Guard accused of aiding robbery

She drove getaway car for two teens, police say

Supervisor at jail for juveniles

September 01, 2005|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

A guard at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center is accused of driving the getaway vehicle used during an armed robbery by two young men who were formerly housed at the juvenile jail.

Elaine Okehie, 29, who has worked at the juvenile justice center as a youth supervisor since January 2003, has been suspended with pay pending further investigation, authorities said.

She is charged with driving two 18-year-olds to Canton, where they allegedly held up a couple at gunpoint and fled in her van.

An attorney for Okehie acknowledged that she knew the two men because she supervised them when they were incarcerated at the justice center.

But the lawyer, Margaret Mead, said Okehie was only giving them a ride home and was not involved in any crime.

"She adamantly denies any involvement in or knowledge of the robbery," Mead said.

Okehie was on her way home after working an afternoon shift Aug. 23 when the two men, whom she recognized from their previous stays at the center, flagged her down, Mead said. Okehie also knew one of the two because they lived in the same neighborhood, the attorney said. She agreed to give them a ride.

According to a police report, the robbery occurred shortly before 1 a.m. on the sidewalk in the 3200 block of Hudson St.

A man, 50, and woman, 49, reported that two men "came out of nowhere" and confronted them. One flashed a silver handgun, demanding money from the man and ordering the woman to give them her purse, according to the police report.

A witness told police she saw a white van drop the two off near where the robbery occurred.

The pair held up the couple before running down an alley, the witness said, then the van returned to pick them up.

Police said they stopped the van in the 1200 block of S. Ellwood Ave.The victims identified the suspects as the two men who had held them up. Both men were arrested and charged with armed robbery, as was Okehie, the van's driver.

The woman's purse and other items stolen from the couple were found inside the van, the police report says.

The report identified the suspects as Deon Thomas, 18, of the 400 block of E. 43rd St., and John Brooks, 18, of the 400 block of E. Federal St.

But Troy Harris, a Police Department spokesman, said a later report lists different names for the two - Derrick Thompson and Mark Myers. The later report gives the same ages and addresses.

Harris said people sometimes give false names when they are arrested.

Mead said the two men asked Okehie to let them out so they could drop off or pick up a game, and she agreed to wait. Okehie drove around the block while waiting, the attorney said, because she didn't want to double park.

"When she came back to pick them up, she figured out they had done something that was inappropriate ... so she stopped the van and was yelling at them to get out," Mead said.

The attorney said police initially told Okehie that no charges would be filed against her.

"She did not violate the law," Mead said. "I think this was probably some juveniles who took advantage of her."

LaWanda Edwards, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, said that agency is conducting an internal investigation.

"She has been placed on administrative leave," Edwards said.

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