Violent crime here rises 17 1/2 %City police say violent...

MARYLAND NEWSWATCH

April 23, 1992

MARYLAND — Violent crime here rises 17 1/2 %

City police say violent crime increased 17 1/2 percent in Baltimore during the first three months of this year.

There were 75 murders in the city during the first quarter %J compared with 74 a year ago, police said yesterday.

Rapes increased 17.3 percent from 150 to 176. Robberies increased 15.5 percent from 2,631 to 3,039, and aggravated assaults rose 22.1 percent from 1,489 to 1,818.

Property crimes were up 4.4 percent, with auto theft leading the way, increasing 11 percent from 2,617 to 2,906. Thefts went up 4.8 percent from 8,778 to 9,196.

Only burglary decreased, 1.3 percent from 3,649 to 3,603.

The overall crime rate went up 7.3 percent.

Police spokesman Sam Ringgold said police hope their new community-based patrol effort will lead to more citizen involvement in the prevention of crime.

Maryland's state property tax rate will stay at 21 cents per $100 of assessed value for the 12th consecutive year, the Board of Public Works decided yesterday.

The board, which consists of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and Treasurer Lucille Maurer, must set a tax rate by May 1 every year.

The state rate will be included on property tax bills mailed to property owners later this year by Maryland counties and Baltimore.

The rate is expected to raise $199 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1. The money goes to pay the principal and interest on Maryland's general obligation bonds.

Anne Arundel County:

Two Canadian nationals were being held last night on $100,000 bail each after their arrest at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in connection with the possession of 4.8 pounds of hashish oil, worth more than $20,000, according to a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service official.

Christena Saunders, 28, a resident of Ontario, and Robert McGee, 52, arrived at the airport Monday night on an Air Jamaica flight from Montego Bay, said Louis D. Crocetti, deputy director of the Maryland office of the INS.

Ms. Saunders and Mr. McGee were turned over to State Police, who charged them with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, Mr. Crocetti said.

Hashish is processed from marijuana resin. Maryland has no law covering possession of hashish oil, a concentrated form of hashish, so the two were charged with possession of marijuana.

Both were being held at the Anne Arundel County Detention vTC Center in lieu of $100,000 cash bail, with a detainer stipulating that if they were able to post bail, they would be be held without bail by the INS, Mr. Crocetti said.

Baltimore County:

A Baltimore County man who smuggled marijuana for more than 20 years was sentenced yesterday to 6 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute the drug.

Judge Frederic N. Smalkin of U.S. District Court in Baltimore imposed the sentence on Phillip Soffos, 53, of the 12500 block of Dulaney Valley Road, who pleaded guilty to smuggling almost 800 pounds of marijuana into the United States from Mexico between 1987 and 1991.

Records seized from his home showed that Soffos sold $146,000 worth of marijuana in late 1987 and early 1988.

Soffos admitted that he has sold marijuana since he was 30 years old.

Carroll County:

Carroll's charter committee, which is drafting the document that could become the county's constitution, this week began hammering out the financial provisions.

Annual budget submission procedures, budget approval, levying property taxes, transferring appropriations and emergency appropriations all must be included in the budget and finance section of the charter.

"This is a very detailed and complicated [provision]," said Charles O. Fisher Sr., subcommittee chair. "Whether we have a charter or don't have a charter, we don't want to mess up a good finance system."

Mr. Fisher, along with subcommittee members Jon Buck and V. Lanny Harchenhorn, consulted county fiscal officials and reviewed the financial provisions of Harford County's charter, since that county is similar to Carroll in population.

Harford County:

The Coca-Cola Co. has taken an option to buy 10 acres in Harford County as a possible location for a new syrup-manufacturing plant.

"We're planning to build a new syrup-manufacturing plant that would replace the facility now in Baltimore," says Alan Boyer, a spokesman for Coca-Cola in Atlanta. "I would prefer to say we're transferring our operations."

He says a final decision on whether the planned plant will be built in Harford County won't be made for several more months.

He says the company would like to break ground on building the new plant in a year.

Mr. Boyer says the new plant will replace the Baltimore plant on East Fort Avenue, which employs about 100 people.

Howard County:

Three Baltimore men have been arrested on a charge of robbing at gunpoint two Columbia women as they were entering their apartment buildings.

The three were caught late Tuesday night by off-duty officers on their way to work, minutes after a foiled robbery and less than a mile from police headquarters.

Police set up surveillance at U.S. 40 and 29 after information about an attempted robbery at the 5600 block of Columbia Road was broadcast over a scanner. Police stopped the suspects on a traffic violation and found a .38-caliber handgun and a purse -- along with credit cards and cash -- that had been reported stolen earlier.

Anthony Underwood Jr., 21, and Romonda Southall, 20, are being held on $100,000 bond at the county detention center. A third suspect, Sean C. Tisdale, 20, is being held on $50,000 bond. All have been charged with robbery, assault and handgun violations.

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