- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009


Suspicious vehicle shuts streets

An investigation Wednesday into a suspicious vehicle near President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team headquarters in Northwest closed streets for about an hour.

A Secret Service spokesman said explosive-sniffing dogs alerted officials to the vehicle at noontime. He also said the vehicle was going through a checkpoint to access the same building that houses the transition team, in the 400 block of Sixth Street Northwest.

Authorities closed about three blocks in downtown while investigating. Officials determined the driver was authorized to be in the area and that the vehicle posed no security risk.



Council member, developer indicted

A City Council member and a prominent developer were indicted Wednesday on public corruption charges.

Council member Helen Holton, a Democrat, is accused of taking a bribe from developer Ronald Lipscomb in 2007.

The state prosecutor’s office said Mr. Lipscomb’s company paid $12,500 to a third-party company for a political survey on Miss Holton’s behalf. Miss Holton did not mention the payment on her financial-disclosure report.

At the time, Mr. Lipscomb was seeking tax incentives from the city for a development project in which he was a partner.

Mr. Lipscomb is a former boyfriend of Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Democrat. Previous court documents indicated Mr. Lipscomb was under investigation for possibly bribing Mrs. Dixon. But the bribery count for which he was indicted does not involve the mayor.


Robbed trooper opts to retire

A state trooper who was robbed while purportedly playing in an illegal poker game has retired because of a medical disability, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Former Trooper 1st Class Michael A. Ford, 34, retired because of post-traumatic stress stemming from his role in the wounding of murder suspect Douglas Pryor, near Smithsburg, in December 2007, said lawyer Byron L. Warnken. Officer Ford fired three shots but none of them hit Mr. Pryor, his lawyer said.

Mr. Warnken also said his client’s retirement was unrelated to a high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em in a Hagerstown office building where Mr. Ford and 17 others purportedly were robbed at gunpoint of about $4,000 by two masked men May 30.

Officer Ford confirmed he was among the robbery victims, according to charging documents. He hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Prosecutors dropped charges last month against the only suspect arrested for the robbery after a defense attorney argued the suspect’s eye color didn’t match victims’ descriptions.

A state police spokeswoman said Officer Ford retired Jan. 1 - after 10 years and 11 months of service.


Police review fire official’s crash

The Montgomery County Police Department is investigating its handling of a multivehicle crash involving an assistant fire chief.

Assistant Fire Chief Gregory DeHaven on Nov. 30 struck a police car and another car, then hit a third vehicle on a ramp to Interstate 270 near Rockville. He was driving a county-issued sport utility vehicle.

A police officer at the scene said he may have smelled alcohol on Chief DeHaven’s breath. But two senior officers who arrived later said Chief DeHaven displayed no signs of impairment, thus there was no need for a Breathalyzer test.

Police said they have begun an internal investigation but have not released a blood-alcohol test administered to Chief DeHaven after the crash.


Man found in car fatally shot

The Annapolis Police Department has identified Lamorse Garrett, 39, as the city’s first homicide of 2009.

Officials said they found Mr. Garrett on Tuesday evening fatally shot inside a car in the Annapolis Gardens neighborhood.


State reports drop in lawyer complaints

The Attorney Grievance Commission says the number of substantive allegations of misconduct by Maryland attorneys decreased sharply during the last half of 2008.

Bar Counsel Melvin Hirshman said the nearly 24 percent decline is a surprise. He also said complaints of misconduct usually increase during tough economic times.

For the final six months of 2008, the commission said, the number of complaints worthy of further investigation was 165, down from 217 in the same period in 2007. The decrease also followed a 16 percent increase for the fiscal year that ended in June.

Mr. Hirshman said the decrease is unusual because clients find it tougher during hard times to pay their legal bills, making it more likely that attorneys will risk tapping trust accounts to pay their expenses.



Teen pleads guilty to mob-attack death

A 17-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in a fatal mob beating in Norfolk’s Ocean View neighborhood.

Shakida Bowers also pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of malicious wounding and three counts of robbery in the death of James Robertson Jr., 19. She will be sentenced in May.

Bowers, who was tried as an adult, is the sixth person who pleaded guilty in the case. Four others have trials pending.

Police say the mob attacked Mr. Robertson and two friends in a parking lot in July 2007. The other two escaped, but Mr. Robertson died of his injuries.


Man gets 10 years in cocaine case

A Galax man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for his part in a crack-cocaine operation that federal authorities say was brazen.

U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley said the drug often was sold in a church parking lot “in broad daylight.”

She said defendant Danny Lee Peoples, 39, had already pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to possess and possessing with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine.

Peoples was among seven men indicted in connection with the drug distribution operation. Four others have been sentenced in the case.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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