BERLIN — Several people were transported to area hospitals this week with injuries not believed to be life threatening after a multi-vehicle collision on Route 113 at Old Ocean City Blvd. on Monday night.
Shortly before 9 p.m. on Monday, Berlin Police responded to an accident involving four vehicles with several injuries reported. The investigation revealed a 2009 Kia driven by Terrence White of Delaware failed to stop at a red light. White struck the vehicle directly in front of him, causing a chain reaction with two other vehicles. Several individuals were transported by Berlin EMS to both AGH and PRMC. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash and charges against White are pending.
“Tipsy Taxi” Cases Clear Court
SNOW HILL — More cases were heard in Worcester County Circuit Court last week stemming from arrests made this winter during the Ocean City’s Police Department’s Operation Sand Dollar, which involved an undercover officer posing as the owner and operator of a cab company, including one repeat offender who was sentenced to eight years just one month after being sentenced to two years on a prior conviction.
Four months after the Ocean City Police Department announced the results of a major, two-year sting operation involving an undercover officer posing as the owner and operator of a taxi cab, the latest batch of cases hit the Circuit Court last week with varied results based on the severity of the charges.
In February, the OCPD announced a two-year undercover initiative titled Operation Sand Dollar had culminated in grand jury indictments for 34 suspects resulting in 119 total counts including 91 distribution charges and 28 conspiracy to distribute charges. During the operation targeting drug trafficking in the resort area, an undercover narcotics officer posed as a cab driver to infiltrate Ocean City’s shadowy social circles.
During the operation, which included cooperation from allied law enforcement agencies along with the state’s attorney’s office, the officer turned cab driver made some buys and sells out of the taxi, but also established connections that led to further indictments. With the cooperation of the city, the department was able to set up a legitimate can complete with one of Ocean City’s limited taxi medallions operating as the “Tipsy Taxi.”
Throughout the prosecution phase, the ongoing cases have shown a vast disparity in the charges and the ultimate outcomes. For example, Miranda Florio, 24, of Jessup, Md., last week entered Alford pleas to distribution of oxycodone and morphine and was sentenced to 20 years in jail, all of which was suspended. Florio is already serving a five-year stint for a prior drug distribution conviction. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to pursue the case.
Similarly, David Allen Brown, 44, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty last week to distribution of oxycodone and was sentenced to eight years in jail, all of which was suspended in favor of three years of probation. Darryl Whaley, 55, of Berlin, entered an Alford plea to distribution of cocaine and faces sentencing in July. Whaley is a repeat offender with a string of priors for drug distribution.
Stacy Baker, 38, of Ocean City pleaded guilty to distribution of hydrocodone and faces sentencing next week. Finally, Stanley Layton, 50, of Pocomoke, pleaded guilty to distribution of oxycodone and was sentenced to 18 months, all but one month of which was then suspended in favor of probation and a fine.
Attempt To Run Victim Off Road
SALISBURY — A Salisbury man was arrested on first-degree assault charges last weekend after allegedly attempting to run an insurance investigator off the road several times with his vehicle.
Around 9:40 a.m. last Saturday, Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported incident on Beaver Dam Drive. The officers learned the complainant was a private investigator from an insurance company conducting surveillance on a suspect later identified as Charles Huffman, 45, of Salisbury. When Huffman realized he was being investigated, he allegedly began chasing the insurance investigator, who told police he had to drive at a high rate of speed in an attempt to get away.
Huffman allegedly attempted to run the investigator off the road by ramming him from behind and other methods to force the victim from the roadway. The victim told police Huffman rammed him from behind as many as 20 times. The incident started on Johnson Rd. and continued onto Wango, Wastegate and Mt. Hermon Roads.
Damage to the investigator’s vehicle corroborated the story. Huffman was located and short time later and was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. He is being held in the Wicomico Detention Center on a $100,000 bond.
Random Shots Fired
SALISBURY — A Delmar man and a juvenile were arrested last weekend for allegedly firing a pellet gun and other vehicles and individuals at random.
Around 5:30 p.m. last Sunday, a Wicomico County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to the area of Williams Mill Pond Rd. for a report of an individual pointing a gun from a vehicle. While the officer was en route to the scene, more and more similar reports were called in to the sheriff’s office that a suspect or suspect was firing a gun from a vehicle at random people and objects. One witness tailed the suspect vehicle while speaking with the sheriff’s office, which ultimately led to the apprehension of the suspects.
Once the vehicle was stopped, the deputy identified the suspects as Christian Aaron McDaniel, 20, of Delmar, and a 15-year-old juvenile female also of Delmar. The deputy recovered a pellet gun and later learned the suspects had committed the random acts because “they thought it would be fun to shoot at people and objects while driving down the road,” according to police reports. The deputy also recovered a pellet gun, which many witnesses believed was a real handgun because of its appearance.
Both suspects were arrested and charged with first-degree assault. McDaniel was taken before a court commissioner and was held on a $50,000 bond. The juvenile female was detained and placed in the Lower Shore Children’s Center.
Probation For Fast Food Assault
OCEAN CITY — A Crisfield man was arrested on first-degree assault and other charges last June after allegedly first punching a man outside a resort fast-food restaurant and then attempting to run over the victim with his car had the judgment against him stayed in November and was placed on probation for 18 months last week.
Around 10:15 p.m. on June 9, Ocean City police responded to the area of the McDonalds on 32nd Street for a reported assault that had just taken place. The officers arrived and saw a large crowd gathered at the scene. The officers met with a male victim who said he had been standing in front of the restaurant when a suspect, later identified as Andrew Worcester, 21, ran over and punched him in the face.
The victim said Worcester then got in a small red car and accelerated straight at him as if to run him over. The victim said he had to jump onto the sidewalk to avoid being hit by the car. Several people in the crowd corroborated the victim’s account of the incident and one witness told police the suspect was driving a red Mini Cooper and provided police with its Maryland tag number.
Meanwhile, other officers radioed in they had stopped a Mini Cooper with the same tag number in a parking lot on 21st Street. In the meantime, a couple approached officers back at McDonalds and told them how they had children with them in the parking lot and were afraid for their safety during the incident.
Worcester was identified as the driver of the vehicle and when told why he was being stopped, he denied any involvement in the assault at McDonalds earlier. The victim and a witness who provided the tag number were brought to the scene and positively identified Worcester as the attacker. Another witness came forward and told police he was sitting in traffic when he observed Worcester’s alleged attack on the victim and subsequent attempt to run him over.
That witness told police he followed Worcester after the assault to an area near Jolly Roger Amusement Park before Worcester turned south on Philadelphia Ave. Based on the victim and witness testimony and the positive identification of the suspect and the vehicle, Worcester was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault and disorderly conduct.
Worcester pleaded guilty in November to second-degree assault. Back in court last week, Worcester was placed on probation for 18 months.
Probation, Fine For Perdue Theft
SNOW HILL — A Millsboro, Del. man arrested in February after Worcester County detectives were able to connect him to the theft of copper and aluminum from the heating and air conditioning system at a Perdue facility in Showell pleaded guilty last week and was placed on probation and fined.
Last July 10, a Worcester County sheriff’s deputy took an initial report of a theft and malicious destruction of property case from a Perdue Farms facility in Showell. The investigation revealed HVAC units on the roof of the facility had been stripped of their precious metals including aluminum and copper. Several cooling fans along with duct work for the chillers were also taken. In addition, a ground-based York air conditioning unit was also taken from the facility.
To repair the facility’s HVAC to environmental standards cost an estimated $500,000. Because of the monetary loss, the investigation was turned over to the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI). Working with Perdue security staff, WCBI detectives were able to identify a suspect, John Charles Woodward, 56, after a review of surveillance video put him on the Perdue property during the time frame the thefts occurred.
A search of invoices from area salvage yards where precious metals are often exchanged for cash was completed and several invoices from Woodward were located during the timeframe the thefts occurred. Many of the invoices were for copper and aluminum with amounts consistent with the thefts from Perdue. Based on the investigation, detectives formally charged with two counts of theft from $1,000 to $10,000, theft scheme from $1,000 to $10,000 and malicious destruction of property. Last week, Woodward pleaded guilty and was fined $200 and placed on probation for 18 months.
Life Sentence For Murder
SALISBURY — A Salisbury man last week was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for the shooting death of another man at a gun battle in a drug deal gone bad last July during which he was also shot.
Last July 31, several 911 calls were received following a reported gun battle at an apartment complex on Patrick Rd. in Salisbury. First arriving Maryland State Police troopers found a victim, later identified as Veshawn Bratten, 25, of Salisbury, lying on the kitchen floor of the apartment with wounds to his head and back. Troopers searched the area and located another man, Anthony Waters, 28, of Salisbury, in a nearby apartment with gunshot wounds to his torso.
The investigation revealed Waters and another man, later identified as Frederick Walls, 31, also of Salisbury, went to Bratten’s apartment for a pre-arranged marijuana sale. When Waters and Walls arrived at the apartment, guns were produced and a robbery was announced. Waters and Bratten then exchanged gunfire at close range. Bratten was taken to PRMC where he died the next day.
Waters was taken to the hospital for treatment of his own gunshot wounds and was arrested after his release and charged with first-degree murder and other charges. Walls was later apprehended in Dover and charged with murder, robbery and other counts. After a three-day trial in March, a Wicomico County jury found Waters guilty of first-degree murder and several other charges.
Back in court last week, Waters was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the first-degree pre-meditated murder conviction. He was also sentenced to an additional 30 years for the armed robbery and other charges. Earlier last month, Walls was found guilty of robbery and reckless endangerment and faces sentencing in July.