Robber pays the price - by giving his victim a refund

This Just In...

April 11, 2003|By DAN RODRICKS

REMEMBER THE guy who robbed a woman in front of her rowhouse on a Sunday night in January - "Don't make me do it," he said, suggesting a weapon that was never seen - then turned up the next morning at a job fair in a Catholic school where, by stunning coincidence, he unknowingly came face to face with his victim? (She was a volunteer at the job fair and recognized the man who took her purse as soon as he approached the registration table.) Police were summoned and arrested the guy.

This week, he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault. A judge gave him three years in prison, but then suspended the sentence and ordered 18 months of supervised probation and full restitution. The defendant immediately handed $425 in cash over to the prosecutor, who handed it to the victim, which makes the whole thing sound like a loan or something.

The victim says she feels relieved, and I guess I would, too. Maybe with all the prison overcrowding, clogged dockets and systemic dysfunction in criminal justice, getting your money back is the best you can hope for.

Breaking the barriers

When I first met Art Nierenberg, he and other volunteers were already scheming to make Morgan Run, the trout stream in Carroll County, accessible to the disabled. Art was in a wheelchair, and he loved to fish with a fly rod. He loved rivers and the little fish in them - he liked the big fish, too! - and he joined Trout Unlimited because he admired that group's history of advocacy for the habitat of trout and its efforts to restore streams.

The Morgan Run project seemed simple, but it took a lot of time and planning. A TU member from Baltimore, Tom Gamper, worked closely with Art on the project, and I wasn't surprised to see Tom's name show up in Art's obituary this week.

"How do you describe someone that heroic?" Tom was quoted in the obituary. "He ... broke through any barriers that said he couldn't do something. He did more in his own life than most able-bodied individuals."

What Art, a longtime advocate for the disabled, and Tom, a Baltimore architect, wanted to do was a little landscaping along Morgan Run, so that a man in a wheelchair and his son might come within casting distance of a pool containing hungry trout. I remember seeing Art out there, after the wheelchair access had become a reality. He was content with fishing in that one place. The rest of us were able to hike the stream and cast into more of its nooks and crannies. But as limited as Art's access was to Morgan Run, I'd never see a happier man fishing.

Back in the soup

Our official food taster, Joey Amalfitano, says: "My joneses for Maryland crab soup have intensified. So now I have two other nominees for top ranking - Dead Freddie's in Bel Air (a little pricey but three claws to a bowl, baby) and Schultz's in Middle River (full of crab flavor and eight or nine vegetables that I personally counted)."

Notes from all over

You heard it here first: Aja Johnson, a 12-year-old girl from Northeast Baltimore and an extraordinary young singer - I heard her do "I Have Loved You" at a friend's wedding last year - will be taking the part of Little Inez in Hairspray, the musical of the John Waters' film, either in the Broadway production or with a touring company. She auditioned for the part Monday in New York, wearing a 1960s-style dress (purchased for $10 at Vanessa Vintage Treasures in Federal Hill). High-fives, young lady.

Speaking of Hairspray (and the 1950s TV dance show on which it was partly based): Buddy Deane was in town for an appointment at the Wilmer Eye Institute and then served as host for a dance at the Sparrows Point Country Club.

Dr. Doo Wop, a favorite radio music man in these parts but silenced for a while, might be headed back on the airwaves at WYPR-FM.

You have to like this lineup for the Baltimore Blues Festival, May 8-11, at Patterson Park: Levon Helm and Canned Heat.

Spotted at Whole Foods, Mount Washington: Ray Liotta. If you see him again, have Ray give me a call at 410-332-6166.

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