- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Passport snooper pleads guilty

A State Department contractor pleaded guilty Monday to illegally looking at the passport information of nearly 200 celebrities, athletes, actors and politicians over three years.

Lawrence C. Yontz, of Arlington, had been charged with unauthorized computer access, a misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola.

Mr. Yontz said he viewed the records from February 2005 to March 2008 out of “idle curiosity” rather than on officials business as required by law. He faces as much as a year in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Several contract workers have been fired since it came to light that the passport records of presidential candidates had been breached.



Ehrlich to go solo after Duncan flap

Hagerstown Chamber of Commerce officials say former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, will appear alone at an October dinner at which he was originally supposed to discuss politics with former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Chamber President Brien J. Poffenberger says the chamber couldn’t secure another Democrat of Mr. Duncan’s stature, so Mr. Ehrlich will appear on his own at the Oct. 14 dinner.

Mr. Duncan told The Washington Times that he was threatened with the loss of his University of Maryland job if he attended the event with Mr. Ehrlich, but later backed off his statement.

Mr. Duncan ran against Gov. Martin O’Malley in the 2006 Democratic primary before dropping out of the race, which Mr. Ehrlich later lost to Mr. O’Malley.

The university issued a statement after Mr. Duncan’s original comments, saying Mr. Duncan misunderstood a conversation with university system lobbyist P.J. Hogan.


Killing linked to home invasions

Montgomery County police have linked the killing of a Bethesda woman with two home invasions, and a reward is being offered for information in the woman’s death.

Detectives linked the Sept. 4 death of Mary Havenstein, 63, with two of a series of home invasion robberies that occurred in Montgomery County since last September, Police Chief Thomas Manger said.

Another home invasion occurred in the District in January. Police continue to investigate all the robberies as if they are related.

Mrs. Havenstein’s body was found bound inside her home.

The Victims’ Rights Foundation has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest or indictment of the person responsible for Mrs. Havenstein’s death.


Funeral Thursday for ex-councilman

Funeral services are scheduled Thursday for a former City Council member killed during the robbery of a jazz club.

Kenneth N. Harris Sr., 45, died early Saturday after being shot at the New Haven Lounge.

A public viewing is scheduled Wednesday for Mr. Harris, a Democrat who represented the 4th District from 1999 until last year, when he lost in a three-way primary for the council president’s seat.

Mr. Harris is survived by his wife and two children.


Toddler, burned in campfire mishap

A 2-year-old girl from North East was burned last weekend when she fell into a campfire pit in Cecil County, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The incident occurred Saturday afternoon at a private campsite at the Elkview Shores Campground in Earlville.

Officials said the girl fell into the fire pit while playing, but her mother quickly removed her and drove her to a nearby paramedic station.

Fire officials say the girl suffered first- and second-degree burns to 15 percent of her body and was flown to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore for treatment. They say her injuries are not thought to be life threatening.


Resort to display biggest marlin

Ocean City officials on Monday displayed the largest white marlin caught in Maryland.

The fish will be on permanent display on the town’s boardwalk. The 135-pound fish was caught in August 1980. A Pennsylvania couple donated a trophy case to display the fish near the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum.

Charles Kratz was the boat’s captain the day George Pierson caught the fish. A typical white marlin weighs 45 to 50 pounds.


Football incident being reviewed

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is investigating allegations that football players at a Cumberland high school taunted players from a visiting D.C. team with racial slurs during a game.

The District’s Dunbar High School played Fort Hill High in Cumberland on Friday night.

Dunbar coach Craig Jefferies pulled his team off the field in the third quarter with his team leading 14-8. Mr. Jefferies says he was afraid the situation would escalate into violence.

Fort Hill coach Todd Appel said his players told him they did not direct any racist terms toward the Dunbar players.

The game’s referee said nobody on the officiating crew reported an epithet.

The group hopes to complete an investigation this week, then determine whether the game will be ruled a Dunbar forfeit or a “no contest.”



Research vessel spills fuel

An Environmental Protection Agency research vessel spilled about 1,400 gallons of diesel fuel Monday into the Elizabeth River, near downtown Norfolk.

The Coast Guard is attempting to clean up the spill and has identified the vessel as the 90-foot Lake Explorer.

The spill was reported by the vessel’s captain and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Operation Base, where the Lake Explorer is moored. NOAA is the ship’s previous owner.

Two Coast Guard ships, a helicopter crew and local emergency officials responded. The oily sheen could be seen two miles downriver. The cause of the spill is being investigated.


Rural Virginia focus of 2-day summit

Gov. Tim Kaine and Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell are among the speakers at a two-day session on rural Virginia.

The 2008 Rural Summit began Monday, It is sponsored by advocates of preserving and supporting the state’s rural places. The summit will bring together policymakers, government officials and private sector leaders.

The gathering will discuss health care concerns in rural Virginia, infrastructure challenges and land use issues.


Seventh suspect admits ID fraud

A clerk at an Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles office is the seventh person to plead guilty to conspiring to obtain bogus identification cards for illegal immigrants in Virginia and elsewhere.

Michelle Eckerman, 27, of Canal Winchester, Ohio, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to one count of conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley said.

She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing Jan. 12.

Eight people were indicted last spring in a conspiracy apparently intended to help illegal immigrants obtain employment and avoid deportation.

The indictment said three defendants from Virginia sold Puerto Rican birth certificates and matching Social Security cards to illegal aliens, then arranged their travel to Columbus, Ohio, to obtain fake state IDs.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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