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In Baltimore CityMan pleads guilty in illegal...


In Baltimore City

Man pleads guilty in illegal cashing of IRS refund checks

A former hairdresser admitted yesterday cashing more than $500,000 in corporate tax refund checks mistakenly mailed in 1998 to the St. Paul Street rowhouse where he lived.

Amos Cedric Benning Jr., 25, now of Columbia, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of federal bank fraud. He was charged in one of two criminal cases that grew out of what investigators described as an exceptional blunder by the Internal Revenue Service. For most of the 1990s, the agency wrongly mailed hundreds of refund checks to 2429 St. Paul St. because of a records error.

Benning, who was charged with three other men, could receive 10 to 16 months in federal prison when he is sentenced Nov. 20. Investigators began looking at the men after Benning deposited a $260,000 corporate tax refund check.

Backlogged asbestos cases resolved out of courtroom

Another 150 asbestos-injury cases in Baltimore Circuit Court have been resolved as part of the effort to clear a backlog of cases that have been pending for more than a decade.

Administrative Judge Ellen M. Heller said the cases, which were supposed to go to trial yesterday, have been settled or dismissed. In July, Heller began to carve out the 12,000-case backlog, scheduling 150 cases for trial every three weeks. Since then, including yesterday's figures, about 500 cases have been closed. Settlement details were not disclosed.

"What we've done is basically put a framework for these cases," Heller said. "It's very important."

Man sought by FBI in 3 bank robberies

A man who has appeared in dark clothing and a New York Yankees baseball cap is being sought in three bank robberies in the downtown area, the latest of which occurred yesterday.

The man gave a holdup note to a teller at First Union Bank in the first block of St. Paul St. about 1:35 p.m. yesterday and was given an undisclosed sum of money, said Special Agent Peter A. Gulotta Jr., spokesman for the Baltimore Division of the FBI. Gulotta said the note implied that the man was armed, but no weapon was displayed.

He said the man robbed the same bank July 27 and the Bank of America in the first block of Light St. on Sept. 8, displaying a handgun during the latter incident. Anyone with information about the robberies should call the FBI at 410-265-8080.

Officers to get free tickets during appreciation week

As part of Officer Appreciation Week this week, uniformed and civilian members of the Baltimore Police Department and their families will be given free admission to the Walters Art Gallery, the Baltimore Zoo, the Babe Ruth Museum and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Also, the Orioles gave the department 200 free tickets to a baseball game.

And today, WBFF-TV, will begin airing a public service announcement as part of a campaign to attract recruits to the police department.

Forum on promoting area leads off series of lectures

The campaign to promote the greater Baltimore area as a "digital harbor" for high-tech companies will be the subject of a free forum scheduled for noon tomorrow at the Johns Hopkins University's Downtown Center, Charles and Saratoga streets.

Janet Marie Smith, vice president of planning and development for Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, will speak. The presentation will mark the start of a weekly lecture series sponsored by the Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

On Sept. 20, at the same time and place, Charles Duff of Jubilee Baltimore will discuss a comprehensive plan his office has completed to guide development in the four neighborhoods of midtown Baltimore.

In Baltimore County

CCBC board planning to craft mission statement

ESSEX - The board of trustees for the Community College of Baltimore County will meet at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the College Community Center, 7201 Rossville Blvd.

Among the agenda items is a mission statement for the campuses at Catonsville, Dundalk and Essex. The document will be submitted to state higher education officials.

People who want to address the board must sign up outside the meeting room by 7:15 p.m. tomorrow. Information: 410-869-1222.

Walk against domestic violence set for Oct. 22

TOWSON - Turnaround Inc. will hold its second 5K Walk/Run Against Domestic Violence on Oct. 22 at Towson University.

The event will be held as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Participants are encouraged to register by Oct. 11; the cost will be $15. Check-in will be at 9:15 a.m. at the Towsontown Field. The walk will begin at 10 a.m.

Turnaround Inc. is a nonprofit provider of services for victims of domestic violence.

Sculpture exhibit opens Friday at Dundalk campus

DUNDALK - "Inside Out" is the theme of the fall's first art exhibit at the Dundalk campus of the Community College of Baltimore.

Presented by Sculptors Incorporated - a Baltimore-based nonprofit association of artists and art advocates - the juried exhibit features indoor and outdoor sculpture and site-specific installations.

The public is invited to opening of the exhibit from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Dundalk Art Gallery on campus of the community college. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Information: 410-285-9792.

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