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Former leader of charity for Vietnam veterans sentenced to prison for embezzlement

October 5, 2017 at 9:15 PM

THE DISTRICT

Ex-leader of charity

sentenced to prison

The former head of a D.C. charity meant to benefit Vietnam veterans, who embezzled about $150,000 of donations to spend on women he was involved with, was sentenced Thursday to five months in prison.

John Thomas Burch, 75, of Alexandria, who pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud, was the president of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation (NVVF) until last year. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson also ordered Burch to pay a $75,000 forfeiture judgment, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and FBI Washington Field Office chief Andrew Vale said in a statement.

Burch admitted misappropriating $149,317 of donations marked for veterans' family members with young children in poverty between 2012 and 2016. He gave the money to acquaintances with whom he had relationships and claimed reimbursements for visits to clubs, meals and hotel stays that were not related to the charity.

Burch had unilateral control over the NVVF's "Emergency Assistance Program" and could pay out $100 to $300 without oversight. The organization disbanded last year.

— Spencer S. Hsu

Police: Man arrested

threw Sterno at driver

Metro Transit Police have arrested a 19-year-old man for allegedly throwing a Sterno can at a Metrobus driver Wednesday and in connection with the armed robbery and assault of two people at a Metro station bus stop Monday.

Aric Lewis Holmes of Southeast D.C. was arrested Wednesday night and is expected to be arraigned Thursday.

According to police, Holmes and two acquaintances attempted to board an X2 bus shortly before noon Wednesday at 14th and H streets NE but were told that they would not be allowed to ride because one of them was carrying a gasoline-powered leaf blower.

Police say Holmes threw a can of Sterno cooking fuel at the bus driver; the can hit the plexiglass shield designed to protect the operator, who was not injured.

Transit police detectives used surveillance footage from the bus to identify the person who threw the can. They searched for Holmes and arrested him, along with one of the other men who attempted to board the bus, 21-year-old John Webb McPhaul.

Both Holmes and McPhaul are charged with armed robbery and assault with intent to rob, following two incidents that occurred Monday at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station, police said.

In the first incident, Holmes and McPhaul are accused of using a weapon — described by the victim as a gun — to rob a 17-year-old who was waiting for a bus around 8:30 p.m. Police say the pair stole the teen's belt, backpack and "Yeezy" sneakers.

— Martine Powers

Suspected robber's

flight is short-lived

Bank robbers escaping with their ill-gotten loot usually try to get as far away from the bank, and the law, as possible.

Police said Edwin Sanchez went 377 feet.

The 24-year-old was captured less than nine minutes after police said he walked into a TD Bank branch at 801 17th St. in Northwest Washington on Wednesday afternoon and walked out with $1,160 in plastic bags.

Police said they found him a little later sitting in a McDonald's less than a block away at 750 17th St. NW. Court documents say he had a knife and money with him.

"He stated that he knew why law enforcement was there," prosecutors said in an affidavit filed in federal court charging Sanchez with one count of armed bank robbery.

— Peter Hermann

Officials: Electrical

issue causes fire

A fire on the roof of an apartment building in the Logan Circle area in Northwest Washington on Thursday was caused by an electrical malfunction, fire officials said.

No civilians were injured, but one firefighter was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the D.C. fire department.

Officials said that it was a two-alarm blaze in the 1200 block of Q Street NW and that there was a "heavy volume of fire" at times before firefighters put it out.

The blaze was in the attic and affected some top-floor units, officials said. Some streets in the area were closed as crews worked to extinguish the flames.

Several residents were displaced.

— Dana Hedgpeth and Peter Hermann

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