Dr. Derron McRae Simon, who ran the WithinMe MD medical clinic at 5275 Lee Hwy in Arlington, has been indicted on charges that he ran an oxycodone distribution ring.
Starting in February 2013, federal prosecutors say Simon and five co-conspirators wrote, filled and sold fraudulent prescriptions for more than 11,000 oxycodone pills and “other controlled substances.” The pills had a total value of nearly $750,000 and Simon sold the prescriptions for between $500 and $1,000, according to prosecutors.
“Simon allegedly wrote and sold hundreds of prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances, despite knowing that the individuals in whose names the prescriptions were written were abusing, misusing, distributing, and/or selling the drugs,” according to a press release. “Simon allegedly had never met many of these purported patients, and he also wrote prescriptions in the names of his five co-conspirators, as well as friends, relatives, and fictitious individuals.”
Simon, 45, is listed as a Midlothian, Va. resident. Among the co-conspirators named by prosecutors is Arlington resident Linda Dao, 21, and Falls Church residents Ereida Escobar, 23, and Michael Harris, 21. They are charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances and possession with the intent to distribute controlled substances.
“According to the indictment, Simon directed Escobar, a receptionist and medical assistant at Simon’s practice, to confirm calls from pharmacists seeking to verify his oxycodone prescriptions,” the press release said. “Simon also allegedly directed Escobar to create fraudulent patient history forms and medical records to make it appear that these individuals were actually legitimate patients.”
The FBI’s Washington Field Office investigated the case.
All six suspects are facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine if convicted on the conspiracy or possession charges. Simon faces an addition one to 40 years in prison if convicted on three separate charges of distributing a controlled substance to persons under the age of 21. Simon and another conspirator are also charged with identity fraud.
Yelp reviews for the WithinMe clinic — which specialized in weight loss and hormone therapy — were not complimentary, especially after the clinic closed.
“I think they went out of business,” one reviewer said. “I have no idea what is going on. No one is answering the phones and the vm is full without even an answering machine introduction”
“If I could give no stars I would,” said another reviewer. “I purchased a groupon and had an appointment on June 23rd – I still have not recieved [sic] the B-12 shots.”
Photo via Google Maps
BL_NK WORLD, a pop-up art and fashion gallery, will be open for an exhibit on Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street) tonight and tomorrow.
The 1,600 square foot “creative space” is located in a vacant storefront next to Starbucks and across from the Yogi Castle frozen yogurt kiosk. It features art and fashion created by local artists from D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The pieces on display are also offered for sale.
The gallery will be open Friday and Saturday, as a fashion gallery from noon to 6:00 p.m. and for an “art social” event from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. The art social, which requires an RSVP, will feature music from a house DJ and guest musicians, plus champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
“After much buzz amongst the community of tastemakers in the D.C. area and beyond, BL_NK WORLD is preparing to deliver another tasteful experience where individual[s] can take in the culture and connect with others who appreciate the arts,” the organization said in a press release. “Follow us as we help bring light to the journeys surrounding the leaders of tomorrow.”
County Offices Closed for Labor Day – Arlington County government offices will be closed Monday for Labor Day. Pools and ART buses will operate on a holiday schedule. Trash collection will proceed as normal, but mulch delivery will be suspended. Parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]
Last Outdoor Films of the Season – Rosslyn will be hosting its last outdoor film of the summer tonight. “Horrible Bosses” is slated to run from 8:00-10:00 p.m. at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway). The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, meanwhile, gets the honor of hosting Arlington’s last outdoor film of the summer. “Gravity” will be shown at Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike) Saturday starting around 7:30 p.m. [Rosslyn BID, CPRO]
Courthouse: ‘A Hot Spot Getting Hotter’ — Courthouse “is on the cusp of being reinvented” says a county planner. Its walkability, abundance of retail and park proximity have all helped to contribute to its increasing desirability among homebuyers. [Washington Post]
Arlington GOP Adopts Local Platform — Billed as its “first local platform,” the Arlington County Republican Committee approved a set of five guiding principles Wednesday. [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy @kennethpiner
Windsor was a rescue technician aboard the U.S. Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter on Jan. 13, 1982, when Flight 90, taking off from National Airport during a snowstorm, lost altitude and crashed into the bridge before plunging into the icy Potomac River.
With roads clogged due to the snowstorm, emergency crews had trouble reaching the crash site, and those that did were ill-equipped to rescue the survivors from the water. Windsor and Eagle 1 pilot Donald Usher arrived less than 20 minutes after the crash and began plucking survivors from the river and bringing them to shore.
In bad weather, with the helicopter skids at one point dipping into the water, Windsor and Usher’s efforts were daring — but ultimately pivotal in saving the lives of the five survivors. The rescues earned the pair a valor award from the Interior Department and the Carnegie Hero Fund medal.
Windsor, a Rockville native, most recently lived at Surfside Beach, S.C. He leaves behind his wife of 42 years, Maureen, several sons and daughters, 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.
Windsor was 74.
Crumbs Could Reopen — The shuttered Crumbs Bakeshop in Clarendon could reopen, after the bankrupt cupcake company was purchased by a new owner. Fischer Enterprises has yet to reveal which of Crumbs’ 48 stores will reopen. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Naturalist Blogs on the Side — Frustrated with “days filled with meetings and paperwork” after he started working as the natural resources manager for Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation, Alonso Abugattas founded an educational blog and Facebook group called Capital Naturalist. The blog has a loyal following among readers and respect from fellow naturalists. [Washington Post]
Transportation Among Reasons Politico Stayed — The president of Monday Properties, the major Rosslyn property owner, says political publication Politico decided to renew its office lease in Rosslyn largely because of “superior transit options and greater concentration of housing and retail.” [Washington City Paper]
Changes Coming to ARLnow — ARLnow.com is expected to roll out a website redesign this afternoon. The site may experience brief downtime during the transition. Readers should also expect various menu and visual changes immediately after the transition.
Photo courtesy Donna Gouse
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools plans to give a new Macbook Air to every 9th grader in Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown high schools this school year.
The school system negotiated a deal with Apple that allowed it to purchase the laptops with a portion of the existing $1.2 million APS budget for annual high school computer purchases, Assistant Superintendent for Information Services Raj Adusumilli told ARLnow.com today. Adusumilli declined to reveal the exact cost, citing confidential negotiations.
The plan may come as a bit of a surprise — while APS has had a standing strategic goal of providing one computing device for every student by 2017, earlier this year the School Board shot down Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed $200,000 in supplemental funding for iPads and Google Chromebooks for 2nd and 6th graders. With less than a week to go before the first day of school, APS has still not publicly touted the laptop purchase. The school system answered questions about it in response to inquiries by ARLnow.com, which was sent a non-public document by an anonymous parent.
Adusumilli said the Macbook purchase wasn’t finalized until early July. The devices will be rolled out to students in phases, as a pilot program, at the discretion of teachers and principals.
“It’s going to be done in phases, so it’s not like on the first week of school all the students will get it,” said Adusumilli. “The devices are going to be handed out to teachers first, who will be trained to use the devices in instruction. That’s happening in the first week of school. Devices started getting sent to teachers yesterday.”
For now, only the three Arlington high schools are getting the computers; APS is still working on a plan for laptops at the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program.
Currently, APS has shared computers in classrooms, with a 1.6:1 student-to-computer ratio throughout the district, according to Adusumilli. APS has been upgrading its network and WiFi capabilities in recent years in anticipation of moving toward a 1:1 ratio, he said.
Instead of computers being shared and remaining in classrooms, each student will have his or her own “personalized” Macbook. Initially the computers will remain at school (in lockers, when students are not in class), but eventually APS plans to allow students to take their laptops home.
“Down the line, if [parents and students] feel comfortable, and the instructors allow it, it can be done eventually,” said Adusumilli. “The most effective way of the personalized device instruction is if the device is with the kid 24/7, but we know this won’t happen overnight.”
Adusumilli said APS will be closely watching the pilot program to help guide future personalized computer deployments. He said experience with other trial programs has led APS to believe full laptops are appropriate for high school students, while tablet computers like iPads are more effective learning tools for elementary and middle school students.
Earlier this summer, APS vehemently denied a rumored tablet purchase for 9th graders. Some parents have reported that their 2nd and 6th graders have been assigned iPads this year. Asked about tablet purchases for lower grade levels, Adusumilli was vague in his response.
“We are preparing for the transition from shared devices to personalized devices at all levels,” he wrote via email. “As part of this preparation each school is conducting a pilot to learn about the instructional benefits provided by personalization. The devices for all the pilots have been purchased. The purchases were made using existing computer replacement funds.”
One parent who learned about the laptop plan contacted ARLnow.com this week and questioned why APS hasn’t told the community at large about the pilot program.
“Through all of this, nothing on any APS channels, including the ‘welcome to school’ info packets for my 9th grader,” the parent said, without giving his or her name. “Why the cloak and dagger communications of what is actually exciting news?”
Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC, an Arlington firm that specializes in federal employment and labor law, security clearance proceedings, and military law.
Q. If an employee makes mistakes because he has dyslexia, can an employer fire him because of poor performance?
A. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and job candidates who have a “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
Learning is considered a “major life activity,” and dyslexia is a learning disability. So long as the person with dyslexia is qualified for a position, meaning he or she can perform its essential functions with or without a reasonable accommodation, employers generally should not terminate someone solely because of this learning disability.
In Shively v. City of Martinsville (2009), the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia defined “dyslexia” as “a cognitive condition that affects one’s ability to read and process the written language. In many instances, letters and numbers are transposed in the mind, making it difficult to accurately convey letters and numbers in the proper order.” The court noted that the tendency for people with dyslexia “to confuse or transpose numbers and letters… would affect a broad class of jobs, such as accounting, bookkeeping, or practicing law.”
Employers may be required to provide qualified employees with a reasonable accommodation, such as the provision of a reader or more time to complete a task. An accommodation would not be reasonable if it imposes an undue burden on the employer. A diagnosis of dyslexia alone may not be enough to require an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation.
“A person does not qualify as ‘disabled’ simply by submitting evidence of a medical diagnosis of an impairment,” the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland said in Fleetwood v. Harford Systems Inc. (2005). “Rather, an individual must offer evidence that the limitation caused by the impairment ‘prevents or severely restricts the individual from doing activities that are of central importance to most people’s daily lives,’ and that the impact of the impairment is permanent or long-term.”
Even if the dyslexia does not result in an actual limitation caused by the impairment, a diagnosis of this learning disability could result in a perceived substantial limitation in a major life activity. Such a perceived limitation would afford an employee ADA protection, but “the mere fact that an employer is aware of an employee’s impairment is insufficient to demonstrate either that the employer regarded the employee as disabled or that this perception caused the adverse employment action,” the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia said in Marshall v. Wal-Mart Stores (2001).
In Shively, the court noted that an employee must more than “merely assert that the Defendants perceived her as being disabled; she must allege all of the elements of her cause of action. She must allege that Defendants perceived her as suffering from an impairment that substantially limited one or more major life activities.”
People who believe an employer discriminated against them because they have dyslexia, or are perceived to suffer from an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, should immediately contact an employment law attorney who could prepare a disability discrimination lawsuit.
Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice federal employment law, military law, and security clearance representation. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit fedattorney.com.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
To try to reverse falling ridership, some are suggesting that the three-year-old Tide light rail line in Norfolk eliminate its $1.50 one-way fare.
Making the seven-mile Tide line free, say advocates, would help boost ridership and achieve the system’s true goal: encouraging more transit-oriented development around its 11 stops. The line simply isn’t long enough to attract ridership sufficient to offset its $8 million in annual operating costs, they say.
(As pointed out by the Sun Gazette, Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey has held up the Tide as an example of why the county shouldn’t build the Columbia Pike streetcar system.)
Economic models presented by Arlington County suggest that the Columbia Pike streetcar’s estimated $287 million cost will be offset in the long run by new development and increased real estate values. Given that development is such an important component of the Pike streetcar’s return on investment, should rides on it be free?
Photo by Xshadow via Wikipedia
‘Blog Comment Sections’ Hurting Arlington Way? — The “Arlington Way,” Arlington’s unique system of civic engagement and participation, needs to be revamped, suggests a contributor to the county’s Mobility Lab blog. The Arlington Way is “falling short,” resulting in “the drumbeat of criticism and opposition to all manner of needed investments,” writes urban planner Lisa Nisenson. She argues that the downfall of the Arlington Way is fueled by, among other factors, “the rise of unfiltered blogs” and “blog comment sections.” [Mobility Lab]
Route 50 Bike Path Now Open — A new bike path along Route 50, between Pershing Drive and Queen Street, is now open. However, riders should be cautious since “the path currently has a fair amount of debris on it.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Arlington Hosts Capital Bikeshare ‘Fiestas’ – In August, Arlington County launched a series of five special events dubbed the Capital Bikeshare Fiesta. The events allowed Capital Bikeshare representatives to reach out to Spanish speakers in Arlington with information and promotional giveaways. [Car-Free Diet Blog]
Photo courtesy Danielle Newcombe Horvath
A girl was beaten with a chair leg in the diplomatic residence of Equatorial Guinea last night, police said Tuesday, but no arrest has been made because the alleged attacker is a diplomat.
The incident happened around 9:30 p.m. Monday on the 4000 block of 27th Road N., in Arlington’s tony Dover-Crystal neighborhood. Police were called to the home of Ambassador Ruben Maye Nsue Mangue after a female 911 caller reported that “there’s someone going crazy at her house” and a man “hit her in the head with a chair,” according to scanner traffic.
“I’ve been there before,” said a responding officer. “There have been previous calls from this address.”
The female victim was struck “several times,” police said. Paramedics transported her to Virginia Hospital Center with a head wound, but no arrests were made.
“The subject has full diplomatic immunity and was not arrested,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report today. Police said the assault was “domestic” in nature but declined to reveal the identity of the suspect.
“We won’t go in to those details at this time,” ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told ARLnow.com. “The State Department was notified by our officers and it’s in their hands at this point.”
An anonymous tipster who contacted ARLnow.com this morning, before news of the attack was made public, claimed that the ambassador — who was appointed last year after serving on the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Peace and Security Council of the African Union — was the attacker and that his teenager daughter was the victim.
Reached at the Equatorial Guinea embassy in D.C., Rebeca Maye, who identified herself as Ambassador Nsue’s secretary, said his 16-year-old daughter was brought to Virginia Hospital Center with a head injury, but added that it was “not very big.” Maye declined to answer questions about the alleged assault and said the ambassador would not be available for comment until later Tuesday night.
Equatorial Guinea is a small nation on the west coast of Africa. It has a population of just 650,000, but it’s one of sub-Sahara Africa’s largest oil producers, according to Wikipedia.
Neighbors of the diplomatic residence on 27th Street, who did not wish to be identified by name, said the family that lives there mostly “keeps to themselves” — but there have been some recent disturbances.
“A girl can sometimes be heard screaming foul language” from the home, one neighbor said. Another said police were called to the house a couple months ago when a man and a woman had a shouting match outside.
Andrea Swalec, Ethan Rothstein and Scott Brodbeck contributed to this report
That’s 842,100 local residents hitting the local roads, rails and airways. Nine out of ten of those traveling — 735,000 residents — will doing so by automobile, the association predicts. That’s up 0.8 percent from 2013, and AAA says the lowest Labor Day weekend gas prices in four years are helping to drive the increase.
“It remains the preferred and cheapest mode of transportation for a couple traveling with children trying to squeeze in a memorable family getaway before the school year goes into high gear,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, in a press release. “With the wind to their backs, they will also be buoyed along by a positive consumer outlook and improvements in the labor market.”
Air travel, meanwhile, is expected to dip slightly, down 0.3 percent to 64,200 residents who will be flying out of the D.C. area. “Other” modes of transportation, like rail, are predicted to dip 0.5 percent to 43,100 travelers.
(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters and paramedics responded to a serious multi-vehicle accident on the GW Parkway this afternoon.
The accident happened just after 2:00 p.m. near the Windy Run overpass, northwest of Spout Run. Three vehicles collided in the northbound lanes, sending one of the cars off the roadway and down an embankment, nearly to the Potomac below.
Two people were in that car; at least one was trapped following the accident and had to be extricated by a rescue team.
One of the victims was flown to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, via a U.S. Park Police helicopter, with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Sean O’Connell. The other victim in the car was transported via ambulance to George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
A third person was injured in one of the other cars involved in the accident. That individual was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with moderate, non-life-threatening injuries, O’Connell said.
All lanes of the GW Parkway were closed between Spout Run and Route 123 following the accident, according to WTOP. Closures remain in place as police investigate the wreck.
Photo courtesy @CAPT258
Police say a group of people were drinking heavily inside a home on the 3500 block of 8th Street N. in Ashton Heights Sunday night. Around midnight, a verbal dispute escalated into a physical confrontation and a 25-year-old man was stabbed outside the house, suffering two puncture wounds to the chest and numerous slashes to the chest and back, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The victim was transported to Virginia Hospital Center. His wounds are described as non-life-threatening.
Arlington resident Rafael Temaj-Jiguan, 30, was arrested by police officers who were executing a search warrant on the residence this morning. He has been charged with malicious wounding and is being held at the Arlington County jail.
Temaj-Jiguan was an acquaintance of the victim, Sternbeck said. He was previously arrested in Arlington last September and convicted on a charge of being drunk in public.
Photo courtesy Bill Colton
One Found Dead in Submerged Car — A person was found dead in a submerged car near the GW Parkway’s Humpback Bridge Sunday afternoon. D.C. and Arlington firefighters were called to the scene after a Duck Tours boat operator saw the submerged car. The car reportedly plunged into the Potomac while traveling northbound on the Parkway. [WTOP, WJLA]
BRT Debuts in Arlington — Metroway, Metro’s first bus rapid transit system, made its debut over the weekend. The service runs from Crystal City to the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria, utilizing dedicated lanes along Route 1. [Washington Post]
CAIR Banquet Coming to Arlington — The Council on American-Islamic Relations will hold its 20th annual fundraising banquet in Crystal City next month. The event will take place Sept. 27 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. Announced participants include retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who’s scheduled to be the keynote speaker. [CAIR]
Fewer than Half of Area Residents are Native-Born — Fewer than half of the residents of D.C., Maryland and Virginia were born there. The number of native-born residents of the District, Maryland and Virginia has been falling since at least 1970. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by erkiletian
Slice n Dice, a restaurant that served up salads, sandwiches and pizzas in the Crystal City Shops, has closed.
The restaurant appears to have closed earlier this month. Its entrance, inside the shopping center on the 2100 block of Crystal Drive, is now covered in a plastic sheet.
“We appreciate all our loyal and worderful [sic] customers we have met and got to know of the past years,” said a sign posted inside the restaurant, a photo of which was uploaded to the restaurant’s Yelp page on Aug. 13. “We are sorry [about] the closing of our store. We will miss our customers and neighbors.”