August 16, 2007

Scrap yard fire forces traffic away from tunnel

A multiple-alarm fire at a South Baltimore scrap yard last night caused Maryland Transportation Authority Police to divert late-night traffic approaching the Harbor Tunnel for more than an hour onto other routes.

Reported at 9:43 p.m., the fire in the Fairfield area sent heavy smoke across a bridge near Frankfurst Avenue south of the Interstate 895 toll plaza, said Cpl. Jonathan Green, a Transportation Authority Police spokesman.

Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman, said the fire broke out at Baltimore Scrap Yard in the 1600 block of Carbon Ave. and involved a scrap heap more than 40 feet tall. He said junked cars, water heaters, refrigerators, oil drums and an assortment of other metal products were burning.

Because of the fire's intensity, a nearby vat containing 100,000 gallons of fuel initially caused concern, Cartwright said. But the fuel was later considered not to be a threat because it was 250 feet from the blaze, he said.

There were no injuries and nearby houses and industries were not at risk.

Green said northbound I-895 traffic was forced to make a U-turn at the toll plaza and was put onto Childs Street. From there, traffic used Hanover Street in Brooklyn and was directed onto northbound I-95. Southbound I-895 traffic was diverted onto Keith Avenue and then southbound I-95, Green said.

The fire was under control at 11:14 p.m., fire officials said. Traffic patterns returned to normal by 11:20 p.m., Green said.

Richard Irwin


: Federal court

Aberdeen man sentenced in scheme

An Aberdeen man was sentenced yesterday to two years and three months in prison for lying on financial documents, an act that caused the nation's export-import credit agency to lose $6.4 million, federal prosecutors said.

In April, Kweku Wiredu Acquah, 62, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to making a false statement on a loan and credit application.

Prosecutors said he falsely claimed that buyers paid Bedford International, a company he ran and was on North Charles Street in Baltimore, a 15 percent down payment to export heavy machinery to Africa. He was then able to obtain government backing for loans.

"As a result of Mr. Acquah's financial scheme, the U.S. government was misled into guaranteeing loans to foreigners at the expense of U.S. taxpayer dollars," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.


Murder charges dropped; man freed A suspect in a killing who was mistakenly released from custody in May had his charges dropped by prosecutors, a spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office said yesterday.

Margaret T. Burns, the spokeswoman, said prosecutors did not have enough evidence to proceed with a case against James C. Burton, charged with killing Aaron Godbolt, 23, in March 2006 as Godbolt stood on Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore.

The first trial for Burton ended in a hung jury and had been scheduled for retrial Tuesday.

Burton had been held without bail since his arrest last year and was in the state prison system because he also was serving the remaining years on a drug conviction. He was inadvertently released, prison officials said, when his drug sentence ran out and paperwork ordering him held pending his murder trial could not be found.

Shortly after his release, prosecutors notified Burton's attorney, and Burton turned himself in. Burns said Burton has now been freed from custody.

West side

Man, 25, who fell to his death is named

The man who was killed Tuesday after he fell off a bridge over U.S. 40 in West Baltimore while fleeing from police officers was identified yesterday as a 25-year-old city man.

A police spokeswoman said John Gideon Cook ran from uniformed officers who were about to stop him on suspicion of being armed in the 1800 block of Harlem Ave. Cook ran, climbed over a chain link fence along the U.S. 40 bridge and tried to maneuver along a wall when he fell 50 feet, police said.

Cook was then struck by a motorist who could not swerve in time to avoid him, police said.

Police said Cook was in possession of a Taurus .357 Magnum handgun. He was on probation through mid-2008 after being convicted of second-degree assault four years ago, court records show.

Gus G. Sentementes

Check fraud

Former claims adjustor sentenced

A former insurance claims adjustor was sentenced yesterday to five years' probation and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service for her role in a scheme to steal fraudulent workers' compensation checks, according to the Maryland attorney general's office.

Prosecutors said that Baltimore Circuit Judge John M. Glynn also gave Natalie L. Mack, 40, a 15-year suspended prison sentence and ordered her to pay $153,000 in restitution.

Mack, a CompManagement Inc. employee, worked with Andre Stover, a former Baltimore police officer, in securing fraudulent disability and medical payment checks, prosecutors said. Stover has pleaded guilty.

Howard County

: Ellicott City

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