19 Alleged Gang Members Indicted

Federal Case Accuses Men of Conspiracy

Nineteen men were indicted on federal racketeering charges in the first case brought in Maryland against Mara Salvatrucha. The indictment accuses the 19 alleged MS-13 members of conspiracy to commit six murders and four attempted murders in suburban Maryland between April 2003 and June 14. Eight occurred in Prince George's County; the others were in Montgomery County. The indictment says the defendants conspired to commit kidnapping, robbery and obstruction of justice.

Jail Told It May Force-Feed Muhammad

Sniper Has Refused Food, Water Since Transfer

A judge Thursday granted Montgomery County jail officials authority to force-feed John Allen Muhammad, the man convicted in 2002's sniper killings. Muhammad has refused to eat or drink since he was transferred from a Virginia prison Monday. The judge issued the order after the county's Department of Correction and Rehabilitation filed court papers saying Muhammad was "in imminent danger of very serious bodily harm, including death, if he does not begin to receive nourishment within the next several days." Sentenced to death in Virginia for a killing in Prince William County, Muhammad was transferred to Montgomery to face charges in six additional slayings.

Scores on Standardized Tests Slip

Graduation to Hinge on Adequate Performance

Maryland public high school students largely scored worse this year on a battery of standardized tests that will be required for graduation in 2009. Students were tested in four areas: algebra, biology, government and English. Scores fell in the first two areas but rose in government. The English scores will not be available until late fall, state officials said.

Arson Witness Testifies That He Lied

Suspect Was Implicated in Police Questioning

A key prosecution witness at the trial of the Charles County arsons recanted on the stand Wednesday, testifying that he lied when he implicated Patrick S. Walsh in the fires that heavily damaged a subdivision under construction last year. Michael E. Gilbert, 21, one of six men charged with setting fires and the only one against whom charges were dropped, gave the surprise testimony in federal court under an immunity order. As he recalled more than nine hours of questioning by investigators two weeks after the fires broke out at Hunters Brooke, Gilbert said he was scared at the time.

Greenbelt Firm Fined in Hotel Death

Safety Rules Violated After Elevator Incident

A Maryland company that manages the Hilton Springfield hotel was fined $70,000 for willfully violating state occupational safety rules after a housekeeping employee, Santa Lucia Mendieta, became trapped in a service elevator in February and fell three floors to her death. The hotel manager on duty, an employee of Coakley Williams Hotel Management of Greenbelt, failed to respond to the scene to make sure proper rescue procedures were followed, failed to call the elevator maintenance company or the fire department, failed to notify hotel security and failed to communicate with Mendieta while she was trapped and panicking, according to the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Across the Region

Guilty Plea in Deadly Crash; Surplus Totaled

* A Maryland man admitted that he smashed into an unmarked patrol car on Route 50 in Anne Arundel County while driving with a suspended license last year, killing a decorated officer with the Maryland Transportation Authority. Albert G. Antonelli, 33, of Queenstown, Md., pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. He was driving more than 70 miles an hour when he slammed into the patrol car of Cpl. Duke G. Aaron III, 29, of Pasadena.

* Maryland finished fiscal 2005 with a surplus of nearly $1.2 billion, according to Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D). Schaefer said the surplus was bolstered by strong growth in tax revenue.

Homicide Fears Stephanie Dobson says all Suitland Elementary School students should be bused there, no matter how close they live to the building.