Pension Chief's Severance Rescinded

$263,000 Package Violated Rules, Panel Found

The panel that oversees Virginia's public pension system voted to rescind a $263,000 severance package given to its former chief, acting after state officials said the payment was improper.

At a special meeting, board members for the Virginia Retirement System voted unanimously to give former director W. Forrest Matthews Jr. a $15,000 exit package instead. The board said that was all he was entitled to under the state's Workforce Transition Act. The package includes limited health benefits and life insurance.

The original severance package had been offered by Alfonso I. Samper, the retirement system's chairman, who resigned. The state legislature's audit commission found that the settlement had been granted without the board's knowledge or approval, a violation of agency procedures. The commission's report also called the payment deal by Samper "excessive" and said it was veiled in secrecy.

DMV Manager Accused of Fraud

Licenses Were Sold for Up to $3,500 Each

The manager of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles office at Springfield Mall was charged with selling driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and others for up to $3,500 each.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria charged Francisco J. Martinez, 57, of Stafford with one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud. As the head of DMV's customer service center at the mall, he supervised about 30 employees. Also charged was his wife, Miriam Martinez, 56, a former DMV clerk in Tysons Corner.

A third person charged in the scheme, Jose Daniel Guardia, 25, of Alexandria, pleaded guilty Monday. Guardia, an illegal immigrant from Bolivia, found clients and collected fees, authorities said.

Virginia licenses were issued to at least 40 people who were illegal immigrants or whose driving privileges had been suspended, prosecutors said.

487 Cats Taken From Two Fairfax Homes

Many Were Dead; Woman Faces Several Charges

Animal control officers confiscated 488 cats, many of them dead, from the Mount Vernon area home of a Fairfax County woman and a Burke townhouse owned by her daughter. Nearly all the cats were undomesticated and had contagious respiratory problems, officials said. All but eight were euthanized.

Ruth Knueven, 82, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of failing to care for and properly dispose of her cats. She also faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice, police said, because she tampered with traps animal control officers had set to round up the feral cats still hiding in her home. Police said Knueven's attempt to hide the cats resulted in the death of one of the animals, and they have charged her with cruelty to animals, another misdemeanor.

The house, in a neighborhood behind George Washington's Mount Vernon plantation, was deemed uninhabitable by the Fairfax County Health Department. Health officials are investigating conditions at the Burke townhouse owned by Knueven's daughter, Karen Forrest. Forrest apparently lives in both homes, according to an affidavit.

Across the Region

Metro to Form Panel; Base Plan's Effects Surveyed

* Metro board members have decided to create a Riders Advisory Council made up of 18 rail, bus and paratransit customers from across the region to address concerns that the agency is unresponsive to the public. The board is asking for public comment before finalizing details about how the panel would work.

* The Defense Department's plan to consolidate the country's military bases would lead to slight increases in the Washington region's traffic and pollution and a minor decrease in mass transit ridership, according to an analysis. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and researchers at George Mason University also found that the influx of workers that would be generated by the plan would require an additional 8,500 housing units.

Gang Vandalism Sergio Toro's car was one of the vehicles and other property spray-painted with graffiti at night in Annandale. Police plan more patrols.