- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 22, 2009



Officer faces perjury charge

Montgomery County police said Friday that an officer is facing perjury charges.

The Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office announced the indictment of Officer Dina Hoffman, charging her with one count of perjury and one count of misconduct in office.

Officer Hoffman is accused of testifying in court in April that a driver, who was cited for drunken driving in May 2008, had been behind the wheel of the vehicle when she first encountered him. But surveillance video from a building shows the driver was in the back seat of the car when she arrived.

Police said Officer Hoffman, a three-year veteran of the Montgomery County force, is now on administrative leave. Officials asked Howard County to handle the case because two Montgomery County state prosecutors were witnesses to Officer Hoffman’s testimony.


Thousands cancel E-ZPass due to fee

Maryland Transportation Authority officials say thousands of E-ZPass users have closed their accounts as the state started charging a monthly fee for the service.

Authority statistics show 19,000 inquiries about closing accounts were received in July and 4,990 accounts were closed that month. On average, authority spokeswoman Teri Moss says, about 1,000 accounts are closed each month.

The new $1.50-per-month fee went into effect on July 1.

Ms. Moss said the number of dropped accounts is a small fraction of the nearly 560,000 accounts and has been offset somewhat by the addition of about 2,800 new accounts in July.

Ms. Moss said the state still has some 70,000 accounts that haven’t been used in the past year.


Woman pleads guilty to identity theft

A woman who worked as a patient-services coordinator for Johns Hopkins Medicine pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated identity theft for stealing patient information.

Michelle Courtney Johnson, 31, of Baltimore, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. She will be sentenced Nov. 20.

According to her plea agreement, Johnson provided information she stole from patients to co-defendant Shanell Bowser. Bowser used the stolen information to apply for credit and used that credit to withdraw cash and buy clothes and electronics.

Bowser has pleaded guilty in the scheme and will be sentenced Sept. 25.


Judge gets citation for deflating tire

A citation has been issued to a Charles County judge who has acknowledged deflating a tire of a car parked in a restricted area near the courthouse in La Plata.

La Plata Police Chief Cassin Giddings said Friday that Circuit Court Judge Robert Nalley signed and received a copy of a citation for misdemeanor tampering with an automobile.

Montgomery County Deputy State’s Attorney John Maloney has said he would handle the case because Charles County State’s Attorney Leonard Collins had a potential conflict of interest.

Judge Nalley has been suspended from sitting on criminal cases until the investigation into the incident is resolved. Judge Nalley told WUSA-TV that he let out the air because leaving notes for illegal parkers is not effective.


No bail for teens held in beating

Two teenagers are being held without bail in what police say was the racially motivated beating of an elderly black fisherman.

Baltimore prosecutors said Friday a judge ordered Zachary Watson, 17, and Emmanuel Miller, 16, held without bail. Their preliminary hearing is Sept. 18.

The teens told police they were with 28-year-old Calvin E. Lockner when he attacked 76-year-old James A. Privott early Tuesday in a city park on the Patapsco River, but they claimed not to have participated in the beating, according to charging documents. The three suspects, all of whom are white, are charged with attempted murder, assault, armed carjacking and more than a dozen other crimes.

Mr. Lockner, a white supremacist who uses “Hitler” as a nickname and has a tattoo of the Nazi leader, was arrested shortly after the beating.


Athletes suffer heat illness

A Queen Anne’s County emergency services official said 12 student football players have been released from local hospitals after treatment for heat-related symptoms.

Queen Anne’s County Emergency Services spokesman Kevin Aftung said the symptoms occurred on Thursday about 5 p.m. on a field at Kent Island High School. He said Friday morning that all 12 students had been released.

He said none of the players was seriously injured.

He said the varsity team had been practicing for 35 minutes when some players developed cramps and nausea. Mr. Aftung said EMS crews administered intravenous solutions to several players and oxygen to several others.


EPA tweets about bay’s pollution diet

The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s putting the Chesapeake Bay on a pollution diet.

The federal agency used the Twitter social networking site to “tweet” the message Friday to its followers on the site. The message tells followers to “See our new Web site about the Chesapeake Bay’s innovative TMDL ‘pollution diet.’ ” TMDL stands for total maximum daily loads, the limits being developed for various pollutants in the watershed.

President Obama has ordered the EPA and other agencies to develop a bay restoration strategy. Mr. Obama’s order requires federal agencies to submit draft reports by Sept. 9.



Store owner arrested with counterfeit bags

Prince William County Police seized $53,000 worth of counterfeit bags and accessories and arrested the store owner, who openly advertised that his goods were knockoffs.

A sign at Luxury Fashion Accessories at the Manassas Mall said the bags labeled with names such as Coach and Chanel were fake.

Store owner Taoufik Lamharhar was charged Thursday with copyright infringement. If convicted, the 35-year-old Manassas man faces up to five years in prison.

Virginia law prohibits merchants from using a company’s registered mark without permission in a way that might confuse the buyer. Police said that by not claiming the bags were originals, Mr. Lamharhar will avoid facing federal charges and stiffer penalties.

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