- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 30, 2009


Signal changes made before Metro crash

Federal investigators say adjustments were made to the system that detects Metro trains at the site of last month’s deadly crash after a piece of equipment was replaced.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that the process for replacing the equipment before the accident called for changes to the track circuit signal strength.

The equipment, known as an impedance bond, communicates information such as speed and distance between the tracks, trains and operations control center.

One impedance bond was replaced five days before the June 22 crash and failed periodically before it. Another was replaced in 2007 and intermittently malfunctioned.

Investigators are looking into whether the adjustments may have affected the system’s performance.



Woman sentenced in moonshine case

Margaret Smith, 58, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge James Turk to one year and one day in federal prison. She was convicted in 2008 of conspiracy to make moonshine and perjury.

Smith owned the Halifax County property where the moonshine was made but didn’t participate in the operation. Judge Turk said Smith “had to know what was going on” because she was the bookkeeper for Jody Alton Smith, who, prosecutors said, ran the operation.

Jody Smith also was convicted last year of conspiracy and perjury and was scheduled to be sentenced later Wednesday.


Teen pleads guilty in targeting school

A 16-year-old Virginia Beach boy accused of participating in a plot targeting Landstown High School pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy and firearms charges. He is one of three teenagers charged in the plot.

A 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty last week in Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court to possession of a sawed-off shotgun.

The two teens haven’t been identified because they are juveniles.

A judge ruled last week that Philip Bay, 18, should be charged as an adult. He is charged with possessing and manufacturing explosives and planning to use them for an act of terrorism.

Police said they found apparent explosive devices at the home of one of the teens in April.



Man fatally shot by county officer

Montgomery County police have identified a man shot by a county officer as Eliodoro Hernandez, 39. The shooting happened about 3 a.m. Wednesday in the 12200 block of Eagle’s Nest Court.

Police said two officers went to the apartment complex after someone called 911 about 2:40 a.m. but hung up or was disconnected before speaking to a dispatcher.

Police said Officer Jesse Dickensheets fired his weapon twice; one of the shots caused Mr. Hernandez’s death.

A BB gun resembling a semiautomatic handgun and an eight-to-10-inch carving knife were found near Mr. Hernandez’s body, but police said it was unclear whether he had fired the gun.


Man sentenced in contracts case

Federal prosecutors said Kevin Roach, 48, of Fredericksburg, Va., was sentenced Wednesday to 3 1/2 years in prison for a scheme to corrupt federal contracts at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Roach pleaded guilty April 21 to steering federal contracts at Walter Reed so he could get kickbacks. Louis Pisani Jr. and Leon Krachyna also pleaded guilty in the scheme from 1999 to 2003.

Federal prosecutors said Roach steered contracts worth up to $2.2 million to Silver Spring-based Platinum Contractors Inc., which Pisani and Krachyna operated.

Officials said Platinum kicked back 10 percent of the contract payments to Roach and gave him a $30,000 truck, in exchange for confidential bidding information and other favors.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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