News from around the Baltimore region

August 05, 2005


Woman gets two years for flipping properties

Calling her a "parasite" on some of the city's poorest people, a federal judge in Baltimore handed down a two-year prison sentence yesterday for the 100th defendant convicted in a broad investigation into illegal real estate transactions that cost the federal government and private lenders millions of dollars in losses.

Mazie Louise Jennings, 56, of Baltimore sobbed as U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis imposed the sentence. Jennings earlier pleaded guilty to violating federal housing laws when she bought 49 residential properties, largely in East Baltimore, and resold them at illegally inflated prices. Losses were estimated at more than $500,000.

She could have received five years in prison.

Her accomplice, former settlement agent Kim M. Blackwell, received three years of probation - 10 months of it to be served in home confinement.

- Matthew Dolan


Developer opposes appeal on building townhouses

An attorney for the developer who won a Carroll County Circuit Court ruling over a disputed 254-townhouse development in Eldersburg has called the county's appeal of the judge's order a stall tactic.

In papers filed yesterday with the Circuit Court, Benjamin Rosenberg, attorney for Carrolltowne Development Partnership, opposed further delays.

"This is yet another ploy," said Rosenberg. "There should come a time when decency and respect for the law would put an end to this."

Threatened by Judge Michael M. Galloway with contempt charges and the possibility of jail, the Carroll Planning and Zoning Commission approved a site plan for the development last month. The commission had previously denied the project, based on the crowded schools, congested roads and scarcity of water in Carroll's most populous area.

The county commissioners have appealed the judge's order to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and have asked Galloway to stay his ruling forcing the site plan's approval, pending the appeal.

- Mary Gail Hare


Crofton man pleads guilty, gets 1 year in bribery case

A 42-year-old Crofton man was sentenced to one year and a day in federal prison yesterday after pleading guilty in Baltimore's U.S. District Court to conspiracy to commit bribery.

Judge Frederick J. Motz also ordered two years of supervised probation for the defendant, Frank McCreary, after his release.

According to court papers, between 1999 and 2003 McCreary - while working as a realty specialist for the regional Department of Veterans Affairs office - steered contracts for repair work on VA-owned houses to a company owned by Carmelo Vizzi, 48, of Perry Hall, in exchange for bribes of $250 to $600.

In addition, prosecutors said McCreary created false invoices for payments to Vizzi's company and received one-third of the payments in return. Vizzi pleaded guilty earlier to the same charge and received a two-year sentence.


Court allows city to keep billboards at 1st Mariner

Baltimore won another battle this week in its fight to keep billboards on the 1st Mariner Arena.

The Court of Special Appeals refused to reverse an earlier ruling that upheld the city's decision to make an exception to its 2003 billboard moratorium. The exception would allow 14 signs at the downtown arena as long as 14 billboards elsewhere in the city came down.

Property owners who lost income they had earned from leasing the billboard space challenged the city's decision.


Date to hear special-ed case switched to Monday

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has changed the date for a hearing on whether to grant the state more control over the Baltimore school system because of its troubled special education program.

The hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday. If necessary, it will continue on its previously scheduled date, Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Garbis presides over a 21-year-old special education lawsuit. The Maryland State Department of Education, a co-defendant in the case, has asked him to send state managers to oversee several school system departments. Lawyers for children with disabilities, who filed the suit in 1984, have asked him to send in an outside administrator to run special education programs and departments that affect it. The school system contends that both proposals amount to a takeover, which they say is unwarranted.

- Sara Neufeld


Adaptive sports expo today for athletes with disabilities

The Extreme and Adaptive Sports Expo featuring athletes with disabilities will take place today at Carroll Park.

The expo will feature a skateboarding demonstration by the Amped Riders Association, events by the League of Dreams wheelchair baseball team and the Maryland Ravens wheelchair basketball and baseball team, and therapeutic horseback riding.

The event is free and open to the public and runs from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the park, 1400 Washington Blvd.


Boy's champion cake sells for $3,000 at fair

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