Howard Week

August 25, 2002

Livesay, McLendon at odds over handling of criminal cases

Howard County's police chief and lead prosecutor are at odds over how criminal cases should be handled and over the role of prosecutors stationed in neighborhoods - but neither is pursuing a meeting to resolve their differences.

Nearly four months after Police Chief Wayne Livesay sent Howard State's Attorney Marna L. McLendon a letter accusing her office of dropping "any criminal case where there is less than 100% chance of conviction" and McLendon questioned why he would "choose now to raise these issues," the two say they have yet to sit down to discuss their concerns.

"It's a communication issue," McLendon said in an interview. " ... He needs to talk to us because he's hearing second- and third-hand why we did certain things."

Livesay's letter and McLendon's reply were obtained by The Sun through a Freedom of Information Act request. Both are strongly worded. And both, some observers say privately, are indicative of a long-standing, tension-filled relationship between the two - although Livesay insists that McLendon is a "friend" and that the letter is "not political."

Backup 911 system changed after callers are stymied

Howard County police have changed their backup 911 system to accommodate more calls after residents said they had difficulty reporting a house fire Aug. 3.

The system was adjusted two weeks ago and now has five incoming lines and one outgoing. Previously, the backup system had three incoming and three outgoing lines.

The call center had problems last month when a Clarksville house was hit by lightning and caught fire Aug. 3. The owner and several neighbors said they called 911 but got busy signals for nearly a half-hour.

Video voyeur sentenced to 4 months in jail

A 37-year-old Westminster man who videotaped his co-workers using a bathroom in their North Laurel school last year was sentenced Tuesday to a four-month jail term - making him the second person successfully prosecuted in Howard County under a 3-year-old video peeping-tom law.

Wade Carl Hoffarth, who was a maintenance technician at the Phillips School at the time the tape was made, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of unlawful video surveillance for what his attorney said was an aborted plan to make a "quick buck" by posting the tape on the Internet.

Killer of teen-ager gets life in prison; parole possible

One of two men convicted of murder in the stabbing and strangulation of 14-year-old Ashley Nicole Mason nearly two years ago was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, but a Howard Circuit Court judge left open the possibility for the man to be released some day.

Judge Raymond J. Kane chose not to impose the harshest penalty he could have on 23-year-old Frederick James Moore - life without parole - saying he was not "prepared to foreclose" on the possibility that the Baltimore man might one day reform himself enough to convince state officials that he is worthy of freedom.

But Ashley's mother, Crystal Mason, called Moore an "evil, cold-hearted person" as she urged Kane to impose life without parole.

Individual support plans for pupils found effective

Two years after Howard County schools Superintendent John R. O'Rourke demanded a plan be put in place for every one of the district's third-graders who was behind in reading or math, teachers have produced data to show system officials whether O'Rourke's big idea made a difference.

The verdict: For about 25 percent of them, at least, it did. A report released to the Howard Board of Education on Thursday night showed that of 597 third-graders who were reading below grade level during the 2000-2001 school year, 28 percent of girls had moved up to fourth-grade level by the end of this year, and 1 percent were reading above fourth-grade level.

And 23 percent of the boys in that third-grade group who were reading below grade level had moved up to fourth-grade reading level, and 3 percent of boys were reading above the fourth-grade level.

For-profit methadone clinic closed by the state

Asserting serious violations that threatened the health and safety of the community, the state has closed a private, for-profit methadone clinic in Howard County, forcing 180 addicts to seek help elsewhere.

State officials said investigations begun this spring showed that the clinic was operated with little supervision and allowed two addicts to take home a month's supply of methadone on their first visit.

State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration Director Peter F. Luongo said violations at the Howard clinic were "so pressing, so urgent" that he had to act. New Care Health Services, which operated for three years at 10840 Guilford Road in Annapolis Junction, was ordered closed Aug. 7 by Luongo, who suspended its permit.

Ellicott City dentist, 37, convicted in assault case

An Ellicott City dentist was convicted Friday of sexual assault and assault charges tied to a patient's claim that he pulled down her pants and rubbed her thighs while she was under the effects of a mild anesthetic.

Dr. Evan C. DePadua, 37, faces a maximum 10-year prison term for misdemeanor assault and fourth-degree sexual offense at his sentencing Nov. 1 - although state sentencing guidelines recommend a probationary term.

In a case that largely pitted DePadua's word against that of his 22-year-old patient, Howard Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure said that while the young woman was "extremely credible," DePadua's various statements to investigators and during the two-day trial had "many inconsistencies."

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