State Digest


January 17, 2007

Woman pleads guilty over illegal licenses

A state worker pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Greenbelt to fraudulently issuing 162 driver's licenses, largely to illegal immigrants, as part of a scheme with a car dealership employee.

Candace N. Green of Landover worked for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration from 2001 until Sept. 26, a department spokesman said. Officials said they could not divulge Green's current job status because of privacy restrictions.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in the Maryland section yesterday by the Capital News Service about the emerald ash borer in Prince George's County incorrectly stated that 2,000 trees must be removed. In fact, 2,000 trees must be removed in residential neighborhoods, but 20,000 to 30,000 trees must be removed in total. THE SUN REGRETS THE ERROR

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, prosecutors said Green, 34, worked at the MVA office in Beltsville, where she issued Maryland drivers' licenses and identification cards.

Prosecutors said others, including a car dealership employee who pleaded guilty earlier, found applicants who were illegal immigrants and were willing to pay to obtain driver's licenses.

Applicants then went to the Beltsville branch of the MVA and were directed to Green's workstation, where they received illegal licenses, the court papers say.

Green received about $1,300 for each fraudulently issued license, prosecutors said.

After she was arrested Sept. 16, Green told investigating agents that she stored some of the profits from the illegal licenses in her home, officials said. Later, agents recovered $9,000 in a bowling ball bag.

Green could receive up to 15 years in prison when she returns for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus on July 6.

Matthew Dolan

Prince George's

Man, 22, pleads guilty to murder in arson death of UM student

A 22-year-old Prince George's County man pleaded guilty to murder yesterday in the arson death of a University of Maryland, College Park student at an off-campus house last year, prosecutors said.

Daniel Murray of Berwyn Heights pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, malicious destruction of property and seven counts of reckless endangerment stemming from the April 2005 fire in the 7500 block of Princeton Ave. in College Park that killed Michael Anthony Scrocca, a 22-year-old finance major from Branchburg, N.J., Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said.

Murray admitted to investigators when he was charged in May 2006 that he had "started an intentional fire on the porch of the house," according to charging documents.

Investigators ruled Scrocca's death a homicide about a week after the fire, based on the discovery of a gasoline can on the porch of the house where he and other students lived. The house had been the scene of a party that night.

Murray is scheduled to be sentenced March 30.

Nicole Fuller

Trees to be felled, ground up to combat invasive ash borer

In an effort to control an invasive insect, the Maryland Department of Agriculture plans next week to begin chopping down and grinding up ash trees in residential neighborhoods in Prince George's County.

State officials first warned Prince George's residents of a new infestation of the emerald ash borer - an invasive beetle that killed about 25 million ash trees in the Midwest - in letters in September. The department has been cutting down all ash trees in an 11,500-acre area of southern Prince George's and is planning to extend its efforts into residential neighborhoods.

If the infestation extends beyond Prince George's, officials estimate, it could cause up to $227 million in damage in the Baltimore area. Ash trees account for about 10 percent of the street trees in Baltimore and 20 percent of streamside trees, which are important for water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

The invasive beetle made its first appearance in Maryland in 2003, with the delivery of tainted trees from Michigan to a nursery in Prince George's. Last year, state agriculture inspectors found the beetle again in trees planted as "bait" in the previously infested areas to determine whether the ash borer was still there.

Scientists think that when an ash tree is infested by the beetle, ash trees within a half-mile will also be infested within a year. Because the infestation began three years ago, state forestry officials must examine trees within 1 1/2 miles of each infested tree.

The beetle cannot be killed with pesticides because it lives under the bark, disrupting the water and nutrient flow of the tree. The only way to kill the larvae is to kill the tree and chop up the bark. State officials want to remove 2,000 trees before March 31, when the larvae begin to hatch and adult beetles leave the trees.


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