HEARING AIDSState orders salesman to repay customersA...


State orders salesman to repay customers


A hearing aid salesman has been ordered to repay elderly consumers who state officials say were tricked into buying a product they did not need.

Reginald Spencer, who based his business in Columbia until it was closed by authorities last year, victimized people who lived on modest, fixed incomes and who in some cases were legally blind, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said yesterday.


The attorney general's Consumer Protection Division found that Mr. Spencer used deceptive and fraudulent practices to convince elderly consumers to pay an average of $2,000 for unnecessary hearing aids.

Officials said he called consumers at home, claiming he would provide a free hearing test. When he visited their homes, he deceived them into signing loan applications by telling them the documents were charge slips.

He also got them to sign a waiver of their right to have a doctor examine their hearing before they purchased a hearing aid by telling them the slip of paper was a receipt, officials said.

The state Board of Examiners for Hearing Aid Dealers revoked Mr. Spencer's license to sell hearing aids last April.

People who believe they are entitled to refunds may call the attorney general's health education and advocacy unit at 528-1840.


Marine facility design gets state go-ahead

Planners seeking to build the Christopher Columbus Center of Marine Research and Exploration on Inner Harbor Piers 5 and 6 got the go-ahead yesterday to move to a more detailed level of design work.


Maryland's Board of Public Works released $5.19 million to cover architectural and engineering fees, including $1.5 million in state money and $3.69 million in grants from the U.S. General Services Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The approval is a sign that the Columbus Center team has reached agreement with its lead architect, the Zeidler Roberts Partnership of Toronto, and other consultants.

United Way not included in state coercion law

A state law making it illegal to use coercion and intimidation to solicit donations does not apply to the United Way charity drive, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.

The law covers political, social and economic organizations. The court said in a 5-2 decision that United Way does not meet that definition.

The ruling involves a case filed in U.S. District Court by Lucille Ball, who alleges she was fired by United Parcel Service because she would not donate money and time to the United Way drive. The company said Ms. Ball was fired for other reasons. The federal court delayed the suit to get an advisory ruling from the Maryland court on whether the state law applies to United Way.


The 1972 law makes it a criminal offense "to engage in any act or conduct for the sole purpose of coercing or intimidating another person to contribute . . . to any social, economic or political association or organization."

The majority opinion written by Chief Judge Robert C. Murphy said there is no written legislative history to indicate what the General Assembly had intended to cover.

More security planned for 'Supermax' prison


More than three months after a Baltimore murderer escaped from Maryland's "Supermax" prison by squeezing through a narrow window and hustling across the prison roof unseen, the state is trying to make sure it won't happen again.

The Board of Public Works yesterday voted to spend $60,891 to provide additional security on the roof as well as fencing above a triangular-shaped air shaft through which inmate Harold Benjamin Dean is believed to have climbed in his daring escape Nov. 30.


Dean, who was serving a 105-year sentence for robbing a courier, wounding an armored car guard and killing a tow truck driver who gave chase back in 1981, is still at large.

Minority AIDS dinner slated March 26


The high incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome among minorities has spawned the first-ever Minority AIDS Forum Dinner in Baltimore County.

The goal of the event is to unite local black and Hispanic community leaders in the fight against AIDS, and to increase awareness of state and county prevention and treatment programs and services.

The AIDS Division of the county's Health Department and the state AIDS Administration are sponsoring the event, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. March 26 at Liberty Family Resource Center, 8737-B Liberty Road.


For information, call 887-3748.