Jessup Warden Transferred; Officer Fired

In the wake of a highly publicized escape at the state prison in Jessup, top officials said they are transferring the warden and have fired a corrections officer and suspended three others without pay for 15 days.

"We're going to make sure this doesn't happen again," said William W. Sondervan, commissioner of the Division of Corrections.

Prison officials have said a series of errors contributed to the May 18 escape of Gregory L. Lawrence, a murderer, and Byron L. Smoot, an armed robber. The pair was allegedly helped by a former prison psychologist, Elizabeth L. Feil, who is accused of picking up Smoot and Lawrence in a car after they escaped. Lawrence and Smoot were captured in Baltimore.

Sondervan said the warden, Sewall Smith, is a "quality employee," but will be transferred to another facility "to get a fresh set of eyes" at Jessup.

Requests for Child-Care Vouchers Rise

Maryland families leaving welfare rolls are increasingly relying on state help to pay for day care, according to a study.

The state's welfare caseload declined 22 percent between January 1997 and January 1998. During the same time period, requests for child-care vouchers from current and ex-welfare recipients rose 29 percent--from 13,074 to 16,831, according to the study by the National Center for Children in Poverty.

Most of the new voucher applicants were families who left welfare, the study said. Use of the vouchers was split roughly between children ages 10 to 12 and infants and toddlers, the study found. About half the voucher recipients in January 1997 did not use them the next year.

Schaefer Targets Sales Tax Evasion

A divided Board of Public Works has allowed Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D) to hire a former state police superintendent to head an office that will go after sales tax scofflaws.

Schaefer and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon (D) voted this week to pay Larry Tolliver $76,508 to head a division that will try to collect taxes on items purchased in states that do not have a sales tax.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) voted against the motion because the salary was higher than the $74,315 recommended by the legislature's staff agency. Schaefer had hired Tolliver a month ago under a five-week contract paying $1,429 a week.

Schaefer announced recently that he intended to step up enforcement of sales tax laws, especially against furniture retailers in North Carolina that advertise widely in Maryland, offering lower prices because their home state does not have a 5 percent sales tax.


Streets Closing for Two Festivals

Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 11th and 13th streets will be closed from 2 a.m. to 9 p.m. today for the Philippine Festival. A parade beginning at Sixth Street NW will go down Pennsylvania Avenue and may disrupt traffic briefly during the morning.

Unifest, the city's largest community festival, will close streets in Southeast until 11 p.m. today. They include the 11th Street Bridge at I-295, the 1800 to 2300 blocks of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, the 1100 and 1200 blocks of W Street, the 1200 block of Good Hope Road, U and V streets between 13th Street and Shannon Place, and the 1200 block of Pleasant Street.

Suspects Sought in Georgetown Robbery

Police were searching yesterday for two suspects who shot and robbed an attendant in the Shops at Georgetown Park parking garage early yesterday morning.

The men shot the attendant in the leg and took about $1,500. The assailants reportedly also robbed an off-duty police officer of his badge and gun.


Slaying Suspect Returns to State

Keith J. Gardner, 39, a suspect in the killings of his parents and grandfather, was returned to Fairfax County yesterday after being arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge earlier in the week, county police said.

Gardner was picked up Tuesday in Pensacola on a probation violation charge and was brought back yesterday by county detectives, police said. County police named him earlier as a suspect in the fatal stabbings of Jimmy Gardner, 64, Jannis Gardner, 63, and Elmer Gardner, 90, but he has not been charged in that case.

The bodies of the three were found May 11 in a cold-war era fallout shelter in the backyard of their house in the 9200 block of Gilmore Drive in the Lorton area.

Police said the investigation into the deaths is continuing.

Boy, 10, Charged With Brother's Murder

A 10-year-old Richmond boy has been charged with murder in the shooting death of his 9-year-old brother inside their South Richmond apartment.

Police say the boy shot his brother May 14 while the two were home with their 4-year-old cousin and had no adult supervision. The brother died shortly after the 7:15 p.m. shooting from a gunshot wound to the torso. The 10-year-old has been charged as a juvenile, police say.

VMI to Remain Under Federal Scrutiny

A federal judge has decided that Virginia Military Institute will remain under U.S. Justice Department scrutiny, but the federal government won't be allowed to increase its oversight of the integration of women at the college.

U.S. District Judge Jackson Kiser had previously decided to release VMI from filing regular progress reports on the assimilation of women into its ranks. But Kiser reversed himself Friday--acknowledging the Justice Department's argument that it's too early to say if the Lexington college has successfully completed the transition to coeducation.

On the other hand, Kiser declined to give the government more power to oversee VMI, as it had requested. He said the military school has done a thoughtful and professional job of admitting and assimilating women. VMI first admitted women in 1997 under orders from the U.S. Supreme Court.


"Instead of riding a bike in an AIDS race, why not go to the hospital and visit an AIDS patient and become their friend while they cope with dying?"

-- Rob Wilson, a marketing executive, on the detached nature of charity races.