In The Region

IN THE REGION

October 30, 2008

Ex-state worker admits stealing $1.8 million

A former Maryland state employee pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing nearly $1.8 million from a state health department kidney disease program. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler says the former employee, Donna McRae Lam, took the money from the department's program in a scheme that lasted more than a decade. Gansler's office says that Lam added 14 fictitious health care providers to the program's computer system and filed 917 fake claims for payment. Sentencing on the felony charge is scheduled for Feb. 11.

Associated Press

Court overturns driver's manslaughter conviction

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has reversed the conviction of a Dundalk dump truck driver who had been convicted of manslaughter in the death of a 7-year-old boy. According to court documents filed yesterday, Kevin G. DiGennaro, 49, of Dundalk accidentally released a ton and a half of gravel onto state Route 136 near Churchville in Harford County on March 21, 2005. Soon after, 7-year-old Devon Sandmeier was killed when the vehicle in which he was a passenger skidded on the gravel and flipped. Police arrested DiGennaro under a Maryland law that requires drivers to remove spills and mark hazards they have caused. DiGennaro was convicted of vehicular manslaughter last year and sentenced to seven years in prison. The appeals court ruling hinged on the definition of the word "operate." The Harford County Circuit Court judge had decided that DiGennaro was "grossly negligent" in the "operation" of his vehicle. The appeals court, however, decided that leaving the gravel on the road did not constitute operating a vehicle in the legal definition of the term. While the court agreed that the truck driver had an obligation to remove the gravel, he was not guilty of vehicular manslaughter. Neither the appeals lawyer nor the state's lawyer was available for comment.

David Kohn

2 people hurt by collapse of rowhouse wall

The side of an East Baltimore building collapsed yesterday about 6 p.m., injuring two people, according to the city Fire Department. Fire officials do not know what caused the rowhouse, in the 1100 block of E. Oliver St., to crumple. Two individuals suffered minor injuries and were transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital. A car was destroyed by the falling bricks, fire officials said.

Brent Jones

Pair of think tanks issue warning on pensions

Maryland's public pension and retirement systems are underfunded for the long term, and tough economic times will tempt governments to fund them even less responsibly, warned two state think tanks yesterday. "The way Maryland's elected state and local officials deal with these issues is a sure litmus test of their political morality as individuals," wrote George Liebmann, executive director of the Calvert Institute for Public Policy, which produced the study with the libertarian-oriented Maryland Public Policy Institute. The authors contend that Republican and Democratic administrations have increased promises of retirement benefits to workers without making the necessary investments in the pension funds. The report recommends that lawmakers consider reducing some post-employment promises to public employees and adhere to strict funding formulas for pension programs.

Gadi Dechter

Two hurt as fire damages 2 boats at harbor marina

Two people were injured last night during a fire that extensively damaged two cabin cruisers moored at a marina off Key Highway in South Baltimore, a city Fire Department spokesman said. Chief Kevin Cartwright said a fire was reported aboard a 30-foot cabin cruiser about 10:30 p.m. at the Harbor View Marina, in the 500 block of Harbor View Drive near Anchor Street, and spread to a nearby vessel. He said two people were taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center for undetermined injuries. It was not known whether the injured were aboard one or both of the boats or were bystanders affected by heavy smoke that obscured the fire scene. The cause of the single-alarm fire is under investigation.

Richard Irwin

Md. Board of Elections site crashes on deadline

The Maryland State Board of Elections' Web site crashed for about two hours Tuesday evening, the deadline for voters to request an absentee ballot by mail or fax and six days before the Nov. 4 election. When visitors tried to access the site, an error message popped up saying there was a server error. The crash was caused by a hardware problem and is the first major problem since the board acquired the site, Deputy Administrator Ross Goldstein said. While the site was down, absentee voters were unable to access the application, which had to be submitted in person by 4:30 p.m. or by midnight through fax.

Capital News Service

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