- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2009


Date set for cabdrivers’ hearing

A federal court judge on Wednesday set court dates for the week of Nov. 16 for 39 cabdrivers charged with conspiring to bribe the head of the city’s taxicab commission.

More than an hour of Wednesday’s status hearing was spent organizing the dozens of defendants, their counsel and locating enough headsets to interpret comments. There were not enough headsets to go around. Counsel joked about the seating arrangements and choreographing the proceedings. The courtroom was so full that defendants’ family members were asked to wait outside.

Three of the defendants are charged with giving Taxicab Commission Chairman Leon J. Swain Jr. $220,000 in bribes in a two-year period. The other men are charged with paying a series of bribes totaling $110,000 between Sept. 3 and Sept. 28 to Mr. Swain to obtain individual cabdriver’s licenses.

If convicted, the men each face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Accused shooter’s evaluation continuing

A psychological evaluation for the man charged with killing a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum security guard will be completed Nov. 8, the defendant’s attorney said Wednesday.

Authorities said James von Brunn, an 89-year-old self-avowed white supremacist, walked into the museum June 10 and fatally shot guard Stephen T. Johns, who was black.

Mr. von Brunn is facing seven charges, including first-degree murder. Four of the charges make him eligible for the death penalty.

Last month, Mr. von Brunn, who was shot in the face and is now confined to a wheelchair, was transferred over his objections to the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., for an evaluation.

During Wednesday’s status hearing in federal court, public defender A.J. Kramer said it will take an additional 14 working days for doctors to complete a report.

The judge set the next hearing for Nov. 30.

Teens killed in shootings identified

Police on Wednesday identified the two people killed in shootings Tuesday afternoon as Davonta Artis, 15, and Daquan Tibbs, 18.

Davonta was a student at Ron Brown Middle School. Grief counselors on Wednesday visited the school in Northeast.

Three other people were wounded in the shooting in the Clay Terrace neighborhood. Police say the incident may have been part of a feud between rival neighborhoods.

Man sentenced in assault near gay club

A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to nearly six months in jail the beating death of a man outside a D.C. gay club.

Robert Hannah pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault for punching Tony Hunter, who fell backward after he was struck and hit his head. Hunter died after 10 days in a coma.

The lack of more severe charges in the case has outraged activists in the District’s gay community. Prosecutors have said they had problems with witnesses and that Hunter was drunk when he was punched, which may have made it harder for him to keep his balance.

Hannah claims Hunter inappropriately touched him before he punched Hunter on Sept. 7, 2008.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Rafael Diaz sentenced Hannah on Wednesday to 180 days in jail, the maximum possible sentence.

History museum plans evolution hall

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History plans to open a hall next year dedicated to the story of human evolution.

The nearly $21 million Hall of Human Origins announced Wednesday will trace 6 million years of history. It’s scheduled to open in March 2010, marking the museum’s 100th anniversary.

It is being funded by David H. Koch, a chemical engineer and executive vice president of energy company Koch Industries Inc. of Wichita, Kan. The hall will be named in his honor.

Mr. Koch was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate and has been a donor to conservative causes as well as educational, medical and cultural groups.



Pulitzer Prize winner dies

Nan Robertson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter who wrote a book about female employees’ fight for equal treatment at the newspaper, has died. She was 83.

Mrs. Robertson’s stepdaughter-in-law, Jane Freundel Levey, said she died Tuesday of heart disease at a nursing home in Rockville.

The reporter won a 1983 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for her unsparing account of her sudden encounter with toxic shock syndrome.

Mrs. Robertson began working for the Times in 1955. Over more than three decades, she worked on the metropolitan desk, at the Washington bureau and as Paris correspondent.

Her 1992 book “The Girls in the Balcony” detailed the 1974 federal class-action suit that claimed the paper paid women less and shortchanged them on assignments and advancement.


Ex-football player sentenced

A military judge has sentenced a former U.S. Naval Academy football player to two years in prison with one year suspended for stealing charge cards from teammates out of their lockers.

Christopher O. Rivers, of Durham, N.C., pleaded guilty Wednesday to larceny and forgery charges. The sophomore also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for trying to impede a Navy investigation by asking a teammate to tell investigators he had permission to use a charge card.

Rivers admitted taking the cards out of teammates’ lockers and buying 33 Bose TriPort Headphones valued at a total of nearly $4,000. He told the judge he planned to sell the headphones for extra money to send home to his mother.

The judge dismissed Rivers from the Navy.



Man arrested in Beltway chase

A North Carolina fugitive has been arrested after a police chase from Maryland to Virginia on the Capital Beltway.

Virginia State Police began chasing the black sport utility vehicle after it crossed the American Legion Bridge between the two states early Wednesday morning. Police said the driver rammed a police vehicle more than once and tried to strike others, refusing to stop.

Once the SUV came to a stop on Interstate 495, police said, the driver, Andre Tyrone Washington, 24, of Fayetteville, N.C., refused to get out of the vehicle. Police said he was forcibly removed and taken to a hospital to be checked for injuries.

Mr. Washington is charged with resisting arrest, eluding police, reckless driving, assault and other charges. He is charged as a fugitive from justice.


Identity data of ex-students lost

The Virginia Department of Education said personal information about more than 103,000 former adult-education students has been lost.

Officials are notifying many of them about the issue and how they can protect themselves from identity theft, department spokeswoman Julie Grimes said Wednesday. The data included names, Social Security identification numbers and demographic information, she said.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright said in a statement Wednesday that department officials gave the flash drive containing the data to a representative of a Virginia Tech education-research center, who lost the device in Richmond on Sept. 21.

The information wasn’t encrypted, in violation of agency policy, Miss Grimes said.

There’s no evidence that information has been accessed or misused. But the department is sending letters to 77,577 people whose addresses were available about the issue. The department was unable to find the addresses for 25,693 others.


Ex-track coach guilty in sex charge

A former Nelson County track coach faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a sex charge involving a 16-year-old girl.

Richard Noles, 23, of Charlottesville pleaded guilty Tuesday in Charlottesville Circuit Court to taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in a custodial or supervisory relationship. Sentencing is set for April 7.

Noles formerly was a track coach and special-education teacher at Nelson County High School. He resigned in February after being charged in Nelson with computer solicitation of a juvenile. A preliminary hearing in that case is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nelson’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.


$119 million in bonds set for school projects

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said $119 million worth of bonds are available to public school systems for energy-efficiency improvements and renewable-energy projects.

Mr. Kaine announced the bonds Wednesday during a visit to Battlefield Middle School in Spotsylvania County.

Projects will be financed through the Qualified School Construction Bond program.

Eligible projects include improving heating, cooling and ventilation systems and controls; insulation or other building improvements; more efficient lightingl and on-site wind-power systems. Only improvements to existing buildings are eligible for the bonds.

Mr. Kaine says reducing energy costs will give public school systems more money for education.

The deadline for project applications is Nov. 11.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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