Week In Review

December 11, 2005

Odd twist leads to recovery of jewels

The daring armed robberies of two suburban jewelry stores might have been solved by an unlikely source: a Baltimore policeman who has admitted taking some of the nearly $1 million in loot during a traffic stop of one of the robbery suspects.

Police zeroed in on Officer David A. Williamson after his wife pawned diamonds at a Dundalk shop, according to court documents. Williamson's attorney told investigators that the officer "obtained" the items during the arrest in Baltimore of Brian O'Neal Hodge, 39, on a gun charge, documents show.

Williamson has not been charged with a crime. He was suspended with pay Nov. 24 and the Baltimore Police Department is investigating how he came to have stolen property, said spokesman Matt Jablow.

"Officer Williamson is being fully cooperative with all authorities," said Michael J. Belsky, the attorney for the officer.

On Tuesday, Baltimore County police arrested Hodge and Harford police arrested Corey Reuben Cooper, 26. The Gwynn Oak men were charged with armed robbery in the thefts at J&M Jewelers in Bel Air on Nov. 14 and Bromwell Jewelers in Timonium on Nov. 26, according to police.

A third man, Rodnell Shirley James, was arrested on allegations of involvement with the Timonium robbery, according to police. Police say she confessed during an interview and implicated Hodge and Cooper, according to charging documents.

At the time of their arrest, Hodge and James were wearing jewelry that had been taken in the robberies, Harford County Sheriff's Office spokesman Robert B. Thomas said.

Police have recovered $100,000 worth of stolen items, Thomas said. Still missing are a silver chalice and paten, given to the Rev. James Barker of St. Ignatius Church in Forest Hill when he was ordained 25 years ago. The items had been taken to J&M Jewelers for refurbishing. Considered a family heirloom, the chalice was "irreplaceable," Barker said, and a parishioner has offered a $5,000 reward for its return.

Friday, Dec. 9. Page 1A

Development official taking on new job

Harford County's top economic development official, who helped land thousands of jobs for Aberdeen Proving Ground, will take a new post next month directing the effort to market a region about to be transformed by the influx of defense workers and residents. J. Thomas Sadowski will join the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, a public-private partnership, as executive vice president. He will oversee the organization's information technology/defense and financial services. "We're asking him to lead the charge," said Christian S. Johansson, chairman and chief executive of the alliance. "He's someone who knows the region and can work across districts to make this a truly regional effort. "The base realignment and closure process - known as BRAC - is expected to bring more than 11,000 government jobs to Fort Meade and the proving ground over the next decade. Many private contractor positions also will be added. Estimates, which seem to change by the week, put the total at 60,000 new jobs statewide.As with the effort to bring the jobs to Maryland's military bases and surrounding areas, officials at all levels of government are finding that there will be much overlap in the planning process. To that effect, Sadowski's new position will keep him active with Harford as he steps into the regional spotlight. He will retain his position as head of a BRAC task force appointed by County Executive David R. Craig last month. He previously worked with the Economic Alliance as a member of its advisory board, which is made up of economic development directors from surrounding counties.

Wednesday, Dec. 7, Business, Page 1D

Dam owner set for good deed

You can't get there from here," the punch line to an old New England joke about asking for directions, could also apply to Maryland anglers attempting to find access to the water.

It is, however, a cruel joke: a state with thousands of miles of waterfront and fewer and fewer ways to get there.

Shoreline development and a bumper crop of "No Trespassing" signs have put the squeeze on folks who don't live on the water or have a boat or have friends who have boats.

At a meeting at Department of Natural Resources headquarters this month, perch fishermen ticked off a number of traditional fishing spots that are no longer available to them. Security concerns at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant and the LNG dock have closed some prime Chesapeake Bay hot spots (although no one seems to mind boats bobbing up and down next to the Bay Bridge supports).

Even a tiny stream in Montgomery County that seemed hardly worth a second glance to developers will soon be walled in by McMansions.

So when a big company volunteers to unfurl the welcome mat on a prime piece of fishing real estate, the sun shines, the birds sing and the angling angels weep.

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