Germantown man charged in state's first federal carjacking indictment

October 09, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

U.S. Attorney Richard D. Bennett announced charges yesterday that he described as the first federal carjacking indictment in Maryland since the recent surge in reports of the violent car thefts.

Brandon R. Barnes, 21, of Germantown was charged by a federal grand jury with kidnapping and a gun offense for allegedly forcing a Gaithersburg man at gunpoint to drive him to locations in Maryland and Washington to buy crack cocaine.

Mr. Barnes was ordered held without bail at a hearing yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before Chief Magistrate Judge Clarence E. Goetz.

Congress passed a bill last night making carjackings a federal crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But a suspect can also face federal charges under current laws if the carjacker crosses a state line, Mr. Bennett said.

The indictment comes with the spotlight focused on carjackings after the death last month of Dr. Pam Basu of Savage. She was killed after being dragged nearly two miles when her car was stolen with her 22-month-old daughter inside.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas B. Farquhar said that a state court sentence would be more lenient than a federal term.

The indictment yesterday resulted from an investigation by Montgomery County police and the FBI into the Sept. 20 kidnapping of Jason R. Melvin, 20.

Mr. Melvin had parked in a 7-Eleven lot in Germantown about 1:30 a.m. When he returned, a man with a gun forced him to drive the car to various locations in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and then to Washington, an FBI affidavit states.

Mr. Barnes was arrested after police connected him to a telephone number on a matchbook left in the car by the carjacker.

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