- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2008


Officers accused of taking toys

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating whether four officers stole toys donated for the Toys for Tots program.

Officials put four officers on non-contact duty and revoked their police powers on Wednesday, as first reported by WTOP-FM.

An internal investigation is under way. Officials have “uncovered some questionable behavior of a few of our members,” Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said.

Any officer found to have taken toys faces prosecution, she said.



MARC line slowed by holiday use

The Christmas Eve rush caused delays on MARC commuter trains from Washington to Baltimore.

At least two afternoon trains on the Penn line ran late due to large numbers of people leaving work early, the Maryland Transit Administration said.

The MTA reported no significant problems at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport other than delays caused by foul weather at airports elsewhere.

Traffic on Maryland’s section of the Capital Beltway was congested near the American Legion Bridge for drivers heading into Virginia, the State Highway Administration said.


Baltimore shoppers found big bargains

Eleventh-hour Christmas shoppers in Baltimore found some big bargains Christmas Eve.

Almost every store at Mondawmin Mall was displaying banners advertising 50 percent to 75 percent markdowns.

Barbara Rice was there on Christmas Eve morning to find last-minute gifts and deals. Her daughter, Donyai Rice, wasn’t planning on shopping when she got to the mall. However, she found a Sony Playstation 2 video game system, a Nintendo Gameboy, a cell phone and shoes all on sale.

Vinny Singh, working at RK Jewelers, said retailers were offering the sales because “traffic is low.” Renovations at Mondawmin have kept customers away and the recession has made things worse, he said.

At least one retailer at Mondawmin is closing after the holidays.


Canadian faces federal drug charge

A second Canadian man arrested in a drug investigation in Frederick faces a federal charge involving $2 million to $4 million worth of Ecstasy.

Authorities arrested Bruno Bendo, 23, of Laval, Quebec, on Friday after police said a Frederick County deputy made a traffic stop and found two suitcases containing about 100,000 Ecstasy pills in Mr. Bendo’s rented car.

On Monday, a judge in Baltimore ordered Mr. Bendo held in federal custody without bail. His public defender, Deborah Boardman, declined to comment on the charge of possession with intent to deliver.

Mr. Bendo provided information that led to the arrest of 45-year-old Mario Plourde, a truck driver from Saint-Hubert-de-Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, who faces state charges of importing, possessing and planning to deliver both Ecstasy and 104 pounds of marijuana, Frederick County authorities said.


Displays nixed in neighborhood

Some Frederick-area residents have been ordered by their community association to take down the Christmas lights and decorations outside their homes.

Debra Sachs and her neighbor Donald Suhaka were told their displays don’t fit the “design concept” in the Worman’s Mill community. They were told they could face fines if the decorations aren’t removed, and both were told to appear for hearings convened by the neighborhood association’s covenants committee.

Committee chairman Harvey Alter didn’t comment on exactly how the displays violate community rules, but he said the homeowners have broken contracts they signed when they bought their homes.


Services to be held at landmark church

All holiday services will take place as scheduled at a landmark Annapolis church that had some flooding from a sprinkler malfunction.

St. Anne’s Parish sits in the middle of Church Circle in downtown Annapolis. Fire crews responded Tuesday evening after the sprinkler system caused flooding in the entrance.

But the Rev. Gid Montjoy said all services would be held as planned.


Firefighters, medics save family’s holiday

Firefighters and paramedics have helped to save Christmas for a Chillum family after a fire at their home, the Prince George’s County Fire Department said.

Toys, food and a gift card will be given to the family of eight who lived in the 6600 block of 23rd Avenue, fire spokesman Mark Brady said. Their home sustained $80,000 in damage after food on the stove caught fire Wednesday morning.

Fire and EMS crews helped the family of five adults and three children find a place to live at the Clarion Inn in College Park, Mr. Brady said. Firefighters went to a grocery, and the store’s assistant manager decided to donate the food.

The family, who won’t be able to live in the home during the holidays, obtained temporary housing.



Colonial Williamsburg begins Christmas

Colonial Williamsburg started the Christmas holiday by re-creating a more than 300-year-old tradition.

Members of the historic area fired Christmas guns at 5 p.m. Wednesday. There is an 18th-century tradition that obliged Virginians to fire their guns to celebrate the holiday.

The program began on Market Square with a reading, followed by artillery crews on Market Square and Palace Green firing their cannons and militia men along Duke of Gloucester Street firing muskets.

During the cannon and musket firing, the Colonial Williamsburg fife-and-drum team marched along the streets to the Courthouse of 1770 for a performance. The evening’s events ended with the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree.


Va. man charged in cockfight probe

A Bedford County man has been charged with selling two roosters for fighting purposes.

Avery Fitzgerald of Coleman Falls was arrested Tuesday morning, Bedford Sheriff Mike Brown said.

Undercover deputies bought the roosters from Mr. Fitzgerald for about $100 on Nov. 9 and Dec. 14, Capt. Mike Miller said.

If convicted, Mr. Fitzgerald faces up to five years in prison on each of two counts of selling animals for fighting purposes.

About 40 roosters were seized and taken to the Bedford County Animal Shelter.

The staff will care for the roosters until the courts decide what to do with them, shelter operator Rebecca Mitchen said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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