- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 18, 2009



2 children rescued from apartment fire

Two young children rescued from a Riverdale fire Friday evening were in extremely critical condition Friday night.

Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said firefighters rescued the boys, who are 4 or 5 years old, after units responded at about 5:15 p.m. Friday to a fire at Oakridge Apartments in the 5400 block of 56th Place in Riverdale.

Mr. Brady said the children had pulses but weren’t breathing when firefighters pulled them from a first-floor apartment of a two-story building. Firefighters gave the children CPR, and paramedics transported them to a nearby hospital.

Mr. Brady said it was unclear whether an adult was in the apartment at the time.

He said firefighters from the Riverdale and Bladensburg areas extinguished the blaze.


Suit in Taser death can go to trial

A federal judge ruled Friday that a wrongful-death lawsuit can go to trial against Frederick County and the sheriff’s office in the death of a man who was shocked with a Taser in 2007.

The family of 20-year-old Jarrell Gray is seeking $145 million.

U.S. District Judge William Quarles ruled there is enough evidence to take the suit to trial. No date was set.

A grand jury ruled last year that Cpl. Rudy Torres was justified in using his Taser twice to subdue Mr. Gray in November 2007 after Mr. Gray did not obey commands to show his hands. Mr. Gray died hours later.


Man gets life for killing witness

A federal judge on Friday sentenced a Baltimore man to life in prison for hiring a hit man to kill a witness.

Frank Goodman, 23, was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 55 years in prison in the death of Carl Lackl.

Prosecutors said Goodman hired the gunman after drug dealer Patrick Byers called him on a contraband cell phone from jail to orchestrate the death of Mr. Lackl, who planned to testify against Byers in a murder case.

Eight people have been convicted for their roles in Mr. Lackl’s death, including Byers, who also got a life sentence.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said everybody involved in Mr. Lackl’s death, not just Byers and the triggerman, has been prosecuted. He said that will make criminals think twice about attacking witnesses.


Constellation makes EdF counterproposal

Constellation Energy Group on Friday submitted a counterproposal to Gov. Martin O’Malley in the company’s bid to sell half its nuclear operations to France’s EdF.

James Connaughton, executive vice president of corporate affairs public and environmental policy at Constellation, said the proposal will bring in more than $5 billion in short-term and long-term benefits to Baltimore Gas and Electric customers, directly and indirectly.

But Mr. O’Malley said Constellation must fully address the needs of ratepayers and the public interest.

Mr. O’Malley also said the administration has full confidence in the state’s regulatory process.

The Public Service Commission doesn’t regulate Constellation but regulates its Baltimore Gas and Electric utility subsidiary.


Court says state can seize inmate mail

Maryland’s highest court has ruled that prison officials were justified in seizing an inmate’s mail due to security concerns.

Robert Lee McFarlin was serving a prison sentence in February 2004 at the Maryland House of Correction Annex when he stabbed and killed fellow inmate Damon Bowie.

In April of that year, McFarlin wrote his father: “I done put myself in a deep hole, Pop. I killed someone in prison. I can’t explain it.”

McFarlin put the letter in an unsealed envelope, and prison officials sent a copy to prosecutors.

McFarlin argued that he had a Fourth Amendment right to privacy in a letter to his father.

The Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed a lower court’s ruling, saying a maximum security prison inmate does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in an unsealed outgoing letter.


Teen charged in death of woman

A 15-year-old boy has been charged with raping and stabbing a pregnant woman to death at her Elkton home.

Police said Robert Ervin of Elkton killed 26-year-old Jennifer Thompson on Saturday night during an argument that began when she asked him to leave. Ms. Thompson’s body was discovered Sunday after running water from her bathroom sink seeped into an adjacent apartment.

Elkton police spokesman Lt. Matthew Donnelly said the teen was known to visit Ms. Thompson’s home, but he declined to say Thursday why she had tried to get him to leave.

Lt. Donnelly said the 15-year-old confessed to the slaying and was charged as an adult with first-degree murder, rape and assault.

Lt. Donnelly said Ms. Thompson was pregnant, but the boy won’t face additional charges “since the fetus is not considered viable.”



2 convicted in murder-for-hire case

A federal jury on Friday convicted two men charged in the murder-for-hire of a sailor.

Michael Draven, of Newport News, and David Runyon, of Morgantown, W.Va., were convicted Friday of murder, conspiracy to commit murder for hire and carjacking. They were acquitted of a robbery charge.

Prosecutors said Draven and Catherina Voss, of Newport News, hired Runyon to kill Voss’ husband, 30-year-old Navy Ensign Cory Voss. Ensign Voss was shot while sitting in his pickup outside an automated teller machine in Newport News in April 2007.

Runyon is accused of being the triggerman and could face the federal death penalty, which the jury will determine at a later date.

Voss has pleaded guilty to arranging the slaying and is serving life in prison.


Man sentenced in visa fraud case

A Belarus man was sentenced Friday to 7 1/4 years in federal prison for running a multimillion-dollar operation that fraudulently obtained thousands of foreign labor visas for immigrant workers and for defrauding the government of $7.4 million in payroll taxes.

Viktar Krus originally faced a 73-count indictment, but as part of a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy, visa fraud, tax fraud and money laundering. Twenty-two other people also have been convicted in the scheme, which began in 2001.

Prosecutors said Krus, 28, was head of a conspiracy that brought immigrants to work at area hotels and other businesses. According to court documents, the operation in part involved submitting false petitions that brought in more workers than were needed, and workers were hidden in overcrowded stash houses and contracted out to businesses not listed on their visas to make money for Krus and others.


4 plead guilty in kidnapping plot

Four men pleaded guilty Friday to federal conspiracy charges in a plot to kidnap the wives of wealthy Roanoke area men and hold them for ransom.

U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley said Joshua Kasongo, 19, of Roanoke, and Luke Elbino, 20, of Vinton, entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court.

Two others - Mohamed Hussein Guhad, 20, and Anthony Eugene Boyd-Muse, 18 - pleaded guilty Tuesday.

Prosecutors said the men looked for houses in Roanoke County neighborhoods where they thought wealthy people lived, then used the Internet to research their intended targets.

The four face a maximum of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 8.


Heroin supplier gets 26 years

A Waldorf, Md., man who was the chief supplier to a suburban heroin ring in Northern Virginia was sentenced Friday to more than 26 years in prison.

Prosecutors estimated that Antonio L. Harper, 33, was responsible for putting anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 bags of heroin into the hands of addicts in Virginia and elsewhere in 2006 and 2007.

A cluster of teenagers and young adults in Centreville relied on Harper as their heroin supplier. Four overdose deaths have been attributed to that cluster.

The sentence of 26 years and eight months fell in between the 31 years sought by prosecutors and the 20-year term requested by Harper’s lawyer.

Harper is one of 16 people convicted following the investigation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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