- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2008



Crime-fighting plan shares resources

Declaring that local crime problems must concern state officials, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced a plan yesterday to pool local, state and federal resources to battle crime in the state’s capital.

The Capital City Safe Streets Coalition is aimed at creating partnerships between the city of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as state and federal agencies to reduce crime.

“Gone are the days when our state government simply declares that crime is a local problem,” Mr. O’Malley said at Eastport United Methodist Church. “It’s not. It’s a problem that faces all of us.”

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said she requested that the state partner with Annapolis to help fight drugs. She pointed out that Annapolis has neighborhoods highly troubled by drugs just blocks from the State House.

“And while we have tried to stop it, our best efforts haven’t worked,” she said. “We’re not winning the war against drugs.”

While the initiative is focused on Annapolis, Mr. O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch said it is designed to be a model for other communities.

Mr. O’Malley said the initiative includes the sharing of mapping technology to better deploy police. When he was mayor of Baltimore, he used a tool called ComStat to improve intelligence gathering and accountability. ComStat uses computer pin mapping and weekly accountability sessions to reduce crime.

“This year, we are advancing funding and training for ComStat in any municipality that wants it in our state,” Mr. O’Malley said. “We call it: ComStat on Demand.”

The governor also is focusing on revamping parole and probation policies in order to keep violent predators off the streets.

Jailed escapee escaped again

An escapee from a Maryland jail who disappeared from his cell in Tennessee over the weekend is now officially an escapee there, too.

Terrell Watson was being held on auto theft and probation violation charges when he disappeared Sunday from his Nashville cell. Officials initially thought he was hiding in the building, but by Tuesday they said that he escaped through a ventilation system.

Sheriff Daron Hall told WSMV-TV that the contractor that runs the jail, Corrections Corp. of America, didn’t take out a warrant until 48 hours after Watson vanished. Without a warrant, authorities didn’t know to be looking for him.

Watson, who is also known as Terrence Washington, escaped from Harford County, Md., sheriff’s deputies in January 2007. During a ride to a hospital, he squirmed free of his handcuffs, leg irons and belly chains.

The television show “America’s Most Wanted” has profiled him several times, and there are reports that he is wanted for robberies in Alabama, Illinois and Missouri and several Mid-Atlantic states.


Man gets 1 year for nine marriages

A federal judge sentenced a Frederick man to a year in prison for marrying nine women so they could become lawful permanent residents.

James Adjei Kyem, 52, filed immigration applications after marrying the women. He was charged with marriage fraud, perjury and passport fraud and also must serve probation and community service.

The weddings started in 1984 when he married a woman so he could become a citizen. Then he claimed he lived in 21 different addresses in five different states.

Next, authorities said, he started marrying women in those states by falsifying his own marriage documents and helping them file for permanent legal status.


Fire-damaged store preparing to reopen

A thrift store damaged in the huge fire Jan. 15 on Race Street is expected to reopen early next month.

The Salvation Army store sustained $50,000 in damage from smoke and soot. Salvation Army Capt. Stephen Story said the major cleanup work is done, but the roof needs repairs and the floor needs to be stripped.

Capt. Story said insurance should cover most of the costs. His organization is accepting donations of clothing and furniture to restock the store.

Meanwhile, it will be much longer before the reopening of two antique stores that were ruined. Developer Brett Summers, who recently purchased the properties, said construction of the roof and walls around the existing facades may not begin for another two or three years.



Ex-priest sentenced to 63 months

A former Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to 63 months in prison yesterday for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from two rural Virginia parishes.

Rodney L. Rodis pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in October in the theft of more than $600,000 in donations from St. Jude Church and Church of the Immaculate Conception in Louisa County from 2002 to 2006.

U.S. District Judge Richard Williams also ordered Rodis to repay the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond more than $591,000.

During the hearing, Rodis apologized to his victims, society and especially to the church.

“I hope that one day I’ll be able to rectify my mistakes,” he said.

He also turned and directly apologized to parishioners sitting in the courtroom.

Authorities said Rodis set up bank accounts and a post-office box, where he directed parishioners to send contributions. He then transferred the money to his personal account, using it to support his family — a wife and three children, whom he concealed from parishioners. He also wired money overseas to relatives who used it to buy real estate.

The diocese said Rodis was pastor at the central Virginia churches from 1993 until May 2006, when he retired because of health problems. After he stepped down, Rodis was questioned about the missing money.

The diocese said it didn’t know that Rodis was married when he came to Virginia, and said it has cut off his retirement and health insurance benefits.


Road worker killed; DUI charges filed

Two Roanoke County residents are accused of driving drunk in a chain-reaction crash that killed a paving company employee in a road construction work zone.

Richard Slone, 46, was killed in the crash early Wednesday as he worked with S.R. Draper Paving Co. in the Cave Spring area.

Roanoke County police said 42-year-old Tracie Nininger, 42, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence and was being held without bail. Jeffrey Dupree, 32, was charged with DUI and was released on bail.

Police said Mr. Dupree was driving behind Miss Nininger when her Hummer H3 struck a backhoe on the side of the road, and then Mr. Dupree’s sport utility vehicle struck the rear of her vehicle.

Mr. Slone was struck by a plow attached to the backhoe.


Doctor, wife charged with Medicaid fraud

A suburban Richmond doctor and his wife, a nurse, are accused of $14 million in Medicaid fraud, federal prosecutors said.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richmond, Dr. Ilya Zavelsky, 46, and his wife Rina, 40, provided respite care and other services to Russian-speaking communities in Richmond, Tidewater, Northern Virginia and Harrisonburg.

They were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering since 2002. The two Russian immigrants did business as Renaissance Inc.

Prosecutors say the Zavelskys used several fraudulent means, including billing for services at a higher-than-allowed rate, billing for services not provided and falsifying employment records.


Metro names new police chief

Metro Transit Police yesterday announced a veteran of the force as its new police chief.

Michael Taborn will begin his job March 10. He spent the past five years at the Federal Transit Administration, where he is the director of the Office of Transit Safety and Security. He previously spent 28 years with Metro Transit Police.

The Prince George’s County resident will become Metro’s fifth police chief. He replaces Polly Hanson, who was promoted last year to Metro’s assistant general manager of safety and security.

Mr. Taborn joins Metro at a time when robberies have increased nearly 18 percent. Last year, Metro riders reported 414 robberies, up from 352 in 2006.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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