2 Officers Under Investigation

Two 4th District D.C. police officers are under investigation after being accused of taking money from people.

Officer Tonce Cutler, a 10-year member of the force, was moved from the vice squad to a patrol service area Wednesday after two residents complained that he took money from them, police sources familiar with the matter said yesterday. The internal affairs division is investigating.

Officer Patrick Goodwin, also a 10-year member of the department, is under investigation by the grand jury and is accused of taking money from a police informant, police sources said.

Taxi Manager Admits Paying Bribes

The manager of a D.C. taxi company pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court yesterday to paying at least $800 in bribes to two city employees in return for stickers that showed his vehicles had passed safety inspections.

Ashok Gupta, 39, who manages National Cab Co., admitted paying about $100 each in bribes for stickers from 1996 through 1998. Under D.C. law, cabs must be inspected every six months. Prosecutors said Gupta used his illegally obtained stickers to make it appear that his cabs met safety requirements when they hadn't been checked.

Gupta faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in March.

Nearly 40 people have been convicted so far in an investigation known as Operation Free Ride, including Reginald Dean and Mahadeo Singh, the two D.C. motor vehicle inspectors who dealt with Gupta. Dean and Singh were given two years' probation for their roles.


2 Plead Guilty in Cross Burnings

Two men pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt this week to federal civil rights violations in connection with the burning of two crosses outside Bowie High School in June 1997, Maryland U.S. Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia said.

Patrick Trainer, 21, of New York, and his brother, Robert Trainer, 20, of Montana, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to deprive blacks of their civil rights, Battaglia said. In their guilty pleas, the brothers admitted that they doused the crosses with gasoline and set them on fire, Battaglia said. Robert Trainer, who was a juvenile at the time of the cross burning, agreed as part of his plea to be prosecuted and sentenced as an adult.

The brothers admitted that they burned the crosses to intimidate blacks at the school after a fight between a white girl and several black students. The brothers and two other men discussed hiring someone to shoot blacks at the school and using the Internet to contact hate groups to help them intimidate blacks, according to prosecutors.

In addition to the Trainers, Derek Schleicher, 22, has pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation in connection with the incident. Another man, Brian Swetnam, was indicted on federal civil rights charges in October.

The Trainers are to be sentenced Feb. 28. No sentencing date has been set for Schleicher.


Sentencing Delayed in Day-Care Case

The sentencing hearing for a former Arlington family day-care provider, scheduled for next Tuesday, has been postponed until Jan. 24, her attorney said yesterday.

Minh-Hien Bui, who has admitted that she exceeded the county limit on children at family day-care homes, faces up to three years in jail on three misdemeanor charges, including reporting to local authorities only a fraction of the $242,144 she made last year.

Police were called to her home June 16, when a baby in her care stopped breathing. They found 42 children in the four-bedroom home, which was licensed for as many as five youngsters. The cause of the child's death was not determined, and Bui was not charged in her death.