Car Crashes Into Bank
BERLIN - Driver error was blamed for an accident last week at a Berlin bank that gave new meaning to the phrase drive-through.
Last Thursday morning, Berlin Police responded to a reported accident at the PNC Bank branch on South Main Street. Arriving officers discovered a vehicle had hit the side of the bank facing William Street, causing significant damage to the building. The driver, identified as Shirley Ayers, 49, of Seaford, Del., was transported by ambulance to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury with undisclosed injuries.
A 25-year-old employee was reportedly sitting by the bank's window when the vehicle struck the building and was injured by debris striking her in the back and head areas. She was taken to Atlantic General Hospital for treatment and later released. A tow truck was called in to remove the vehicle from the bank's exterior wall. A witness who saw the accident told police Ayers failed to stop at a stop sign in an area near where the accident occurred. No charges have been filed.
Jail For Cocaine Bust
SNOW HILL - A Virginia man arrested last August with a significant amount of cocaine after Berlin Police found him hanging around in a vehicle near a business that was closed pleaded guilty this week to possession with intent to distribute and was sentenced to 10 years in jail, all but 18 months of which was suspended in favor of probation and heavy fines.
Shortly after midnight on Aug. 24, a Berlin police officer observed a suspicious vehicle near a business in town after it was closed. The officer approached the vehicle and identified the suspect as Angel Chirinos, 30, of Norfolk. A background check revealed Chirinos was driving on a suspended license and he was arrested.
A search incident to the arrest turned up just over three pounds, or 1.3 kilograms, of cocaine. The uncut cocaine had a street value of over $40,000. As a result of information gathered during the Berlin arrest, other agencies were able to open cases and execute search and seizure warrants on Chirinos in the Norfolk, Va. area.
Chirinos has been charged with cocaine possession, importing cocaine into the state, possession with intent to distribute and driving while suspended. The Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI), the Maryland State Police and the DEA assisted Berlin police with the investigation.
This week in Circuit Court, Chirinos pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and was sentenced to 10 years in jail, with all but 18 months suspended. He was also placed on supervised probation for three years and fined $2,000. The other charges against him were not prosecuted.
Drinking, Drugs On Assateague
ASSATEAGUE - A Severn man was arrested on drug possession and other charges on Assateague last week after a National Park Ranger observed his vehicle blocking traffic.
Around 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, a National Park Ranger assigned to the Assateague Island National Seashore initiated a traffic stop on Ronald L. Arnold Jr., 43, for allegedly obstructing traffic along Bayberry Drive. The ranger called Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) to the scene for back-up after observing Arnold and his passenger consuming alcoholic beverages.
During the course of the stop, NRP charged Arnold with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), marijuana, and possession of CDS paraphernalia. Arnold was also charged by the National Park Ranger with possession of an open container of alcoholic beverage.
Speeding Stop Yields Pot Bust
BERLIN - A Salisbury woman pulled over on Wednesday afternoon for speeding on Route 90 was arrested on marijuana possession charges after police detected the odor of pot coming from her vehicle.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, a trooper from the Maryland State Police Berlin barrack stopped the driver of a 2004 Honda Accord for going 67 mph in a 55 mph zone on Route 90 east of Route 50. Upon contact with the driver, later identified as Dayna Sheree Holbrook, 30, of Salisbury, the officer noticed the strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.
A probable cause search of the vehicle turned up a small, partially burned cigarette containing marijuana. Holbrook was then placed under arrest for possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
No New Jail Time For Sodomy
SNOW HILL - A 32-year-old autistic man charged with assault and sex-related offenses in Ocean City last June after one of his counselors allegedly observed him sexually assaulting another resident pleaded guilty this week to sodomy and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, all of which was suspended but the time he already served while awaiting trial.
On June 4, Ocean City Police were contacted regarding an alleged sexual assault at an uptown residence. A director of residential services for an assisted living facility informed OCPD detectives she was in town with a group of mentally challenged adults from their facility in Clarksburg. The director of the program told police one of counselors had observed Daniel C. Graham, 32, of Clarksburg, sexually assault another male resident.
According to court records, Graham is autistic, but highly functioning, and lived at the assisted living facility in Clarksburg. On June 4, while the residents of the facility were in Ocean City, one of the counselors passed by the room of the victim, a male resident, and witnessed Graham and the victim with their pants pulled down with Graham forcing himself on the victim.
At that point, the counselor told police Graham was immediately pulled from the room. The OCPD detective spoke to Graham later that day and Graham admitted to having sexual contact with the victim and also admitted he knew it was wrong. The detective also spoke to the victim, described as a 28-year-old male with the intellectual capacity of an eight- or nine-year-old, and found the victim to be extremely upset. The victim told police at the time he repeatedly told Graham to stop. The victim was later taken to Atlantic General Hospital.
This week in Circuit Court, Graham pleaded guilty to sodomy and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, all of which was suspended but eight months and two days. He was then given credit for the 271 days he spent in custody, resulting in no new jail time. He was also placed on probation for two years.
90 Days For Sub Shop Theft
SNOW HILL - A local man arrested in November on theft and burglary charges after employees of a downtown subshop caught him stealing their bags pleaded guilty this week in Circuit Court to theft under $100 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Nov. 2, Ocean City Police responded to Fat Daddy's on Baltimore Ave. for a reported shoplifter in custody. Upon arrival, the OCPD officer observed a white male later identified as Donald A. Collins, 50, of no fixed address, being held down on the ground by two other men near Baltimore Ave. at Dorchester Street. The officer placed Collins in handcuffs, advising he was not yet under arrest, but was being held in custody while the officer sorted out what had happened.
Once Collins was secure, the officer noticed the suspect had a laceration near his right eye and called for EMS to check on him. While waiting for EMS, the officer questioned the two men who were found holding Collins down on the ground. The two men told police they were working at Fat Daddy's when they saw Collins enter the restaurant through an employee door, which was closed but not locked.
The two men told police once Collins was inside the restaurant, he grabbed two bags that were hanging in an employee storage area and ran out the same door he had just entered. The two men saw Collins allegedly grab to two bags and chased him as he fled the store. According to the witnesses, Collins ran about 100 feet with the employees chasing him before he ran into the back of a parked truck.
Once Collins reportedly ran into the back of the truck, he lost his balance and fell to the ground, dropping the bags in the process. According to the two witnesses, Collins got up and tried to run again, but was stopped by the two employees, who were able to hold Collins on the ground until police arrived. According to the witnesses, Collins fell on his right side when he ran into the back of the truck, which is when he got the laceration on his right eye.
Before EMS arrived, Collins reportedly yelled without provocation, 'I know I did wrong. I took those [expletive deleted] bags. Yeah, it was me. I took them.' The officer verified the two bags belonged to the employees who had chased Collins from the store. One was a laptop computer bag valued at around $50, and the other was a delivery bag valued at around $20.
After hearing from the witnesses, who advised they wanted to press charges, and the unprovoked statements from Collins, the officer arrested the suspect and charged him with two counts of theft under $500 and one count of second-degree burglary. This week, Collins pleaded guilty to theft under $100 and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Probation For Pot Conviction
SNOW HILL - A local woman arrested in Berlin on marijuana and paraphernalia possession charges after a routine traffic stop in April pleaded guilty this week in Circuit Court and was placed on probation for 18 months and fined $500.
Around 2:20 a.m. on April 10, Maryland State Police troopers pulled over a white Lexus passenger car on Route 113 and Bays End Lane in Berlin for not having operational taillights. Upon contact with the driver, identified as Mary Elizabeth Stewart, 22, of Pocomoke, the trooper detected the strong odor of marijuauna. The trooper also observed marijuana seeds in the vehicle.
A search of the vehicle turned up nearly 18 grams of marijuana as well as two marijuana smoking devices. Stewart was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. This week in Circuit Court, she pleaded guilty to possession and was placed on probation for 18 months and fined $500.
Stet Docket For Alleged Dealer
SNOW HILL - A Berlin man who allegedly made several illegal drug transactions with an undercover OCPD narcotics officer last spring had the charges against him placed on the stet, or inactive, docket this week in Circuit Court.
On Sept. 18, an OCPD undercover narcotics officer allegedly made contact with a suspected dealer, later identified as Christopher David Smith, 20, of Berlin, about purchasing a gram of powder cocaine. Smith agreed and told the officer the purchase would cost him $65. The officer agreed to meet Smith at a location near 12th Street in Ocean City to complete the transaction. Smith arrived a short time later and parked his car at the corner of 12th Street and Wilmington Lane.
The officer approached the driver's side of the vehicle and made contact with Smith. He also noticed an unidentified white male in the passenger seat. The officer completed the transaction with Smith, securing the gram of cocaine in exchange for the $65.
On Sept. 26, the officer contacted Smith again, this time asking him how much cocaine he could buy for $400. Smith allegedly told the officer he could sell him a gram for $400, to which the officer agreed and set up a meeting at the same spot as before. Prior to the meeting, the officer contacted Smith again and was able to negotiate the price for the gram down to $350.
Smith arrived at the appointed place and time and the officer approached the vehicle, this time noting there was a Hispanic female in the passenger seat. Smith and the officer completed the transaction and Smith drove away from the area.
The narcotics officer then contacted a uniformed OCPD officer who stopped Smith's car about two blocks from where the transaction took place. Smith was arrested and charged with several counts including possession and possession with intent to distribute cocaine among others. This week in Circuit Court, the charges against Smith were placed on the stet docket.
Alert Test Tomorrow
SNOW HILL - Tomorrow, Saturday, March 7, residents across Worcester will again be hearing the emergency alert signals from their local fire sirens as county emergency services test an additional means to warn communities about imminent danger and the need to tune into radio, television or the Internet for information in the event of an emergency.
The sirens are tested the first Saturday of each month. Residents and visitors in the area will hear a steady alert tone beginning at 10 a.m. and lasting for about one minute. Since the end of the Cold War, the most serious threats to Worcester County and the Eastern Shore have been weather related, but the emergency alert sirens have gone largely unused.
However, emergency alert sirens such as the ones being tested tomorrow continue to be deployed in other areas of the country prone to tornados and other natural disasters. The re-institution of the emergency alert system in Worcester is viewed as another means by which county officials can warn residents and visitors of pending emergencies.