- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Child welfare chief gets permanent post

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on Tuesday nominated the interim director of the city’s Child and Family Services Agency to permanently lead the troubled department.

Roque Gerald has been the agency’s interim leader since July when Sharlynn Bobo resigned. He had served under Miss Bobo as deputy director.

Mr. Gerald has led the effort to improve the child welfare system by reducing a backlog of cases and improving the retention of social workers, the mayor said.

The agency spent five years under federal receivership before the city regained control nine years ago. Since then, it has remained under the watch of a court monitor.

Last year, the agency struggled to handle a flood of child-abuse reports after a woman was found living with the bodies of her four daughters in Southeast.

Police find rifle in truck at Capitol

A man who drove a pickup truck to the Capitol and said he had a delivery for President Obama was arrested Tuesday after a rifle was found in the truck, police said.

The man, identified as Alfred Brock, 64, of Winnfield, La., was later charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and possession of unregistered ammunition, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman.

The suspect did not make an explicit threat against the president, she added.

Police briefly closed the north driveway to the Capitol grounds while the truck was inspected for hazardous materials. None was found, Sgt. Schneider said. The pickup was towed away.

Students arrested in Cardozo fight

A large fight broke out Tuesday at Cardozo High School in Northwest, injuring 18 students - including five who were hospitalized, D.C. police said.

Authorities were called to the school in the 1300 block of Clifton Street about 11:30 a.m. Police arrested 16 people on charges including assault and disorderly conduct.

The brawl may have involved a dispute among a large group of teenage girls, though it was not immediately clear what caused the fight, police said.

Five students were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries and another 13 students were treated for minor injuries, D.C. fire spokesman Alan Etter said.

Although no serious injuries were reported, one of the boys was admitted to Howard University Hospital for observation, Mr. Etter said.

No weapons were reported to be involved, said Dena Iverson, a D.C. public schools spokeswoman.

Fox News producer charged with porn

A Fox News Channel producer was arrested and arraigned Tuesday on child pornography charges in a federal courthouse in the District.

Aaron Bruns appeared in U.S. District Court. Investigators said Mr. Bruns had been sharing pornography on a social networking Web site, according to charging documents.

A Fox News spokeswoman said the network is aware of the arrest. Mr. Bruns was suspended Tuesday without pay, she said.

Mr. Bruns covered Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign last year and later was a general producer in Washington, covering politics.

A judge scheduled another hearing for Thursday, when he will consider whether to continue holding Mr. Bruns in jail.

ACORN protests foreclosure auction

More than 100 protesters briefly interrupted an auction on Tuesday of foreclosed homes downtown, chanting “Bail out Main Street, not Wall Street.”

Members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, known as ACORN, entered an office as homes were being auctioned off. The group also held up signs in English and Spanish reading: “Stop Foreclosures.”

After being thrown out of the building, ACORN continued protesting on a sidewalk outside.

With millions of people losing their jobs, a moratorium on foreclosures is needed to keep people in their homes, ACORN member Louis Beverly said.



Retired judge to hear case against mayor

A retired Howard County judge was assigned Tuesday to hear the corruption cases against Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a city councilwoman and a developer.

Prosecutors and attorneys for all three defendants had asked that the cases be specially assigned because of their anticipated length and complexity and because many city judges may have real or perceived conflicts of interest.

Baltimore Circuit Court Administrative Judge Marcella A. Holland signed an order Tuesday assigning retired Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney to hear the cases.

Mrs. Dixon is accused of stealing gift cards intended for needy families and failing to disclose gifts from a developer on ethics forms. The developer, Ronald H. Lipscomb, is accused of bribing City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton in a separate case. All three were indicted after a lengthy probe by the state prosecutor’s office, which investigates suspected public corruption.

Judge Sweeney recently presided over a fact-finding hearing in an appeal of a triple murder conviction in Baltimore.

“Judge Sweeney is an able, experienced and independent-minded jurist,” said Mrs. Dixon’s attorney, Arnold M. Weiner. “He is well-suited for this case.”

Deputy state prosecutor Thomas M. McDonough declined to comment.


PG police freed from U.S. oversight

The Justice Department has ended its oversight of the Prince George’s County police department over the issue of excessive force, authorities said Tuesday.

The department was released from federal oversight in December after complying with 66 of the 67 provisions laid out in a 2004 agreement, authorities said.

The department still must shorten the time it takes to complete internal investigations into possible misconduct, the Justice Department said.

The county accepted federal oversight so that it could avoid legal action after a series of officer shootings and in-custody deaths.


Man pleads guilty to mortgage fraud

A Beltsville man pleaded guilty Tuesday to millions of dollars in mortgage fraud tied to properties in Maryland, the District and Virginia.

Timothy Reed, 43, pleaded guilty to paying straw purchasers $10,000 per property to buy houses for himself or other people, federal prosecutors said. He was charged with mail fraud for fraudulently buying 25 lots from 2006 to last year.

Reed wrote up false mortgage and settlement documents about the straw purchasers’ income.

In all, prosecutors say Reed received more than $3.8 million in fraudulent funds in the scheme. Many of the properties have been foreclosed on.



City man sentenced in parents’ deaths

A Virginia Beach man convicted of killing his stepfather and mother was sentenced Tuesday to two consecutive life terms in prison.

Berry Richard Johnson pleaded guilty in November to two counts of first-degree murder. Johnson told police that he didn’t know why he killed Barbara Lee, 71, and her husband, Robert Lee, 63, according to court records,

The Lees were killed at their Virginia Beach home April 10, 2008. Johnson’s sister discovered the bodies the next day.

Virginia Beach Circuit Court Judge Joseph Canada Jr. said during Tuesday’s hearing that the crime scene photographs show “an utter disregard for human life.”


Ex-teacher forfeits license in sex case

A former Bedford County teacher accused of having sex with a student has pleaded to lesser charges and forfeited his teaching license.

David Allen Cherry was sentenced Monday to seven months in jail and seven years’ probation after entering Alford pleas to seven counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. An Alford plea means Cherry did not admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.

Cherry, 39, had been charged with seven felony counts of indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian. He was accused of having sex in 2005 with a female student, 16, at Staunton River Middle School, where he taught a computer course.

The relationship was consensual, said Assistant Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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