- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Court blocks fines in anthrax probe

A federal appeals court yesterday blocked fines up to $5,000 that a former USA Today reporter was ordered to pay each day she refuses to reveal her confidential sources for stories about the criminal investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The appeals court granted the request of Toni Locy, who was ordered by a federal judge to pay the fines out of her own pocket while she appeals an order finding her in contempt of court.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton demands Miss Locy provide the names of all dozen or so Justice Department and FBI sources who provided her information for stories on the probe into the anthrax attacks.

The order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia means Miss Locy will not have to pay the fines while her attorneys fight the contempt ruling.

Miss Locy says she cannot recall which of her FBI and Justice Department sources provided her information for two stories about Army scientist Steven J. Hatfill. Mr. Hatfill has been under scrutiny in the probe and is suing the government for dragging his name into the investigation.

Starting at midnight last night, Miss Locy was to have paid out of her own funds $500 a day for seven days, $1,000 a day for seven days and $5,000 a day thereafter until she was to have appeared in court April 3. At that time, the judge could have ordered further fines or directed that she be sent to jail if she continued to defy him.



Confederate flag banned at school

A high-school principal banned Confederate flags from vehicles and clothing on school grounds after an outbreak of racial hostility led to suspensions of at least two students.

Stephen Lewis, principal of Fort Hill High School, said yesterday that he issued the edict because some white students had used the rebel flag to intimidate and harass black students.

“Symbolism started to be used for racism, and we just put a stop to it,” Mr. Lewis said.

He said he has heard no complaints since he issued the ban Friday.

Black students constitute no more than 10 percent of the school’s approximately 1,000 students.

Mr. Lewis said racial tension surfaced in the past 10 days for unknown reasons.

The Cumberland Times-News reported that some black students and their parents who attended a meeting Monday with school officials at a predominantly black church said racial slurs appeared last week on MySpace in postings about whether the Confederate flag should be displayed at Fort Hill. Sophomore Shawnta Harris brought MySpace printouts to the meeting, including a March 7 posting stating, “the south will rise again.”

Black sophomore Crystalee Campbell said a student used the phrase “white sheets” — an apparent reference to the Ku Klux Klan — after she was accused of cutting into the lunch line. Crystalee said she responded with profanity and got two days of in-school suspension. The perpetrator was suspended for three days, she said.

Two other students were suspended for using racial slurs, prompting others to wear Confederate flags in protest, Crystalee said.

Mr. Lewis said only that “a couple” students were suspended for racial slurs. He refused to provide details, citing confidentiality rules.


Man charged in firebombing

The state Fire Marshal’s Office charged a Newburg man in the firebombing Monday night of a mobile home.

Robert Perry was arrested yesterday morning without incident. He is charged with arson, and authorities said other charges are pending.

More than 30 firefighters from five departments fought the blaze.

Authorities said Mr. Perry and the home’s owner had gotten into an argument during a phone call.


Ex-deputy sentenced for child molesting

A former Wicomico County sheriff’s deputy was ordered to serve 13 years in prison for his guilty plea in a child molestation case.

The prison time is part of a 35-year suspended sentence handed out yesterday to former Deputy 1st Class Charles McMichael, 35, who pleaded guilty to child-abuse molestation exploitation and a third-degree sex offense, both felonies.

McMichael apologized to the families of the two 10-year-old girls. He also apologized to law-enforcement officers.


Warning extended on Potomac River

Maryland Natural Resources Police extended its warning of hazardous river levels on the upper Potomac River from Cumberland to Little Falls until Friday.

The warning means people shouldn’t use the river or nearby creeks and streams for entertainment or recreation. Police said the threat of hypothermia and treacherous currents create life-threatening conditions for non-whitewater vessels, tubers, swimmers and wading fisherman.

The first warning after heavy weekend rains and snow was to end yesterday

The warning does not apply to professionally guided river trips or teams of experienced whitewater paddlers.


Man, 72, sentenced for sex with girl, 15

A 72-year-old man who threatened to post pornographic pictures of a 15-year-old girl on the Internet if she did not continue to have sex with him was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in prison, Frederick County prosecutors said.

Manuel Forastieri of Odenton pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree sex offense and manufacturing child pornography. He faced 62 charges for having sexual relations with a teenage girl from Mount Airy and taking inappropriate pictures of her.

Forastieri was sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to serve at least 15 years.

When he is released, Forastieri must register as a sex offender. He also is barred from having contact with the victim and her family, and anyone younger than 18.


235-pound crab cake a Guinness record

Authorities with Guinness World Records officially certified a world-record crab cake made with the help of Salisbury-based food processor Handy International Inc.

The giant crab cake was cooked in a 3-foot rotisserie-style pan in October 2006 during the 2006 Diamond State BBQ Championship in Dover, Del. When finished, it weighed in at 235 pounds.

Handy’s regional sales manager, Jim Cupp, teamed with Dover Downs Hotel chef Fred Bohn for the record-breaking attempt. The crab cake took nine hours to cook and later was divided into 600 sandwiches.



DNA leads to arrest in 1993 sex assault

DNA evidence led to the arrest of a suspect in the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl almost 15 years ago, Arlington County police said.

Benjamin Ramirez-Segovia, 43, of Petersburg, was arrested March 2.

Police said the girl was walking home from school in November 1993 when she was attacked on Glebe Road by a man underneath a bridge adjacent to Four Mile Run.

No suspects were identified during the initial investigation. In January, police resubmitted evidence to the Northern Virginia Forensic Laboratory. Investigators learned late last month that the evidence matched an entry in the national DNA database.

Ramirez-Segovia is charged with abduction with intent to defile. He is being held without bond at the Arlington jail.


County to euthanize 200-plus feral cats

More than 200 wild cats at a trailer park will be euthanized in coming days.

The management company told residents of Meadows of Chantilly that they would start trapping and removing the animals.

Some residents have worked with a feral-cat advocacy group since 2002 to trap the cats so they can be vaccinated, neutered or spayed.

But other residents complained the cats are destroying gardens, killing birds and littering the community with feces.


‘John Adams’ filming netted $80 million

The filming of a new HBO mini-series in Virginia generated $80 million for the state economy, Gov. Tim Kaine said yesterday.

Mr. Kaine said the scenes of “John Adams” shot in Williamsburg and the Richmond area also showcased Virginia as a film location site and a tourism destination.

According to the Virginia Film Office, more than 3,400 Virginians served as crew members and extras for the HBO show that premieres Sunday.

The production marked the first time the foundation that runs Colonial Williamsburg allowed a production to shoot in the interiors of the historic structures.

Mr. Kaine attended the mini-series’ Virginia premiere Sunday in Richmond, along with producer Tom Hanks, author David McCullough and Paul Giamatti, who stars as John Adams.


Wife gets life term in trooper’s slaying

The jury that convicted a Caroline County woman of killing her state-trooper husband recommended life in prison as her punishment.

Jurors returned the sentence yesterday in the trial of Donna Blanton, who was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in the 2003 slaying of her husband, 1st Sgt. Taylor Blanton, in their Caroline County home. She also was found guilty of using a firearm in commission of a felony.

Blanton, 42, was convicted in 2005 in Caroline County, but won an appeal on the grounds that the prosecutor was biased in the jury selection process.

The retrial was moved out of Bowling Green because of extensive news coverage of the case and the trial.


Interstate crackdown nets 8,800 drivers

Virginia State Police say their latest crackdown on Interstates 81 and 95 was their best so far, with more than 8,800 summonses and arrests.

The total is more than the previous two-day Operation Air, Land & Speed campaigns on those two corridors, and included 16 arrests for driving under the influence and 91 felony arrests during the crackdown Sunday and Monday.

It was the 11th Operation Air, Land & Speed conducted on Virginia interstates in the past two years and brings total summonses and arrests to just more than 60,000.

State police will conduct another operation in May on interstates in Northern Virginia

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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