Local Digest: District businessman rejects plea offer in alleged taxi licensing scheme

THE DISTRICT
Plea offer rejected
in alleged conspiracy

A Chinatown businessman accused of bribing District officials in an alleged taxicab licensing scheme has rejected a plea offer from federal prosecutors, and his case appears headed to trial this spring.

Anthony C.Y. Cheng Sr. and his son, Anthony R. Cheng Jr., told a judge Tuesday that they have no intention of pleading guilty to the alleged conspiracy.

The father and son were charged with bribery in June after a sting operation involving a well-known informant from a previous bribery investigation.

U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle has scheduled a two-week trial to begin May 5. The government’s case will rely heavily on testimony from the informant — former D.C. Taxicab Commission chairman Leon Swain Jr.— and recordings of his interactions with the Chengs.

— Ann Marimow

MARYLAND
Agreement signed for cybersecurity center

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) joined state and federal officials in Annapolis to sign an agreement Tuesday to establish a center for civil cybersecurity in Rockville.

Officials said it is intended to be a place where businesses, academics and government can work on ways to prevent hacking incidents such as the breaches of credit card information at Target and Nieman Marcus last year. The county also hopes it will stimulate the creation of high-paying jobs in the cybersecurity sector.

The venture is financed primarily with $35 million in appropriations secured by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), who joined Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Leggett in Annapolis. The county plans to house the center along Interstate 270 in what is now the William Hanna Center for Innovation, a biotech incubator. Many of the start-ups have said they are being pushed out. County officials said they are working to relocate the firms.

— Bill Turque

Gansler seeks break
for corporate tax rate

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) on Wednesday proposed a gradual reduction in the state’s corporate income tax rate from 8.25 percent to 6 percent.

Gansler, a candidate for governor, said he would lower the rate by 0.25 percentage points a year. At that pace, it would take nine years for Maryland’s rate to match that of Virginia, which Gansler has set as his goal.

Gansler said he would make up the lost revenue — estimated at $35.6 million in the first year — by closing a loophole that allows corporations to avoid paying taxes by transferring their profits to subsidiaries in other states.

— John Wagner

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