City / County Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

November 01, 2006

Robey to sign Howard Co. tax-relief bill

Howard County Executive James N. Robey said yesterday he will sign a property tax relief bill that will offer eligible seniors a 25 percent cut and freeze their property tax bill for as long as they own their homes. Homeowners must be 70 or older and have annual household incomes under $75,000 to qualify.

According to the 2000 census, about 14,000 county residents are in that age bracket, but the county has no information about how many own homes or would qualify under the income restrictions. The County Council approved the bill, 5-0, Monday. It becomes law 60 days after Robey signs the bill, likely this week, and will apply to property tax bills mailed July 1.

Larry Carson

Carroll County: Westminster

No charges in cyclist's death

No charges will be brought against a Carroll County sheriff's deputy whose police cruiser fatally struck a bicyclist in September, Westminster police said yesterday.

Cpl. Carlos Bustos, a five-year veteran, had been briefly placed on administrative leave after his car struck Mario Garcia Salgado, 21, a native of Mexico who had lived and worked in Westminster for about three years. Salgado was biking across Route 140 in Westminster when he was struck, police said.

Bustos had faced potential traffic citations in the Sept. 19 incident, said David P. Daggett, Carroll deputy state's attorney.

To avoid "any appearance of impropriety," the Howard County state's attorney's office reviewed the case and determined charges were not warranted, Daggett said. As a local deputy sheriff, Bustos has had regular contact with the Carroll prosecutor's office.

Bustos returned to work Sept. 24, according to Lt. Phil Kasten. Of about 65 deputies at the sheriff's office, Bustos is the only one fluent in Spanish.

Attempts to obtain comment from Salgado's family were unsuccessful yesterday.

Laura McCandlish

Arin Gencer

Baltimore: Justice

Imprudent thief gets 10-year sentence

A Baltimore criminal who led police directly to him by reporting stolen a car that he had taken himself pleaded guilty Tuesday to carjacking and car theft. Gregory Alston, 21, of the 5300 block of Eastbury Ave. was sentenced in Baltimore Circuit Court to 10 years for each conviction, to be served at the same time. In April 2005, Alston stole a car from two women on Moravia Road in Northeast Baltimore, according to the statement of charges. Two weeks later, one of the women spotted the stolen car on the parking lot of Alston's apartment building, near where the carjacking occurred. She called police, and officers had the car towed to a station house. But when Alston saw that the car was gone, he, too, called police. Police interviewed Alston and promptly arrested him. The disbelieving detective who wrote the report ended it by writing: "Again, this really happened."

Julie Bykowicz

U.S. court

`Career offender' gets almost 27 years

A federal judge ordered a convicted felon from Baltimore to prison for almost 27 years yesterday for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and weapons-related charges. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Lamont Sanders, 30, as a "career offender," noting his prior drug and violent crime convictions, which include armed robbery. According to court documents entered at Sanders' guilty plea in June, police officers spotted him Oct. 10, 2005, selling drugs to an undercover officer. To get away, Sanders rammed a police car and led officers on a high-speed chase into Baltimore County before his arrest.

Matthew Dolan

West side

Fire destroys auto-repair business

A two-alarm fire destroyed a West Baltimore auto repair business last night, and police and fire officials were attempting to determine its cause.

Reported about 7 p.m. at On-Hand Diagnostics in the 2300 block of Evergreen St., the fire caused the roof and one wall of the single-story brick building to collapse, bringing extra pieces of fire apparatus to the scene, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman. "It looks like a total loss."

The owner of the company was outside when the fire broke out and raced inside to rescue his dog. Both escaped without injury, Cartwright said.

Richard Irwin

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