Week In Review

November 11, 2007

Annapolis

Navy physician sentenced to 4 years

A Navy physician was sentenced Friday to nearly four years in a brig after a military jury found that he had secretly recorded Naval Academy midshipmen having sex in his Annapolis home.

The jury also dismissed Cmdr. Kevin J. Ronan from the Navy and stripped him of his government pension.

The 10-day general court-martial at the Washington Navy Yard concluded with Ronan, who turned 42 yesterday, being escorted in handcuffs through a cold rain into a van. He declined to talk to reporters.

Before sentencing, Ronan told jurors it was a "privilege" to wear his Navy uniform and that he never dishonored it during his 16 years in the military. But he expressed regret at buying the surveillance equipment that was used to tape the midshipmen.

"A crime occurred in my house with equipment I knowingly provided," Ronan said. "I take responsibility for that and the people that were hurt by that."

In the morning, the jury convicted Ronan of all charges against him -- seven counts of conduct unbecoming an officer, three counts of illegal wiretapping and one count of obstruction of justice.

A section, Saturday

Pasadena

Former fire company treasurer to pay fine

The former treasurer of an embattled Pasadena volunteer fire company admitted Wednesday that he used more than $50,000 in department funds to pay his mortgage, credit card bills and car payments, the first conviction amid a wave of allegations of impropriety that police said they continue to investigate.

Kelly T. McColl, 41, entered an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to deny guilt while acknowledging that prosecutors have enough evidence to gain a conviction. As part of the plea, he agreed to pay back half of the money stolen from the Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Company. He could not provide a timetable for the payments.

In a victim impact statement provided to Judge William C. Mulford II, Riviera Beach's current president, Ed Kiser Jr., said the company's troubles have resulted from a few "bad seeds."

Convincing the public, whose donations the company relies on, hasn't been easy, he said. Firehouse bank accounts are drying up, and membership has dropped off

"This company is financially, physically and morally headed for bankruptcy," Kiser wrote in a letter emblazoned with the company's slogan: "Nobody Does it Better."

Maryland section, Thursday

Annapolis

Academy graduates sue alumni group

A pair of Naval Academy graduates has sued the school's powerful alumni association, accusing the top leaders of flouting the board's bylaws and demanding they be thrown out for allegedly violating term limits.

The two graduates, backed by a former commandant of the Marine Corps, who filed the lawsuit Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, accuse the board of the 48,000-member association of manipulating last year's election to keep the incumbent chairman in office. They point to a continuing discussion about scrapping elections altogether as further evidence that the alumni association is alienating members.

"We saw that we weren't having any success at all in trying to work through the system to get internal change brought about -- as a matter of fact, it looks as if the situation is going to continue to move in the direction of less and less voice for the members," said Michael O. Tackney, a 1964 graduate from Baton Rouge, La., who is one of the plaintiffs. "We decided the best thing to do was to go ahead and take [legal] action."

Association leaders say the complaints come from a small cadre of dissidents who are causing problems because their candidate for chairman was passed over.

"At first blush, [the lawsuit] looks like it's nothing more than the allegations of their May letter, to which we responded in great detail in June," said Skid Heyworth, an association spokesman and 1970 graduate. "It's a distraction. But we are committed to stay on our mission."

Maryland section, Wednesday

Anne Arundel

Habitat seeks to fix neighborhood

Suddenly, the little porticos are everywhere in Brooklyn -- signs of life at homes that were once vacant, and symbols of hope in a neighborhood where drugs were once sold fearlessly in the daylight.

They are the signatures of Arundel Habitat for Humanity, which is concentrating its efforts on five blighted blocks in the South Baltimore community. Reasoning that a home is only as good as the neighborhood it's in, the group is buying and rehabbing homes at a rapid rate to turn around a neighborhood on the brink. During the past two years, Habitat has gutted and rebuilt a dozen World War II-era homes on those five blocks. Four more homes are now being rehabilitated. And Wednesday, the Baltimore Board of Estimates is expected to approve the sale of 16 more vacant homes in the area to Arundel Habitat. The group is closing on two others this week as well, bought on the open market.

When the work is completed in a few years, fully a quarter of the homes in this corner of Brooklyn will have been rehabbed by Arundel Habitat.

Maryland section, Wednesday

Annapolis

Football victory gives Mids free time

First-year midshipmen, or plebes, were allowed off campus Sunday, a break from rules that typically keep them in their dorms or at the library on Sundays, and classes Monday were canceled -- all in recognition of the Naval Academy's thrilling football victory over the University of Notre Dame.

Such reprieves come at a time when the academy has made headlines for cutting back on Mids' free time, canceling pep rallies and scaling back incentives for attending out-of-town football games. Then again, Saturday's game wasn't just another victory: The Navy football team snapped a 43-game losing streak against the Irish in a triple-overtime shootout in South Bend, Ind., defeating a down-on-its-luck Notre Dame squad and tilting one of the most lopsided rivalries in college sports.

After the game, there were parties and celebrations that lasted into the night.

Maryland section, Monday

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