided whether to file charges.


Brothers plead guilty for gang-related crimes

Two brothers facing federal charges involving a violent gang and drugs pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court.

Hoang Anh Tran, 29, of Fairfax, was one of the leaders of Dragon Family, a violent Northern Virginia gang involved in racketeering activity, court documents say. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, including murder, robbery, extortion and narcotics trafficking, among other charges.

His brother, Tam Anh Tran, 34, of Centreville, was an associate in the gang and provided it with drugs and firearms, the documents say. He pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy.

Hoang Anh Tran faces life in prison for the two murders and conspiracy. Tam Anh Tran faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for the drug conspiracy.

The brothers will be sentenced Nov. 30.



Rare virus found in mosquitoes

A rare mosquito-borne virus has been found in Maryland for the first time in three years, the state Department of Agriculture said.

Mosquitoes collected in a Pocomoke River swamp in northern Worcester County were found to have Eastern equine encephalitis. The virus is found most commonly in horses and some birds, but in rare cases people can contract it.

The virus has been present on the lower Eastern Shore for years, said Cyrus Lesser, head of the Maryland Department of Agriculture Mosquito Control. It’s less common — but more fatal — than West Nile virus, which is also carried by mosquitoes.

The department warns people near swampy areas to wear insect repellent or long pants and sleeves when spending time outdoors.


Ethics panel against moonlighting officers

The Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission said it is against allowing police officers to moonlight as restaurant guards because of conflict of interest concerns.

Anne Arundel County Commissioners are set to vote on the ethics commission’s recommendation, outlined in a 14-page document.

But O’Brien Atkinson, the Fraternal Order of Police’s union president, said the state has not fought this rule when other counties allowed officers to take second jobs.

Officers were allowed to work the second jobs until July. They filed a lawsuit over the loss of income after Police Chief James Teare Sr. stopped the practice.


Lottery winner to invest prize

The Maryland Lottery yesterday validated the winning Mega Millions ticket purchased by Elwood “Bunky” Bartlett, an accountant from Dundalk.

Mr. Bartlett, 40, said he will take a lump-sum cash payment and invest it. His quarter share of Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot amounts to about $48.6 million, or $32.6 million after taxes.

His win will allow him to devote his time to teaching people about his religion — Wicca, Mr. Bartlett said.

He said he also wants to buy a big house with a pool for his wife and hire a pool boy. The couple has two children, Ryan, 21, and Ashley, 18.

Part of his winnings will go toward upgrading Mystickal Voyage, a gift shop where he occasionally teaches Wicca and Reiki healing. He plans to scale back his accounting practice and devote more time to teaching, he said.

However, he said he does not plan to stop eating at McDonald’s or buying his clothes at Wal-Mart.

“I like Wal-Mart. Everybody tells me I need to go to Target,” he said derisively, “but I’m not so much on the Target.”

But a trip Sunday morning to his favorite store was a revelation.

“I went in and just bought a change of clothing and got bombarded by some people outside of Wal-Mart who made some offers to me,” Mr. Bartlett said. “Some wanted to have sex with me, some wanted to marry me, some wanted to be adopted by me.”

Mr. Bartlett holds one of four winning tickets for Friday’s estimated jackpot of $330 million. The other winning tickets were sold in New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, but the winners have yet to come forward.


Man charged with arson threats

Washington County sheriff’s deputies have charged a Hagerstown man with threatening arson after they said he told his terrified wife and two adult children that he would kill them and burn down their house.

Authorities said Michael Dunahugh, 40, also struck his wife with his hands, pointed a rifle inside a bedroom where they were barricaded and then activated a smoke alarm in the house.

Mr. Dunahugh was arrested early Monday morning and taken to the Washington County jail with bail set at $200,000.


Plaque to honor only slain officer

A plaque is being made in memory of the only Cumberland Police Department officer killed in the line of duty.

It was 100 years ago this year that Officer August Baker was shot while trying to arrest a drunken and disorderly man in what was then called Shantytown near what is now South Wineow Street.

Officer Baker died two days later. The suspect was later killed by an angry mob that forced its way into the jail, dragged him into the street and shot him.

The public unveiling of the plaque is set for Oct. 5 at police headquarters.


Not all students got text warnings

Text messages sent by security officials at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland warning of a weekend campus abduction attempt were not received by everyone who signed up for the service, students said.

More than 300 of the college’s 3,300 students signed up for the service, which began this month. Notre Dame was one of more than a dozen colleges and universities in the Baltimore region that installed text-alert systems this year after the Virginia Tech massacre.

Police searched the north Baltimore campus of the all-female Catholic school Saturday night after someone called to report that a man had trespassed on campus and tried to abduct a student, said Detective Donny Moses, a Baltimore police spokesman.

Police later found the attempted abduction report to be false, college spokeswoman Theresa Wiseman said yesterday. Officer Troy Harris, another police spokesman, said last night that charges were pending against the student who reported the crime, but he would not elaborate.

The first text message went out just before 10 p.m. Saturday and told students about a “possible intruder” and to “shelter in place until further notice.” Nearly an hour later, a second message advised students that police were searching Meletia Hall, a dormitory.

A third message at 12:30 a.m. Sunday told students the campus was clear.

The campus security director thinks students who didn’t get the messages most likely didn’t follow all the steps to sign up online.


Distraught man dies after pepper spray

A Bel Air man died minutes after troopers used pepper spray to subdue him after a loud, threatening rant outside his home, state police said.

David Matarazzo, 47, had been on his porch on Hillside Drive, holding a rock, waving a metal chair and yelling threats on the lives of his family members and neighbors, police said. After troopers responded late Monday night, police say he made verbal threats, racial slurs and refused to be arrested.

He was sprayed once and handcuffed, then the spray was washed off with a hose. That’s when police noticed Mr. Matarazzo was having trouble breathing and called for paramedics. He died at the scene.

Mr. Matarazzo was 6-foot-7 and weighed about 550 pounds.

Troopers had been to his home the previous night when Mr. Matarazzo was reportedly despondent and threatening suicide. He was treated at a hospital and returned home Monday.


Knifepoint robbery leads to manhunt

One person was in custody and two others were being sought in a knifepoint robbery at a Wal-Mart store, authorities said.

It happened late Monday night, and the resulting manhunt included a high-speed chase along Route 346.

The pursuit began when Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies spotted the suspected getaway vehicle. Police lost sight of it when its lights were switched off, but not before the chase reached a speed of 130 mph.

The vehicle was later found abandoned in Willards. A search using police dogs and a helicopter led to the arrest of one person at Route 346 and Bent Pine Road.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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