State Digest


July 14, 2006

Police investigate Elkton teen's death

Police are awaiting a toxicology report that they hope will determine what caused the death of an Elkton teen whose body was found in June off Cape May, N.J.

Nicholas Gochnour, 18, was last seen June 14 in Ocean City arguing with several people outside a nightclub. His body was found nearly two weeks later. He had been celebrating his high school graduation in Ocean City.

Investigators are also waiting for a drift analysis from the Coast Guard that should determine if it was likely that Gochnour's body floated from Ocean City to Cape May, said Patrolman 1st Class Barry Neeb, an Ocean City police spokesman.

The toxicology report from the New Jersey medical examiner was delayed because of wrangling between that state's governor and General Assembly over the state budget, which led to a weeklong government shutdown. Police need to see the toxicology report and the drift analysis before they can decide what steps to take next, Neeb said.

Meanwhile, Gochnour's friends and family continue to provide police with "tidbits of information," Neeb said. They indicated he was not a good swimmer and said it would be unlike him to go swimming. "We have no evidence that he went swimming," Neeb said.


Montgomery Co.

GOP names Madaleno opponent

Richard S. Madaleno, a Montgomery County state delegate unopposed in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, won't be getting a free pass to the Maryland Senate after all.

The Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, declining to give the 18th District lawmaker a promotion by default, has appointed former Hawaii legislator David Stegmaier its candidate after nobody filed for the GOP nomination before the July 3 deadline. Party committees have until July 18 to designate a candidate in districts with a vacancy on the ballot.

Stegmaier, 58, faces an uphill battle in one of Maryland's most liberal districts. The former lawmaker, who served in Hawaii's lower house from 1988 to 2000 as a Democrat, said he moved to Montgomery County in 2000 to care for his parents, who have since died. He said he has "no illusions" about his prospects and doesn't intend to spend a lot of money but wanted to give voters a choice.

A former legislative analyst, Madaleno is considered a budget expert and earned a distinction in 2002 by becoming the first openly gay politician elected to the House of Delegates as a nonincumbent.


Bar owner guilty in drug scam

The co-owner of an Eastern Shore bar pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Baltimore to money laundering in connection with her husband's distribution of heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs.

Wendy Apostolopoulos, 37, of Salisbury admitted in court papers that from 1999 to November 2005, her husband, Paul, bought large quantities of cocaine and heroin in New York and Maryland, along with prescription drugs, including hydrocodone and oxycodone. Drug sales took place at Pestos Bar and Grill, which was owned and operated by the couple.

Wendy Apostolopoulos could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison when she returns to court on Sept. 29.

Her husband has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 15.



Bones of man missing since '80s

Human bones found near the Appalachian Trail in the Pen Mar area of northern Washington County have been identified as the remains of an area resident whose family last heard from him in the 1980s, police said yesterday.

A wallet found with the bones on July 7 contained an identification card of Charles Calvin Lessner, who would have been 54 this year, Maryland State Police said in a statement.

Lessner, a Vietnam veteran and black belt karate enthusiast, had lived with a girlfriend named Phyllis in the Cascade area, police said. Authorities asked for the public's help in locating anyone who knew them.

The remains have been turned over to the state medical examiner's office for possible determination of the cause of death.


Woman seeks review of sentence

A woman convicted of attempted second-degree murder for leaving her newborn son in an alley is seeking a review of her five-year prison sentence.

Kelly E. Ruck's lawyers have filed a motion to modify her sentence but haven't yet asked for a hearing.

Ruck, 26, was convicted in Washington County Circuit Court on April 24 after entering an Alford plea to the attempted murder charge as part of a plea bargain. Under an Alford plea, she didn't admit guilt but acknowledged the state had enough evidence for a jury to find her guilty.

She was sentenced to 20 years with all but five suspended.


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