Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Man Pleads Guilty to Loan Sharking

A 44-year-old Maryland man pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington to charges of loan sharking in connection with lines of credit he extended to a schoolteacher, authorities said.

Darren Jenkins of District Heights admitted that he had made 11 loans totaling about $6,000 to the teacher and charged her 10 percent interest a week, prosecutors said. He threatened the woman with violence if she did not repay the loan with interest and late penalties, they said.

The teacher gave Jenkins about $48,000 in loan payments, interest and late fees from 2002 to last year, according to the U.S. attorney's office and FBI.

Jenkins is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18. He has agreed to pay back the teacher and another victim identified by FBI agents, prosecutors said.

-- Del Quentin Wilber


Voucher Funds Backed, With Warning

A House Appropriations subcommittee voted yesterday to fund for another year the federal voucher program that allows about 2,000 low-income D.C. children to attend private schools. But the panel's chairman said that this was probably the last time that the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program would receive full financial support from the government.

The program, which provides students with $7,500 for tuition and fees, is at the end of the five-year authorization it received from a Republican-controlled Congress in 2003. Congressional Democrats, now in the majority, generally oppose the use of public funds for private education and have said the program will not be reauthorized.

Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-N.Y.), chairman of the subcommittee on financial services and general government, said that although he opposes vouchers, he wanted to give District leaders a chance to restructure the program. He is proposing that the initiative be renewed at $14.8 million, its current level of funding.

"There is still a lot of discussion, both in the city and the school community, as to what the future of the program should be," Serrano said.

He added, "I expect that during the next year the District leaders will come forward with a firm plan for either rolling back the program or providing some alternative options."

The measure goes to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration next week.

-- Bill Turque

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