Joseph P. Yeldell, former director of the District of Columbia's Department of Human Resources, has been charged with one count of Battery Stemming from an incident May 5 in which he allegedly struck a man while entering a Silver Spring gasoline station.
Yeldell, who is a $50,000-a-year computer specialist in the District's Office of Financial Management, appeared for a brief hearing yesterday in District Court in Silver Spring before Judge L. Leonard Rubin. Rubin postponed trial until July 15 so that Yeldell, 48, could get a lawyer.
Under Maryland law, battery is a common-law offense that carries no maximum penalty.
According to papers filed in District Court, the charges stemmed from a confrontation between Yeldell, who was at the wheel of his Lincoln and Albert B. Gooray, a 27-year-old immigrant from Guyana, driving a Toyota.
Yeldell was driving south on Georgia Avenue May 5 about 4:30 p.m. when he tried to turn into Steuart's Carwash, a car wash and Chevron self-serve gasoline station at 7996 Georgia Ave. where Yeldell has gassed up as often as once a week.
As he was entering the station, Gooray was leaving with his 3-year-old daughter in the car. A stalemate ensued in which neither car could continue in the direction each driver wished to go without scraping the other.
Yeldell declined yesterday to comment on the charge. In court papers and in a subsequent interview, Gooray gave the following account of the incident:
Gooray "stopped and I told him I cannot get out. He then moved forward and hit my car.
"He refused to back up. I was exiting and he was entering in the wrong direction. I couldn't reverse without scraping his car. That would have cost a fortune."
Yeldell then got out of his Lincoln pulled the bespectacled 5-foot-6-inch Gooray out of his Toyota and struck him twice on the chest.
Gooray's glasses fell off. Yeldell then pulled his car in past the shrubs at the Chevron station's Georgia Avenue exit. Gooray's daughter started crying and Gooray went to call the police.
"He was cussing. I was walking toward the phone. I didn't know what he was saying," Gooray said.
Yeldell then allegedly grabbed Gooray and punched him four times about the head, until restrained by another man.
Gooray, according to employes at the service station, then ran across 13th Street and stayed there until Yeldell left. As the Lincoln pulled out, Gooray recorded the car's license number.
Last fall Yeldell and multimillionaire businessman Dominic F. Antonelli were acquitted by a federal jury of bribery and conspiracy charges after a trial in Philadelphia.They had been found guilty at an earlier trial in the District, but that conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered.