- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2008


Officer pleads guilty to child sex charge

A D.C. police officer pleaded guilty to charges that he arranged to have sex with a 14-year-old.

Kenneth Longerbeam, 39, of Gwynn Oak, Md., pleaded guilty to one count of traveling to the District to have sex with a minor.

He faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced in May. As a condition of the plea agreement, he will have to resign from the Metropolitan Police Department and must register as a sex offender.

In the meantime, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier is seeking to suspend Longerbeam without pay. He has been on paid leave since he was arrested in December. He had been with the force for 11 years.

Chief Lanier said Longerbeam’s actions are “contrary to everything the department stands for.”



Repeat-offenders arrest rate goes up

Violent repeat offenders are being removed from city streets at an increasing pace under a joint federal, state and city program, officials announced yesterday.

City officials, meanwhile, credited the program and a shift in policing strategy under Mayor Sheila Dixon for a drop in the city’s homicide rate.

“Now, with a new mayor and a new police commissioner, everybody is on the same page and we are really making a difference,” said State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. “And we aren’t arresting everybody. We’re trying to use our valuable resources to really go after the people we need to go after.”

Mrs. Jessamy appeared with U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and other federal and state officials to announce that the joint program led to federal charges in 197 cases last year, up from 151 in 2006.

Mr. Rosenstein said the goal of the program is not increasing prosecutions but reducing violent crime. Repeat violent offenders charged under the program are removed from the community and sent to federal prisons “far away.”

“They’re not in Baltimore,” Mr. Rosenstein said, but in “federal prisons all over the country.”

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who called the volume of arrests in previous years “mind-boggling,” noted that the number of homicides in the city last month was the lowest in 30 years and crime rates have been down over the past eight months as well. Police reported 112 homicides in Baltimore since Aug. 1, the fewest for that stretch since 1988.


146 pounds of pot found in car trunk

Police found more than $1 million worth of marijuana in the trunk of a car driven by a 72-year-old man who police later learned was a hired courier.

Police said they discovered the marijuana after responding to a fender bender Tuesday in the parking lot of a convenience store on Annapolis Road.

New Carrollton Police Chief David Rice said officers discovered the drugs after impounding the man’s silver Toyota Camry because he didn’t have a driver’s license.

They found 146 pounds of marijuana in a duffel bag with an estimated street value of $1.3 million. Police said they think the marijuana was part of a larger drug shipment.


Illegal alien faces deportation after plea

A man who tried to burn down his girlfriend’s house while her 2-year-old daughter was inside won’t serve much prison time because he is about to be deported to El Salvador.

Alex Edguardo Garcia, 22, was charged with first-degree arson and entered an Alford plea Tuesday. That means he admitted there was enough evidence to convict him.

Garcia, an illegal alien, was sentenced to time served — about six months. Prosecutors agreed to the shorter sentence because they expect him to be deported in the coming weeks.

Authorities said Garcia was arguing with his girlfriend in September. The girlfriend had left her daughter inside her house and turned around to see smoke. She ran back inside to rescue the girl, who wasn’t hurt.


Mom to stand trial in girl’s drug death

A Baltimore woman pleaded not guilty to charges of drugging her 2-year-old daughter, causing her death in June.

Vernice Harris, 30, entered the plea Tuesday and is scheduled to stand trial April 22 on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.

Charging documents say Miss Harris gave methadone to her daughter Bryanna to keep her quiet. She and the girl were living on East 25th Street.

At the time of Bryanna’s death, Child Protective Services was investigating an April 17 report that Miss Harris was neglecting the girl. Miss Harris’ two other daughters were in foster care at the time.

The case led to the resignation of the head of Baltimore’s Department of Social Services and firings or disciplinary action for several employees.


Judge: Test son in fatal beating

A judge in Oakland ordered a psychiatric examination for a Garrett County man who told police he beat his adoptive father to death with a baseball bat because he heard voices telling him to kill.

The decision in Garrett County District Court forced postponement of a preliminary hearing yesterday for Christopher Thompson, 22.

Mr. Thompson is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying earlier this month of Andrew Clever, 49, at their home in rural Lonaconing.

Mr. Clever was the assistant principal at Beall Elementary School in nearby Frostburg.


MTA officer pleads guilty to burning car

A Maryland Transit Administration police officer pleaded guilty to burning his sport utility vehicle to avoid making monthly payments.

James Walthall, 41, of Randallstown, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud yesterday in federal court. Federal prosecutors said he lied about the theft of his Ford Expedition, filed a fraudulent insurance claim and then burned the SUV.

In his plea agreement, Walthall also admitted helping another MTA police officer and an MTA bus driver burn their vehicles so they could avoid payments. Lucretia Westbrook and Ronald Lurz also pleaded guilty.

Soldier kills self after bank robbery

A soldier from Maryland wanted in a Kansas bank robbery died Tuesday from what police say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Pfc. John Hayden, 21, of Port Deposit, Md., had been hospitalized since Friday evening, hours after police say he robbed a Topeka, Kan., bank and fled in a black Mustang.

Police said Pfc. Hayden led officers on a high-speed chase on Interstate 70. The car crashed into a ditch after he tried to bypass spike strips that authorities had put on the interstate, police said.

Pfc. Hayden, who was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., was apprehended after a four-hour standoff in Wabaunsee County, during which authorities say he fired shots at officers. No officers were wounded.

Authorities said Pfc. Hayden is thought to have shot himself while underneath an abandoned vehicle.

Cash thought to have been stolen in the bank robbery was recovered.


Friends, relatives hold vigil for crash victims

Despite the cold and snow, about 50 people attended an informal vigil last night for the victims of last weekend’s crash at a street race.

Friends and relatives came to the grassy area by Route 210 where some of the eight victims were found. Flowers, candles and a large stuffed animal lay by the road.

Some of the mourners said they thought the driver of the car that plowed into the crowd should be punished.

The driver, Darren Bullock, 20, of Waldorf, wasn’t part of the race. Police said he encountered the group of racing spectators standing in the middle of the road shortly before 4 a.m. Mr. Bullock’s family said he tried to brake but was unable to stop in time. He has not been charged.

A law-enforcement official said Mr. Bullock’s driver’s license was suspended last month. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.



Cell-phone photos lead to charges for teacher

A Granby High School teacher used a cell phone to send photos of herself in various stages of undress to students, officials said.

Police and court records show Natasha L. Sizow, 24, of Virginia Beach, was charged with two counts each of indecent liberties and use of a communications device to facilitate crimes against children.

Police said Miss Sizow surrendered Tuesday night.

Maj. Michael O’Toole of the sheriff’s department said she was arraigned yesterday in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 2. She was released on $5,000 bail.

Schools spokesman Vincent Rhodes said Miss Sizow was a first-year social studies teacher and girls’ swimming coach. She now is on unpaid leave.


Neighbors return to homes after blast

Neighbors of a dealer of Civil War cannonballs and other ordnance returned to their homes yesterday, two days after their subdivision was rocked by an explosion.

On Monday, police found the body of Samuel White, 53, outside his home and unexploded military ordnance around his property.

Authorities ordered 20 to 30 homes evacuated and closed streets while they brought in explosives specialists and detonated the munitions.

Authorities removed and destroyed what they said was a “significant” number of military munitions from Mr. White’s detached two-car garage. Some ordnance found on the premises left investigators uncertain about how to proceed.

They called Department of Defense officials for consultation.

“A couple of these items at the tail end have caused some concerns and some questions,” Chesterfield police Capt. Steve Neal said. “They need to be examined by the experts.”


Band director cleared after saying ‘play on’

A judge acquitted the Hampton High School band director charged with obstructing justice for refusing police demands to silence his musicians when fights erupted after a football game.

Tory Smart was arrested Oct. 12 after he refused to stop his band from playing. A judge acquitted him Tuesday but called Mr. Smart’s decision to keep the band playing “disgusting” and “appalling.”

The charge stemmed from a battle of the bands held after Hampton lost to rival Phoebus. Police wanted to halt the music to help clear the stadium after the scuffles erupted. Mr. Smart told his band to keep playing — and told police it was their job to quell the fights and his job was to deal with his band.

Police said the Phoebus band stopped after some prodding.


W&M; board member resigns in protest

A member of the College of William & Mary’s Board of Visitors plans to step down in the wake of Gene R. Nichol’s resignation as university president.

Robert A. Blair said he will submit his resignation from the board to Gov. Tim Kaine. He said in an e-mail to the university community Tuesday that his departure was spurred by “an incipient effort by some members of the Board of Visitors to pick apart President Nichol’s accomplishments.”

Mr. Blair, a D.C. lawyer, said he and other board members argued to renew Mr. Nichol’s contract, but they realized they were outnumbered.

Board members informed Mr. Nichol on Feb. 10 that they weren’t planning to renew his contract after it expired this summer. Two days later, he announced his immediate resignation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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