Boonsboro officer accused of calling in, writing threats

Federal authorities arrested a Western Maryland police officer yesterday and charged him with sending racist and homophobic letters to public officials and community leaders, and phoning in an anonymous anthrax threat to City Hall in Hagerstown.

If convicted, Jeffrey S. Shifler, 41, of Maugansville, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. He is expected to have his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore this morning. He is a police officer in Boonsboro, according to court records.

An affidavit filed by the FBI describes Shifler as a police officer in Hagerstown for 16 years before he was fired in 2003 for falsifying payroll records.

"Within months of Shifler's termination, members of the Hagerstown Police Department began receiving letters containing insulting and abusive language," FBI Special Agent Donald A. Neily wrote in the affidavit.

The FBI investigated the case, finding that threatening hate letters had been sent in 2004 and 2005 to city leaders and to the predominantly African-American organization Brothers United Who Dare to Care.

This year, the FBI found that city schools and other public buildings in Hagerstown received menacing calls alleging bomb threats and warning that students intended to take up arms and shoot people. Other calls purported to be from the Earth Liberation Front, claiming that a "biological agent" had been set in a public place, court records show.

Matthew Dolan

Carroll County: Schools

Superintendent OK'd for 2nd term, raise

Carroll County school board members appointed Superintendent Charles I. Ecker to a sec- ond four-year term and increased his salary to $165,000 - up from $140,000 - to oversee the district with 29,000 students and about 3,400 employees. The average pay for Maryland superintendents is $159,563. The superintendent of Charles County - which at 26,000 students has the most comparable school population - earns $245,000. Ecker, whose new contract begins July 1, also will receive a $900-a-month car allowance. He was named interim superintendent in 1998 and superintendent in 2002.

Gina Davis

Baltimore: Morgan State

$500,000 gift will go to scholarships

Morgan State University announced yesterday it has received a $500,000 gift from a former student and his wife, money that will help graduates from Baltimore public schools attend the college. The gift is the second one to Morgan from retired UPS executive Calvin Tyler and his wife, Tina. In 2000, the Tylers gave $500,000 to the university to establish a scholarship for Baltimore graduates who attend the university. So far, five students have received full four-year scholarships. The latest gift will provide more opportunities, the school said.

Stephanie Desmon

Federal court

Man gets 14 years for drug conviction

A 22-year-old Glen Burnie man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Baltimore to more than 14 years in prison for possessing cocaine and intending to sell the drugs. James Johnson III pleaded guilty to the charge last June. According to court papers, Anne Arundel County police searched his home on Jan. 4 last year and found cocaine, marijuana, a digital scale and five handguns.

Matthew Dolan

Federal court

Man sentenced for role in drug ring

A 53-year-old Anne Arundel County man was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz to serve 16 years in federal prison for his role in an OxyContin ring that illegally obtained and sold the prescription drug in and around Baltimore. Gregory Wayne Banks of Severna Park was convicted along with his half-brother, Oliver Clifton Hudson, 50, of Baltimore in a jury trial in November. Hudson received a 30-year prison sentence Wednesday.

Matthew Dolan

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