- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009


Smithsonian gets 'Home Videos' items

The creator of “America's Funniest Home Videos” is donating objects from the 20-year-old TV show to the National Museum of American History.

Vin Di Bona, the show's executive producer, and host Tom Bergeron were to visit the museum Wednesday to hand over the camcorder used to shoot the first winning video in 1989. They also are donating an annotated script, an audience voting machine, a presentation reel promoting the pilot episode and the first ad in People magazine calling for entries.

“America's Funniest Home Videos” was a forerunner to the reality TV phenomenon and proved wildly popular. It has broadcast more than 400 episodes featuring homemade comedic video clips.

Each week, viewers vote on three videos selected by producers to determine which one will win a cash prize.

Norton to defend gay marriage action

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's representative in Congress, said Wednesday she will work to protect city legislation that would recognize same-sex marriages from other states once the measure makes it to Capitol Hill.

Members of the D.C. Council on Tuesday voted 12-0 in favor of a legislative amendment that would allow same-sex couples in the city to marry in states such as Iowa and Vermont and then return to the District and have that marriage recognized.

City lawmakers hailed the move - which faces a final council vote next month and must be signed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat - as a step toward legalizing gay marriage in the nation's capital. But council members and activists are wary of Congress' reception of legislation involving same-sex marriage in the District, because federal lawmakers have authority over city laws.

Mrs. Norton, a Democrat, called the council's Tuesday action “as old and traditional as the Union itself” and said she would work to avoid interference from federal lawmakers.

“Gay couples, no less than others, must be entitled to the protection of their marriages sanctioned in other states, especially in today's mobile society,” Mrs. Norton said. “I will make every effort to protect the District's self-governing authority to make this and other decisions for its residents.”

Tax preparers charged in fraud

Two South Carolina sisters face charges they filed false tax returns that led to more than $720,000 in refunds from the District, federal officials said.

Carolyne Richardson Jones, 50, and Johanna Richardson Jones, 47, both of Elgin, S.C., face identity theft, wire fraud, mail fraud and false statement charges, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor said Wednesday. They appeared before a federal judge in South Carolina on April 2 and were ordered to appear in Washington.

Prosecutors said 173 fraudulent tax returns were filed and it appeared those listed on the returns were not aware that their identities had been used.

The scheme was uncovered when a woman reported receiving notice of a refund when she had never worked in the District, prosecutors said.



Fort Detrick site added to EPA list

The Environmental Protection Agency has added a dump site at Fort Detrick in Frederick to its Superfund list of the nation's most polluted places.

The addition of the site known as Area B to the National Priorities List enables the federal agency to use its authority to remedy what it deems to be a significant threat to public health.

The Army objected in November to the proposed listing of the site, where workers dumped chemical and biological waste in unlined trenches from the 1940s through the 1960s.

In 1991, test wells detected industrial solvents in the groundwater beneath Area B.

In 2004, the Army finished removing about 3,500 tons of material from four dump sites there, but lacked funding to clean up the groundwater.


Panel scolds judge for river dumping

A judge has been privately reprimanded by a state commission for illegally dumping tons of landfill debris into the Patapsco River near his Anne Arundel County house.

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities disciplined Baltimore District Judge Askew Gatewood for violating three canons of judicial conduct.

The violations were issued when he pleaded not guilty to criminal charges for dumping landfill debris on the shoreline behind his Riviera Beach home, according to the commission's April 1 report.

The judge and real estate developer was found guilty of unlawfully filling in wetlands without a license. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

The materials dumped included tons of steel bars, concrete blocks and bathroom fixtures.



Police see rise in property crime

Violent crime decreased nearly 9 percent last year, but property crimes jumped nearly 11 percent, Fairfax County police said.

Homicides increased from 13 in 2007 to 22 last year, according to police data released Tuesday. The number of rapes stayed the same at 95, while robberies dropped almost 25 percent, helping to reduce overall violent crime statistics.

Larcenies fueled the rise in property crime, climbing from 14,244 in 2007 to 16,244 last year. Larcenies, which include thefts from cars, are a growing problem, officials said.

Among other crimes, there were 47 more aggravated assaults last year than in 2007, and 29 more burglaries were reported. Auto thefts went down by almost 12 percent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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