- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2008



Man faces charges for backpack bomb

The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office has charged a man who was found with a small bomb in July on the University of Maryland, Baltimore, campus.

Dallas Smith, 22, was charged Friday in a criminal information with second-degree assault, resisting arrest and possession of a destructive device.

On July 22, a university officer stopped Mr. Smith in the 800 block of West Baltimore Street, police said. Mr. Smith was acting as if he was trying to hide a weapon before the officer began to search him. Then Mr. Smith began to fight the officer, according to police, and the bomb fell from his backpack.

Mr. Smith will be arraigned Oct. 16.


School chief targets 900 dropouts

The city’s high school principals have been ordered to track down more than 900 students who have dropped out since January and try to get them back in class.

Little is done to help students once they’ve left school, said Baltimore schools chief Andres Alonso. He said it’s not acceptable that students, who are legally allowed to drop out of school when they turn 16, are allowed to leave without a fight.

Next week, staff at city high schools will be ordered to make at least one phone call to each of their 2008 dropouts. By the end of the month, they must have personally visited the students’ homes.

In a letter to principals, Mr. Alonso wrote that dropping out of school should be the hardest decision students can make, “not the easiest.”


Man pleads guilty to identity theft

A Baltimore man has pleaded guilty in an identity theft scheme that stretches back to the early 1980s and cashed more than $400,000 in stolen checks in the last year, federal prosecutors said.

Maurice Racks, 53, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud.

Racks’ plea states that he and associates stole mail, including identity information, checks and credit cards, from outdoor mailboxes. They made fake identification cards and wore costumes to avoid detection.

The plea states that they would cut telephone lines at homes where they had stolen mail to prevent verification calls.

At sentencing in December, Racks faces up to 20 years in prison for conspiracy, a mandatory minimum of two years for aggravated identity theft and five years for Social Security fraud.


Firefighters save 3 from house fire

Firefighters responding to a Friday afternoon blaze at a town house in Temple Hills rescued a 5-month-old boy by passing him through a second-story window.

The boy’s great-grandmother, who is about 80, was with him in a bedroom when the fire started in the kitchen, said Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady. She called 911 and reported they were trapped and that her husband was downstairs.

After handing the baby out the window, firefighters gave the woman oxygen on the scene and then walked her down the stairs after the smoke had cleared.

All three occupants were taken to a hospital with smoke inhalation and are in good condition, Mr. Brady said. The baby’s mother was in class at the Prince George’s police academy when the fire occurred.



Aide suspended for phony e-mail

The chief spokeswoman for Republican Senate candidate James S. Gilmore Jr. has been suspended without pay for two weeks for posing as someone else in an e-mail to Democrat Mark Warner’s campaign.

The Gilmore campaign announced the suspension of Ana Gamonal on Friday.

Miss Gamonal admitted that without the campaign’s consent, she sent a message from her home e-mail account using a name other than her own asking the Warner campaign to add her to its press list. She apologized for what she called a lack of judgment. Mr. Warner accepted the apology.

The Gilmore campaign said the candidate believes citizens are entitled to “full transparency” and won’t tolerate activity by his staffers that is contrary to that belief.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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