City / County Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

May 29, 2008

Video machines case probed

Baltimore County police yesterday said that the more than 100 video machines seized this month were used for illegal gambling, and that they have referred the case to county prosecutors.

The county state's attorney's office has two weeks to decide whether to file charges, according to a court order.

Vice squad detectives seized 110 machines owned by Carbond Inc. from 41 restaurants, bars and other establishments May 8 in one of the largest such raids in recent history, police said. After Carbond filed court papers asking that the police be ordered to return the machines, a judge gave police two weeks to determine whether the machines are gambling devices.

Officials from the state's attorney office said the case is under investigation. A lawyer for Carbond, Steven Wyman, said yesterday that he expects the case to proceed to court, but he maintains that the machines are legal.

Brent Jones

Baltimore

U.S. Attorney

Prosecutors, workers honored for service

Several attorneys and other employees of the Maryland U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore have received awards for their service in aiding prosecutions last year.

The office's senior litigation counsel, Stephen M. Schenning, got one of the top commendations, the Gary Jordan Award, named after former Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary P. Jordan, who died in 1996. The winner is recognized for "exemplary performance" and dedication.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen O. Gavin and Michael J. Leotta were recognized for the prosecution of former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, who is to start serving his seven-year prison sentence July 1 after being convicted on bribery charges for accepting payoffs from a Baltimore construction company in return for securing publicly funded contracts. Also recognized for his efforts in the Bromwell case was FBI Special Agent Pete Twardowicz.

Other recipients include Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ariana Wright Arnold, Jonathan Biran, Tonya Kelly Kowitz, John F. Purcell, Andrea L. Smith, Bonnie Greenberg, Michele W. Satori and office spokeswoman Marcia A. Murphy.

Southwest

Man acquitted of carjacking charges

A Baltimore jury acquitted a 20-year-old city man last week on charges that he carjacked a priest at the Shrine of the Little Flower church and robbed another man at gunpoint in the Lakeland neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore, according to court records.

Catherine Flynn, the attorney for Angelo Parker of the 2600 block of Marbourne Ave., said Circuit Judge John Prevas' decision to sever the cases helped the defense.

In the second incident, Erik Sanchez had his pay stub and keys stolen. Those items were later found in the priest's stolen white Jaguar. Both men separately identified Parker as their assailant in photo arrays, but because the cases were severed, prosecutors could present only one identification, rather than two, in each case.

"There wasn't a lot of [police] follow-up," Flynn said. "They couldn't even really prove there was a robbery but for [Sanchez's] testimony."

In the carjacking of the priest, Flynn said police recovered DNA evidence indicating that another person who lives in Parker's neighborhood had been inside the Jaguar, a gift to the Rev. James Miles from his cousin. Miles said during a pre-trial hearing that three men carjacked him, but only one sped away in the car while two others fled on foot.

Miles "initially told the patrol officer that he saw all three get in the car," Flynn said. "His recollection was a little shaky."

Melissa Harris

Board of Estimates

Increases in water, sewer rates approved

Baltimore's Board of Estimates approved a 4 percent increase in water and sewer rates yesterday - an increase that would result in about a $30 annual increase in bills for the average household.

The rate increases would have a direct effect on customers in Baltimore and the surrounding counties that use city water, including Howard, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties.

City officials have said the rate increases are needed to pay for federally required sewer upgrades. The city also approved several programs to help low-income residents pay their water and sewer bills.

Talbot County

Schools

Funds approved for student laptops

The Talbot County Council has adopted a budget for the next fiscal year that includes $775,000 for personal laptop computers for public school students.

The computer initiative and the entire $82 million budget were approved Tuesday in separate 4-1 votes.

Under the so-called 1-to-1 Laptop Initiative, incoming ninth-grade students are supplied with computers they can use throughout high school.

Next year's laptops will be leased.

The laptops used by current ninth-graders were purchased with private donations.

Associated Press

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