The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland on May 25, 2006 · Page B3
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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland · Page B3

Baltimore, Maryland
Issue Date:
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Page B3
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THE SUN MARYLAND FC THURSDAY 05.25.2006 3B City schools deputy put on leave Step taken pending a probe into whether Copeland aide tried to use public money for boat trip BY SARA NEUFELD SUN REPORTER The Baltimore school system's chief operating officer was placed on paid administrative leave yesterday pending the results of an investigation into whether he tried to use public money to charter a boat for an employee trip. School officials are trying to determine whether Chief Operating Officer Eric Letsinger acted appropriately when he took 10 school system and city officials fishing on the Chesapeake Bay on Friday part of a broader investigation begun this week into a series of allegations of misconduct among senior schools staff. Letsinger, one of schools Chief Executive Officer Bonnie S. Cope-land's top four deputies, said Tuesday that he used his money to pay for the $1,600 daylong trip, and that he and all of the other employees who attended used va cation time. But he acknowledged that he had originally intended the trip to be an opportunity for strategic planning and team building, which he said would have been a legitimate use of school system funds. When the trip instead became a day for relaxation, he said, he decided to pay the $1,600 himself. Expressing 'regret' After yesterday's disciplinary action, Letsinger said: "I understand the decision. I regret to have brought this unfortunate attention on the school system, and I look forward to a swift investigation and resolution." Letsinger is a former deputy commissioner of Baltimore's housing department who became the school system's chief operating officer a year ago. Widely seen as an ally of Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democratic candidate for governor, Letsinger oversees school maintenance and construction, police, transportation and food services. His employees have been working in recent months to close several school buildings and on contracts to provide schools with energy-efficient upgrades. O'Malley said in a statement yesterday that he supports the school system's investigation, and that he does not believe that using public funds to pay for a charter boat trip is an appropriate use of education resources. "Some things that may seem acceptable in the private sector are completely unacceptable in government," O'Malley said. "After all that our school system has been through in the past few years making a lot of tough decisions to rebuild confidence administrators need to be crystal clear in making sure every dollar goes to educate children. I expect this matter to be dealt with swiftly and clearly." The review of Letsinger and the charter boat trip is part of a broader investigation of top school system officials announced by Copeland during Tuesday night's city school board meeting. Anonymous letter School board members and O'Malley received an anonymous letter this week detailing nine allegations of "willful and abusive spending" and other misconduct among senior school staff, including drinking alcohol at the system's North Avenue headquarters. School system spokeswoman Edie House said the system will complete the investigation into all allegations "as soon as possible." She said Letsinger was the only employee who had been placed on leave. Prostitution case set for trial in Howard Co. A former University of Maryland, Baltimore County assistant professor accused of running a prostitution service out of her Ellicott City home is scheduled to go on trial today in Howard County District Court. Brandy M. Britton, 41, faces four charges of prostitution, which carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison andor $500 each. Britton's arrest in January came after police received numerous complaints over about 10 months about a "house of prostitution" at her home in the 10200 block of Shirley Meadows Court, according to charging documents. After a police detective found a Web site on which police say Britton advertised services and rates under the name "Alexis" the detective set up an appointment with Britton, according to the documents. When the detective arrived at her home, Britton led him to a bedroom and told him to undress and to "place the money on a table by the door," the documents state. After the detective put $400 on the table, he left the room and let vice and narcotics officers into the house, according to the documents. During the search of the house, officers recovered about 150 condoms and nine bottles of "personal lubricating substances," according to the documents. Britton worked at UMBC from 1994 to 1999 as an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology. LAURA CADIZ DIGEST Chief federal magistrate judge named for Maryland The U.S. District Court has appointed a new chief federal magistrate judge for Maryland. Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm of Baltimore has replaced Magistrate Judge Jillyn K. Schulze. Her seven-year term ended at the beginning of this month, officials said. Grimm, 54, graduated from the University of California, Davis and the University of New Mexico School of Law. Commissioned in '73 In 1973, Grimm was commissioned as an Army officer. He was released from active duty in 1979, and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. Grimm's civilian career began in 1980, when he joined the Baltimore County state's attorney's office as an assistant state's attorney. A year later, he became an assistant attorney general, and served until 1984. He then went into private practice until 1997, when he was appointed a magistrate judge for the District Court in Maryland. The duties for Grimm, who will also serve a seven-year term, include supervision of cases, including settlements, that are assigned to his fellow magistrate judges. Also the liaison He is also the liaison to the clerk's office for the administration of the federal courts in Baltimore and Greenbelt. Among other duties, magistrate judges review and sign search warrants from law enforcement officials and oversee initial court appearances for defendants charged with federal crimes. MATTHEW DOLAN JERRYJACKSON SUN PHOTOGRAPHER Fire in Fairfield Heavy smoke rises over the Fairfield area of South Baltimore from a two-alarm fire at the Choice Restorations warehouse in the 3200 block of Weedon St. The warehouse was heavily damaged yesterday afternoon, and an adjoining building collapsed, a Fire Department spokesman said. 'Career criminal' gets I9y2-year term A 25-year-old labeled by a Baltimore judge as an "armed career criminal" was sentenced to 19 years in prison in federal court after he was convicted at trial of being a felon in possession of a gun. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. ruled Tuesday that Wallace White was an armed career criminal making him eligible for a stiffer prison sentence based on three prior drug convictions in state court. According to trial testimony, Baltimore police officers saw White on July 6 walking along Cliftview Avenue in Northeast Baltimore with something heavy in his waistband. The officers said they tried to stop White, who pulled a black handgun and ran. White ran through two houses and threw the gun to the ground, according to police. MATTHEW DOLAN Man's death was a suicide, police say The body of a man found yesterday afternoon on the floor of a conference room in the Belvedere in the first block of E. Chase St. is believed to be that of Rey O. Rivera, 32, who was reported missing May 16, Baltimore police said. His death is being treated as a suicide, police said. Rivera apparently jumped from an upper story of the hotel, police said, and crashed through the roof of a third-floor room, went through that floor and crashed through the ceiling of a little-used second-floor conference room before hitting the floor. The man and his wife of six months lived in Original Northwood. Medical ship stops on way to Amazon A 75-foot-long ship from a charitable organization in Scotland is visiting the Inner Harbor and is open for tours through Sunday. The Amazon Hope 2 a medical clinic operated by the Vine Trust is headed to the Peruvian Amazon to offer primary health care services. The ship, as well as a companion vessel, plans to reach up to 100,000 people in remote communities. Free tours are available at the Inner Harbor's west wall from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day. $1 to visit Public Works Museum Admission to the Baltimore Public Works Museum will be reduced to $1 through Saturday in recognition of National Public Works Week, city officials say. The museum presents information about tunnels, roads, bridges, water and recycling. An exhibit on the Loch Raven Dam will run through June 18. The museum, on Pier 7 of the Inner Harbor at 751 Eastern Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Information: 410-396-5565. Yesterday's numbers and recent drawings. MARYLAND 410-230-8980 Day Daily 320 Pick 4 2891 Night Daily 402 Pick 4 1256 Bonus Match 5 10 18 34 37 3913 Multi-Match, May 24 06 14 27 28 3543 Multi-Match: There was no winner for last night's $550,000 jackpot. Saturday's drawing will be worth an estimated $600,000. VIRGINIA Day Daily 290 Day Pick 4 7100 Day Cash 5 07 08 14 15 17 Night Daily 762 Night Pick 4 6058 Night Cash 5 07 20 26 28 30 Win for Life, May 24 05 13 18 23 25 3715 Howard council OKs budget, including two late changes DELAWARE Day Daily 805 Night Daily 236 Lotto, May 24 302-736-1436 Play 4 3762 Play 4 3280 12 18 23 27 33 34 WEST VIRGINIA Daily 3 507 Cash 25, May 23 Daily 4 9398 09 10 13 14 18 21 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Day Lucky 647 D.C. 4 NEW JERSEY Pick 3 569 Pick 4 2296 Night Pick 3 041 Pick 4 7574 Cash 5 02 25 28 35 38 Pick 6, May 22 010409 12 34 39 PENNSYLVANIA 877-282-4639 Day Daily 467 Big 4 0242 Night Daily 171 Big 4 1403 Cash 5 2123 32 38 39 Lucky for Life, May 22 03 1424 3134 35 Match 6, May 23 03 04 22 32 35 39 202-678-3333 6023 Night Lucky 734 D.C. 4 9970 Rolling Cash 5 01 12 18 19 34 Daily 6 03 11 13 14 28 3327 MULTISTATE GAMES MegaMillions,May23 17 212848 5401 Powerball, May 24 02 03 12 47 5110 Hot Lotto, May 24 09 12 14 16 1813 MegaMillions: There was no winning ticket for Tuesday's $18 million jackpot. Tomorrow's drawing will be worth an estimated $27 million. The Howard County Council yesterday unanimously approved a $1.2 billion budget for fiscal 2007 the last of retiring County Executive James N. Robey's spending plans. Two late changes were adopted, 3-2, on party-line votes. They diverted $470,000 from contingency and snow-removal funds to allow the school board to hire an extra guidance counselor, a part-time school psychologist and two more custodians, and to create a $250,000 Family Stabilization Fund to help the working poor cope with rent, gasoline and utility costs. "Overall, I thought it was a good budget," said council Chairman Christopher J. Merdon, an Ellicott City Republican who is running for county executive. Robey cut the local property tax rate by 3 cents to $1,014 per $100 of assessed value, while increasing spending by 10 percent, partly to give general county workers a 3 percent pay raise. County teachers will get a raise of 3.5 percent, and firefighters get an extra l percent Jan. l. County schools got all but about $3 million of what they requested, enabling the hiring of 298 new employees. The $336.6 million capital budget includes funds for three new elementary schools one a replacement for a 30-year old building. LARRY CARSON Woman left at hospital dies A woman who was shot in the head and left in front of the emergency room at Sinai Hospital early Tuesday died yesterday, city police said. About 3 a.m., a white 1993 Fleetwood Cadillac occupied by three men stopped in front of the hospital's emergency room in the 2400 block of W. Belvedere Ave. and sped away moments later, leaving the woman behind. The victim, identified as Whitney Wiley, 19, of no fixed address, had been in critical condition and on life support since undergoing surgery. Police were still attempting to learn where the shooting occurred, and find the car and its occupants. Metro Crime Stoppers, 410-276-8888, is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment. RICHARD IRWIN POLICE BLOTTER Police Blotter is a sampling of crimes from police reports in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. ARRESTS Officers were about to stop the driver of a 2006 Nissan in the 3600 block of E. Monument St. about 11 p.m. Tuesday because of a faulty tail light when they noticed him and a passenger placing something under the front seat, police said. During subsequent questioning, the officers found a loaded 9 mm Beretta handgun and .40-caliber Colt handgun under the seat. The Colt had been reported stolen in Anne Arundel County. Arrested and charged with handgun violations were Terrance Johnson, 20, of the 100 block of Tiffany Court, and Paul Barton, 24, of the 3200 block of Normount Ave. ARREST Leonard Downing, 25, of the 1200 block of E. Federal St., was arrested yesterday morning at a relative's home on West Lexington Street by members of the Regional Warrant Apprehension Task Force on a warrant charging him with attempted murder. Downing is accused of shooting a man March 31 in the 400 block of Orchard St. ROBBERY A 77-year-old woman was walking in the 600 block of N. Charles St. about 9 p.m. Monday when she was assaulted by two young men who stole her purse containing $300, jewelry and the key to her hotel room. THEFT A computer bag valued at $300 was stolen Tuesday from a 2001 Honda Accord parked in the 800 block of St. Paul St. THEFT A global positioning satellite device valued at $800 was stolen Monday from a 2001 Honda parked in the 100 block of Commerce St. THEFT Computer equipment and several music compact discs all valued at $820 were stolen Sunday from a 2001 Volvo parked in the 1000 block of Guilford Ave. THEFT Thirty compact discs and tools all valued at $1,035 were stolen Monday from a 1997 Toyota RAV4 parked in the 700 block of Covington St. THEFT A mountain bicycle valued at $200 was stolen Monday from a 2000 Nissan Pathfinder parked in the 1400 block ofN. Calvert St. BURGLARY During the Ravens' Spring Football Festival on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, someone stole a Ray Lewis jersey and a Jonathan Ogden jersey from a display. ASSAULT Two teenage girls were fighting outside a house in the 800 block of Clintwood Court on Monday afternoon when one cut the other on the right hand with a steak knife. The injured girl was treated at Harbor Hospital. Police were seeking the other girl. ROBBERY Police were seeking a gunman who robbed Jackie's Beauty & Dollar in the 700 block of Washington Blvd. of 12 cell phones and cash about 7 p.m. Monday. The cash and value of the phones totaled nearly $3,000. BURGLARY A dishwasher valued at $300 was stolen Monday from a house under renovation in the 5100 block of Ken-ilworth Ave. ARRESTS Police stopped a 1997 Honda Accord in the 3300 block of Frederick Ave. about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday after observing its two occupants apparently smoking marijuana. A search of the car turned up a .32-caKber revolver under the front seat. Charged with handgun and marijuana possession was Anthony Harris, 26, of the 5600 block of Pembroke Road. A 17-year-old boy with him was charged as a juvenile. ABDUCTIONSHOOTING Paul Butler, 19, of the 100 block of N. Linwood Ave., reported he was abducted in the 2900 block of E. Fayette St. about 9:30 p.m. Saturday by at least two men. He said that before he was dumped from a vehicle in the 4100 block of Dudley Ave. a short time later, one of the men shot him in the upper body. He was reported in good condition at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. ROBBERY A 23-year-old man was walking in the 3700 block of E. Lombard St. about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when he was attacked by two men who robbed him of $150. RICHARD IRWIN

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