April 17, 2013
VIRGINIA
D.C. man who killed jeweler gets life

A District man who pleaded guilty in the killing of a Columbia Pike jewelry store owner last year was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole.

James Sylvester Caroline, 53, fatally shot Tommy K. Wong, 52, in a robbery of Wong’s Capital Jewelers store on July 27. Police found Caroline with the help of surveillance footage that showed a man wearing a bright neon traffic vest robbing the store and shooting Wong in the throat.

After locating Caroline, detectives searched his car and found the address of Capital Jewelers and other jewelry stores that had been robbed, said Arlington County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Frank Frio. Detectives also discovered that Caroline had sold a pocket watch from Wong’s store at a Maryland pawn shop just hours after the slaying and robbery.

Wong emigrated from Hong Kong, and friends and family remembered him as a kind, generous family man. A Herndon resident, he had been married to his wife, Elizabeth, for about 26 years, family members said.

The guilty plea allowed Caroline to avoid a potential death sentence, as murder in the course of a robbery is a capital offense in Virginia.

Arlington Circuit Court Judge William T. Newman Jr. also sentenced Caroline to three years in prison on a weapons charge.

— Suzy Khimm

Fairfax boy found safe in Las Vegas

A 5-year-old Great Falls boy has been found safe at a Las Vegas hotel, and his mother was arrested and is facing a felony charge of parental abduction, Fairfax County police said.

Police said someone who had seen news reports about the case recognized the mother and son and contacted the authorities.

Las Vegas police detectives used hotel surveillance video to confirm the location of Rebecca Serafin, 32, and her son, Cameron, authorities said.

Cameron was unharmed, police said.

His mother is being held as a fugitive from justice. Police in Fairfax had previously issued a warrant charging her with parental abduction.

Police said Rebecca Serafin was supposed to return Cameron to his father April 7 but did not show up. They said she altered her appearance and her son’s appearance to avoid detection.

The two were spotted at airports in Alabama and Las Vegas last week.

— Maria Glod

THE DISTRICT
Judge rejects Kwame Brown’s trip request

Former D.C. Council chairman Kwame R. Brown may not travel outside the Washington area for his nephew’s college graduation ceremony next month, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Brown had hoped to attend the celebration in Raleigh, N.C., as both an uncle and a “surrogate father” for the son of his brother, Che Brown, according to court papers filed last week by his attorney, Frederick D. Cooke.

Che Brown will not be able to attend his son’s graduation the weekend of May 4. After pleading guilty to lying on loan documents, he was sentenced last month to 90 days in prison and began his term last week.

In a one-sentence entry on the online court docket, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon denied Kwame Brown’s motion to travel.

The former council chairman was sentenced in November to one day in custody and six months of home detention after he resigned from the council and pleaded guilty in a separate bank-fraud case.

Leon had denied Kwame Brown’s earlier request to loosen his detention restrictions by allowing him to continue a tradition of leading a trip for D.C. high school students to a college recruitment fair in North Carolina.

— Ann E. Marimow

McDuffie criticizes
cheating inquiry

D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie on Wednesday renewed his criticism of the city’s inspector general for conducting an “anemic” investigation of test-cheating allegations in the city’s public schools.

In a strongly worded letter to Inspector General Charles Willoughby, McDuffie (D-Ward 5) requested permission to review confidential files compiled during that investigation into allegations of cheating on standardized tests in the District. The probe lasted 17 months, focused on one school and found no evidence of widespread cheating.

McDuffie’s request came days after the publication of a 2009 memo warning school administrators that teachers in as many as 70 schools might have cheated on standardized tests in 2008. D.C. school system officials said the memo was based on incomplete information and a faulty analysis.

— Emma Brown

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