News from around the Baltimore region

July 12, 2005


Swearing-in set today for state's U.S. attorney

The chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Baltimore is expected to swear in Rod J. Rosenstein as U.S. attorney for Maryland this morning.

Rosenstein, 40, of Bethesda, was nominated by President Bush, who signed his commission Saturday. He has been approved by the Senate.

With a substantial background in public-corruption prosecutions, including the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration, Rosenstein most recently served as principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's tax division in Washington. He also worked as a federal prosecutor in Maryland from 1997 to 2001.

At the state's top federal prosecutor, supervising 70 attorneys in offices in Baltimore and Greenbelt, Rosenstein will face many challenges, including balancing resources between fighting white-collar crime and public corruption and prosecuting drug and gun violence in the state's urban areas.

Today's private swearing-in is expected to be followed by a public ceremony next month, officials said.

- Matthew Dolan


Sykesville couple guilty of assault on 2 officers

A Sykesville couple accused of assaulting two police officers during an argument at a McDonald's restaurant were convicted yesterday in Howard County Circuit Court of second-degree assault.

Charles Franklin Gaither Sr., 54, and Bertha Gaither, 50, of the 6600 block of Sykesville Road pleaded not guilty to assaulting the Howard County police officers. But the couple agreed to a statement of facts by the state's attorney's office.

The incident occurred Sept. 19, as two officers attempted to disperse a crowd that had gathered at the McDonald's at 4300 Montgomery Road in Ellicott City after an argument between a restaurant manager and a customer, according to the statement read by Assistant State's Attorney Colleen E. McGuinn.

The officers were attempting to arrest the couple's son, Charles Gaither Jr., 35, of the 6600 block of Sykesville Road, when Bertha Gaither struck an officer near the eye, and Charles Gaither Sr. kicked the other officer, according to McGuinn.

In May, Charles Gaither Jr. pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree assault. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9. His parents are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16.

- Laura Cadiz


Repairs to Hamilton gas line expected to be finished today

Repairs to a natural gas line that feeds much of the Hamilton community in Northeast Baltimore were expected to be completed early today.

A 20-inch line was broken yesterday by the operator of a backhoe who was doing repair work on a sewer line, said a spokesman for the city Fire Department.

No injuries were reported, and gas service to four businesses was affected, said Clay Perry, a spokesman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. No homes were evacuated, but employees of the four businesses were briefly evacuated, Perry said.

About 11:30 a.m., a private contractor was excavating an area near Belair Road and Hamilton Avenue and struck the gas line, sending a noisy 25-foot high geyser of gas and dirt into the air, said Kevin Cartwright, the Fire Department spokesman.

As BGE crews shut down valves to decrease the pressure so repairs could begin, the Fire Department's HazMat Task Force and BGE workers entered several homes and businesses to monitor gas levels, Cartwright said.

Gas levels were near zero and posed no danger of explosion or illness, Cartwright said.

Except for local residents, traffic between the 5000 to 6000 blocks of Belair Road and the 3500 to 4900 blocks of Hamilton Ave. was detoured while repairs were made, said Agent Donny Moses, a city police spokesman.

- Richard Irwin


House fire injures couple, causes $350,000 in damage

A Lisbon couple remained in the hospital yesterday, being treated for injuries they suffered as they escaped their blazing home early Sunday, Howard County fire officials said.

Charlotte Hudgins, 60, was asleep upstairs when she heard the fire alarm about 1 a.m. Her screams awoke her husband, who was in the basement.

The two rushed to escape through a sliding glass door but couldn't open it, Deputy Chief Kevin Simmons said. The trapped couple had to run through the fire, which had started in the living room, and down to the basement to escape, Simmons said.

James Hudgins, 60, doused his wife, Charlotte Hudgins, with water from a garden hose and placed her in the swimming pool until firefighters arrived, Fire Department spokesman William Mould said.

Both victims were flown to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where Charlotte Hudgins was in fair condition and her husband in critical condition yesterday.

The home in the 16000 block of Old Frederick Road sustained $250,000 in structural damage. The damage to contents of the home was estimated at $100,000. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

- Melissa Harris


2 on council seek to smooth path for school volunteers

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