Thursday, May 7, 2009



Schaefer has surgery to install pacemaker

Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer was recovering at Johns Hopkins Hospital after having a pacemaker implanted in his chest.

Hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson said Mr. Schaefer, 87, was in good condition and is expected to be released Thursday.

Lainy LeBow-Sachs, a longtime aide to Mr. Schaefer, told the Baltimore Sun that the former governor fell at his apartment at the Charlestown retirement community Friday. She said doctors examined him and determined that he needed a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat.

Mr. Schaefer served as mayor of Baltimore, governor and Maryland comptroller during a political career that spanned 50 years.


Man pleads guilty to DVD thefts

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says a Rockville man has pleaded guilty to stealing more than 7,000 DVDs from his employer, Netflix Inc., and other companies.

Frank Songa, 28, entered his plea Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Prosecutors said he worked for the company that provides DVD movie rentals through the Internet. While working at a Netflix distribution center in Gaithersburg, Songa had access to DVDs from his company and those belonging to rival companies, which had been incorrectly delivered to Netflix.

Songa stole DVDs from October 2004 into this year. Authorities found the movies in his home and car.

As part of his plea agreement, Songa will forfeit the DVDs and pay restitution.

His sentencing is set for July 28.


Soldiers’ plane makes emergency landing

A charter airplane flying soldiers into BWI blew its front tire while landing and five crew members were taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Jonathan Dean, spokesman for Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, said none of the 168 soldiers aboard the World Airways DC10 was injured. The plane landed about 1 p.m. Wednesday and blew a tire on the nose gear.

The plane was parked in the middle of the runway for roughly two hours; the passengers got on shuttle buses to the terminal.

After the tire was replaced about 3:30 p.m., Mr. Dean said the airport reopened the runway. He said there was only a minimal disruption to other flights at the airport.

Five crew members were taken to Baltimore Washington Medical Center for evaluation.


Officer sentenced for embezzlement

A former D.C. police officer was sentenced to a year in jail for embezzlement, federal prosecutors said.

Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Karin Coppens, 49, was also ordered Wednesday to pay back more than $178,000 to the police department, from which she voluntarily resigned.

Authorities said Coppens falsely recorded more than 3,400 hours of overtime by forging the signature of a supervisor on 94 time sheets.

They said she claimed to have earned the money by participating in the police department’s photo radar program from August 2004 through June 2008. But officials said she was never trained for or worked with the program.



Express toll lanes boosts economies

A regional economist says Virginia’s HOT lanes project will bring more than just a faster ride on the Capital Beltway.

Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University said construction of the express toll lanes is providing a much-needed boost to the Washington-area and Virginia economies.

In a study released Wednesday, Mr. Fuller concluded that the project would generate $2.3 billion for the Fairfax County economy from 2008 to 2013, $2.7 billion for the Washington-area economy and $3.5 billion for the Virginia economy.

Mr. Fuller said these estimates would stem from direct spending of $1.5 billion on the project.

Critics of HOT lanes call them “Lexus lanes” and have expressed concerns about the environmental impact.


Pentagon says police foil security breach

A man tried to push his way past Pentagon security and was wrestled to the ground by police and arrested, Defense Department officials said.

The man tried to get into the huge military headquarters Wednesday near the building entrance that fronts a Metro station and a number of bus routes. But it was notclear how he got to the Pentagon.

Department spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said Pentagon police “wrestled him to the ground … he is under arrest.”


Republican wins City Council seat

Republicans have won a rare victory in Alexandria, capturing a seat on the City Council.

Republican Frank Fannon IV, a banker at SunTrust Mortgage, will be joined on the six-member council by Alicia R. Hughes, a Republican-backed independent. Miss Hughes, a patent examiner, could not seek the party’s formal endorsement because she works for the federal government.

Two Democratic incumbents, Justin M. Wilson and Timothy Lovain, were defeated.

Mr. Fannon’s win is the latest in a series of Republican victories in low-turnout elections in Northern Virginia, where Democrats dominate. Seventy-two percent of Alexandria voters cast ballots for President Obama in November.


Court OKs raid on Muslims’ home

A federal appeals court upheld the government’s search for evidence of terrorist support at a Northern Virginia home.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that federal agents acted reasonably when they broke down the door of a Muslim family’s home in Herndon, entered with guns drawn, and handcuffed Aysha Unus and her teenage daughter, Hanaa, during the four-hour search.

The raid was one of several conducted in the area in 2002, months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It did not result in any charges.

The appeals court rejected the family’s claims of false imprisonment, assault and battery and unconstitutional search and seizure.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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