Fire departments give boats, sonar for Merrill search

The Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City fire departments contributed boats, sonar scanners and personnel yesterday to the search for the body of Philip Merrill, 72, the publisher who disappeared from his 41-foot sailboat Saturday while on a solo day cruise on the Chesapeake Bay.

As of yesterday afternoon, about 10 percent of the 100-square-mile search area had been scanned with a sonar viewer, a device that allows recovery workers to see objects on the bottom of the bay, according to a statement from the state Department of Natural Resources Police, the lead agency in the search.

Natural Resources Police plan to search a swath from the Bay Bridge to Plum Point, where Merrill's boat was found adrift with the sails raised.

Seven boats participated in yesterday's search, including four state vessels scanning the surface waters and three boats with side-scan sonar. The police have said they will continue the search until Merrill's body is recovered.

In a statement posted yesterday on the Web site of The Capital in Annapolis, Merrill's wife, Eleanor, wrote that she was "overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers and support that have stretched from down the street to across the world." Eleanor Merrill has assumed her husband's role as publisher of The Capital and Washingtonian magazine.

In her statement, she also thanked the Natural Resources Police and the U.S. Coast Guard for their search efforts.



Mountain Ridge High School names miner as mascot

The mascot for Mountain Ridge High School under construction in Frostburg will embrace the community's industrial heritage: a miner.

The Allegany County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the red, white, black and gold design.

The board initially had adopted a naming committee's suggestion of the nickname the Raiders, and received designs from students as part of a contest in November, but later considered other options. "We decided to honor the community's long heritage of mining that represents so much of what is good about Allegany County and those communities whose students will attend Mountain Ridge," said board Vice President Jeff Metz.


Baltimore: U.S. District Court

Lawyer pleads guilty to immigration fraud

An attorney who conspired to commit immigration fraud in Maryland was sentenced yesterday to nearly four years in prison, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Sergei Danilov, 46, of McLean, Va., had pleaded guilty to submitting fraudulent immigration documents to assist illegal immigrants in getting green cards through an employment-based visa program.

U.S. District Court Judge William N. Nickerson also ordered Danilov to undergo two years of supervised release after his prison term and that his law firm forfeit $200,000. Danilov has surrendered his license to practice law.

Danilov submitted more than 100 applications to the Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, filing fraudulent immigration documents on behalf of 12 businesses, most of whom were unaware that the law firm was using their companies to sponsor the firm's clients.

Nicole Fuller

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