Man, 30, charged with bilking NFL players

A 30-year-old man arrested in Elkridge has been charged with theft and identity fraud, accused of bilking NFL players out of cash by impersonating fellow athletes, including Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware, in a phone scheme.


Last month, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and retired Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green fell victim to the scheme, which netted $1,500, Howard County police said last week. Police and NFL officials are wondering how the man - who lived out of motels in eastern Howard County - got access to personal phone numbers of the players.

"Honestly, we don't know," said Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard police spokeswoman. "It certainly appears he had some sort of directory, but we're unclear at this point how he obtained those numbers."


Lewis Venson Sills is charged with concocting elaborate stories to get money from the players.

The scheme unraveled when someone contacted Warren Sapp, a defensive lineman with the Oakland Raiders, on Dec. 28 and pretended to be Redskins wide receiver Laveranues Coles. The caller asked that $1,800 be wired to him.

Sapp's financial manager contacted NFL security officials, who tipped off Howard police. Police set up a sting operation at the Super Fresh in Elkridge that afternoon and arrested the suspect after he picked up $525 that had been wired through Western Union.

Moore to retire soon as anti-poverty chief

Dorothy L. Moore, a passionate advocate for Howard County's poor over a 36-year career, will retire as director of the county's anti-poverty agency March 31.

"The lady's a legend," said County Executive James N. Robey, another career public servant and Howard County native. "She is ruthless when it comes to serving her customers, her clients. She's one of the strongest advocates I've ever seen for any cause."

The 18-year Community Action Council director has thought about retirement for several years but frequently postponed it.

"I felt I had taken the agency as far as I really could - along with others," she said. "It hasn't been easy. There have been some bad times, but I just really consider it a privilege and an honor to have served Howard County."


Turf Valley proposal among zoning issues

Howard County officials call it "Comp Lite," but the 42 rezoning proposals introduced in the County Council on Monday night included some heavy disputes.

Should the transformation of Turf Valley from a golf course hotel and resort into a huge mixed-use, 1,379-home development be allowed greater density with more homes, taller buildings and a bigger commercial presence?

Developer Louis Mangione said the changes he wants would be "good for the county and good for Turf Valley," although Marc Norman, a resident critical of the rezonings, believes they will worsen congestion on county roads and crowding in local schools.

Should a small plot next to the Hickory Ridge Village Center in Columbia be allowed to be developed commercially? The Mangione family's plan for a Walgreen's pharmacy for that site was withdrawn, but the land's future remains in doubt.

How about the 15 homes in the Coventry neighborhood near Clark's Hardware along U.S. 40 that county planners want rezoned for transitional commercial uses? Residents there fear those changes would threaten their community.


Some of the unresolved issues are left from the decennial comprehensive rezoning of the county that the council completed in February - thus the "Comp Lite" moniker.

Big changes called for in Columbia government

After four years of debate and stacks of memos and legal opinions, a Columbia Association committee has produced a report that could lead to some of the most radical changes to the governing system in Columbia's history.

The most significant suggestions include giving the town's 10 village boards the power to remove the association board members. The study also suggests that the association eliminate the Columbia Council in all but name because the same members serve on the council and association's board of directors. The most contentious proposal, committee members said, calls for uniform voting rights and rules among Columbia's villages.

Schools chief submits $493.2 million budget

Howard County Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin submitted his first budget to the school board Thursday night, a request that would mean all-day kindergarten at a dozen more schools and a new high school yet appears leaner than last year's proposal by his predecessor.


The $493.2 million spending plan calls for 6.9 percent, or $32 million, more than the budget for the current school year but does not include step or cost-of-living pay raises for teachers, which will boost costs. Cousin said contract talks are under way.

A 3 percent pay raise and step increases would add about $18 million to the request, boosting the increase to 10 percent.

Merriweather Post development opposed

After waiting three months, residents got their chance Thursday night to argue before the Howard County Planning Board against a plan by General Growth Properties to develop the land around Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Residents arrived with exhibits, traffic data and a civil engineer to counter testimony in previous meetings from traffic experts hired by General Growth.

A decision was put off last night as the board opted to hold at least one more meeting, Jan. 26, to hear from the public before voting on the company's proposal to build retail and office buildings on the 51.7 acres of undeveloped land in downtown Columbia.