- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008


Man pleads guilty in D.C. tax scam

A former hair-salon owner pleaded guilty in federal court to collecting more than $1.5 million in his role in a scam that cost the D.C. government as much as $50 million over two decades.

Samuel Pope pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering and mail fraud.

Harriette Walters, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue official at the center of the scandal, let Pope in on the scheme about 20 years ago, prosecutors say. He allowed his business bank account to be used for check deposits, according to prosecutors.

Pope was ordered held without bail and faces 51 to 63 months in prison at sentencing. Under the plea deal, he must also pay restitution of more than $1.5 million to the city.

Disability fraud ends in prison

A Bowie man was sentenced Thursday to 10 months in federal prison for collecting disability payments while racing cars and working as a security guard.

Joseph Mustafa, 41, had worked as temporary cable installer for the U.S. Senate for about a month when he fell and injured his knee in March 1989. Over nearly 17 years, he collected a total of $220,608.

Mustafa found work in 2004 as a security guard and subsequently started his own security company, prosecutors said. At the same time, authorities said, Mustafa raced cars and won prizes at tracks throughout the mid-Atlantic.

Mustafa pleaded guilty in April in U.S. District Court in Washington to one count of federal employee compensation benefits fraud. As part of a plea agreement, Mustafa was fined $32,311, which is the amount of disability payments he received after he started working in 2004.

“Government benefits such as the disability program administered by the Department of Labor are funded by taxpayers who rightfully demand accountability and honesty on the part of the programs´ participants,” U.S. Attorney for the District Jeffrey A. Taylor said. “This is a concept that, time and time again, the defendant failed to appreciate.”



Fake Viagra sales net prison term

A federal judge sentenced a Jordanian national Thursday to four years in prison for selling some of the more than 38,000 fake Viagra pills he received from Egypt, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Iyad Dogmosh, 27, was charged with trafficking more than $400,000 of the fake medication.

Dogmosh pleaded guilty in August to selling about 2,000 pills. According to the plea agreement, he sold the pills in October 2006, and lab testing by the Food and Drug Administration showed the pills looked legitimate but didn’t have any of the active ingredient in Viagra.

In July last year, police raided a storage facility in Glen Burnie where Dogmosh kept more than 36,000 of the pills in a suitcase.


Gunman unknown in man’s shooting

Police in Frederick are investigating the shooting of a man who says he doesn’t know who fired at him.

Police interviewed the unidentified victim at Frederick Memorial Hospital. They say he told them he was repairing his motorcycle in a parking lot on Willowdale Drive about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday when he felt pain in his shoulder.

He told police he realized there was blood and a small hole near his collarbone.

The victim told them he hadn’t had an altercation with anyone before the shooting, police said.

The man was flown in stable condition to the University of Maryland Medical System shock trauma center in Baltimore for treatment.


Home no prize for raffle winner

A Hagerstown man who won a four-bedroom house in a charity raffle is having a hard time selling it at a profit.

An auction of the restored farmhouse in Big Pool on Wednesday ended with no sale because the lone bid of $150,000 was less than Dennis Weaver owes in taxes on the prize. The house was appraised last winter at $380,000.

Mr. Weaver paid $100 for a ticket in the raffle, held to benefit the San Mar Children’s Home. He told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail he took out a mortgage to cover taxes that will total at least $170,000.

If he can’t get a better price for the property, he’ll consider moving from his Hagerstown apartment into the house, Mr. Weaver said.


Trooper injured in MVA scuffle

A state trooper was wounded in an altercation at the state’s Motor Vehicles Administration in Mondawmin Mall.

The trooper suffered minor injuries in a fight with a man who tried to enter the agency office shortly after it closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

Baltimore police arrested the man and are investigating the incident.

Officials did not release the name of the trooper but said he is based out of the Glen Burnie barracks and was on a special detail.


Inmates hurt in prison attack

Three inmates at the Brockbridge Correctional Facility in Anne Arundel County were wounded in assaults, state correction officials said.

The men’s injuries were discovered after midnight Thursday at the minimum-security facility in Jessup, which is part of the state’s pre-release system.

None of the injuries appeared life threatening, but two inmates went to Shock Trauma in Baltimore and a third was taken to a hospital in Laurel, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman said.

The man who appeared to have the most serious injury was released within four hours. No update was available on the other two.

Detectives are investigating the incident, and the corrections spokesman said the facility, which houses about 640 inmates, was locked down.



Many area bridges require repairs

More than one-fourth of southeast Virginia’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to a study by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. The study shows 338 of 1,237 bridges need repairs or don’t meet modern standards. Transportation authorities stress the ratings don’t necessarily mean the bridges are unsafe.

The report also determined 54 bridges are deficient, with 25 in Chesapeake and Southampton County. Norfolk has the most obsolete bridges, at 74.

Deficient is the worst classification and means the bridge’s structure requires regular attention and inspection. Obsolete bridges don’t meet modern standards as a result of inadequate lane widths, shoulder widths or vertical clearances.

Of about 20,000 bridges statewide, 1,746 are considered structurally deficient.


Kaine promotes work from home

More state government workers could abandon their commutes under an initiative promoted by Gov. Tim Kaine.

Four dozen employees of his Cabinet and his office already have started to telework or use alternative schedules for part of their work week.

The governor, a Democrat, on Wednesday directed all state agencies to consider ways to improve and expand those approaches to avoid rising fuel prices and ease traffic congestion.

At the Department of Taxation, nearly 600 employees telework. The government estimates that saves more than 45,000 gallons of fuel annually.

About 14,000 of the state’s roughly 95,000 employees are on some form of alternate schedule.


Period coffeehouse planned for village

Williamsburg wants to add an 18th-century coffeehouse to the Colonial village.

Plans call for a replica of a coffeehouse that served the colony from 1755 to 1769, said James Horn, vice president of research for Colonial Williamsburg. Two small rooms with a fireplace and a menu of tea, coffee or chocolate are to be included. Unlike taverns, coffeehouses catered to men and weren’t required to offer rooms for rent. The reconstruction is being paid in part with a $5 million gift from a member of the candy-making Mars family.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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