Plea Deal in Lawsuit Fraud Case; Men Charged in Pair of Killings; U-Md. Reports Dozens of Flu Cases; Legal Report Faults Special-Needs Pay

Sunday, September 6, 2009

COURTS

Plea Deal in Lawsuit Fraud Case

A plea agreement is expected for a District man accused of filing a fraudulent multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against an Ohio resident he had molested.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon set a plea agreement hearing for Sept. 22 in the case against David Copeland-Jackson, 36, who briefly won a $3 million defamation judgment against the molestation victim, according to court records. Copeland-Jackson is charged with conspiring to commit perjury and obstruct justice. Prosecutors and Copeland-Jackson's lawyer have said they were working on a plea deal.

Copeland-Jackson was convicted in 2000 and sent to prison for molesting a 14-year-old boy in Ohio. After his release, he moved to the District, and in 2007 he filed a defamation lawsuit against the victim in D.C. federal court, saying that the boy had made "false comments to third parties that [Copeland-Jackson] engaged in certain homosexual activities" with him. U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle granted Copeland-Jackson a $3 million judgment in August of that year.

Prosecutors say that Copeland-Jackson never told Huvelle that he had been convicted of molesting the youth and also deceived her by filing fraudulent court papers, some of which included the forged signature of the victim.

Huvelle's judgment stood for one day -- until state prosecutors in Ohio alerted her that Copeland-Jackson had been convicted of molesting the youth and was on parole.

-- Del Quentin Wilber

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

Remains Found at Cockey Creek

Remains washed ashore Saturday in Anne Arundel County, but Maryland State Police said they had not determined whether the remains were human.

What appeared to be a foot was found at Cockey Creek in the Pasadena area. A possible part of an arm was later found floating in the creek. Police said the remains may have been those of an animal such as a bear that had been prepared for taxidermy. The matter is under investigation.

-- Martin Weil

ALEXANDRIA

La. Man Charged in Shooting Death

A 19-year-old fugitive from Louisiana has been arrested and charged with murder in the death of a 50-year-old man who was found fatally shot in a parking lot late Thursday, Alexandria police said Saturday.

Police said Jose A. Osorio Jr. of Metairie, La., was charged in the death of Sylvester Muskelly, who was found in the 300 block of South Whiting Street, which is south of Landmark Mall. Muskelly had no fixed address, police said.

Alexandria police said Osorio was also charged with being a fugitive from justice. They said he was wanted by the sheriff's office in Jefferson Parish, La., in connection with an armed robbery.

-- Martin Weil

HEALTH

U-Md. Reports Dozens of Flu Cases

The University of Maryland has 64 cases of suspected swine flu, an official said Friday. Many other colleges and universities have been reporting early outbreaks of mostly mild cases of flu on campus.

A survey by the American College Health Association this week found 55 percent of 165 institutions queried were reporting "influenza-like" illness. Of the 1,640 cases reported at those schools, one student had been hospitalized and none had died.

The U-Md. health center is not testing students to confirm H1N1 infection, because the course of treatment is the same as with regular seasonal flu, said Beth Cavanaugh, university spokeswoman.

-- Daniel de Vise

NORTHEAST

3 Suspected in Robbery, Shooting

Three men were taken into custody on a charge of unlawful entry after a search of an apartment house in the 2100 block of Maryland Avenue NE, D.C. police said. They said they planned to investigate the men in connection with the robbery and shooting of a taxi driver at 21st and I Streets NE.

-- Emma Brown

EDUCATION

Report Faults Special-Needs Pay

Lawyers who represent D.C. public school families with special-needs children continue to have problems getting paid by the city, and they say that special-education students are suffering as a result, according to a report filed in federal court by an advocate for the lawyers.

The report said that the five biggest special-education law firms in the city have all had problems getting paid. The city pays the lawyers' fees when they win cases against the school system. All five law firms said the delays have forced them to curtail their services.

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said in July that the city had been reviewing invoices more carefully since a cap that limited fees was removed at the beginning of the year. Since December, Nickles has aggressively fought the lawyers, contending in a series of lawsuits that many of the special-education complaints are frivolous. Education advocates have said that while some of the complaints might be frivolous, many are not, and Nickles's lawsuits have produced mixed decisions.

-- Michael Birnbaum

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company