A Republican candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates filed suit yesterday seeking a review of an investigation into a report of racially charged vandalism at the home of a Democratic opponent.
In the suit, Claude W. Roxborough, of Temple Hills, asked the Circuit Court to order police and fire investigators to determine whether reported arson and vandalism at David M. Valderrama's Fort Washington house amounted to "hate crimes . . . or a political hoax perpetuated to inflame racial sensitivities and sympathies."
If it was a "hate crime," Roxborough said, it should be reported as such under a recently signed federal law.
Prince George's police and fire officials said they are awaiting return of forensic evidence from an FBI lab to complete their investigation. Lt. Col. Robert Phillips said it is being investigated as a racial incident and that a report for State Police will be sent with other crime statistics.
Valderrama called Roxborough's suit a "cheap political trick." Although he said he would like to see the investigation completed, he added, "It's not really taking that long."
Early on Sept. 2, Valderrama told authorities that he returned to his house and found slogans painted on his garage that disparaged his association with blacks. Campaign posters, wooden stakes and poolside torches, some formed into the shape of a cross, were burning in the side yard. Valderrama also reported receiving a hate letter.
A few days later, police said, Valderrama had stopped cooperating with authorities and refused to submit fingerprint samples for comparison to prints on the letter. Sources said investigators found it unusual that materials used to build and ignite the fire came from Valderrama's back yard.
Valderrama, a leader in the Filipino community, captured one of three Democratic nominations for three Prince George's County House seats nine days after the incident. He and two fellow Democrats face opposition only from Roxborough in Tuesday's elections.
During a news conference in Temple Hills, Roxborough said he is seeking to clear up the origin of the vandalism before the general election.