<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Local News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usTue, 24 May 2016 16:05:42 -0400Tue, 24 May 2016 16:05:42 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Snowbirds Fly Over Washington Tuesday]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:32:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160524+Snowbirds2.jpg

They picked the right day for it: The Canadian Armed Forces' Snowbirds flew over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., about noon Tuesday.

The air demonstration team passed over the Mall, then headed to Dulles International Airport, trailing "show smoke" during the flyover. Ten aircraft flew in formation.

The show is meant "to highlight the relationship between Canada and the United States of America," according to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Guests can learn more at a "Meet the Snowbirds" event at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center from noon until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The Snowbirds' Canadair CT-114 Tutors will be on display, and pilots will demonstrate their maneuvers through presentations and video.



Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Red Line Single-Tracking; 45-Min. Delays]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 11:28:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-05-24_1040.jpg

Metro is warning riders of delays due Tuesday morning due to single-tracking on the Red Line; speed restrictions outside the McPherson Square station, and track work on the Orange and Silver lines.

Red Line

Red Line trains have been single-tracking throughout the morning between Grosvenor and Friendship Heights due to a track problem at Medical Center.

Riders should expect 45-minute delays and crowding, Metro said.

Outbound trains are bypassing the Bethesda station to reduce delays.

In addition, trains originating at Silver Spring are running only as far as Farragut North.

Red Line trains are running every 18 minutes, with additional service between Grosvenor and Friendship Heights.

Metro is recommending Metrobus alternatives: the J1, J2 and J3 lines between Silver Spring and Bethesda, and the 30N, 30S, 31, 33, N2, N3 and N4 lines from Friendship Heights to Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle.

Earlier Tuesday, trains were also single-tracking between Van Ness and Dupont Circle due to a track problem at Woodley Park. 

Orange, Silver and Blue Lines

On the Orange Line, delays are possible in both directions due to scheduled track work between Federal Center and Eastern Market, Metro said late Tuesday morning.

On the Silver Line, trains are running only between Wiehle and East Falls Church due to scheduled track work. Riders should use the Orange or Blue lines to or from other stations.

In addition, speed restrictions are in place around McPherson Square for the inbound track of the Orange, Silver and Blue lines (in the direction of New Carrollton and Largo Town Center).

A similar speed restriction was in effect around the McPherson Square station last week.



Photo Credit: Angela (@xox_ange)
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Rain Keeps Local Sports Leagues, Players Off Fields]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 23:46:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/2016-05-23_2253.png

For those keeping track, it has rained 19 out of the last 23 days in the D.C. area. It has made doing outside activities, especially sporting activities, very difficult to schedule and play.

Parents and kids are getting frustrated as the rains keep their fields wet and muddy. Many youth leagues have been forced to cancel practices and games.

CJ Newman plays soccer and baseball in Montgomery County, Maryland, but this season is just about washed away.

“Mostly all my practice have been cancelled and my games have been rescheduled,” Newman said. “It makes me feel upset, because I want to practice to get better.”

As much as he wants to play, his mom wants him to play as well. CJ’s mom, Jen Newman, said there are no refunds for weather cancellations.

“(The league) cancelled a lot of games,” she said. “The practices, they just lose out on. The games, they're trying to reschedule, and at this point, it's like to mid-June. It's really painful.”

The owners of the fields are also lamenting the bad weather. It is playing havoc with scheduling in their leagues.

“Just last weekend, we had to cancel 240 games,” said Trish Heffelfinger, the executive director at the Maryland Soccerplex. “And we won't be able to make those up, because we're in the seventh week of an eight-week season.”

Soccer and baseball leagues aren’t the only one impact by the constant water from the sky. Rockville’s youth track and field meet was cancelled Monday night.

“This rain is impacting everybody, because right now, we're only able to get about half of our sports leagues,” said Duncan Mullis, Rockville’s sports program specialist. “We're three weeks behind schedule.”

]]>
<![CDATA[Former Police Spokesman Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Possession]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 07:24:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/budwalker.jpg

A former Fairfax County, Virginia, police public information officer pleaded guilty Monday to possession of child pornography.

A judge accepted the pleas from William "Bud" Walker, who was arrested in April 2015 after Fairfax County police began tracking an account depicting underage children in sexual acts with other children. Walker was arrested and charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 12. Walker faces one to five years in jail plus a fine of $2,500.

He was immediately taken into custody after the court proceedings.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Arcing Insulator Slowed Red Line Near Friendship Heights Metro]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 21:36:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+Metro.jpg

Montgomery County firefighters responded to reports of an arcing insulator in the area of the Friendship Heights Metro station Monday night.

Officials said they located an issue with an insulator just south of the station’s platform. There was no smoke or fire associated with the incident.

Metro said riders should expect delays in both directions on the Red Line in the area. They hope to clear up the situation soon.

]]>
<![CDATA[Women Fight to Get Money Back From Dating Service]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 23:39:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+Singles.jpg

Several women who had second thoughts about or were dissatisfied with a dating service tried to cancel, but the service wouldn’t let them out of their contracts.

Shelina said she paid $7,000 to sign up with DC Singles, a dating service that uses a "comprehensive search process" to help "thousands of singles find love," according to its website. Within hours, she regretted her decision and immediately called the company to cancel but was told it was non-refundable.

”There’s no way I can believe that if you have not started service on me that I cannot cancel my contract,” she said.

NBC4 Responds learned there many complaints similar to hers with the attorney general’s offices in Virginia and D.C.

Theresa said she paid $3,000 to DC Singles and tried to cancel hours after signing the contract but was told it was too late.

DC Singles’ contract discloses the fee is "non-refundable," however both women said no service was performed because they canceled the same day they signed up.

Although neither attorney general's office would confirm whether or not there's an investigation into DC Singles, D.C.’s consumer affairs office said it's always a red flag when it sees a pattern of complaints with any business.

“If we see a pattern or practice of consumers that feel like they're not being dealt with fairly, then the attorney general is always concerned,” said Philip Ziperman, director of consumer protection at the D.C. Attorney General’s Office.

Two other DC Singles customers who filed complaints said they paid thousands of dollars and gave the service a try but said the company fell short and didn't match its criteria as promised. Both asked for refunds and were denied.

NBC4 Responds found the owner of DC Singles runs similar dating services nationwide with numerous complaints of dissatisfied customers.

The company said it makes no guarantees of a match that meets all the criteria and it will, if warranted, provide a refund, although it has no legal obligation to do so.

After carefully reviewing the circumstances involving each of the four women who spoke with NBC4 Responds, the company resolved each of their complaints for a total of more than $14,000.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Fairfax County Parents Hit by Virtual Kidnapping Scam]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 20:21:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/244*120/2016-05-23_2020.png

Fairfax County, Virginia, families are being warned about a potential scam that preys on fear about the kidnapping of a loved one.

Fairfax County police said several parents with children in Fairfax County Public Schools have received calls saying their child has been kidnapped. Called virtual kidnapping, this scam has hit several areas in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

A virtual kidnapping is an extortion scheme, in which a criminal demands money from a victim by phone while pretending to hold captive a victim’s loved one. The callers threaten to harm or kill the victim’s loved one if a ransom isn’t immediately wired. Sometimes, screaming can be heard during the call to simulate the victim’s relative being harmed in some fashion.

Fairfax County police said the child in each case in the school system was safe at their respective school at the time the calls were made.

The scam has also hit the Archdiocese of Washington, Prince William County, Virginia, police and George Mason University. The FBI is involved in the ongoing investigation.

The News4 I-Team spoke with victims in Maryland in April about the virtual kidnapping scam and how the crime made its way into the area from New York and Texas.

]]>
<![CDATA[VA Begins Bold Moves to Fight Zika Virus]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 20:13:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoes-AP_16127497121865.jpg Virginia mounts an aggressive campaign to prevent Zika virus from spreading.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Victim in Brutal VA Home Invasion Attack Thought Wife Was Killed]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 20:04:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Alecia+and+Andrew+Schmuhl.jpg

A lawyer almost killed in a bizarre and brutal attack in his Virginia home testified Monday he thought the intruder killed his wife.

Leo Fisher took the stand for the prosecution Monday in the trial of Andrew Schmuhl, the lawyer accused in the Nov. 9, 2014, attack on Fisher and his wife, Sue Duncan. Fisher is a partner in an Arlington law firm that fired Schmuhl's wife, Alecia, two weeks prior to the attack.

Fisher told the jury that once inside their McLean home, Schmuhl used a Taser on him, tied him up and tied up his wife. Schmuhl never identified himself but questioned Fisher about Alecia Schmuhl for hours until, "The next think I know, he knocked me over backwards, he puts the pillow on me, he cuts my throat and starts stabbing me," Fisher said.

Fisher said his wife started screaming and Schmuhl shot her.

"He brought up a gun and he shot her, and I saw her hair go 'boom' and I thought he killed her," Fisher said. "She fell to the floor."

The bullet grazed her scalp.

Fisher said he was in and out of consciousness but remembers his wife covered in blood while they struggled to call 911.

Fisher told the jury that his life has significantly changed since the night of the attack.

"My tongue now bends to the left,” he said. “I can't feel or move the left side. It's very difficult for me to move food around and chew it."

Fairfax County Police officers described the gruesome scene they found. They testified that Fisher and his wife were suffering from multiple stab wounds and were struggling to stay alive.

Duncan testified Friday that Schmuhl came to the door of their home flashed a badge and said he was going to arrest Fisher. When asked why he was there, he said Fisher had a hit out on a Mexican drug cartel, Duncan testified.

She testified tearfully that during the attack, she thought her husband had been killed and she played dead so it would stop.

Schmuhl's lawyers are conceding Schmuhl attacked the couple that night but are using an "involuntary insanity defense," saying their client was taking many medications around the time of the attack. They say his wife was the mastermind of the plan, which was poorly executed by her foot soldier husband.

A judge ruled last month the Schmuhls will have separate trials. Andrew Schmuhl's lawyers asked for separate trials when they learned his wife might use the defense that she's been a victim of years of spousal abuse and was programmed to do whatever her husband asked.

Alecia Schmuhl will go on trial in the fall.

]]>
<![CDATA[Student Attacked Outside Georgetown Day School Amid Crime Spike]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 19:25:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014806838_1200x675_691332163894.jpg A teenage boy was beaten and robbed outside the selective Georgetown Day School in Upper Northwest D.C. Crime in the Metropolitan Police Department's Second District has risen in several categories. News4's Mark Segraves reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Which Mosquito Repellents Work Best?]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 18:23:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014806061_1200x675_691264067699.jpg With Zika concerns increasing -- and given all the rain the D.C. area has seen this spring -- you will need a good mosquito repellent. News4 consumer reporter Susan Hogan tells you which repellents work best.]]> <![CDATA[TSA Turns to Technology, Training to Improve Airport Screening]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 18:16:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014806134_1200x675_691267139816.jpg Near Washington, D.C., the Transportation Safety Administration has replicated an airport luggage screening operation -- complete with bag systems and lifelike dummies -- to experiment with ways to make airport screening safer and faster. News4 transportation reporter Adam Tuss goes behind the scenes.]]> <![CDATA[Man Accused of Attempted Rape Aboard Metro Train]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 23:23:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160523+John+Prentice+Hicks.jpg

Police said a Northeast D.C. man assaulted and tried to rape a woman riding on a Red Line Metro train during rush hour last month.

The suspect, John Prentice Hicks, 39, is accused of forcing the victim to perform oral sex on him as he brandished a knife aboard a Red Line train traveling toward Glenmont at 10 a.m. on April 12.

Hicks is charged with first-degree attempted rape, first-degree sexual offense and second-degree assault.

The grisly incident allegedly occurred one day after a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death at the Deanwood Station, and weeks after another teen was shot at the Deanwood station, which is along the Orange Line in Northeast D.C.

The victim in the Red Line case told police she was asleep in the middle section of a rail car as it approached "either the Fort Totten or Takoma stations" about 10 a.m., according to court documents.

As the train continued, the documents say, the man she identified as Hicks approached her and asked her questions such as, "Do you have a boyfriend?" and "Are you going to Glenmont?"

Hicks then displayed a folding knife while the train was at the Forest Glen Station, according to the victim's statement.

He then enveloped the woman in a "bearhug," the statement reads. He forced her to another part of the rail car where he attempted to have sex with her and forced her to perform oral sex all while the knife was in his hand, she told police. At some point, a struggle over the knife left the victim with a cut to her finger, she said.

The victim told police she worried Hicks would kill her if she did not comply.

At the Glenmont station, Hicks left the car but ordered the victim to stay where she was, she said in her statement. She told police she saw him re-enter the train on another railcar, and police said cameras appear to show him exiting the station and paying the fare with a SmartTrip card.

A SmartTrip card registered under Hicks' name shows a charge at Glenmont that day, police said. A Metro Transit officer who reviewed the security camera video recognized Hicks as a man suspected of exposing himself on a Metro train 10 days earlier.

Hicks was arrested by Metro Transit police hours after the incident. He was also identified last week in an ongoing sexual assault case in Montgomery County, police said.

Hicks, of 16th Place in Northeast D.C., is being held without bond.

The suspect, John Prentice Hicks, 39, has been charged with first degree rape, first degree sexual offense and second degree assault after he forced a woman to perform oral sex on him as he brandished a knife aboard a redline train traveling toward Glenmont on April 12.

The grisly incident occurred only one day after a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death at the Deanwood Station, and weeks after another teen was shot at the same station, which is along the Orange Line in Northeast D.C.

The victim in this case told police she was asleep in the middle section of a railcar as it approached “either the Fort Totten or Takoma stations” about 10 a.m. As the train continued, the man she identified as Hicks approached her and asked her questions such as, “Do you have a boyfriend?” and “Are you going to Glenmont?”
Hicks then displayed a folding knife while the train was at the Forest Glen Station, the victim told police.

He then enveloped the woman in a “bearhug” and forced her to another part of the railcar where he attempted to have sex with her and forced her to perform oral sex all while the knife was in his hand, she told police. At some point, a struggle over the knife left the victim with a cut to her finger, she said.

The victim said she worried Hicks would kill her if she did not comply.

At the Glenmont station, Hicks exited the car but ordered the victim to stay where she was, she said. She told police she saw him re-enter the train on another railcar, and police said cameras appear to show him exiting the station and paying the fare with a SmartTrip card.

A SmartTrip card registered under Hicks’ name shows a charge at Glenmont that day, police said.

Hicks was also “positively identified” last week in an ongoing sexual assault case in Montgomery County, police said.

He is being held without bond.


]]>
<![CDATA[Metro Slowdowns Preview Larger SafeTrack Work to Come]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 18:02:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+metro+train+front.jpg

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is slowing down Metro trains in an effort to reduce problems and comply with recent safety directives from the Federal Transit Administration.

The directives deal with specific zones, including the entire east-west tunnel shared by the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. They limit the trains’ maximum speed to 45 mph, and they affect the trains’ rate of acceleration out of the stations in an effort to limit the rate trains draw power from the third rails.

Speed restrictions for Metro trains also remain in place for a section of track near McPherson Square along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines. This work was supposed to be wrapped up last week but has proven to be more challenging than first thought. The problem has to do with a section of rail around a tight curve at McPherson Square, and that means another week of working on the problem.

Metro riders are starting to feel the pangs of frustration, but it could be a precursor to the larger SafeTrack works starting next week. However, some people were frustrated by the current slowdown, because Metro didn’t post an advisory until Monday morning.

“I think Metro needs to get it together,” said Metro rider Tara Bellinger. "Like yesterday."

Typically, Metro trains shoot out of the station and hit cruising speed pretty rapidly. Trains coming out of the McPherson Square station on Monday were doing a slow roll and stopping before resuming another slow roll as part of the speed restrictions.

There’s just so much maintenance that has to be done,” said Metro rider Carol Silverberg. “I'm not sure how they are ever going to catch up. And I'm not sure they have the money."

Metro's General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said to the upcoming huge SafeTrack maintenance plan starting next week will be the first steps to get all maintenance up to the right level.

“The key is once we do this, we cannot slip back to where we were,” Wiedefeld said. “We have to continue to do this."

For this week, there will be more slowdowns near McPherson Square on top of the slowdowns that were already in place along the downtown system of the Blue, Orange and Silver lines.

The SafeTrack work is scheduled to begin on June 4 and will be among the most disruptive in all 15 projects of the entire 10-month rebuilding plan.



Photo Credit: NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Corporate Logos May Appear in National Parks]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 23:55:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/052316+washington+monument.jpg

Will the logos of corporate donors appear near the Washington Monument and National Mall? The National Park Service says maybe.

The park service is considering a plan that would allow private and corporate donors to display corporate logos on portions of park properties. 

Any signage displaying the company names or logos would be discrete, park service spokesman Jeffrey Olson said. He said the funds would support badly needed projects.

"This effort is to move us into the 21st century with philanthropy, donations and partnerships," Olson said.

The National Park Service oversees more than 400 sites across the country, drawing 300 million visitors per year. But budgets from Congress are tight. The plan is expected to boost donations.

But some groups say the plan risks dangerous intrusion of private interests onto public lands, which they say should remain free of commercialization or corporate influence.

"This isn't about philanthropy. It's about marketing and merchandising," said Jeff Ruch of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

"It changes what people see in the parks and who the parks are operated for," Ruch continued. "That amount of corporate dependence is going to bring with it influence over park management policies."

The park service contends the critics are wrong and that the program will create nothing like the flashy naming rights for a ballpark.

"We're trying to join the world of philanthropy that I think people are familiar with at universities, with zoos [and] with libraries," Olson said.

The official public comment period on the plan has ended. The new policy would likely be put in place by late this year.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify that the National Park Service is considering the sale of naming rights to portions of properties, not entire monuments or parks. 



Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Jewelry Store Owner Describes Armed Robbery]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 19:48:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dubai+Jewelry.jpg

A Springfield, Virginia, jewelry store owner described the frantic moments when a masked man ran into his shop Saturday, brandishing a handgun and stealing nearly everything.

Muhammad Rayaz, the owner of Dubai Jewelry, said the robber held a gun to the owner’s head while he went from case to case, taking everything inside. Rayaz said for eight minutes, the robber systematically clean out the showcases, stuffing the loot into a duffle bag.

“All that time, his one hand was on me, and with his other hand, he was taking out all the jewelry stuff,” Rayaz said. “I kept shouting, ‘Hey, don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me. Please, don’t take. Please don’t take.’ And he said, “I’ll shoot you if you don’t, I’ll shoot you if, just stay quiet.’”

Security cameras recorded the incident, but they have not been released. Rayaz said the man was wearing brown clothes that looked like a UPS uniform, but it appeared to be a costume, with other clothes underneath.

“It was a UPS vest, but it was kind of fluffy,” he said. “I realized later, he might be wearing (the outfit) on top of something else.”

A Fairfax County police officer arrived at the scene as the robber was leaving the store. The man fired shots at the officer, and the officer returned fire, police said.

A bystander was injured during the exchange, but the injuries were considered non-life-threatening, police said. They said it appeared the bullet striking the bystander was fired by the robber.

The robber fled the scene, carjacking two cars before fleeing on foot. Patrol officers, K-9 units and the helicopter and troopers from the Virginia State Police searched the area Saturday but were unable to find the robber.

Police released have not released a detail description of the robber. It is unknown if the masked man was hit by the police gunfire.

]]>
<![CDATA[Summer-Like Temps to Follow Stormy Monday]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 21:11:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160523+Weather.jpg

A stormy Monday afternoon will bridge a March-like weekend with July temperatures by midweek, according to Storm Team4.

Storms quickly moved through the area late Monday afternoon, prompting a few severe thunderstorm warnings. There were reports of hail and wind gusts up to 50 mph. 

The rain delayed the start of the Washington Nationals game Monday evening.

Monday marked 19 days with at least a trace of precipitation at Reagan National Airport in May, according to Storm Team4. 

But the skies should clear Monday night, with a huge break in the cold, wet weather by the middle of the week that may have us feeling like it’s summertime.

Last weekend’s damp weather, with temperatures hovering in the mid-50s, felt more like early March than late May. Temperatures will skyrocket into the low-to-mid-80s by Wednesday, which we’re used to seeing in July.

]]>
<![CDATA[GenHERation Aims to Empower Young Women and Girls]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 14:47:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014801760_1200x675_691063363756.jpg Katlyn Grasso talks to Barbara Harrison about her project GenHERation, which connects young women and girls with female leaders.]]> <![CDATA[What Did Planet Aid Do With Your Taxpayer Dollars?]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:17:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Planet+Aid+Donation+Bins.jpg

You've probably seen Planet Aid's bright yellow bins around town, asking for your clothing donations. But what you might not realize is the federal government is also giving millions of dollars to the charity, headquartered in Elkridge, Maryland, despite receiving warnings for more than a decade about the organization's possible connection to an international fugitive named Mogens Amdi Petersen.

Planet Aid brings in as much as $50 million a year, according to its financial filing with the Internal Revenue Service. As much as $42 million comes from selling your clothing donations. But a joint investigation with Reveal at the Center for Investigative Reporting found the U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated at least $133 million to Planet Aid in the past 12 years.

The grants come from the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, which supports food programs outside the United States. "A lot of what they do is distribute food around the world on the condition it will be sold to finance schools, to finance programs to educate farmers," Reveal reporter Matt Smith said.

But internal emails obtained through an open records request show USDA officials have been repeatedly warned about Planet Aid's connection to a controversial Danish organization which some European countries have label a "non-religious cult."

Originally called Tvind and often referred to as the Teachers Group, it was founded by Mogens Amdi Petersen, who is currently on the run from Interpol after being charged with charities fraud and tax evasion in Denmark.

The USDA emails show staffers growing increasingly concerned about Planet Aid's relationship with Petersen, with some asking for "an in-depth investigation" in 2012 because of hints of "potential fraud and abuse" and "the number and frequency of complaints that we have been receiving."

But the records show the USDA kept awarding Planet Aid money even after the group's main fundraiser, a woman named Marie Lichtenberg, acknowledged to USDA staffers that she was a member of Teachers Group, according to an internal USDA memo.

Lichtenberg has never been charged with a crime. Court records obtained by Reveal show she is closely tied to Petersen, named as a possible character witness in his extradition trial and listed in Danish court records as one of "The Six," or a high-ranking member of Teachers Group.

"If they are really sending all that money to Africa, I think that the results would be better," said Meredith Crocker, who said she worked for Lichtenberg at Planet Aid headquarters for a year in 2013.

She explained how she made a 2013 promotional video as part of her job at Planet Aid that shows one of the USDA officials who privately worried about Planet Aid publicly applauding the group's work.

Crocker said she left about a year later after becoming uncomfortable with Planet Aid's grant-writing process, when she asked Lichtenberg for proof of results but never received any.

"My greatest concern when writing the grants was to notice that as we were writing them, we needed up-to-date information, the actual numbers," Crocker said, explaining how the USDA and other funders "need to see that there's some sort of improvement, or where the money is going and they're just going off the numbers from two years before."

Crocker said she does not believe the "results" reported by Planet Aid to the USDA are "accurate or truthful" and accuses the organization of "making up" and "exaggerating" the numbers it reports in its grant applications.

According to a 2015 report, Planet Aid told the USDA it installed "500" water "pumps," distributed more than 5,600 pigs and goats and created 195 "model fields" in Malawi.

Reveal's Matt Smith and Amy Walters went to Malawi and said they interviewed some of the same people featured in Planet Aid's reports and promotional videos. "What little livestock was there had died," Smith said. "The demonstration plots that were supposed to be revolutionizing their local agriculture were quickly abandoned after everybody left."

The villagers Smith interviewed told him they were totally embarrassed that they had been part of what they said was a totally fraudulent piece of propaganda.

Villagers told Smith Planet Aid only provided a single, substandard pump to each community and made them buy the rest at prices they couldn't afford. "They felt like what was supposed to be a benefit turned into a money making scheme for the organization that was supposed to be helping them," Smith said.

No one from the USDA would talk on-camera, but in a statement the USDA told the I-Team, "While none of the formal compliance reviews, ad-hoc reviews, site evaluations or audits ... yielded significant findings or concerns," the agency admitted it did "not have the authority or the means to conduct background investigations into individuals who work for" private organizations like Planet Aid.

But as a result of what Reveal found in Africa, the USDA told the I-Team, "We take these allegations of illegal activity very seriously and have asked USDA's Office of the Inspector General to investigate" Planet Aid.

Marie Lichtenberg and Planet Aid declined our request for an on-camera interview as well, but did provide a statement through their public relations firm that said, "Planet Aid has managed projects that improve nutrition, strengthen education and prevent disease in the developing world for nearly two decades. We greatly value our relationship with the U.S. Government, and the success of our work with U.S. Government agencies has been well documented. We will always cooperate fully with official audits and reviews of our projects, but we are unaware of any proposed or pending investigations."

Tuesday on News4 at 6, we'll take a look at the millions of dollars Planet Aid makes using clothing donations, why some call Teachers Group a cult and we will show you where Petersen may be hiding in plain sight.

The USDA gave the I-Team the following statement:

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) takes very seriously its duty to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and to conduct food assistance programs that not only provide nutrition and educational opportunities to vulnerable children around the world, but also help developing countries modernize and strengthen their agricultural sectors in order to help prevent future food insecurity.

FAS has policies and procedures in place to evaluate proposals by private voluntary organizations (PVOs) for funding through its food assistance programs, including Food for Progress and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. Once funding has been awarded, FAS conducts ongoing monitoring and oversight to ensure successful program implementation and to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. However, FAS does not have the authority, or the means, to conduct background investigations of individuals who work for the PVOs that receive program funding.

None of the formal compliance reviews, ad-hoc reviews, site evaluations or audits FAS has conducted of Planet Aid projects have yielded significant findings or concerns. As far as oversight of the Planet Aid Food for Progress project in Malawi, in addition to regular review and auditing of required performance and financial reports, FAS conducted four site visits: Three were by FAS Washington-based staff, in June 2011, May 2013 and April 2015. Reports from those visits were provided in response to the Center for Investigative Reporting's FOIA request. A fourth visit was conducted in November 2012 by staff from the FAS office in Nairobi, Kenya, which covers Malawi.

While our own oversight did not identify any major issues with Planet Aid's implementation of the FAS-funded project in Malawi, we take these allegations of illegal activity very seriously and have asked USDA's Office of the Inspector General to investigate further.

Planet Aid gave the I-Team the following statement:

Planet Aid has managed projects that improve nutrition, strengthen education, and prevent disease in the developing world for nearly two decades. We greatly value our relationship with the U.S. Government, and the success of our work with U.S. Government agencies has been well documented. We will always cooperate fully with official audits and reviews of our projects, but we are unaware of any proposed or pending investigations.

Reported by Tisha Thompson, Matt Smith and Amy Walters with Reveal, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot by Steve Jones and Jeff Piper.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Man Found Shot Outside Va. Apartments]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 07:37:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000014798421_1200x675_690907203954.jpg A man is in critical condition after he was found shot outside the Fields apartment complex in Falls Church late Sunday night.]]> <![CDATA[Trial Begins in Hazing Lawsuit Against Fraternity in Md.]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 07:36:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1229-bowiestate.jpg

A trial begins Monday in a hazing lawsuit that a former Bowie State University student filed against Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

The former student, Kevin Hayes, filed the lawsuit in 2014, saying the fraternity should have made sure its chapters and members followed its anti-hazing rules.

The $3 million lawsuit claims Hayes was beaten, body-slammed and spanked with a wooden paddle on a daily basis between September 2013 and December 2013, and was instructed not to tell anyone.

"[They said] it makes you stronger," Hayes has said. "They said, 'If you tell, you're a snitch.'"

Hayes said he hired an attorney because he couldn't take the continued harassment.

Bowie State University is not named in the lawsuit.

]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accidentally Shot in Falls Church, Police Say]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 10:24:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/2016-05-23_0659.jpg

A man is in critical condition after he was apparently the victim of an accidental shooting in Falls Church late Sunday night, police say.

Fairfax County Police received two 911 calls around 11:30 p.m. Sunday. They found the victim at the Fields apartment complex in the 2900 block of Stillwood Circle in Falls Church, near Gallows Road.

The victim's injuries started out as non life-threatening but are now considered life-threatening, authorities said Monday morning.

The victim and the shooter know each other, police said. They are classifying the incident at the Fields apartment complex as an accidental discharge.

It's unclear what led up to the shooting incident.

Police have not released information on the shooter. They said there is no threat to public safety.



Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Man Fatally Shot in Temple Hills]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 14:45:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/2016-05-23_0538.jpg

A man was shot and killed in Temple Hills, Maryland early Monday.

Prince George's County Police officers responded to the 4400 block of 23rd Parkway about 1 a.m., where they found a man suffering from a gunshot wound.

The victim was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police have not yet provided a motive or information on a suspect.



Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Car Rams Into Garage in Alexandria]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 19:41:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AlexandriaCrash1.JPG

A BMW sedan rammed into a garage at a home in Alexandria, Virginia, police say.

Fairfax County police and firefighters responded to the home in the 7000 block of Devereux Circle Drive about 5:45 p.m.

Four people were inside the car. Police said no one was hurt.

According to a Dominion Virginia Power outage map, there were about 20 customers in the area without power due to a vehicle accident. It is not known if the garage crash cause the outages.



Photo Credit: Chris Duncan/@CTDPIX]]>
<![CDATA[Children Learn Water Safety in Memory of Virginia Girl Who Drowned]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 18:26:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ChildrenSwim.jpg Young swimmers in Woodbridge, Virginia, took water safety classes Sunday. The class was an effort to make sure no other kids have the same fate as a 7-year-old girl who drowned in a swimming pool last year. News4's Derrick Ward reports.]]> <![CDATA['Party Balloons' Cause Alert at White House]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 00:56:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/184*120/55994200.jpg

The White House was placed under a brief "lockdown" Sunday after "party balloons" drifted over the grounds and landed on the North Lawn, U.S. Secret Service officials said.

The agency said the White House reacted "out of an abundance of caution," after balloons landed on the North Lawn, the press office roof and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The Secret Service said there was no "lockdown" per se, but press crews on the grounds reported they were temporarily restricted in their movements.

The incident comes less than two days after a Secret Service agent shot an armed man who approached a White House security checkpoint, placing the executive mansion on lockdown. The man, identified as Jesse Oliveri, of Ashland, Pennsylvania, is still listed in critical condition after he would not drop his weapon and was shot by a Secret Service officer.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dreary Drizzle, Rain to Clear by Tuesday]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 11:25:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CjD6-AuUkAM70qB.jpg

Drizzle and light rain dominated the day on Sunday with temperatures staying in the 50s throughout.

Storm Team4's Tom Kierein said there is a chance of light rain showers on Monday in the D.C. area before the rain finally clears out for warmer temperatures.

The Monday rain is only expected to be a passing shower with temperatures near 70. By Wednesday, the sunshine will be in full effect, creating temps in the 80s.

Memorial Day weekend will have temperatures heading closer to 90, but increasing humidity will also bring the chance of an afternoon thunderstorm.

Get the latest weather from NBCWashington.com:

Download our free weather apps for iPad and iPhone. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our e-mail newsletters.

]]>
<![CDATA[Inaugural DC Bike Ride Pushes Through Amid Dreary Skies]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 09:08:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/bikesnbc14.jpg More than 8,000 participants took place in the inaugural D.C. Bike Ride Sunday amid the overcast and dreary skies.

Photo Credit: Sarah Pixley]]>
<![CDATA[Man Shot, Killed During Custody Exchange]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 12:51:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Corey+Terry.jpg

One man was shot and killed after a domestic dispute during a custody exchange in Stafford County, Virginia, Friday evening, according to the Stafford Sheriff’s Office.

Corey Terry, 27, is accused of shooting Austen Agnor, 20, from Chester, Virginia, at an Exxon gas station on Courthouse Road around 7:15 p.m. Terry and Agnor were supposed to meet at the Exxon to complete a court ordered custody exchange.

Investigators said during the exchange, a dispute began, and Terry fired multiple shot, hitting and killing Agnor. Terry fled the scene on foot and was later arrested without incident at 9 p.m. by a Virginia state trooper.

Terry has been charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held without bond at the Rappahannock Regional Jail.



Photo Credit: Stafford Sheriff’s Office]]>
<![CDATA[Bystander Injured in Shootout Between Officer, Suspect]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 07:22:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/SpringfieldShooting.JPG

Fairfax County police said an innocent bystander was shot when gunfire was exchanged between a man who robbed a jewelry store and an officer on Saturday.

About 12:22 p.m., officers responded to a report of an "unknown situation" at 7041 Brookfield Plaza in Springfield, Virginia, police said.

Officers discovered there was an armed robbery in progress at the Dubai Jewelers store.

An officer confronted the robber when he left the jewelry store and the suspect fired a handgun at him, police said. The officer returned fire, and a bystander was shot during the exchange, police said.

The bystander was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said. Their condition has since been upgraded, and police said their injuries are considered non-life threatening.

Police said it appears the bullet that struck the bystander was fired by the robber.

The man managed to get into a parked car and flee the scene before crashing the car at Spring Village Drive and Hampton Creek Way, police said.

He then carjacked someone's vehicle, fled again and crashed the vehicle in the 7600 block of Hooes Road before fleeing on foot, police said.

No one was injured during the carjacking, police said.

Police advised residents in the area to stay indoors but have lifted the shelter-in-place. They said anyone who sees anything suspicious should call police immediately.

The robber is described as a black man who is 20 to 30 years old and was last seen wearing all brown clothing and a brown hat. Police said he may have changed his clothes.

Brookfield Plaza was shut down, but businesses reopened outside the crime scene, police said.

Fairfax County officers, Virginia State Police troopers, K-9 units and a helicopter are searching the area.

The officer involved in the shooting was not injured, police said.

It is unknown if the robber was injured, police said.



Photo Credit: Darcy Spencer/NBC Washington
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Infant has 'Traumatic Injury' After Fall, Fire Officials Say]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 07:28:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-05-22_0726.png

An infant has suffered a "traumatic injury" after fire officials believe the child may have fallen four stories in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Montgomery County Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer said firefighters responded to the 8200 block of Roanoke Avenue about 7:20 p.m. Saturday after reports an infant was injured in a fall.

Medics took the baby to the hospital as a Priority 1 patient with a traumatic injury, fire officals said. They said the baby does not have life-threatening injuries.

]]>
<![CDATA[Police Pepper Spray Party Goers in College Park]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 08:03:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/PoliceLawnBackground.jpg

Videos posted to social media show people screaming and frantically running out of an apartment in College Park, Maryland, after University of Maryland police used pepper spray to break up a party early Saturday morning.

University police said officers were called to The Courtyards, located at 8500 block of Boteler Lane, around 1:45 a.m. after receiving a call about a loud party and a possible fight at the on-campus apartments.

When officers arrived, a person said there was a fight inside an apartment and someone may have had a baseball bat, according to police.

Officers told the partygoers numerous times to leave the apartment, but not everyone complied, police said. Officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Two people, Brittney Hunter, 21, of Waldorf, and Montee Hunter, 20, of Capitol Heights, were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, failure to obey lawful order and obstructing and hindering, police said. It's not clear if they have hired attorneys.

The fire department arrived to treat the people sprayed, police said.

As medics were providing care, a confrontation broke out in the parking lot outside the apartment complex, and officers used pepper spray a second time, police said.

University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell told News4's Darcy Spencer on Sunday the incident is cause for concern.

"First of all, let me say I'm very concerned about the perception that my students have of what happened," Mitchell said. "So far, what I see causes me concern — in some cases, on both sides. Students who just should have just left and perhaps we could've performed better in a couple instances."

Mitchell said several officers were wearing body cameras and the department expects to release some of that video.

"Of course, the question is, was this reasonable use of pepper spray?" Mitchell said.

The University of Maryland Police Department released a statement Sunday night saying police had completed an initial review of the incident an "a formal investigation is now underway to determine if the use of force was appropriate."

"President Loh and Chief Mitchell are committed to a complete and transparent investigation to determine the facts of the incident," the statement continued.

Video on Twitter from a person at the party shows the moment when pepper spray was used by officers.



Photo Credit: @CEORaph
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Massive Water Main Break Shoots Water 15 Feet Into Sky]]> Sat, 21 May 2016 23:40:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WaterMain46.jpg

Some Fort Washington, Maryland, residents got quite the surprise when they walked out of their front doors Saturday morning.

C.J. Hilliard took the above video of a water main break that happened about 10 a.m. in the 10900 Valley Brook Drive. The water appears to shoot up about 15 feet into the sky and the break created a giant hole in the middle of the road.

The water came falling down into the Hilliard's yard and he said at first he thought it was rain.

WSSC said about 20 customers were affected.

Crews were on the street all day making repairs and service was restored as of about 5:25 p.m., WSSC said.



Photo Credit: C.J. Hilliard]]>
<![CDATA[Man Shot, Killed in District Heights]]> Sat, 21 May 2016 10:42:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/generic-police-lights6.jpg

Prince George’s County, Maryland, police are investigating a shooting death early Saturday morning.

Police said officers were called to the 1900 block of Rochelle Avenue in District Heights around 4:30 a.m. When they arrived, they found a man suffering from gunshot wounds.

He was taken to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police have not identified the victim and have not released any details about the shooters.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>