County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]
Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]
Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]
More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]
Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]
Nine people have been charged, accused of being part of a drug network that distributed marijuana, MDMA and cocaine in the neighborhood.
A tenth person was arrested and charged with making death threat against undercover officers.
From an ACPD press release:
Detectives assigned to the Arlington County Police Department Organized Crime Section – Vice / Drug Enforcement Unit and the Virginia State Police recently concluded a 7-month undercover investigation focused on drug distribution activity in the Clarendon area of Arlington County. During this time, undercover detectives conducted numerous purchases of narcotics. As a result of this intensive investigation, undercover officers identified a narcotics distribution network, seized a significant amount of cocaine, marijuana, MDMA, and THC and made 9 arrests.
The following individuals have been arrested as a result of this investigation:
- Kyle Bailey, 22, of Arlington VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of Marijuana
- Michael Bramlett, 32, of Arlington VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of Cocaine
- Benjamin Lee Callender, 31, of Woodbridge VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of Cocaine and Possession with the Intent to Distribute Cocaine
- Victoriano Castro Reyes, 26, of Woodbridge VA has been charged with Distribution of Marijuana and Child Endangerment
- Amanda Mantanona, 24, of Woodbridge VA has been charged with Child Endangerment and Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana
- Omar Small, 22, of Arlington VA has been charged with Distribution of Marijuana
- Joshua Swinton, 28, of Arlington VA has been charged with three counts of Distribution of Marijuana and Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana
- Justin Terrell, 30, of Alexandria VA has been charged with two counts of Distribution of MDMA and Distribution of Cocaine
- Daryl Villanueva, 29 of Arlington VA has been charged with three counts of Distribution of Cocaine and Distribution of MDMA
In addition, after the initial phase of arrests were completed, the involved undercover officers began to receive death threats and threats of severe bodily harm. The threats were very graphic. Through further investigation, the source of these threats was identified and arrested without incident. Tesfayie Tesfa, 29, of Alexandria VA was arrested and charged with four counts of Obstruction of Justice and four counts of Death Threats by Text. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
It’s part of the National Take-Back Initiative, which is aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse. It also helps prevent accidental ingestion and the contamination of water supplies.
“The Arlington County Police Department, Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs,” ACPD said in a press release. “Bring your medications for disposal to the designated collection sites. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.”
The event will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the following locations.
- Fire Station #1 (500 S. Glebe Road)
- Fire Station #8 (4845 Lee Highway)
- Fire Station #9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Drive)
“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse,” the press release notes. “Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.”
“If residents are unable to participate in this event, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services advises residents to throw unwanted prescription drugs in the trash.”
County Board Work Sessions to Be Broadcast — Arlington TV, the county government’s cable channel, will begin broadcasting County Board work sessions on cable and online this month. First up: the riveting County Board work session on the FY 2017 budget, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington County]
Meal Delivery Startup Now Serving Part of Arlington — Galley, a D.C.-based meal delivery startup, says it just expanded its delivery area to include Rosslyn, Courthouse and Clarendon.
ACPD Focusing on Heroin Use and Addiction — The Arlington County Police Department is joining other law enforcement agencies around the region in an initiative to try to curb the distribution, possession and use of heroin. For those battling addiction, there are a number of treatment options in Arlington. [Arlington County]
Schneider to Lead Thrive — Former Democratic County Board candidate Andrew Schneider has been named the new Executive Director of Arlington Thrive, effective today. Thrive is a nonprofit that provides same-day financial assistance to residents in crisis.
Board Thanks Legislators for Hotel Tax Bill — The Arlington County Board is offering its thanks to the state legislators who successfully shepherded Arlington’s hotel tax surcharge reauthorization through the Virginia General Assembly. [Arlington County]
The incident happened just before 3 a.m. Police say 26-year-old William Donovan of Vienna, Va. was sitting by himself at a table in the tiny pizzeria, snorting cocaine. A uniformed Arlington County police officer who was standing nearby witnessed the alleged drug use and went to arrest Donovan.
At that point Donovan, who police say was highly intoxicated, defiantly said something to the effect of “I’m going home tonight,” and took a “fighting stance,” according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Donovan began kicking and punching the officer, prompting a witness to jump in and help restrain him while additional officers sped to the scene, Sternbeck said.
Donovan was charged with possession of cocaine, two counts of assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, according to Sternbeck, and is being held without bond.
He “eventually apologized while being transported to jail,” Sternbeck noted.
‘No Drone Zone’ Reminder for Pope’s Visit — Pope Francis begins his three-day visit to D.C. this afternoon. The Arlington County Police Department and the FAA are reminding residents and visitors that the airspace around the District, including Arlington, is a “no drone zone.” [Twitter, FAA]
Widening of I-66 Inevitable, Says VDOT Chief — Widening I-66 to three lanes between the Dulles Connector Road and Ballston is an inevitability, says Virginia Transportation Sec. Aubrey Layne. However, VDOT will exhaust every alternative before moving forward with expansion, Layne said. [WTOP]
Celeb Posts Pic from Arts Center Installation — A giant dart on the front lawn of the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia Square is gaining some fame. Comedian Nick Swardson over the weekend posted on Instagram a photo of a woman jokingly posing as if the dart had hit her in the rear end. He was apparently unaware that the woman was DC’s 107.3 FM personality Sarah Fraser. The dart is part of a well-reviewed installation at AAC called “Play.” [Sarah Fraser]
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day — Arlington County will participating in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this coming Saturday. The police department will be accepting anonymous returns of pills and patches at fire stations 2, 8 and 9 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. [Arlington County]
New Office Lease in Rosslyn — Tax services Ryan, LLC has signed a lease for the 21st floor of the Rosslyn Twin Towers building. The towers at 1000 and 1100 Wilson Blvd are also home to Raytheon, SRI International, Sands Capital, Strategy&, Politico, WJLA and the Washington Free Beacon. [GlobeSt]
Pope Prayer Protest at DCA — Airport workers and a local pastor will hold a “worker pray-in” at Reagan National Airport this afternoon, in advance of the pope’s visit to D.C. Workers are seeking “a living wage, improved training and adequate resources.” [SEIU 32BJ]
Flickr pool photo by Edobson22207
Police say the couple was having an argument about finances in a rental car around 6:30 p.m. They parked the car at the corner of 15th Street S. and Eads Street and proceeded to fight in the street, police say. The male suspect then “attempted to force the female back into the vehicle but was unsuccessful.”
Police were called and officers spotted marijuana and drug paraphernalia “in plain view inside the vehicle.” A search of the vehicle revealed a host of other drugs, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
The pair, both D.C. residents, were arrested. The woman charged with possession of marijuana. The man was charged with possession of marijuana, attempted abduction, domestic assault and battery, possession of MDMA with the intent to distribute and possession of methamphetamine.
School Boundary ‘Refinements’ Approved, Parents Peeved — The Arlington School Board on Thursday approved a series of small “refinements” to elementary school boundaries in North Arlington by a 3-1 vote. The changes will impact a few dozen current McKinley and Tuckahoe elementary students over the next two school years, transferring those students to other nearby schools. Several parents whose kids are affected have contacted ARLnow.com, calling the process and subsequent decision “short sighted,” “pointless” and “a sham.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Big, Tire-Eating Pothole on Wilson Blvd — An Arlington resident says he got a flat tire after driving over a monster pothole in the left-hand lane of westbound Wilson Blvd at N. Patrick Henry Drive. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services responded to the man’s tweet, saying repair crews have been notified. [Twitter]
ACPD Assists with Bust of Diner Owner — The owner of a popular Baltimore diner has been arrested in a cocaine sting that Arlington County police helped to arrange. Prosecutors say Anthony Vasiliades, owner of the Sip & Bite diner, which was featured on the TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” tried to buy $50,000 worth of cocaine from an undercover Arlington detective. [Baltimore Sun]
Casting Call for Arlington Cyclists — More than 50 people have signed up for a casting call for a promotional campaign that will highlight “everyday Arlington citizens who use a bicycle as means of commuting and/or recreation.” The casting call for the county-sponsored campaign, which will feature six short documentary films, ends today. [Modacity, Twitter]
County Planning Effort Launches — The Arlington County and School Boards have jointly appointed a 24-member “Facilities Study Committee” that is tasked with building “a consensus framework regarding the community’s future funding and facility needs.” The launch of the committee comes as Arlington Public Schools faces push back from residents as it tries to find county-owned land on which to build badly-needed new schools. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Brendan
Arlington Loses Lowest Unemployment Crown — Arlington’s years-long streak of having the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia has ended. In November Falls Church had the lowest jobless rate, at 3 percent, to 3.1 percent for Arlington. Statewide, Virginia’s unemployment rate fell from 4.8 percent in October to 4.5 percent in November. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking — Arlington resident Anthony Tatum, 36, has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering and other related crimes, according to federal prosecutors.Tatum and a co-conspirator were accused of distributing cocaine and heroin, primarily in Maryland. Tatum, who agreed to forfeit $108 million in cash, vehicles, jewelry and other items, reportedly lived in a Pentagon City apartment building. [Patch]
Pinkberry to Close? — The future of Arlington’s Pinkberry frozen yogurt store is uncertain. The local Pinkberry franchisee has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. The franchisee, which has stores in D.C., National Harbor, Clarendon and elsewhere in Northern Virginia, cited debts of more than $1.2 million in the filing. Those debts include $44,121 in back taxes owed to Arlington County. [Washington Business Journal]
Wardian Sets New Record — Arlington resident Michael Wardian, 40, has set a new world record for the fastest indoor 50K. Wardian covered the distance in 3:06:07 at a 200-meter indoor track in Hagerstown, Md. That shatters his former world record, of 3:12:13, set at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington. [Herald-Mail]
Arlington Native Releases Music Video — Arlington-born rapper C-Luv has released a new music video for his track “Grind.” The video features scenes shot around Arlington, including in a skatepark, Wakefield High School and in the Nauck neighborhood. [YouTube – NSFW]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Update at 6:30 p.m.: Investigators have determined that the substances found in the apartment were cleaning supplies and chemicals such as acetone, police spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm told ARLnow.com. The substances were held in “weird containers,” for reasons unknown. Hazmat teams have cleared the scene.
Earlier: Police and the Arlington County hazmat team are investigating a possible drug lab found in a Crystal City apartment.
Arlington County Police, Virginia State Police and the hazmat team were called to the Crystal Square Apartments (1515 Jefferson Davis Highway) this afternoon after the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office found “suspicious items” and substances in an apartment during an eviction. The items include laboratory equipment like respirators, scales and beakers, according to ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.
The hazmat team is performing tests on the items to determine what they are and if they’re hazardous. While the equipment may be for some sort of drug lab, it’s not suspected to be a meth lab, which would have prompted evacuations. So far, the building has not been evacuated, Malcolm said.
There have been no reports of any health problems in the apartment building nor of any arrests made by police. Police have closed a portion of 15th Street S. near the scene as the investigation continues.
Prosecutors say police began investigating Ogregory Hamilton after receiving a tip that the firefighter was dealing drugs. Earlier this year, police also received a tip that the Dumfries resident intended to sell cocaine near Carpool in Ballston on April 17. Detectives staked out the area and observed Hamilton arrive and park at the designated spot for the planned deal.
Police ended up detaining Hamilton and found cocaine inside the trunk during a search of his vehicle, according to a statement of facts entered as part of the plea. Police also searched his home and found a digital scale and baggies commonly used for packaging drugs. The baggies reportedly also had a white, powdery residue that appeared to be cocaine.
There is no indication that Hamilton dealt cocaine on county time or used any county resources to carry out any transactions, according to prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to a lower charge of cocaine possession earlier this month.
Hamilton’s sentencing is set for January 30, 2015.
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
‘Most Clarendon Craigslist Ad Ever’ — Is this listing for rooms in a house in the Clarendon-Courthouse area, which starts out with the greeting “Whasup Craiglist,” the “most Clarendon Craigslist ad ever,” as our tipster puts it? According to the listing, two people are leaving the four-person house and the remaining residents “are looking for new members [to add] to our wolfpack.” [Craigslist, Twitter]
Arlington Is 2nd Most Affordable for Car Insurance — A website says Arlington has the second most-affordable car insurance in the country. The ranking is based on the average insurance rate for a Ford F-150 as a percentage of the county’s median income. [Nerd Wallet]
SpringFest in Shirlington Tomorrow — Campbell Avenue in Shirlington will be closed to traffic tomorrow (Saturday) for the first annual Mid-Atlantic SpringFest beer festival. It costs $30 for tickets to sample the festival’s brews, which are being provided by more than 45 breweries. [Capitol City Brewing]
Summer Opening Eyed for Silver Line — After a series of delays, Metro is hoping to open the first phase of the Silver Line at some point this summer. [Reston Now]
ACPD Participating in Prescription Drug Take-Back — From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday), Arlington County Police will participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Those who have expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs lying around can bring them to one of three Arlington fire stations to have the medication safely disposed of, no questions asked. [Arlington County]
“Are you available for a vehicle search, 66 and 495, to assist state?” screeches the police radio.
Cpl. Dave Torpy with the Arlington County Police Department receives a call from dispatch regarding a potential drug situation in Fairfax County. He confirms he can respond to the mutual aid call and heads out to his car to join his partner waiting inside. But his is no ordinary partner. Torpy gets to work with Ozzie, one of ACPD’s K-9 members.
The two head to the scene and find state police waiting for them. State police had pulled over the driver of a truck who was spotted wrecking one of his front wheels when he crashed into a jersey barrier. The driver allegedly kept going until he was pulled over, and police suspected he was under the influence of some sort of substance. Torpy and Ozzie were requested from Arlington because no other K-9 teams were available in Fairfax.
Torpy walks Ozzie to the vehicle and indicates places to sniff by leading his hand close to, but not touching, certain areas. He explains that officers are not allowed to search inside a vehicle without a warrant, but the law allows the investigation of the vehicle’s perimeter. Should a K-9 partner “hit” on a scent of drugs wafting from inside the vehicle to the outside, that’s considered probable cause and officers may perform a full search.
He points out areas where dogs often pick up drug scents emanating from inside, such as along door cracks or crevices in the vehicle body. But Ozzie doesn’t need any leading and pulls Torpy to a different portion of the vehicle. Ozzie stands up on the side of the truck bed, scratching and emitting low growls.
The multiple instances of scratching and barking are exactly what police look for; those actions are what the dogs are trained to do when they smell drugs. That is the permission police need to open this particular vehicle for probable cause and to continue their search.
Ozzie is allowed inside the vehicle and he repeatedly sniffs and scratches at the sun visors and along cracks around the door. Torpy explains those are two common places for suspects to stash drugs quickly when they’re getting pulled over by police.
When it’s clear that Ozzie smells something out of the ordinary, he’s led back to the ACPD cruiser to wait. It’s now time for humans to take over and to continue the search for illicit substances. Once humans enter the equation, dogs typically are not brought back in. Humans searching for items might spread the scent from a “hot” area to places where nothing was hidden. Bringing in a dog at that point could yield, for example, a dozen hits in a vehicle that previously only had one.
“He really likes this vehicle,” Torpy said. “He paid attention to the open window a lot and actually barked and scratched along the seams. If you weren’t initially looking for dope, you wouldn’t necessarily look at the seams. But his nose took us there so we can search further.”
Ozzie, a Belgian Malinois, is one of the nine dogs in ACPD’s K-9 unit. Seven are “dual purpose” or patrol dogs that assist with building searches, evidence recovery, criminal apprehension and narcotics detection. Two are trained solely to detect explosives; one bomb detection dog belongs to a crime scene agent and the other belongs to a school resource officer.
Most of the dogs are purchased from reputable breeders in Europe, but the two bomb dogs were rescues. One was adopted from a shelter in Loudoun County and the other was donated by a family that could no longer care for the dog.
Sgt. John McCarthy is also a dog handler and supervises the K-9 unit. McCarthy goes out on calls with his partner, Charly, just like all the other K-9 unit members, but he also oversees the unit’s operations. He handles scheduling, helps with handler and dog hiring, and purchases supplies like food and toys.
Prior to his appointment in 2007, the department did not have a supervisor for the unit. Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott was instrumental in adding the position and with expanding the K-9 unit to allow for nearly 24-7 police dog coverage.
“When I was doing a review of the units, I saw at the time we only had four dogs. They were not really a full unit they were just on squads,” said Scott. “I didn’t think it was an effective way to run the program.”
Scott joined the department in 2003 and approved the addition of two dual purpose dogs in 2004, two bomb detecting dogs in 2006, and McCarthy’s supervisory position including a dog in 2007.
“We’ve done it all gradually by converting existing positions,” said Scott. “I didn’t want to be going to the County Manager or County Board asking to add new positions. I made the case internally and started the expansion that way.”
The current price of a police dog runs around $7,000 plus the cost of continuous training. Those working in the unit, along with Chief Scott, believe it’s a wise investment.
“K-9 to me has always been something I would describe as a force multiplier. Their ability to get in and search a building, do a track, is so much better than using multiple officers or for officers to be doing a blind search. They’ve proven themselves time and time again,” Scott said. “It’s well worth the investment.”
In 2013, the ACPD K-9 unit responded to 495 calls in Arlington County and 27 mutual aid calls in neighboring jurisdictions. The dogs helped apprehend 22 criminals, found narcotics in 26 vehicles or residences and found narcotics 23 times during sweeps of packages at United States Postal Service facilities. (more…)
Arlington Tests ‘Drug Court’ — Arlington is testing out a “drug court,” a program that allows non-violent felons with drug addictions to have their offenses expunged if they successfully break their addiction and stay away from crime. The program is closely overseen by a circuit court judge. [Sun Gazette]
W-L Sets Ambitious AP-IB Goal — Washington-Lee High School has set an “exceptionally ambitious” goal of every graduating senior next spring having taken at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate class. [Washington Post]
Arlington Cyclist Struck in Vienna — An Arlington bicyclist on the W&OD Trail was struck by a car in Vienna on Friday evening. The man did not appear to be seriously injured. [FABB Blog]