Man Fatally Shot in Northeast Had Been Charged in Fraud Case
Sunday, April 20, 2008
A 24-year-old man who was killed in Northeast Washington on Thursday night was awaiting trial for credit card fraud in a case involving information that was stolen from passport applications, court documents show.
Leiutenant Q. Harris Jr. told authorities about the scam after his arrest March 25 during a traffic stop, according to an arrest affidavit filed in U.S. District Court. The document quoted him as saying he got passport information from a U.S. State Department employee, which he used to obtain bogus credit cards.
Harris also told police that an employee with the U.S. Postal Service was in on the scam, intercepting the credit cards before they could be delivered to the residences of people named on the accounts. The State Department and postal employees were not named in the affidavit.
Harris's mother, Cleopatria Harris, said yesterday that she is "absolutely sure" her son was killed because of his involvement in the case. No one has been arrested in the killing.
D.C. police Inspector Rodney Parks said yesterday that "there is no immediate indication" that Harris's death is linked to the fraud case, but he added that authorities are investigating that possibility.
Harris was shot several times at close range about 11 p.m. Thursday while getting into his car in the 2800 block of 12th Street NE. He apparently was taken by surprise: He was carrying his car keys, a bottle of water and a muffin, police said. His mother said she did not know what Harris, who lived with her in Capitol Heights, was doing in the area.
Harris's role in the credit card case first came to light after his arrest by an officer on routine patrol in Southeast Washington. Police initially stopped Harris and a female passenger because the windows of his car were heavily tinted, an apparent violation of D.C. law. Detecting the smell of marijuana, police searched the car, finding more than a dozen small bags containing what appeared to be the drug.
The search also turned up printouts of eight passport applications, none in Harris's name, according to the affidavit. Police also found 19 credit cards, the affidavit said.
Four names on the passport applications matched names on four credit cards, the affidavit said. American Express told police that some of the credit cards had recently been used and that a "fraud alert" had been placed on them, the affidavit noted.
The affidavit said that Harris was questioned by the Secret Service, State Department, Postal Service and D.C. police. Despite the prosecutor's objections, Harris was released the next day on personal recognizance and faced a court hearing in June.
Harris was among five people slain since Monday in the 5th Police District in Northeast.
Last night, D.C. police arrested Oliver Jones, 50, and charged him with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Tonette Gail Ferguson, 38, whose body was found with fatal blunt-force trauma to the head Wednesday in an alley in the 1600 block of Montello Avenue. Jones, of the 1100 block of Queen Street NE, was apprehended about 7 p.m. on Ainger Place SE, about an hour after police said he was being sought on an arrest warrant.
Officials released no details about the case. Jones is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in D.C. Superior Court, police said.
Despite an increased police presence, an 18-year-old man was shot in the legs in a drive-by shooting late Friday in the 1300 block of Saratoga Avenue. Police said yesterday that they arrested three men in that case.
Staff writer Clarence Williams and staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.