- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008


Postal worker pleads guilty to leave fraud

A U.S. Postal Service worker pleaded guilty to mail fraud for falsely claiming to be away on jury duty for 144 days.

Joseph Winstead, who had been a mail processor at the postal facility in Northeast, likely will face eight to 14 months in prison. He has agreed to repay the Postal Service nearly $39,000 for the salary he was paid during his absence from work.

Prosecutors said Winstead was summoned for jury duty in October 2003 and served on a jury. But then he submitted fraudulent documents to his boss showing he was away on jury duty many days past the time he was dismissed.

Prosecutors said he repeated the scam in 2006.

Woodson evacuated for fire in closet

H.D. Woodson High School was temporarily evacuated yesterday after a fire in a janitor’s closet.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the fire occurred in a closet on the sixth floor of the school on Eads Street. He said officials evacuated the school for at least an hour because of the fire and heavy smoke. No injuries were reported.

Mr. Etter said several small fires have been deliberately set at the school this academic year. The fire department, school officials and D.C. police were investigating.

No more jail time for ‘tractor man’

A North Carolina tobacco farmer who served more than one year in prison for threatening to set off bombs during a 47-hour tractor standoff on the Mall will not serve additional time behind bars.

Dwight Watson became known as “Tractor Man” after he drove his tractor into a Constitution Gardens pond in March 2003, holding police at bay and stalling traffic while a police SWAT team waited him out. He had long since finished a 16-month prison term when an appeals court ruled last year that his sentence was inaccurate and probably too lenient.

Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said this week that Mr. Watson deserved an additional three years behind bars for the chaos he caused, but added that there was little public benefit in returning him to prison.



Police officer indicted in fatal Beltway crash

A Prince George’s County police officer was indicted on charges stemming from a deadly seven-car crash on the Capital Beltway last spring.

Officer Scott Campbell was indicted on two counts of vehicular manslaughter in the May 30 chain-reaction crash near Forestville that killed two persons and injured 15.

Police said Officer Campbell had positioned himself to stop a speeding motorcycle on the Inner Loop, but the motorcycle rider swerved in front of another vehicle and sped away. Officer Campbell’s car hit the motorist’s vehicle, which rolled down an embankment onto the Outer Loop, where five other cars crashed into each other.

Police Chief Melvin C. High said the department is also conducting its own investigation.

Officer Campbell is on administrative suspension pend-ing the outcome of the case.


Ambulance stolen from emergency room

An ambulance stolen yesterday morning from the University of Maryland Medical Center was found yesterday afternoon in Stafford County, Va.

Fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright said the ambulance was stolen from an emergency bay at about 10:30 a.m.

A Prince George’s County police officer later saw the ambulance on the Capital Beltway near Route 4 heading toward Virginia with its lights and sirens on.

The ambulance was left unlocked when a patient was taken inside the hospital, Chief Cartwright said. Policy requires the ambulance to be secured.


No leaks reported from overturned truck

A tractor-trailer overturned in a three-vehicle crash on U.S. Route 15 north of Frederick early yesterday.

A Frederick County hazardous-materials officer told the Frederick News-Post that containers holding about 150 pounds of formaldehyde powder remained attached to the truck and did not leak onto the roadway.

State troopers and the State Highway Administration shut down the northbound lanes at Fish Hatchery Road for several hours after the crash on the icy highway at about 6:40 a.m.


FBI employee indicted in illegal gratuity

An FBI employee from Annapolis was indicted on a single count of accepting an illegal gratuity for the performance of his official duties, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The department said Curtis Jones was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Baltimore. Mr. Jones is a physical-security specialist and works at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington.

According to the indictment, Mr. Jones was responsible for making recommendations for the purchase of upgraded shredders for classified documents. The indictment says he and his family received a paid Caribbean trip more than four years ago from top executives of the shredder company that he approved for FBI purchases.

The total value of the trip was about $7,500.


Barge runs aground, but no oil spilled

A double-hulled oil barge ran aground near the mouth of the Nanticoke River, but the Coast Guard said no oil had spilled.

Petty Officer John Edwards said the tug pulling the barge reported the incident about 7 a.m. yesterday.

He said the tug, named Gold Coast, is owned by Van Line Bunkering.

The barge is carrying 420,000 gallons of black oil. Although there has been no spill, Petty Officer Edwards said a commercial cleanup crew was standing by as a precaution.

Coast Guard officials did not immediately know the barge’s destination.



Shipyard worker falls overboard

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended efforts to find the body of a Northrop Grumman shipyard worker who fell overboard from an aircraft carrier into the James River yesterday, but shipyard authorities continued their search.

The 19-year-old sheet-metal worker from Newport News fell from the USS Carl Vinson, which is being overhauled at the shipyard, at about 8:10 a.m, the shipyard said. The worker’s name was not released.

Two sailors aboard the George H. W. Bush, a carrier under construction next to the Carl Vinson, immediately jumped into the river but were unable to find the worker, the shipyard said.


Rescuers follow group of dolphins

Rescuers are following a group of dolphins headed back to the relative safety of the Chesapeake Bay after swimming far up the Nansemond River.

As many as seven dolphins were sighted about 8 a.m. yesterday under a bridge over the river near downtown. Rescuers from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach found three common dolphins and began following them in a small boat, with the hope that the animals would retreat to the Bay.

Aquarium spokeswoman Joan Barnes said the dolphins could do fine for a short time in the narrow tributary, but with boats and humans both present, it might not be such a good idea.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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