- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Disposable-bags bill signed by mayor

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has signed a bill that tacks on a 5-cent fee for each disposable bag leaving grocery, drug, convenience and liquor stores. The new fee goes into effect Jan. 1.

Most of the money raised by bag fees will go toward cleaning the Anacostia River, which is polluted by 20,000 tons of trash each year. The fee is initially expected to raise about $3.5 million annually for the cleanup, with the amount shrinking as more residents use their own bags. Some money will also go toward education and providing residents with reusable bags.

The legislation also requires that the bags that are sold be recyclable and carry a message encouraging recycling.



Woman arrested in flag-burning

Ocean City police have arrested a woman accused of burning an American flag and walking into traffic on Route 50, causing cars to swerve as she stomped on the burning flag.

Early Sunday, two Ocean City officers saw Rebecca McKimmie, 18, of Ocean City, use a cigarette lighter to ignite the flag. Police said the woman carried the burning flag into traffic near the Route 50 bridge while continuing to set the flag on fire.

As the officers approached her, police said Miss McKimmie started stomping on the flag in the middle of the highway.

Miss McKimmie told police that she was burning the flag to make “a statement.” She is charged with desecrating a flag and disturbing the peace and was released on her own recognizance.


Video shows boys hit from behind

Investigators think a bizarre series of events led to the deaths of two teenagers who were struck by a light-rail train north of Baltimore, Maryland Transit Administration officials said Tuesday.

Kyle P. Wankmiller and Connor Peterson, both 17-year-olds from Lutherville, were found Sunday afternoon lying on light-rail tracks near the Lutherville station. Both died in local hospitals.

MTA police reviewed video from a train that showed the boys being struck from behind as they walked on the tracks, MTA spokeswoman Jawauna Greene said Tuesday. The boys were then run over by a second train before a fare collector spotted them on the tracks, she said.

The operator of the initial train did not realize he had struck anyone, and investigators are looking at what might have limited the operator’s visibility, Miss Greene said.

She also said that although it is illegal to walk on light-rail tracks, the victims would have had no reason to suspect a train would approach them from behind because they were walking north on southbound tracks.

The tracks were being used by northbound trains because of an incident 45 minutes earlier. A northbound train struck a piece of guardrail that was sitting on the tracks, and the guardrail became lodged beneath the train, which led MTA officials to close a section of the northbound tracks, Miss Greene said.


Speeding driver wore no pants

A Delaware man is facing drunken driving charges after he was pulled over for speeding in northeastern Maryland - and a sheriff’s deputy noticed he wasn’t wearing any pants.

A spokesman for the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office said Jonathan Schultz, 41, “was driving commando.”

The spokesman, Lt. Bernard Chiminto, said Mr. Schultz was stopped Saturday near Rising Sun for going 69 mph in a 50-mph zone.

The deputy smelled alcohol and noticed that Mr. Schultz was partially covered by a towel from the waist down. The Newark, Del., resident told the deputy that he’d lost his pants, but the deputy didn’t find any pants in the car.


Arrested for DUI twice in 5 hours

Ocean City police arrested a Woodbine woman twice in five hours on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police said Jennifer Bowlin, 20, was swerving across lane markers and failed to stop at a stop sign about 2:15 a.m. Friday. When officers stopped her, police said she was driving under the influence of alcohol.

She was released on DUI and motor vehicle charges. Almost five hours later, police saw her driving again in Ocean City.

Maryland law prohibits anyone from driving within 12 hours of a DUI arrest. Police stopped Miss Bowlin again and charged her with DUI and other offenses. She was held on $25,000 bond.


Tax credit scheme brings prison term

A Forestville man has been sentenced to 33 months in prison for filing 154 fraudulent corporate tax returns to get more than a million dollars in tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.

Federal prosecutors said William Smith, 34, who was sentenced Tuesday in Greenbelt, conspired with Soumahoro Ben Amara and others to get back millions reportedly spent on fuel taxes.

From 2004 to July 2008, prosecutors said Smith applied for $4 million in fuel tax credit refunds. The IRS paid $1.6 million in refunds.

Amara was sentenced and has to pay $694,883 in restitution while Smith must pay $769,078 in restitution.

Federal prosecutors said neither Amara nor Smith ever bought the fuel that he used to claim the tax refunds.


Man pleads guilty in cocaine case

A Baltimore man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Sentencing was set for Oct. 2.

Trenell Murphy was arrested in February after Baltimore police found more than 90 pounds of powder cocaine in the bed of his truck. Police described him as a major player in the citywide drug trade.

The drug seizure was the largest Baltimore police have ever made without federal help.

The guilty plea still allows Murphy to appeal the denial of a motion to throw out the evidence against him. His lawyer argued that police searched the truck illegally and misled a judge into granting a search warrant afterward.


Smith not running for comptroller

Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, a Democrat, has ruled out running for state comptroller next year.

Mr. Smith’s term as county executive expires in a year and a half, and he’s barred by term limits from running again. He said in May that he was looking closely at statewide offices for a possible run. He has been traveling the state, and campaign finance reports show he has raised more than $1 million since January 2007.

That led to speculation he was planning to challenge Comptroller Peter Franchot in a Democratic primary.

But Mr. Smith said in a statement Monday that he spent a lot of time thinking about the comptroller’s job. He ultimately decided, “It is not a position to which I aspire.”


Rosecroft owner sues over deal

The bankrupt owner of Rosecroft Raceway is suing the Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and 15 other defendants for $20 million.

The suit filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court claims that the defendants are interfering with Rosecroft’s simulcast agreements with out-of-state tracks.

Rosecroft was a harness racing track before it stopped live racing last year. Now, simulcast betting is the only form of gambling revenue for the Fort Washington track.

Rosecroft struck a deal with the defendants in 2006 to simulcast races from tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. of Louisville, Ky., and Magna Entertainment Corp. of Ontario, Canada. But the racing commission voted this year to shut off Rosecroft’s simulcast signals because its owner, Cloverleaf, refused to pay a $5.9 million annual rights fee to the Maryland Jockey Club.


Plane back to BWI after bird strike

Southwest Airlines officials say a flight headed to Providence, R.I., returned safely Tuesday to Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport after a bird struck an engine.

Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said Flight 69 was carrying 137 passengers when the bird hit the engine shortly after 5 p.m.

Miss Eichinger said the plane landed safely back at BWI and there were no injuries. She said mechanics were checking the aircraft.



Ex-church secretary sent to prison

Debra Lee Epps, 51, a former secretary who admitted embezzling more than $300,000 from Christ Episcopal Church in Smithfield was sentenced to 50 years in prison Tuesday for taking money from the church. All but four years and eight months were suspended if she pays $220,000 in restitution to the church.

Epps pleaded guilty in May to eight counts of embezzlement and one count each of forging and uttering checks.

Prosecutors said she took the money over a 10-year period beginning in 1998 and used it to pay school tuition and credit card debt and other expenses.


No injuries, damage from small quake

No damage or injuries have been reported after a small earthquake that rattled parts of central Virginia.

The Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory said the quake struck the west end of Henrico and Hanover counties and eastern Goochland County just before midnight Monday. The observatory and the U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude was 2.3.

Television stations in Richmond reported receiving reports from residents of a loud noise and rattling windows.

Observatory director Martin Chapman says earthquakes of this magnitude are usually associated with a loud sound. He says such quakes hit central Virginia about once a year.


Sex-abuse charge brings prison term

Daniel Silverman, 43, former assistant pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in nearby Vinton, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading no contest to a charge of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.

He told Roanoke Circuit Court Judge James Swanson on Tuesday that he was innocent, but didn’t want the child to have to testify.

Prosecutor Randy Leach said Silverman already confessed to molesting the girl to a police officer and a social services worker last summer.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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