An Arlington County employee has pleaded guilty to taking more than $10,000 in bribes.
The employee — a tax assessor supervisor in the county’s Department of Motor Vehicles Select office — admitted to taking bribes in exchange for allowing an exporter to avoid paying state taxes on luxury vehicles, including a Lamborghini and Ferraris, Porsches and Mercedes, according to federal prosecutors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following press release about the conviction.
Francisco Samayoa Hernandez (“Samayoa”), 33, of Silver Spring, Md., pleaded guilty today to receiving bribes in connection with his work as a tax assessor supervisor at the Arlington County, Va., Department of Motor Vehicles Select office.
Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.
Samayoa faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison when he is sentenced on June 9, 2014.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Samayoa admitted to receiving approximately $11,480 in bribes from a vehicle exporter in exchange for providing vehicle titles and falsifying Department of Motor Vehicle paperwork that allowed the exporter to avoid paying state motor vehicle sales and use tax in connection with the registration and titling of various luxury automobiles. In exchange for the bribes, Samayoa enabled the exporter to avoid paying approximately $24,923 due to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the registration and titling of a Lamborghini and multiple Ferraris, Porsches and Mercedes.
Samayoa was an Arlington County employee, and the Arlington County Commissioner of Revenue contracts with the DMV to provide vehicle-related services at its local office.
Samayoa also admitted to serving as a straw buyer for the exporter and purchasing three BMWs in his name. In connection with these transactions, Samayoa falsely certified to a dealership that he was not purchasing the vehicle for export, and the dealership relied on that certification in making the sale.
This case was investigated jointly by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Virginia DMV Law Enforcement Division Office of Enforcement and Compliance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Nathanson is prosecuting the case.
Any person who believes they may have information regarding public corruption in the Northern Virginia area is encouraged to call the FBI’s Northern Virginia Public Corruption Hotline at 703-686-6225 or send an email to NOVAPC@ic.fbi.gov.
Police say a cafeteria manager got into a verbal and physical altercation with school administrators around 11:15 a.m. The altercation moved to a cafeteria office — out of view of students — where the manager punched an assistant principal, threw water on him, and then brandished a knife in a threatening manner, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police were called to the school. Upon arrival, the suspect threatened officers, said she had a gun and then reached into a bag, Sternbeck said. The woman was tased by police. No gun was found, but she was in possession of the knife, Sternbeck said.
Paramedics evaluated the suspect and she was then transported to Virginia Hospital Center on a mental evaluation order. The assistant principal was not injured. So far the school system is not pressing charges.
“While we understand that many people would like to have additional details of this incident, it is considered a personnel matter, and we cannot divulge additional information,” Barcroft principal Colette Bounet said in a written statement. “I want to assure everyone that students are safe and were not affected by the occurrence.”
The school was locked down for about five minutes during the incident, according to Sternbeck.
Arlington County firefighters responded to an apartment fire near Rosslyn Tuesday night.
Units on the scene reported flames coming from a third story apartment at the Rosslyn Heights apartment building on the 1800 block of N. Quinn Street.
A fire on the exterior balcony had extended to the interior of an apartment, according to the fire department Twitter account. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported.
The residents of three apartments were displaced due to fire, smoke and water damage.
Update at 4:15 p.m. on 1/22/14 — In a press release, the Arlington County Fire Dept. says this fire started due to improper disposal of hot embers.
Last night, Arlington firefighters responded to a fire that started on the balcony and quickly spread to the inside of the apartment. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire was reported early, keeping damage to an estimated $20,000. The fire was caused when occupants extinguished a fire in their fireplace with water and placed the logs outside on the deck. The occupants knew that it was dangerous to leave a fireplace unattended, but did not know how to properly dispose of hot ashes and embers.
It is a common misconception that the ashes are safe once the fire is extinguished; however, ashes and embers can smolder for hours. Ashes must be disposed of properly to prevent these types of fires from occurring. Once the fire is extinguished, place the ashes in a metal container with a lid. Never place ashes directly into a trash can or paper bag. Move the metal container outside and away from all combustibles, including decks, garages, and leaves. Soak the ashes with water and re-cover.
The Arlington County Fire Department recommends you follow these safety tips when using a fireplace:
- Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
- Always use a metal or heat-tempered glass screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
- Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire, never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Only burn dry, seasoned wood.
- Never leave the fireplace unattended.
- Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.
- Place ashes in a metal container with a lid. Move the container at least 10 feet from the building and saturate the ashes with water.
More information at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.shtm
Photo courtesy @hilary1121
In a statement (after the jump), Moran lamented the sorry state of the budget process in Washington, but said he was hopeful that with the recent bipartisan budget deal, things are getting back on track.
“I prepare to leave Congress feeling very fortunate, grateful for what we’ve accomplished, and optimistic for the future of Northern Virginia, the Washington Metropolitan Region, and our nation,” he said.
The announcement puts Moran’s long-held Congressional seat — representing Arlington, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County — up for grabs. Already, electoral prognosticators are weighing in on what will likely be a political free-for-all among local Democrats.
Ben Tribbett, of the Not Larry Sabato blog, opined that the theoretical front runners in this year’s race to replace Moran include Del. Patrick Hope, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley, Del. Charniele Herring, Del. Mark Sickles and Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay. Other names circulating around Twitter include Alexandria mayor Bill Euille, Del. Rob Krupicka and former Lieutenant Governor candidate Aneesh Chopra.
Moran, now in his 12th term in the House of Representatives, has been an outspoken advocate and an effective budget appropriator for his constituents and the causes he supported, including federal employees, transportation infrastructure, immigration reform, gay marriage, gun control, and animal rights. Moran’s Congressional tenure has also been marred by occasional controversies.
In 1995 he engaged in a “physical confrontation” with Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.). In 2000 he was accused of attacking an 8-year-old boy in an Alexandria parking lot. In 2006 he said he would “earmark the shit out of” his House appropriations subcommittee post to steer federal money to Virginia’s 8th Congressional District. In 2010 he said his Republican challenger, a retired Army officer, hadn’t “served or performed in any kind of public service.” In 2011 he was accused in a book of “insider trading” (but never prosecuted). In 2012 his son, Patrick, resigned from Moran’s campaign after being caught on hidden camera seemingly going along with a scheme to commit voter fraud.
Despite the controversies, Moran’s Capitol Hill staffers say he is a man truly dedicated to public service, who speaks his mind and does what he thinks is right.
“He is exactly what you want in your local representative — he loves the people of the 8th District and is in politics for the right reasons,” said Anne Hughes, a former press secretary. “Moran is a fierce advocate for Northern Virginia and I know will be remembered not only for his contributions to the region, but also for being on the right side of history — from Iraq War to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — and speaking out loudly for those who can’t speak for themselves.”
“I have enormous respect for Moran, he leaves giant shoes to fill,” Hughes added. “And I will especially miss watching his raucous floor speeches.”
State Sen. Ebbin said in a statement that Moran “has represented the progressive values of the people of Northern Virginia.”
“He has been an advocate for our environment, a fighter for equality, and a strong champion of universal health care and the Affordable Care Act,” Ebbin said. “Northern Virginia is a better place to live and work because of Jim Moran’s leadership. I am proud to have been represented by him in Congress, and to have represented him in Richmond. After his decades of service to our community, I wish him a long and happy retirement.”
The full statement from Moran’s office about the Congressman’s retirement, and a statement from President Obama, after the jump.
(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) Firefighters from several jurisdictions responded to a fire at the Days Inn on Columbia Pike this morning.
The fire started in an unoccupied room on the second floor of the motel, according to the Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. The blaze was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported.
According to Marchegiani, the fire department received the first call about the fire at 11:36 a.m. and the bulk of the fire was extinguished by 11:42 a.m. Firefighters are now packing up their equipment and the county fire marshal is investigating the incident.
Earlier, flames and smoke could be seen from the motel, located at 3030 Columbia Pike. Early video of the incident shows a significant amount of smoke coming from the structure.
For a period of time the eastbound lanes of Columbia Pike were blocked in the area of the motel. The lanes have since reopened.
Photo courtesy @OwenHassig
(Updated 2:20 p.m.) Three suspects have been apprehended after a bank robbery on Columbia Pike.
The Wells Fargo Bank at the corner of S. George Mason Drive and Columbia Pike was robbed this afternoon, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Three suspects have been taken into custody, he said.
The robbery occurred around 1:20 p.m., according to scanner traffic.
Significant police activity at the intersection is impacting traffic and 16-line Metrobuses. Northbound George Mason Drive is closed at Columbia Pike.
(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) A large water main break has been reported on Columbia Pike, just in time to cause significant issues with the evening commute.
The water main break was reported at Columbia Pike and Carlin Springs Road, on the Arlington/Fairfax county line. Fairfax County police are shutting down the Pike in both directions between Carlin Springs and Route 7.
Police have shut down the eastbound side of the Pike to pedestrian traffic, because workers are cautious to prevent the sidewalk from collapsing into a sinkhole, according to police on the scene. Fairfax Water workers are trying to turn off the water — which is still pouring out of the sewer grates in the closed-off section of Columbia Pike — before beginning repairs.
There are no estimates so far for the timeline of work to be completed, so drivers should avoid the area entirely on their commute, if possible. As of about 5:30 p.m., Carlin Springs Road was backed up all the way into the Buckingham neighborhood, and several other roads in the area were also suffering major backups.
A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with negligent homicide following a fatal crash on Memorial Circle.
The crash occurred in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 11. According to police, a vehicle was heading outbound on the Memorial Bridge when it “lost control and overturned for unknown reasons” at the circle. At the time, the deceased — 36-year-old Katharine Jane Rahim of Reston — was said to be the vehicle’s sole occupant.
However, police now say the vehicle’s driver, 24-year-old Carlos Joel Alonso, fled the scene prior to the arrival of first responders.
“United States Park Police investigated the crash which revealed negligence of the operator resulting in the fatality of passenger,” according to a Park Police news release. “Alonso… left the scene [and] was found several hours later at Columbia Island Marina.”
Alonso, a Maryland resident, was arrested yesterday (Dec. 3) on charges of negligent homicide. He surrendered his passport and was released on bond, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 13.
(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) An elderly woman was taken to the hospital after being injured in a bank robbery on N. Glebe Road.
The robbery happened around 11:20 a.m., in the Wells Fargo bank at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Lee Highway.
Police say two black males entered the bank, displayed a handgun, and ordered everyone inside to the floor. An 82-year-old woman was hurt when one of the robbers threw her to the ground while exiting the bank, said Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
About 14 people were inside the bank at the time of the robbery, according to Sternbeck.
The men fled the scene with an undetermined amount of money and remain at large. The woman was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with minor injuries, Sternbeck said.
Surveillance photos courtesy of ACPD
(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) A Ferrari crashed and caught fire on the GW Parkway this morning, prompting an emergency response that then led to an accident involving a fire department vehicle.
The first wreck happened around 9:30 a.m., in the southbound lanes of the GW Parkway under I-66, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
The Ferrari lost control on the rain-slicked road and struck the bridge, coming to rest on the side of the parkway. The Ferrari then caught fire, quickly becoming fully engulfed before the flames were extinguished by firefighters. The driver was uninjured, according to Marchegiani.
Just past 10:30 a.m., a pickup truck rear-ended an Arlington County Fire Marshal’s truck that was stopped in the northbound lanes of the GW Parkway, adjacent to the first wreck. A third vehicle was also hit but no injuries were reported, Marchegiani said.
The dual wrecks shut down lanes and caused major backups for GW Parkway commuters. Two trucks are currently on scene to haul away the vehicles involved.
Video (above) courtesy David Johnson. Photos (below) courtesy @Chief288.
(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Two workers have been taken to the hospital after falling 20 feet at a construction site in Ballston.
The incident happened around 9:30 a.m. at an apartment construction site at 650 N. Glebe Road, across from the mall at the intersection of N. Carlin Springs Road.
Two workers were standing at a wall at the construction site when they somehow fell 20 feet into the construction pit, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton. One worker was able to walk out and seek medical attention on his own power, while the other had to be lifted out of the site with a crane.
Both workers were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, Shelton said.
(Updated at 5:50 p.m.) The westbound lanes of Route 50 were blocked during Wednesday night’s rush hour due to an overturned vehicle.
The accident occurred at the intersection with Park Drive, near the Arlington Forest Shopping Center. Initial reports suggest an SUV was heading westbound on Route 50 when it hit a median, ran into a pedestrian crossing signal, clipped a van and flipped on its roof. Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to free a person who was trapped in the overturned vehicle.
The person freed from the vehicle was transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
As of 5:40 p.m. one westbound lane of Route 50 had reopened, but outbound traffic was very heavy due.
(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Two workers were rescued by firefighters after their scaffolding collapsed at a Columbia Pike apartment building this afternoon.
The incident happened just before 3:00 p.m., at 2200 Columbia Pike. Fire department officials say the men were lowering the scaffolding when one of the sides caught and the scaffolding “went vertical.” One worker was caught in netting in the scaffolding, while the other was saved by a safety harness and was hanging from a rope.
Firefighters set up netting below the workers to catch them in case they fell. It wasn’t needed, however. Firefighters using a ladder truck were able to pluck the workers from the side of the building within 10 minutes of arriving on scene.
The workers suffered only “very minor” injuries and did not require transport to a hospital. They were doing masonry work on the building, a fire department spokesman said. Virginia occupational safety officials are now investigating the incident.
Columbia Pike was shut down in both directions during the rescue. The Pike has since been reopened.
The fall happened just after 2:20 p.m. at 3446 Fairfax Drive, near the intersection with N. Lincoln Street. According to scanner traffic, the victim was conscious, but not moving.
Firefighters and medics had unimpeded access to the victim, so a technical rescue was not necessary, according to ACFD spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton. The victim was transported via ambulance to the trauma at George Washington University Hospital. So far, there’s no word on his condition.
Arlington County police and Virginia occupational safety officials are investigating the incident.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Police are on the scene of a robbery at the Pentagon Federal Credit Union branch in Pentagon City.
The PenFed branch is located on the ground floor of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters at 701 12th Street S.
Two men entered the credit union around 1:20 p.m. and passed a backpack and a note demanding cash to the teller, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The men were given an undisclosed amount of cash. They then fled and were last seen getting into a blue-and-white taxicab.
According to scanner traffic, the cab was likely an Arlington Blue Top cab that was waiting at the cab stand between the Pentagon City Metro station and the Ritz Carlton hotel.
No one was hurt during the incident, Sternbeck said. Arlington police are investigating the robbery in cooperation with the FBI and the TSA. From a police press release:
Suspect one is described as a black male, approximately 6’0” tall with a skinny build and a short beard. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket, along with a black and red hat and glasses at the time of the incident. Suspect two is described as a black male, approximately 5’10” and was wearing blue jeans, a grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jacket.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of these individuals is asked to contact Detective Gary Skeens with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4166,firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
The credit union is located within the TSA headquarters complex. Its entrance faces a public plaza that’s open to pedestrians but closed to vehicle traffic. There is an entrance to the TSA headquarters building within the branch, according to TSA spokesman Mark Howell, but one must present an ID badge to use it.
A guard station is located about 100 feet from the credit union, but Howell said the contract guards who man it are trained to initially call police in the event of a crime. They do not provide security to PenFed, which leases space in the building from the property owner, not from TSA.
Police released the following surveillance footage from the robbery: