- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Nephew indicted in tax-office scam

Federal officials yesterday indicted the nephew of a D.C. tax office worker in connection with a scandal that has cost the District tens of millions of dollars.

Ricardo Walters previously was charged in the tax office scandal through a criminal complaint. His aunt, Harriette Walters, is accused of approving at least $20 million in phony property-tax refunds through her job as a manager in the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. The checks were deposited into sham accounts controlled by her friends and family.

Mr. Walters, of Fort Washington, was arrested Nov. 9. He was indicted yesterday on charges of receiving stolen property and aiding and abetting. Officials said he received a check tied to the scam worth $375,815 in or about September 2006.

A court date has not been set. Mr. Walters faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Emergency plans available on Web

D.C. officials want to help residents better prepare for an emergency.

A campaign that began yesterday includes a redesigned Web site, 72hours.dc.gov, that enables residents to create a customized plan to prepare for storms, fires, terrorist attacks and other disasters.

The Web site also includes interactive features aimed at making it easier for users to access information. The site urges residents to take four steps: Get informed, make a plan, make an emergency kit, and be aware.

Several types of new emergency-preparedness guides also have been published, including ward-specific evacuation guides and guides for families and children.



Teacher admits mailing materials

A former teacher at Glenelg High School pleaded guilty yesterday to displaying obscene materials to a minor.

Joseph Ellis, 25, taught history and government at Glenelg before he was fired after being charged with having inappropriate sexual contact with students. His trial on those charges is planned for this week.

He is charged with sex abuse of a minor, indecent exposure, telephone misuse and two counts of fourth-degree sex offense. After he is tried on those charges, he will be sentenced for the guilty plea.

Prosecutors said he pleaded guilty yesterday to e-mailing sexually explicit photos to a 17-year-old female student. He was arrested almost a year ago after students accused him of criminal behavior.


Three arrested in robbery at bank

Three robbery suspects were taken into custody yesterday after a police chase.

Prince George’s County police said a man was making a deposit about 11:30 a.m. at a bank when three persons in a Ford Explorer pulled up next to him and took the money.

Police chased the red sport utility vehicle for a short time before the three persons inside bailed. The suspects were apprehended a short time later, and all the money was recovered.

Authorities said one officer responding to the incident was involved in a collision with another vehicle. Both the officer and the civilian were hospitalized with minor injuries.


Day care van crashes, causes minor injuries

Maryland State Police said the driver of a van carrying nine children is to blame for a three-vehicle crash that caused minor injuries to the children and at least one adult.

Police said Debra Hall of Walkersville was driving a van full of children to a day care center in the Frederick area shortly before 9 a.m. yesterday when she hit the back of a minivan on Route 194. That vehicle in turn rear-ended another minivan.

Troopers charged Miss Hall with failing to control her speed to avoid a collision, and with failing to have one of the children in her van restrained by a seat belt.


Inmate jumps fence after fleeing van

Baltimore police were searching for an inmate who jumped a fence yesterday afternoon at a state facility in East Baltimore.

Police spokesman Detective Donny Moses said the 25-year-old man escaped from a transport van before climbing over the fence. He was near the Metropolitan Transit Center on Forrest Street near Greenmount Avenue.


Air show set for beachfront

Ocean City will host its first air show in June.

The two-day OC Air Show will open June 10 and will feature military aircraft demonstrations, low-altitude flyovers and civilian aerobatic performances over the Ocean City beachfront from noon to 3 p.m. each day.

People will have the opportunity to see aircraft up close during an open house at the Ocean City Municipal Airport on June 9. Interactive displays and exhibits will be open to the public around Show Center at 16th Street on the Boardwalk.

The event is sponsored by the Town of Ocean City and B. Lilley Inc., a large public-event production and management company.



ODU president leaving for Canada

Old Dominion University President Roseann Runte said yesterday she is leaving to take the same job at Carleton University in Ottawa.

In an e-mail announcement to faculty and staff, Miss Runte said her job will start at the Canadian university July 1.

She said she plans to work with ODU’s rector and board of visitors to “ensure an efficient selection process for a successor and an appropriate transition.” A search is expected to begin immediately.

Before coming to ODU in 2001, Miss Runte served as president of Victoria University in Toronto.

Ross Mugler, a member of the board of visitors since 2002, praised Miss Runte as “a tireless, dedicated advocate for the university” and gave her credit for much of what the school has accomplished in the past seven years.


Former city official gets 27 months

Former Gate City public works director Randall Hurt was sentenced yesterday to 27 months in prison on a money-laundering conviction.

U.S. District Judge James Jones also ordered Hurt, 47, to pay nearly $140,000 in restitution.

According to evidence presented in U.S. District Court, Hurt started using his position as public works director to purchase large amounts of copper pipe with town funds. Without town authorization, he then took the pipe to recycling companies and sold it and pocketed the profits.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Hurt misappropriated $139,962.89 in town funds from July 12, 2005, to Jan. 30, 2007.


Water restrictions lifted after 3 months

Richmond-area governments lifted mandatory water restrictions that limited when residents could water their lawns and wash their vehicles.

The region ended the restrictions yesterday because the water level in the James River has risen to three times the minimum flow required under a regional management plan for the river.

The restrictions, in place for three months, ended immediately in Richmond and the counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and Goochland. But utility directors in those localities urge people to continue conserving water by repairing leaks in faucets and toilets, making sure washing machines and dishwashers are fully loaded, and installing water-saving devices.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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