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Morning Notes

Police Searching for I-66 Wrong-Way Driver — Police are still looking for the driver who crashed into another vehicle while driving the wrong way on I-66 near Rosslyn early Sunday morning, after being chased by a uniformed Secret Service officer who spotted the car driving the wrong way in D.C. [Fox 5, WTOP, Twitter]

Vehicle Crashes into House in Barcroft — A vehicle that was driven into the side of a house in the Barcroft neighborhood Sunday morning caused only minor damage to the building, according to the fire department. [Twitter]

Truck Brings Down Power Lines in Long Branch Creek — “Downed power lines caused around 1,000 customers to lose power in Arlington County on Saturday. Dominion Power said a truck ‘snagged’ the lines and broke two of the power poles around 8:15 a.m. It also damaged some vehicles in the area.” [WJLA]

Runner Struck By Car Hopes to Run Marathon — A local runner who was struck by a car while running recently hopes to run the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall despite suffering two broken bones in her foot. [Twitter]

Projects to Transform Crystal City — Six major transportation projects “will play a significant role in transforming the Crystal City area in the coming years.” [Bisnow]

Arlington Teens Arrested in Ocean City — Three teens from Arlington were arrested in Ocean City, Maryland after they pulled over to ask police officers about parking in the area and the officers “immediately recognized the strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.” They searched the car and found “roughly a half a pound of marijuana along with prescription drugs, methamphetamine, brass knuckles, an assisted opening knife and several items of drug paraphernalia,” plus “a full face mask in the vehicle [and] a .25 caliber handgun.” [The Dispatch]

Dems Still Distributing Print Newsletter — Print may be waning as a medium, but the Arlington County Democratic Committee is still going all-in on its printed campaign newsletter, “The Messenger.” The party is recruiting more than 400 volunteers to distribute the newsletter to homes throughout the county. [InsideNova]

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Arlington Man Charged in ‘Violent Racketeering Conspiracy’

A federal grand jury indicted an Arlington man yesterday (March 15) on charges relating to alleged MS-13 gang involvement.

Luis Arnoldo Flores-Reyes, also known as Maloso or Lobo, 37, is alleged to have been engaged in “a racketeering conspiracy that included extortion, drug trafficking, murder and a conspiracy to commit murder” as a member of MS-13’s Sailors Clique.

He is charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by extortion.

Prosecutors say Flores-Reyes trafficked marijuana and cocaine Langley Park, Md., and extorted illegal business owners in Langley Park and Wheaton, Md. He is also accused of ordering the murders of rival gang members in Houston, Texas.

MS-13 is an international gang with ties to El Salvador and is one of America’s largest street gangs.

More from a U.S. Justice Department press release:

A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging an alleged MS-13 member residing in Arlington, Virginia with

The indictment was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan; Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning for the District of Maryland; Special Agent in Charge Andre Watson of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA); Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department; Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks; Chief Douglas Holland of the Hyattsville Police Department; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Luis Arnoldo Flores-Reyes, aka Maloso and Lobo, 37, is charged in a four-count superseding indictment that alleges that from at least 2015 through January 2018, he was a member and associate of the Sailors Clique of MS-13 and that he engaged in a racketeering conspiracy that included extortion, drug trafficking, murder and a conspiracy to commit murder. The defendant is also charged with drug trafficking conspiracy and conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by extortion. Flores-Reyes is in custody.

According to the indictment, MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, Maryland. Eleven other individuals were previously charged in this case with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, drug trafficking conspiracy and conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by extortion.

For a period of time beginning at least in 2015 through in or about 2017, members of the Sailors Clique, including Flores-Reyes, are alleged to have extorted owners of illegal businesses in the Langley Park and Wheaton areas of Maryland, with the extortion proceeds being sent to El Salvador to benefit MS-13. In addition, between 2015 and 2018, members of the Sailors clique, including Flores-Reyes, are alleged to have trafficked narcotics, including marijuana and cocaine in Langley Park, Maryland, with the proceeds benefiting the gang.

More specifically, in January 2018, Flores-Reyes gave directions to members of MS-13 in Houston, Texas that they should purchase a gun and shoot rival gang members who were believed to have killed a member of MS-13. On or about Jan. 28, 2018, members of MS-13 in Houston, Texas shot at and attempted to kill suspected rival gang members while Flores-Reyes and other MS-13 members, including MS-13 members in El Salvador, monitored the shooting by phone.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Moomau and Daniel C. Gardner of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland are prosecuting this case.

Photo via U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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Taylor Elementary Teacher Pleads Guilty to Marijuana Possession

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) A suspended Taylor Elementary gym teacher, accused of smoking pot in the school, has pleaded guilty to marijuana possession.

Luke Lloyd of Fairfax, Va. entered the plea Tuesday morning before Arlington General District Court Judge Frances O’Brien. He was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail, with 20 days suspended. He was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, pay a $500 fine and complete substance abuse treatment, we’re told.

Lloyd began serving the net ten day sentence on Friday. Most first-time marijuana offenders walk free, but Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said her office pushed for a stiffer sentence.

“It’s typical for a first time possession of marijuana case to result in a deferred disposition,” Stamos said. “My office, however, argued against such an outcome given the particular facts of this case. Those facts include what appears to have been a rather steady course of use, at times at the school, that we learned about from an anonymous tip to ACPD.”

A second Taylor P.E. teacher nabbed by police, Michael Diaddigo, was also facing possession of marijuana charges, which have since been dropped. Stamos, however, said charges against Diaddigo are expected to be filed soon in Arlington County Circuit Court, which typically handles more serious criminal cases. Stamos declined to elaborate on the charges, since the case is pending.

Lloyd and Diaddigo were both suspended without pay by Arlington Public Schools “pending the outcome of the legal case,” a spokesman said. So far, there is no word on Lloyd’s employment status following the plea. A third Taylor P.E. teacher who was accused of smoking marijuana at the school is currently on administrative leave.

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Levine ‘Extremely Optimistic’ of Legalizing Medical Marijuana This Year

Del. Mark Levine (D-45) has said he is “extremely optimistic” of a bill passing in the Virginia General Assembly this year that would legalize a form of medical marijuana.

Levine is chief co-patron on H.B. 1251, introduced by Del. Ben Cline (R-24), which advanced from a subcommittee of the Virginia House of Delegates’ Courts of Justice committee.

It would make medical marijuana, made from cannabidiol oils that can be used for medical purposes after being derived from the flowers of cannabis plants, legal as of July 1, 2018.

The bill would allow physicians to recommend the use of medical cannabidiol oils, going further than a bill introduced by Levine — H.B. 137 — that would have allowed its use only for cancer patients.

He introduced the same legislation in 2017, but it failed in subcommittee. Since then, Levine said he has worked to show lawmakers on both sides of the aisle the benefits of legalization, including Cline, who said he was “pleased with what I’m hearing. I’m hearing developments that I haven’t heard before,” in a hearing last year.

“I’ve long advocated for reform of our outdated and unnecessarily punitive marijuana laws,” Levine wrote in an email to supporters. “Those of you who know me personally know I’ve never even tried cannabis… But just because something physically disgusts me does not make me blind to the scientific fact that non-psychoactive cannabidiol oils from cannabis — oils that don’t get you “high” — have proven scientific effects that reduce pain and nausea and even kill cancer cells.”

The legislation still needs to pass both the House of Delegates and the Virginia State Senate, but Levine said he is hopeful of full passage.

“Having counted the votes on full committee and talked to members in both the House of Delegates and the Senate, I am extremely optimistic about the fate of this legislation,” Levine wrote. “I expect this law to pass. I predict cannabidiol oils will be legally prescribed in Virginia for diagnosis or treatment of illnesses beginning in July 2018.”

In a similar vein, bills by state Sens. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Barbara Favola (D-31) that would have decriminalized the possession of marijuana and reduce penalties for its distribution both failed in committee today (Monday).

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Local Legislators Propose Marijuana Decriminalization Bills

Two state Senators who represent sections of Arlington County have proposed bills that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana and reduce penalties for its distribution.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has re-introduced a bill, SB-111, which would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana and make it a civil offense, rather than a Class 1 misdemeanor, which it is now in Virginia.

Under Ebbin’s bill, violators would be fined no more than $50 for a first violation, $100 for a second violation, and $250 for a third or subsequent violation.

It is not the first time that Ebbin has tried to decriminalize marijuana possession. Last year, his bill stalled in the state Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee ahead of a study this year into decriminalization by the Virginia State Crime Commission.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported earlier this month that the commission did not vote on a decriminalization proposal, as it was “not yet adequately drafted for consideration.” It heard testimony on a decriminalization plan in October.

“My marijuana reform legislation will end consequential outcomes for simple marijuana possession, particularly for communities of color,” Ebbin said in a statement last year. “Possession of marijuana shouldn’t impact future employment opportunities, or cause the suspension of your driver’s license.”

Another bill, SB-40 introduced by state Sen. Barbara Favola (D) would reduce the penalties for those who distribute marijuana or intend to distribute it. It also raises the minimum amount of marijuana subject to the offense of distribution or “possession with intent to distribute” from one-half ounce to one ounce.

Both bills have been referred to the Senate’s Committee for Courts of Justice.

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Taylor Elementary P.E. Teachers Accused of Smoking Marijuana in School

Two Taylor Elementary physical education teachers are facing charges and a third is being investigated after a drug bust at the sought-after north Arlington school.

In a letter to parents, school principal Harold Pellegreen said that P.E. teachers Michael Diaddigo and Luke Lloyd have been charged with possession of marijuana and have been suspended from the school. Another has been “placed on administrative leave, pending further investigation by the police.”

TV news reports, citing court documents, said that police were told by an informant that the three teachers regularly smoked pot in their school office. They were also told that Diaddigo distributed marijuana to other teachers on school property. Students were reportedly unaware of the activity.

On a staff page that has since been removed, Taylor Elementary’s website said that Diaddigo was new to Taylor after two years of part-time P.E. teaching at Arlington’s Campbell and Tuckahoe elementary schools. Diaddigo is a Loudoun County native while Lloyd attended high school and college in Fairfax County, the page said.

The full letter from Pellegreen to parents is below.

Subject: APS School Talk – A Message from the Principal
A message from TAYLOR ELEMENTARY

Dear Taylor Families:

I wanted to update you on an incident that occurred at school earlier today. Based on information received by the Arlington County Police Department, this morning we cooperated with the police on their investigation into a matter involving three Taylor staff members. As a result of their investigation, Michael Diaddigo and Luke Lloyd have been charged with possession of marijuana and have been suspended. One additional staff member has been placed on administrative leave, pending further investigation by the police.

As educators, we are obviously shocked and dismayed by this news, and our first concern has been for our students. While I can’t share the details about the investigation with you because it is an ongoing personnel and police matter, I want to share how we are rallying to support our children, families and staff:

We believe the investigation is only focused on the adults and does not involve any of their interactions with our children. We met with the Taylor staff this afternoon to share this news, and we all remain committed to maintaining our focus on our primary goal of providing the best academic and personal support for all Taylor
students.

Counselors will visit these classes next week to share with students what has happened in age-appropriate ways, and our counselors will be available to help any students who may have questions or need to
discuss this change.

Our administrative team is working with our Human Resources staff and we are following all APS personnel policies and procedures to deal with this matter appropriately.

We will continue to work to ensure that we have qualified replacements in place for these positions so that instruction can proceed without interruption.

This is a disheartening situation for Taylor and the entire APS community. Please be assured that we will continue to work together to ensure that Taylor’s students, families and staff are supported during this transition.

As always, don’t hesitate to call me if you need to discuss specific concerns about your child.

Sincerely,

Harold Pellegreen
Principal

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Letter to the Editor: Marijuana Should be Decriminalized in Virginia

An Arlington resident recently wrote to the Virginia State Crime Commission during the ongoing Request for Written Content period in support of marijuana decriminalization. This issue was considered in the state legislature earlier this year, resulting in a study by the Virginia State Crime Commission.

The resident shared his letter, below, with ARLnow.com for publication. The resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, states that decriminalization could save the state money, keep non-violent offenders out of jail and allow police to focus on more serious crime.

Dear Virginia State Crime Commission,

Thank you all for your hard work on studying this critical issue of whether current marijuana laws are appropriate. The prohibition of marijuana has undoubtedly caused a myriad of unfortunate consequences. Among them the incarceration of many, but disproportionately minorities, for non-violent transgressions. Virginia has severe racial disparities in its arrest rates as well. It’s shocking that one in ten African American males in their 30s are in jail or prison on any given day.

Our state boasts long and punitive sentencing guidelines for simple possession of marijuana. Incarceration often produces hardened criminals. The absence of  compassionate rehabilitation for those who would welcome treatment for drug abuse is inhumane.

Recidivism is an enormous problem in the US. Nearly 68 out of every 100 prisoners are rearrested within three years. Educational and career opportunities are lost due to having a criminal record for a minor offense. The lack of lawful opportunities further encourages the vicious cycle of recidivism.

The Commonwealth of Virginia spends far too much on enforcement and incarceration for marijuana-related crimes in Virginia. According to Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, “Virginia spends $67 million on marijuana enforcement, which is enough to open another 13,000 pre-K spots for kids.”

Our state spends more than $25,000 per inmate, at an annualized cost of approximately $1.5 billion. With a budget shortfall of $266 million per year, and a potential savings of at least $67 million for just reducing marijuana enforcement, the math is clear. Virginia cannot afford to continue down this path of investigating, arresting and incarcerating non-violent marijuana offenders.

Decriminalization has a positive effect, by reducing law enforcement spending on marijuana to better prioritize resources on serious crime. Lowering the unaffordable and unsustainable cost of our prison system, improving our state’s budget deficit and improving trust in law enforcement.

Obviously marijuana should not be used by developing children and adolescents. However, adults in the privacy of their own home should not have to fear legal repercussions for an activity that seems to cause no serious harm, especially in comparison to alcohol or tobacco, both of which are legal.

In closing, I ask that the State Crime Commission takes in to consideration not just the present, but the future. Virginia is respected as a bellwether for legislation by other, nearby states, including North Carolina, which has already decriminalized simple possession of marijuana.

Decriminalizing marijuana would send a powerful signal to our other neighbors and bring Virginia in to alignment with 22 other states who have done the same. We owe it to our fellow Virginians to give our laws a second look and determine if the the punishment really and truly does fit the crime.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

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Public Defenders Object to New County Policy for First-Time Marijuana Offenders

Marijuana(Updated at 1:02 p.m.) A new Arlington General District Court policy to skip appointing a lawyer for some first-time marijuana offenders has local public defenders speaking out.

Under the new policy, which took effect March 1, people caught with a small amount marijuana would not be appointed a lawyer if they have no criminal record and it’s their first pot possession offense.

According to a memo that court officials sent to the Arlington County Bar Association last month, some people caught with pot for the first time can enter a guilty plea and have the charge dismissed as long as they agree to meet “certain conditions” set by the court.

Offenders who qualify would have two weeks from arraignment to consult with an attorney if they choose, but wouldn’t be appointed one.

Though the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says “in all criminal prosecutions the accused… shall have assistance of counsel for his defense,” the Supreme Court ruled in a 1979 decision that the right to counsel only applies when a defendant faces imprisonment.

In this case, because the court is waiving jail time for those offenders, it does not legally need to appoint them counsel. Many other courts throughout the U.S. have also similarly waived imprisonment for first-time marijuana offenders.

Arlington’s Office of the Public Defender is protesting the policy on the grounds that it could unfairly affect people who can’t afford lawyers if they want them.

The office made its case in a rebuttal letter shared with ARLnow.com.

“While no doubt unintended, Arlington’s new policy will send us down a slippery slope towards the same scenario for poor people: no lawyers for indigent persons charged with personal-use marijuana possession cases where the court or prosecutor exclude jail time as a sentencing option,” the letter reads.

Matthew Foley, the office’s chief public defender, added that the new policy would “disproportionately affect minorities and immigrants” and possibly deprive them of their due process.

Foley argued that the policy could mislead people into thinking the charges would be expunged from their record, which they may not be. For citizens, he said, the consequences of a criminal record might include loss of educational opportunities, jobs, public benefits, student loans, and the ability to legally drive a car. For non-citizens, the consequences of such a record could mean deportation, the inability to become a citizen or re-enter the country.

“Liberty is not just about jail time,” he told ARLnow.com. “It’s about permanent criminal records, which affect you your entire life.”

Foley continued in the letter:

Assuming a typical indigent defendant can even get a free consultation with a private lawyer, how does that person parlay the attorney’s advice into getting due process? If the consulted lawyer advises that the police stop or search were unlawful, what will the indigent defendant without an appointed attorney be able to do with this advice? What if the person charged is innocent? How does the mere advice of the attorney lead to a just result? If the attorney tells the accused person that the case is weak, but he may be deported if he is found guilty, how does that help? The answer is clear: it will help no more than a doctor advising an uninsured, cash-strapped patient how to remove his tonsils, set a broken leg or cure his cancer.

But Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos disputed Foley’s argument and called his rhetoric “overheated.”

“The idea that somehow this is collusion between my office and the judges to deny people due process is offensive,” Stamos said. “Nobody is trying to ease out the public defender.”

She continued, “I don’t agree that what’s going to happen as a result of this change is that people’s rights are going to be trampled on a daily basis in the courts of Arlington County. That’s not accurate. It’s unfair, it’s untrue, and it’s overheated.”

Stamos argued that cases where first-time marijuana offenders are found innocent are exceedingly rare. Furthermore, Arlington is simply coming into line with the numerous other jurisdictions who have already enacted such policies without much protest.

“The vast majority of these cases, if not all of them, result in either a conviction or a plea of guilty with the disposition that allows them not to have a criminal record,” she said. “If you think that the law should be that, even if your liberty interest is not at stake, that the government should pay for your lawyer, then you need to change the law.”

(For the record, Foley said he supports overturning the Supreme Court’s 1979 decision.)

Still, the policy is unlikely to change any time soon, at least without a test case, Foley said. And Stamos said the court is unlikely to budge on its own.

“I just don’t agree with Matt,” she said. “And the law does not support his position.”

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Marijuana Decriminalization Bills Stall in State Senate Committee

MarijuanaThe latest push to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Virginia has been delayed, at least for now.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) earlier this month proposed a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Virginia. The bill, SB 1269, would reduce marijuana possession to a civil offense punishable only by fines, much like a traffic ticket. Another bill introduced by State Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D), SB 908, would have had similar effects.

Though the Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee did not approve the bills yesterday, it did promise more study on marijuana decriminalization, according to Ebbin’s office.

State lawmakers didn’t set aside every marijuana-related bill, however. The committee overwhelmingly advanced another bill, SB 1091, by a vote of 14-1. If enacted into law, that bill would make it so adults convicted of simple possession of marijuana wouldn’t automatically lose their driver’s license for six months, as is the current law.

“My marijuana reform legislation will end consequential outcomes for simple marijuana possession, particularly for communities of color,” Ebbin said in a statement. “Possession of marijuana shouldn’t impact future employment opportunities, or cause the suspension of your driver’s license.”

A Senate committee also advanced two bills having to do with LGBT equality yesterday. The Senate General Laws and Technology Committee gave its blessing to two bills, SB 783 and SB 822, “with strong, bipartisan support,” according to a press release from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus.

The bills, introduced by Ebbin and Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D), respectively, address nondiscrimination in public employment and target anti-LGBT practices in public housing.

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Morning Notes

Wandering duck near Four Mile Run (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

CivFed Approves Marijuana Resolution — The Arlington County Civic Federation has approved a resolution in support of legalizing medical marijuana in Virginia. [WJLA, InsideNova]

Beyer Opposes ‘Holman Rule’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has joined other local legislators in opposing the proposed reinstatement of the “Holman Rule,” which would allow a legislator to offer an amendment that would “reduce the salary of any federal employee, or eliminate a federal employee’s position without hearings, testimony, or due process.” [Federal News Radio, House of Representatives]

Ray’s Hell Burger Still Among the Best — Rosslyn-based Ray’s Hell Burger is on Food & Wine’s list of the best burgers in the United States. [Food & Wine]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Trio on ‘Hippie Trip’ Busted for Sleeping Naked in Car

Police car (file photo)Three people on a far-out road trip were busted for pot possession and indecent exposure in Shirlington Sunday night.

The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Police say somebody walked past a car on the 4200 block of Campbell Avenue — the approximate location of the Shirlington parking garage — and noticed that the windows were down and two people were naked inside.

The witness found the scene to be suspicious and called police.

Officers arriving and found three people, all in their 20s, asleep in a Nissan sedan. A man, Kamal Ghammache-Mansour, and a woman, Natalie Nowel, were completely naked, according to a crime report. A third, Jaclyn Devino, was clothed.

Upon being woken up, the trio told police that they were on a “hippie trip” across the country and Arlington was one of their stops, a police spokeswoman said. The two who were naked said they removed their clothes because they were hot, according to the spokeswoman. (The temperature at the time was in the low-to-mid 80s.)

Ghammache-Mansour and Nowel were charged with indecent exposure. All three were charged with possession of marijuana.

According to a Google search and social media accounts, Ghammache-Mansour is a saxophonist and a member of a jazz-influenced hip hop group, Nowel is a freelance artist and Devino owns a “energy healing and coaching” business.

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said the three did not elaborate on what their “hippie trip” stop in Arlington entailed. She warned against sleeping in one’s car, especially while naked, noting that Arlington residents are “pretty observant” about out-of-the-ordinary activity.

From an ACPD crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 160731054, 4200 block of S. Campbell Avenue. At approximately 10:31 p.m. on July 31, officers responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle. Upon officers arrival, they located three suspects asleep in the vehicle with two fully naked. Kamal Ghammache-Mansour, 26, of Albany CA, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure and possession of marijuana. Natalie Nowel, 21, of Boston MA, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure and possession of marijuana. Jaclyn Devino, 29, of Burlington VT, was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana.

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Police: Middle School Teaching Assistant Busted for Smoking Pot With Student

Zachary Van Dyke (photo courtesy ACPD)A middle school teaching assistant is watching his educational career go up in smoke after being arrested on drug charges.

Police say Zachary Van Dyke, 32, smoked pot with a 13-year-old student at his home. He also allegedly sold some pot to the teen.

Van Dyke was a teaching assistant at Gunston Middle School and a freshman basketball coach at Washington-Lee High School. He has been suspended by Arlington Public Schools and charged by police with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and distribution of marijuana.

Police say they’re seeking additional information from “anyone with past inappropriate encounters with this suspect.”

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Drug Enforcement Unit is investigating a suspect involved in the distribution of marijuana to a juvenile victim. The suspect was a Teaching Assistant assigned to Gunston Middle School and a freshman basketball coach at Washington-Lee High School. He has been suspended by Arlington County Public Schools, pending the outcome of the investigation. Representatives with Arlington County Public Schools continue to cooperate with the police investigation.

The suspect, 32 year-old Zachary Van Dyke, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and distribution of marijuana stemming from an incident on May 27, 2016. The investigation revealed that Van Dyke transported the 13 year-old juvenile victim to his residence where they smoked marijuana. Van Dyke also sold marijuana to the juvenile. Van Dyke was arrested and held on bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

The investigation into this incident is ongoing. Anyone with past inappropriate encounters with this suspect or who has additional information is asked to call Detective S. Proud at 703.228.7156 or email [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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Dispatch: Man Can’t See After Smoking Marijuana for the First Time

MarijuanaArlington County police and paramedics responded to an unusual call at a Crystal City apartment building yesterday evening.

Around 5 p.m., a man who claimed to have just smoked marijuana for the first time called 911 and said he couldn’t see and was having difficulty breathing.

He was evaluated by medics and voluntarily handed over the pot to police, according to scanner traffic.

Authorities were a bit skeptical about part of his claim, however. It was noted that the same guy — or, at least, someone at the same apartment — had called 911 on March 28 and reported breathing troubles after smoking weed for the first time.

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ACPD Announces Big Pot Bust

Dat T. Ngo (photo via ACPD)(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department says two arrests have been made in connection to a “large-scale” marijuana distribution network in the area.

In a press release, below, ACPD said the network sent parcels filled with marijuana from California to businesses and homes in the D.C. area. Thus far those businesses have not been identified, though police say warrants were executed at “various businesses and residences throughout the region.”

Two suspects — Dat T. Ngo and Kien V. Luong — have been arrested. Ngo was taken into custody at a nail salon in a Bethesda shopping center, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said. Drugs were seized from his vehicle, Bethesda Beat reported, citing a witness account.

Luong was arrested in Los Angeles, where he lives, and is awaiting extradition.

“This is an ongoing and active investigation [spanning] multiple states,” Savage said. “It’s likely we’ll see additional arrests in the future.”

From ACPD:

 In August 2015, a joint investigation was initiated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Arlington County Police Department regarding the importation of marijuana into the Washington Metropolitan Region. As a result of this intensive investigation, a large-scale distribution network was identified as sending parcels from California to businesses in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

On Tuesday, February 23, 2016, Dat T. Ngo, of Alexandria, VA, was arrested by Montgomery County Police on an outstanding Arlington County warrant. Subsequent to his arrest, search warrants were executed at various businesses and residences throughout the region. The Northern Virginia Financial Initiative with Washington/Baltimore HIDTA also provided assistance. Search warrants were also executed in the State of California with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles Police Department. Kien V. Luong of Los Angeles, CA, was arrested on an outstanding Arlington County warrant and was being held at the Los Angeles County Jail awaiting extradition to the Commonwealth.

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Morning Poll: Do You Support Sen. Ebbin’s Marijuana Decriminalization Bill?

MarijuanaState Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has again proposed a bill to decriminalize marijuana for personal use in Virginia.

Ebbin, who has won the endorsement of the pro-pot group NORML, proposed a similar bill last year, but it failed in the conservative Virginia General Assembly.

The bill, SB 104, would reduce marijuana possession to a civil offense punishable only by fines, like a traffic ticket, rather than jail time. It would also reduce the criminal penalties for marijuana distribution and possession with the intent to distribute.

Would you like to see marijuana decriminalized in Virginia?

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