- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Outage cuts power to RFK, Southeast

Pepco officials said a problem with underground wires is what caused the power outage Tuesday to a section of Southeast.

A company spokesman said only about five customers were affected, but one was a D.C. housing project that includes at least 270 residents. The problem started in the early morning hours. The spokesman also said crews were working underground to replace old cables and the problems were expected to be fixed overnight.

The power outage also affected RFK Stadium where the D.C. United soccer team was scheduled to play the Houston Dynamo. The game was rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.



Dad, infant killed in I-83 crash

A 2-month-old and his father were killed Tuesday morning in a crash that closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 83 in Hunt Valley for more than four hours.

Five other people were critically injured, according to state police.

The accident occurred about 3 a.m. near the Shawan Road exit.

Police said a car driven by Erika Braun, 19, of Harrisburg, Pa., struck a guardrail and became disabled on the highway. Miss Braun’s passenger, Ronnel Offer, 25, of Galesville, Md., was removing the couple’s infant son, Tyler Offer, from the car when the car and the occupants were struck by a second vehicle. Mr. Offer died at the scene, and the baby died at Sinai Hospital.

The second driver was among the injured and was identified as Joe Nimely, 42, of York, Pa.


Man with bomb fights officer

A bomb fell out of a man’s backpack Tuesday as he fought with a University of Maryland, Baltimore officer, according to city police.

The university police officer stopped the man in the 800 block of West Baltimore Street about 7:30 a.m., a city police spokesman said.

The man was described as acting like he was trying to hide a weapon before the officer began to search him. Police said the man then began to fight the officer and a small bomb fell out of his backpack.

The spokesman said the bomb would not have done serious damage, but he did not provide further details. He said the university will file assault charges and the city will charge the man with possessing a bomb. Police had not released the man’s identity.


Dolphin gives birth to stillborn calf

One of two pregnant dolphins at the National Aquarium in Baltimore has given birth to a stillborn calf, officials said.

Aquarium officials said Shiloh, a 29-year-old dolphin, gave birth to the dead calf July 14. They said she had not shown signs of an unsuccessful pregnancy.

The stillborn was the third calf death in eight dolphin births at the aquarium. One-third of all dolphin calves die before their first birthday, but Shiloh had previously given birth to three calves, who all lived past their first year.

The other pregnant dolphin, 16-year-old Chesapeake, is expected to give birth later this month or in August.


Sentence doubled in sexual abuse

Three Frederick County judges Tuesday doubled a man’s sentence for sexually abusing two young girls after he asked the judges to reduce his sentence.

Donald Fox, 62, asked Judges Edward Dwyer, Julie Solt and Theresa Adams to reduce his 40-year sentence.

Whenever judges review a sentence, they have the option of reducing the sentence, leaving it the same or increasing it. Within 20 minutes, the three judges came back and decided to double the sentence to 80 years.

The judges ruled the sentence should be increased and said there was no reason to go below the state sentencing guideline of at least 60 years. Fox received the first sentence five months ago from another Frederick County circuit judge.


Sunfish carcass washes ashore

A 400-pound sunfish that washed ashore Monday appears to have been fatally struck by a boat propeller, Ocean City Beach Patrol Captain Butch Arbin said Tuesday.

Capt. Arbin said he seldom sees a sunfish in the area so the carcass was an unusual discovery. He also said the dead fish, which washed ashore Monday at 26th Street, was found with four parallel slices to the body and part of its head missing.

With help from two of his lifeguards, Capt. Arbin dragged the carcass off the sand. He said putting it back in the water was not an option, because it could pose a hazard to swimmers and boaters. The town’s Department of Public Works would dispose of the remains, he said.


O’Malley receives A- on environment

A Maryland conservation watchdog group Tuesday gave Gov. Martin O’Malley a grade of A- for his environmental record.

The group, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said the grade is the highest it has given a governor since issuing report cards in 1997.

However, the group does not agree with Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, on every issue, a spokeswoman said.

The overall grade on the Gubernatorial Mid-Term Report Card reflects scores in eight categories — air and water quality, climate change, energy, smart growth, transportation, fisheries and wildlife and administration and appointments.


Leggett signs domestic jobs bill

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett signed a bill Tuesday requiring employers to offer and sign a written contract detailing working conditions for domestic workers.

The new regulation will go into effect in six months. County officials think it’s the first of its kind in the country.

The employment contract targets housekeepers, nannies and cooks who work at least 20 hours a week over 30 days or more in their employer’s home. It aims to ensure that domestic workers receive fair wages, overtime and other protections.

The County Council unanimously supported the legislation.



Death penalty sought in sailor’s slaying

Federal prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for a West Virginia man if he is found guilty of carrying out a murder-for-hire plot against a Navy officer.

David Runyon, 37, of Morgantown, W.Va., is charged with fatally shooting Ensign Cory Voss, 30, near an automated-teller machine in April 2007. Prosecutors said he killed Ensign Voss at the request of the sailor’s wife for a $20,000 fee.

Catherina Voss, 32, pleaded guilty last week to five counts, including conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Under a pending agreement with prosecutors, she would be spared the death penalty and sent to prison for life.

She was accused of conspiring with Michael Draven, 27, to have her husband killed, partly to get a $400,000 life insurance policy the victim held through the Navy. Trials for Mr. Draven and Mr. Runyon are scheduled for March in U.S. District Court.


Hearings set for rail plan

The state Department of Rail and Public Transportation is holding public hearings across Virginia to gather input on a proposed statewide rail plan.

The draft plan’s proposals include linking Roanoke to a statewide passenger rail network through Lynchburg, where trains already pick up and let off passengers. Bristol would be added in a future phase.

According to the draft plan, the proposed TransDominion Express would reduce highway congestion along the U.S. 29, Interstate 81 and U.S. 460 corridors.

A hearing was held last week in Richmond. Two hearings are scheduled this week - in Salem and Weyers Cave. Other hearings are planned next week in Fairfax and Chesapeake.


Audit shows surfing at city printer shop

An audit of Richmond’s print shop’s computers has found that four of its employees have logged hundreds of thousands of hits to Internet addresses that are unrelated to work, including inappropriate Web sites.

The city’s Office of the Inspector General found that one worker’s computer logged more than 349,000 visits over a 73-day period, including more than 600 attempts to get on sites called “Pornotube” and “Webdate.”

A floor supervisor logged more than 233,000 visits over 86 days, while another worker logged more than 74,000 hits over 87 days. The business manager had more than 84,000 hits over a 74-day period, including 2,660 visits to presidential campaign sites.


Officials expand wood quarantine

State officials Tuesday expanded a quarantine in Northern Virginia to prevent the spread of a tree-killing beetle.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services added Arlington, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties to the quarantine, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

Earlier this month, a quarantine was issued in Fairfax County after the emerald ash borer was found at two sites there. The metallic green beetle feeds on the layer of wood just beneath the bark of the ash tree, cutting off water and nutrients.

The order prohibits the movement of ash trees, untreated ash lumber products and hardwood firewood outside of the quarantined area.

Since its discovery in 2002, the beetle has spread to Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, among other states.


Four indicted on election fraud

Four people have been indicted on felony charges of voter fraud stemming from a town council election in the Southwest Virginia town of St. Paul.

The indictments returned by a Wise County grand jury Monday accuse the four of falsely claiming residence at a St. Paul apartment to influence the election.

The panel indicted Bill Joe Steffey Sr. on one count each of election fraud and conspiracy. Donna Lee Greear and Roger Melvin Tackett face one count of conspiracy, and one count of election fraud was returned against Amanda Leann Honaker.

The former mayor of another Wise County town, Appalachia, is serving a two-year sentence for masterminding a vote-rigging scheme in 2004. Charges also were brought against 13 others in the conspiracy.


County considers jail for landlords

Fairfax County supervisors are considering criminalizing some zoning violations, meaning landlords who operate illegal boarding houses could go to jail.

The proposal would turn what would normally be a civil penalty into a criminal one, if the civil fines for the violation are worth at least $5,000. Supervisor Jeff McKay said it would be up to the judge hearing the case to decide whether the offense deserves jail time.

The Virginia General Assembly granted local governments the authority to impose the tougher penalties this year.

The county began a crackdown on overcrowded houses in June 2007.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled in September.


Va. soldier dies at Fort Bragg

The Army is investigating the death of a paratrooper from Virginia who died over the weekend at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The 82nd Airborne Division said Pfc. Luke J. Brown, 27, of Fredericksburg, died early Sunday. No details were given in the news release.

Pfc. Brown was an intelligence analyst assigned to the Headquarters Company. He had been a member of the 82nd since January and had joined the Army a year earlier.

The division said he had not deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. He is survived by his parents, Bradley and Lucy Brown.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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