$45,050 spent first day of gun buyback program

At 9 a.m. yesterday, the city's Board of Estimates approved spending $100,000 on the Police Department's gun buyback program.

Nine hours later, the police had spent $45,050 to buy 427 guns, many which are the types used in violent acts throughout Baltimore, police said.

"We think it was a very successful" first day, said Deputy Police Commissioner Marcus Brown.

Brown said the weapons purchased yesterday included a Mac-10 assault rifle, an Uzi and a semi-automatic Ruger handgun.

"Those are the weapons of choice on the streets of Baltimore," Brown said. "We feel we've taken some of them off."

The gun buyback allows people to anonymously turn in firearms at any of the city's nine police district headquarters or to call 311 to schedule a pickup. The program is funded by cash and property seized from drug dealers.

The police are paying cash for guns until June 15 - offering $50 for rifles and shotguns, $100 for handguns and $200 for assault weapons.

- Doug Donovan


Beating death of man, 55, last month ruled homicide

The death of a man found severely beaten May 14 two blocks from his West Baltimore home has been ruled a homicide, city police reported yesterday.

John Kendrick, 55, of the 3700 block of Edmondson Ave. was found suffering from severe head injuries in the 3900 block of Edmondson by officers responding to a report of an injured man. He died May 24 at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

No arrest has been made, and anyone with information is asked to call homicide Detective Richard Purtell at 410-396-2100.

- Richard Irwin


Con artist to serve 21 years in prison for check fraud

Hugh Wade, a convicted con artist who unsuccessfully defended himself at a check fraud trial in March, was sentenced yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court to a 21-year prison term.

Circuit Judge Allen L. Schwait had ordered Wade, a 57-year-old Baltimore resident with a 15-year history of convictions for counterfeiting, to act as his own attorney after Wade refused to work with three consecutive lawyers appointed by the court. Wade's hiring and firing of lawyers delayed his trial for almost two years.

Schwait told Wade at the start of the trial that he had a right to dismiss his lawyer, but "no right to disrupt the judicial process."

A jury convicted Wade on April 1 of one count of conspiracy to commit theft, eight counts of identity fraud and about two dozen counterfeiting counts.

Yesterday, Schwait sentenced Wade to consecutive terms of eight years for the theft conviction, five years for one of the identity fraud convictions and eight years for a counterfeit conviction. Sentences on Wade's other convictions are to be served concurrent to the 21 years, Schwait ordered.

- Julie Bykowicz


Man sentenced on gun crimes in fatal shooting of teen

A Baltimore County man who pleaded guilty to federal gun crimes in the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old at his Dundalk home was sentenced to 23 years in prison yesterday. U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. also sentenced Damon Antoine Gaither, 29, to five years of supervised probation after his release from prison.

Shawn Lee Elkins, who shared a home in the 2000 block of Armco Way with his brother, died in October 1998 after two masked gunmen forced their way into the home, robbed the seven people in the house and fired one shot.

According to court documents, Gaither, Robert Campbell and three others conspired to rob Elkins during a drug deal in his home. Elkins was shot during the robbery and later died. Two other men were convicted earlier in state court on related charges, attorneys said. A fifth man was not charged in return for his cooperation with authorities, according to lawyers involved in the case.

Campbell was previously sentenced to 25 years in prison.

- Matthew Dolan


Mayor, Jessamy to discuss request for budget increase

Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy are scheduled to meet today to discuss the top prosecutor's request for a larger city allocation to her budget.

Jessamy told the City Council last month that expiring state and federal grants will leave her budget with a $2.2 million hole that she wants the city to fill.

The state's attorney's office is budgeted to receive $22.3 million from the city, a 17 percent increase over this year. The city added an extra $1 million as a one-time cushion to phase out the positions funded by the expiring grants. Jessamy says she needs that amount, plus an additional $1.2 million, added permanently to her budget to maintain adequate staffing levels.

O'Malley said at a news conference yesterday that the city allocations to Jessamy's office have increased nearly 70 percent since fiscal 1999. He did not indicate whether the city was willing to provide her office with more money before his budget is finalized this month.

- Doug Donovan


Nurse convicted in death of woman by overfeeding

A former nursing home worker accused of feeding an 89-year-old woman to death in November 2002 was convicted yesterday of two counts of neglect in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Augustine Okafor, a 49-year-old licensed practical nurse who worked at Villa St. Michael nursing home in Northwest Baltimore, could face up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in August.

The charges against Okafor stemmed from the death of Villa St. Michael resident Bertha Small. A day after having a feeding tube inserted into her stomach, Small was given at least four times as much liquid nutrients as she was prescribed, according to court documents.

Other nursing home workers testified during the trial that Okafor, who was in charge the night Small died, heard Small moaning in pain and saw that her stomach was enlarged, that she was sweating and that her vital signs were abnormal, yet did nothing to help her.

"A lot of people failed in their jobs," said Assistant Attorney General Catherine Schuster Pascale, who prosecuted the case. "But the only person responsible for Mrs. Small's death is Mr. Okafor."

Although a doctor who learned of Small's condition about 4:30 a.m. instructed Okafor to get her to a hospital, he waited more than two hours to call for an ambulance - dialing 911 only at the request of the nurse who came on duty as Okafor's shift was ending.

A paramedic who arrived testified that Small had received so much liquid that the food came out of her mouth and nose during resuscitation efforts.

Records on the Maryland Board of Nursing's Web site show that Okafor's nursing license expires next May, but the board can investigate and act against Okafor sooner, a spokeswoman said. He is no longer employed by Villa St. Michael.

- Julie Bykowicz


Crew hoists teen from river beneath railroad bridge

Rescuers worked for more than 90 minutes early yesterday to pull a 17-year-old boy from the Patapsco River in Carroll County after he either fell or jumped into the water to avoid an approaching train on a CSX railroad bridge, officials said.

The teenager and three other Clarksville youths apparently were exploring when the boy, whose name and condition were not available, fell 25 to 30 feet onto rocks in the river below the bridge, officials said. The bridge is on the old Henryton Hospital property on Henryton Road, east of Sykesville, said Deputy Chief Glenn Edward Ruch Jr. of the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department.

One youth called for help about 2 a.m. on a cellular telephone but didn't know their location, Ruch said. After a state police helicopter illuminated the area, the county's Advanced Tactical Rescue Team worked more than 1 1/2 hours to hoist the victim to the bridge. The injured youth was taken by off-road vehicle and ambulance to a helicopter and flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

- Sheridan Lyons


Girl, 14, accused in stabbing of teen remains in custody

A 14-year-old South Baltimore girl accused of attempting to kill another girl during a confrontation near a middle school Tuesday afternoon remained in custody yesterday at Central Booking and Intake Center in lieu of $500,000 bail, authorities said.

The victim remains in critical but stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center after surgery to repair an injury to her heart, police said. She is expected to survive.

The accused, Keyona D. Dillon, 14, of the 900 block of Stoll St., was arrested about 6 p.m. Tuesday in a vacant apartment in the 4100 block of W. Bay Court and charged as an adult with attempted murder and deadly weapon offenses in the stabbing of Shatina Quinn, 15, whose address was not released.

Quinn and some friends were walking in the 3800 block of St. Margaret St. about 3 p.m. near Benjamin Franklin Middle School when, according to witness accounts, the accused waved a kitchen knife in Quinn's face and yelled, "Who wants to fight me?"

When Quinn pushed the knife away, she was stabbed in the chest, which lacerated her heart, police said.

Police knew of no motive for the attack, and the incident remains under investigation.

- Richard Irwin


2 federal employees accused of stealing disability benefits

Two Baltimore-area federal employees appeared before a U.S. District judge yesterday, accused of conspiring to steal more than $50,000 in Social Security disability benefits.

Franklin G. Thomas, 34, of Baltimore and Andrea D. Harrison, 38, of Towson have each been charged with illegally receiving $52,534.50 in disability payments between October of last year and May of this year, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday

According to the indictment, Thomas was employed as a benefit authorizer by the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn. Thomas' job was to process payments to legal representatives for claimants, including attorneys. Harrison worked in human resources at the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt.

Thomas located claimants who did not have attorney information in their files, according to the indictment. He allegedly instructed the system to make 11 payments to "Andrea Harrison, attorney" and listed Harrison's home address.

Harrison then cashed the checks at her bank, according to prosecutors.

If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Harrison and Thomas appeared in court yesterday, but were released until their next trial date, expected next week.

- Matthew Dolan

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