Metro

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

News from around the Baltimore region

August 12, 2005

BALTIMORE

MICA finishes purchase of 2-story office building

The Maryland Institute College of Art announced yesterday its purchase of an 18,000-square-foot, two-story office building on Mount Royal Avenue, beside its campus.

MICA's board of trustees voted to purchase the building from the University of Maryland Health System when it became available in the spring, and the contract was made final July 27, according to the college.

The purchase of the building at 1501 Mount Royal will be fully financed by revenue from renting out the space, said spokeswoman Cheryl Knauer. Although the college did not announce the purchase price, records at the state Department of Assessments and Taxation show it was $2 million.

The current tenant, Mount Royal Medical Associates, will remain there and continue to provide health services to MICA students. A local technology firm, Catalyst IT Services, will take up the remaining space.

MICA plans to lease the building for five more years and then develop it for its own use, Knauer said. Along with the newly purchased building, MICA acquired a parking lot that will be used by the college on evenings and weekends.

The purchase is part of a master plan approved in 2000 to create an artist-oriented campus along Mount Royal Avenue and to expand the campus to accommodate more students.

-- William Wan

BALTIMORE

Labor union to offer grants to programs for at-risk youth

A Maryland health care labor union is launching a grant initiative that will award funds to programs for at-risk youth in Baltimore and Prince George's County.

The initiative, called the Brighter Future Grant Program, was announced by the regional division of 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers East. The union will award grants of $500 to $5,000, in hopes such programs for youth will counteract the effects of crime and drugs.

"Our union not only is committed to improving the living standards of health care workers, but we also want to improve the quality of life for people in our communities," union Vice President John Reid said in a statement.

The union sent letters soliciting proposals from 75 organizations in Baltimore and Prince George's County. It is also encouraging other civic, youth and faith-based groups to apply. The application deadline is Sept. 2, and the awarded grants will be announced Sept. 10. Applications are available at the union's Baltimore office at 611 Eutaw St.

BALTIMORE

Man, 48, sentenced in student loan fraud

An Ohio man was sentenced in federal court yesterday to two years in prison for using someone else's identifying information four times to obtain student loans, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. also sentenced Daniel A. Nwabufoh, 48, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio to three years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to student aid fraud.

According to court papers, Nwabufoh, originally from Nigeria, was issued a Social Security number based on a date of birth of Sept. 22, 1956. He attended the University of Texas at Dallas, where he received federal student loans on which he defaulted in 1987.

In the late 1980s, Nwabufoh used someone else's Social Security number to obtain student loans at the University of Southern California. In the early 1990s, Nwabufoh again used that person's information to obtain federal student loans while attending California State University, Northridge.

Starting in 1997, Nwabufoh used his name and the other person's Social Security number to secure loans and grants to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Finally, in 2001, Nwabufoh used a Social Security number other than his own to obtain federal student loans and grants to attend the University of Akron.

The losses on the fraudulently obtained student loans, aid and grants totaled $138,634, according to prosecutors. Nwabufoh was ordered to repay the U.S. Department of Education that amount.

BALTIMORE

Ohio man sentenced in vendor check scheme

A federal judge handed down a 2 1/2 -year sentence yesterday against the man who engineered a half-million-dollar scheme against local governments, including Baltimore. Authorities said the man posed as a vendor's representative and persuaded cities to send him substitute checks for ones issued to the companies.

James Leroy Shorts, 34, of Shaker Heights, Ohio, was arrested in March and charged with 10 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering related to allegations in Maryland. Prosecutors said the scheme cost Maryland $160,000. They said Shorts also secured 38 checks totaling about $370,000 from municipalities in Ohio, Indiana and California.

Shorts was sentenced in federal court in Baltimore by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. He pleaded guilty May 26 to four courts of wire and mail fraud. He could have received up to 20 years in prison on each count.

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