Challenge grant aims to help Catholic schools in city

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

December 15, 2006

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has announced a $3.5 million challenge grant aimed at boosting enrollment at 20 Catholic schools in Baltimore.

The goal is to provide tuition assistance to attract 500 students to Partners in Excellence schools, increasing enrollment to 2,250 from kindergarten through eighth grade. Matching funds raised through the program could support financial aid for current students in need.

Since its start a decade ago, Partners in Excellence has provided $13 million in aid to families - many of whom are not Catholic - who sacrifice to send their children to Catholic schools, Cardinal William H. Keeler said at a news conference yesterday. "Normally, private education is not completely open to the public," he said.

Donn Weinberg said the foundation intends to spend $10 million on education in Baltimore. The foundation announced this year that it would provide $11 million in financial aid for Jewish day schools by 2011.

Liz F. Kay

Baltimore: Sentencing

Probation given in ex-husband's death

A woman who helped a man convicted of killing her ex-husband has been sentenced to three years of probation for being an accessory after the fact.

Stephanie Madariaga and her boyfriend, Jason Beau Moody, fled briefly to the Dominican Republic after Moody shot to death Kevin Shields, 26, in July 2003 on a Northwest Baltimore parking lot.

Shields was killed in front of the young son of Madariaga and Shields. The boy, then 10, testified this fall at Moody's murder trial.

Moody, 31, who claimed the shooting was in self-defense, was convicted of manslaughter and weapons violations and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Moody, whom authorities have described as a sophisticated, dangerous criminal, is appealing his convictions.

Madariaga, 27, who also testified against Moody as part of her plea deal with prosecutors, was convicted of being an accessory after the fact.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Roger W. Brown sentenced her Wednesday to five years in prison, a term that he suspended, 11 months of home detention, which she has served, and probation.

Julie Bykowicz

REGION: REWARD

Suspect sought in string of robberies

Four Baltimore-area police agencies have joined to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for 14 robberies and attempted robberies in three counties over the past year and a half.

Ten of the incidents occurred in Howard County, three in Baltimore County and one in Harford County. Police agencies in those three counties joined the FBI in seeking the robber.

The most recent robbery occurred Dec. 13 in Columbia, when a slim black, man, 6 feet 2 inches tall with gray hair, crooked and broken teeth, and a big gap in his top front teeth entered Tower Federal Credit Union on Snowden Square Drive just before 6 p.m.

He implied that he had a weapon and got away with an undisclosed amount after demanding money. He has repeatedly hit banks in Ellicott City and northeastern Baltimore County, along with a Provident Bank in a Wal-Mart in Bel Air in February. The man was seen twice driving off in a 2002 or 2003 dark gray Nissan Maxima with tinted windows.

Anyone with information should call Howard County police at 410-313-3200.

Larry Carson

Anne Arundel: Accident

Gambrills woman killed on Route 3

A 67-year-old Gambrills woman died Wednesday night after being thrown from the Toyota coupe she was driving on foggy Route 3, a few miles from her home, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.

Barbara Ann Spiers had turned from Route 32 onto southbound Route 3 in a silver, two-door Solara about 10:30 p.m. when the car spun off the road, struck a dirt embankment and "went slightly airborne," police said.

Spiers was flown by helicopter to Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly with injuries to her head and chest. She was pronounced dead there.

Investigators suspect that Spiers was not wearing a seat belt. They were uncertain whether speed, weather or other factors played a role in the crash, police said.

Phillip McGowan

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