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DC Officer Charged with Murder in Robbery Gone Awry

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DC police officer Reginald Jones (in red) was arraigned in Superior Court yesterday evening on a murder charge for his part in a robbery in which two men were shot and one died.

Officer Jones was in his patrol car, acting as a look-out, while several men attempted to rob a drug dealer. In an ensuing scuffle one of the robbers was shot and killed by his own son, Arvel Crawford (also pictured), who also took part in the robbery.

WaPo  story here.

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1 Hearing, 39 Defendants

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Thirty-nine names were on the docket for yesterday’s status hearing in the DC Taxicab Commission bribery case. One or two may have been home with the flu, but it was still quite a crowd.

Short WaPo story here.

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Pity the Immigrant

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Shanika Robinson, shown above with her brother Leon, agreed to marry Shahabuddin Rana in exchange for monthly payments of $500.  The immigration scam turned deadly when Rana’s brother, after learning that Robinson was having sexual affairs with other men, refused to continue paying.

On August 18 Shahabuddin was found dead in the DC pizzeria that he owned with his brother.  Shanika, her brother and another man are accused of beating Shahbuddin to death and attempting to set the body on fire.

Yesterday’s preliminary hearing will resume on Friday.

WaPo story here.

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A Wink and a Nod Plea Deal

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Sentenced to life without parole for the 1997 killing of a DC police officer, Donovan Strickland claims that he was promised a reduced sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.  Under Maryland law, convicts have a right to ask a judge to reduce their sentence and in 2005 the trial judge in this case, Richard H. Sothoron Jr, presided over a hearing to reconsider the sentence.  The courtroom was packed with police officers, including the Chief and his command staff, opposing any reduction in Strickland’s sentence.
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At the hearing Strickland’s trial attorney, Michael Blumenthal, said that Judge Sothoron
had promised to reduce the sentence to life and suspend all but 50 years. The matter was turned over to the Chief Administrative Judge who assigned the case to Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Whalen. After working it’s way through the appeals courts a sentencing reconsideration hearing was finally held in Judge Whalen’s courtroom yesterday.
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Strickland’s attorney again testified to the “wink and a nod” promise made by the judge. Again the courtroom was packed with DC police officers including Chief Cathy Lanier, pictured above center foreground.
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Donovan Strickland, took the stand to say that his understanding when he agreed to the plea was that with good behavior his sentenced would later be reduced and he could be eligible for parole in 25-30 years.
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Judge Sothoron testified “There was nothing discussed beforehand that is not reflected in the record,”  and “the record speaks for itself”. Although he did admit that he was  “inclined to favor a reconsideration of the sentence,” at the time a plea deal was accepted.
The hearing was continued until next Thursday, but before recessing for the day the Judge heard statements fromStrickland091002_bro
Donovan Strickland’s brother,
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and from Oliver Smith, the father of slain officer Oliver Smith Jr.

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DC Tax employees help themselves to $20M

Two employees of the District’s Office of Tax and Revenue in charge of tax refunds had been issuing illegal checks amounting to $20 million for the past six years that were cashed by friends and family.

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Harriette Walters, pictured above with her attorney, Peter Ziedenberg, appeared before Magistrate Judge Alan Kay yesterday. Walters, an $81,000 a year tax assessment manager, was wearing a red, over-sized  Atlanta “Hard Rock Cafe” sweatshirt – probably not one of the $1.4 million worth of items she purchased at Neiman Marcus.

Also charged is Diane Gustus, seen below with her attorney A. Scott Bolden, a co-worker of Walters.

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Washington Post story here.

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Sex, lies and videotape?

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Capitol Police sergeant Mike Malloy, left, watches as Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele Sartori questions a juvenile witness, identified only by her initials, whom officer Malloy is accused of having sex with and videotaping the act.

WaPo story here.

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Developer not guilty of bribery

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A DC jury yesterday aquitted developer Doug Jemal and two other officers of his company, Douglas Development Corp., of conspiracy and bribery.  Jemal was found guilty of a lesser charge of wire fraud.

A posting on the trial from my earlier blog can be found here.

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