<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sat, 28 Feb 2015 02:06:58 -0500 Sat, 28 Feb 2015 02:06:58 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[More Women Reporting Domestic Violence in Frederick Co.]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:55:44 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Reported+Crimes+of+Domestic+Violence+Frederick+County.jpg

One of the fastest-growing counties in Maryland is also facing a growing problem: More women are coming forward as victims of domestic violence.

More than 30,000 women in Frederick County will be abused at some point in their life, and many will never tell.

"Approximately 80 percent of domestic violence incidents are never reported to the police," said Inga James, who runs Heartly House in Frederick.

Heartly House provides shelter to people affected by domestic violence.

"Our case load is going up,” James said. “We get about a thousand calls to our hotline a month."

According to state police, reported crimes of domestic violence are up in Frederick County from 580 in 2011 to 626 in 2012 to more than 1,300 in 2013.

James sees the higher numbers in Frederick and statewide as a positive in some ways.

"I don't think domestic violence is happening now more than it used to happen, no,” she said. “I think victims are more willing and able to contact law enforcement and our agency."

A simple questionnaire is helping victims come forward. Police officers responding to domestic violence calls across the state ask a series of telling questions, including:

  • Has he ever used a weapon against you?
  • Has he threatened to kill you or your children?

Most of the women who seek shelter and safety within the walls of Heartly House have children to protect, too.

<![CDATA[Beer Bust: Montgomery Co. Council Starts Hearings]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:32:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009626935_1200x675_405687363712.jpg

Change is coming to the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control. That was the one thing everyone agreed on at the first hearing held by a special ad hoc committee created to consider deregulating the agency after our News4 I-Team investigation.

Montgomery County has operated under a four-tier system for almost 80 years, controlling the sale of all alcohol to stores and restaurants in the county. Every glass of beer, every bottle of wine and every drop of liquor must be sold out of the county’s government warehouse.

Council member Hans Riemer created the committee because he says the government should get out of the beer and wine business.

“We’re the only county in Maryland, and I believe we're the only local government in America, that has a monopoly on wholesale," he told roughly 100 people sitting in the audience.

The committee is deciding the future of Liquor Control by considering a list of five options, which include completely deregulating alcohol sales, moving to a system similar to Virginia’s ABC stores or only controlling the sale of hard liquor. The committee agreed any sort of deregulation will be a very complicated business involving changing state laws, eliminating county jobs and potentially hiking the alcohol tax to an additional 10 cents per dollar.

The hearing was the first time DLC Director George Griffin spoke publicly since the 4 I-Team investigation, which caught employees drinking on the job and accusations of internal theft from beer trucks.

"We're not sitting here and saying everything is great, don't change a thing,” Griffin told the committee. “Quite the opposite."

He proposed creating an authority that would give the agency more control over employee hiring and major financial decisions.

Council member Marc Elrich responded, "I do think if you're going to operate a business, which Liquor Control is, you actually have to operate it like a business and I don't think we're there truly."

Everyone on the committee was concerned about a council report that found 61 percent of restaurants and stores surveyed said DLC isn't giving them what they need to stay in business, prompting Council member Rodger Berliner to state, “Our restaurants have been, and remain, so terribly unhappy with the quality of service they get.”

He looked at Griffin and said, “I'm sure you're aware I had a restaurant owner come up to me seven days ago and say, ‘Council member Berliner I ordered 45 cases of wine and I got five.’"

Committee members also said they’re worried people are going to surrounding counties that don’t regulate sales to get their alcohol. They pointed to the council report, which found Montgomery County sales indicate its residents “consume” an average of 5.6 million gallons less than surrounding Frederick, Howard and Prince George’s counties.

Almost all the committee members stated they didn’t believe Montgomery County drank less than its neighbors.

"They are voting, if you will, with their feet,” Berliner said. “They are purchasing product elsewhere."

The committee is scheduled to discuss problems with management, security and other issues exposed in our investigation at its next hearing on March 6.

<![CDATA[Police Chief Booked on Solicitation]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 00:52:38 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/022715+stephen+johnson+mug.jpg

Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Dania Beach Friday, officials said.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert confirmed the arrest and said Johnson was fired immediately.

Jail records showed Johnson, 53, was being held on $300 bond. It was unknown if he has an attorney.

According to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest report, deputies were conducting an undercover operation targeting solicitation of prostitution at a Dania Beach hotel when Johnson was arrested.

Authorities had placed an escort ad on backpage.com and two detectives were posing as prostitutes at the hotel, the affidavit said.

Johnson had called the number on the ad and arranged to pay $100 for 30 minutes with two prostitutes, the report said.

When Johnson arrived at the hotel room, he was let in and handed over the $100, the report said. He had two condoms in his pocket when he was arrested, the report said.

A news release from the department said Assistant Chief Antonio Brooklen will serve as interim chief.

"We remain committed to excellence and integrity on every level," the department said in the release. "We will not allow Mr. Johnson's bad judgment to reflect negatively on the hardworking officers of the City of Miami Gardens and the residents they serve on a daily basis."

The department came under fire earlier this month following the officer-involved shooting of 25-year-old Lavall Hall.

Johnson said Hall attacked two officers with a broom handle and was shot twice with a Taser before he was fatally shot by an officer.

Hall's family has been critical of police in the wake of the shooting, holding a vigil and protest and demanding more answers in the shooting.

Johnson was named Miami Gardens' Police chief in May 2014 after a long career with the North Miami Police Department. He also served as North Miami's city manager from 2011 to 2014.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Shot Near SE D.C. Elementary School]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:56:54 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0227-dc-shooting.jpg

D.C. police are investigating a shooting Friday afternoon involving a juvenile.

According to officials, the shooting was reported just before 4 p.m. at Alabama Avenue and Naylor Road SE, near Stanton Elementary School.

The shooting victim, a juvenile boy, was conscious and breathing when police arrived. Sources told News4 the boy may be as young as 14 years old.

D.C. police tweeted the lookout if for a man standing 5-foot 11-inches with a short haircut, wearing a navy blue jacket with a white stripe on the sleeves. 

Police remained on scene throughout the afternoon. Expect traffic delays.

Stay with NBCWashington.com and News4 as this story develops. 

<![CDATA[Wesleyan Student Will Survive OD "Against All Odds": Family]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 20:17:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WESLEYAN02232015.jpg

A Wesleyan University student who remains hospitalized nearly a week after overdosing on MDMA, or "Molly," is slowly recovering, according to a statement from family members.

"It is difficult to put into words how deeply grateful we are for the generous outpouring of love and support that we have received over the last few days," the student's family said in a statement Friday. "We are profoundly grateful to the teams at Hartford Hospital that went above and beyond to save our child's life. Thankfully, against all odds, our child will survive this terrible ordeal."

The student, who has not been publicly identified, was critically injured after overdosing last weekend and remains at Hartford Hospital.

"We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to the Wesleyan community — the administrators, faculty, and students — for their concern and support. And we are thankful as well for the expert work of the Middletown Police Department," the family added.

Ten of the student's peers also received medical treatment. After being rushed to Middlesex Hospital on Sunday, two were airlifted to Hartford Hospital and two more were transferred by ambulance, officials said.

Only one student is still in the hospital.

Four of their peers were arrested on drug charges earlier this week, accused of selling the MDMA that sickened them.

Eric Lonergan, 21; Andrew Olson, 20; Zachary Kramer, 21; and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were immediately suspended from the school.

Olson is the founder and co-president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Wesleyan. According to the warrants for their arrest, Kramer, Lonergan and Nabik are known as drug dealers among their peers.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Detective's Crash, Wife in Traffic]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:27:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/nypd+detective+killed+wrong+way+crash.jpg

An NYPD detective on his way to work in Queens, New York, was killed in a wrong-way crash on a Westchester highway early Friday that backed up traffic for hours, and the 46-year-old officer's wife was tragically stuck in the jam as she tried to take the couple's teenage daughter to school, officials and relatives say.

The officer, Paul Duncan, was headed south on the Sprain Brook Parkway near Greenburgh in a Honda Pilot at about 4 a.m. when a 2013 Honda Civic headed the wrong way crashed into the detective's SUV head-on. Duncan was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Civic, 20-year-old Efren Moreano of Yonkers, was taken to Westchester Medical Center and is in a coma, police say. It's not clear why Moreano was driving the wrong way.

Aerial footage from Chopper 4, which was first on the scene, showed one mangled vehicle on the highway and another stopped off the roadway.

Duncan's wife, Rechelle, said her husband normally leaves for work at the department's Internal Affairs Bureau in Queens around 8 a.m., but got an unusually early start Friday.

When she went to drive her daughter to school in the city shortly before 7 a.m., she encountered a police car blocking access to the Sprain Brook Parkway by her home. It took her two hours to get to the city, and she had no idea the traffic was related to a response to an accident that had claimed her husband's life.

"I don't even know how that's possible," a composed yet stunned Rechelle Duncan told NBC 4 New York.

She and her husband were high school sweethearts who had been married for more than 20 years. Rechelle Duncan said her husband was planning to retire from the NYPD this year.

"He was thoughtful, he was disciplined. He made really good dinners," Rechelle Duncan said of her husband. "He thought he was funny, a sharp dresser, a really good dad."

Now, she says, shes plans to focus on staying strong for her 13-year-old daughter.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor said after the crash that the state police and Department of Transportation should both look into ways to improve infrastructure on the highway. 

-Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report

<![CDATA[Crews Rescue Dog From Frozen Northern Va. Lake]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:45:44 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0227-dog-rescue.jpg

Special crews helped rescue a dog from a frozen Fairfax County lake Thursday afternoon.

A 10-unit team of firefighters from Fairfax County helped rescue Bodie from icy Woodglen Lake when he got away from a family member during a walk. He was about 250 feet off shore.

"The water was at 45 degrees below. You have about three to five minutes to swim until you lose mobility," one rescuer said.

After 30 minutes, the 9-year-old dog was rescued.

"He was shivering, but they were all positive signs," Susan Johnson, Bodie's owner, said. 

"He started wagging his tail and shaking himself off to try to get dry, and was just happy to walk off the ice," Capt. Bill Betz said.

Johnson said she'll be holding onto Body, a Great Dane and Lab mix, a little closer.

"He's the best. He's my heart."

Officials recommend four-legged friends and humans alike stay off the ice.

<![CDATA[Finalists Drop Out of Search for New Metro GM]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:28:06 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/metro-shutterstock_413603.jpg

Metro must start a new search for a new general manager and CEO after all the finalists dropped out, according to Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss.

Richard Sarles retired Jan. 16, the same week an arcing third rail filled a tunnel and train with smoke at L'Enfant Plaza Station, killing one woman and sending dozens of other people to the hospital.

The transit agency has been under intense scrutiny since that Jan. 12 tragedy.

Assistant General Manager for Bus Services Jack Requa is serving as interim GM and CEO.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Teens Last Seen Three Days Ago in Loudoun Co.]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:55:00 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Christopher+Rhames+and+Stephan+Seaver.jpg

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is looking for two teenagers last seen in the Purcellville area.

Christopher Rhames, 15, and Stephan Seaver, 16, were last seen in that area three days ago in the 700 block of Main Street, though they have no ties to that immediate area. They left on their own accord, the sheriff’s office said.

Both require medication.

Christopher is black, about 5-feet-6-inches tall and 202 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Stephan is white, about 5-feet-8-inches tall and 162 pounds, with bleach blonde hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information about their whereabouts should call the sheriff’s office at 703-777-0475.

<![CDATA[Bacon's Barbecue Says Goodbye, For Now]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:23:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009626938_1200x675_405698627522.jpg Ray Bacon talks about the closing of his Manassas Park restaurant, Bacon's Barbecue]]> <![CDATA[Meet Your Street: Hunter Mill Road]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:20:07 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009627014_1200x675_405696067928.jpg Traffic Reporter Melissa Mollet explores the history of Hunter Mill Road.]]> <![CDATA[Soup to Ices: Stores Switch With the Season]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:01:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/Vendome.jpg

You know that spring is on the way in Brooklyn when The Soup Bowl becomes Uncle Louie G's Italian ices.

In mid-March, the sign comes down for the hole-in-a-wall take-out place with a devoted following and a daily selection of some 18 soups, and Uncle Louie G takes its place. The seasonal switch on Seventh Avenue keeps the storefront in the black throughout the year.

A similar change takes place at the Brooklyn Porridge Co. and the Vendome macaron bar, two other Brooklyn spots that turn into Uncle Louie G's Italian ice shops when a frozen treat no longer feels like a cruel joke.

"Today, the way the economy is, it’s a great concept," Uncle Louie G’s Dino Russo said. “This way you earn 12 months out of year."

Richard Gussoff approached Russo five years ago with his plan to offer soup in the Seventh Avenue shop, which until then had closed in November for the winter. Gussoff had sold three restaurants in Manhattan’s theater district not long before — a decision prompted by proposed monthly rent increases of up to $5,000 — and had noticed the shuttered space.

“Soup was always my forte in my restaurants,” he said.

J.P. Eggers, an associate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, compared the phenomenon to pop-up stores, increasingly popular in high-traffic areas where rents are high. A seasonal shop in a vacation location has little value once visitors go home, but real estate costs remain high for a store in a place like Brooklyn, he noted.

“The idea of leaving it with either no business because it’s closed or with a business that is just not going to make any money at that time of day or in that season just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “It’s far too valuable a property to do that.”

Uncle Louie G, which also sells ice cream, was started about 20 years by Russo’s brother and sister-in-law. Russo and three friends took it over in 2009 and expanded the company so that today there are nearly 60 outlets throughout the metropolitan New York area and as far as Florida, Oklahoma, California and even Malaysia. The individual stores are owned by license-holders who pay $15,000 and agree to buy ices and ice cream from Uncle Louie G.

Russo was skeptical when Gussoff first came to him, doubtful that he would be able to sell enough soup to afford the space. Each man jotted down a number for the monthly rent on a napkin, and each wrote the same -- $2,000. The Soup Bowl opened.

“I’m not a spiritual person, but if something was meant to be, that was a good sign,” Gussoff said. “They’re happy because I’m paying the rent. It works because in the winter, you don’t really want ice cream except for a few kids, and in the summer you don’t want soup.”

The owners of the Brooklyn Porridge Co., Emily Hannon and Karyn Seltzer, similarly approached Uncle Louie G after spotting an empty store on Union Street. The two had worked together at a corporate restaurant, were fast friends and wanted to offer something to customers with dietary restrictions.

“We started researching porridge, and the whole idea of porridge and discovered it exists in every culture,” Hannon said. “It’s an ancient comfort food.”

Their porridge, gluten- and dairy-free, is made from steel cut oats, grits, amaranth millet or brown rice and is served with savory or sweet toppings, everything from braised red cabbage to wildflower honey.

Hannon and Seltzer hope to keep their restaurant open year-round by finding another location and adding summer items to the menu. They are looking for other ways to expand: making the restaurant replicable and franchising and selling their sauces, compotes and sweet and savory granolas online.

The seasonal store has allowed them to test their ideas without making a large investment, they said.

“It’s been a warm, friendly way to start something, to start a business,” Hannon said.

Vendome on Smith Street is the brainchild of Taryn Garcia, who had studied film and landed at the Food Network after moving from Colorado to New York.

“I wasn’t totally in love working in production, and I just thought, “God, they’re having so much more fun in the kitchen,” she said.

She ended up in Paris studying pastry art and while there noticed the long lines at some of the shops selling macarons, the meringue-based French confections. She knew then she would make them when she returned to the United States.

She and her partner, Adriana Troli, sell their macarons at Saks Fifth Avenue and later this year will open a permanent shop at 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park, the former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ printing plant that has been turned into condominiums.

In the meantime, Garcia found the Uncle Louie G space advertised on Craigslist as a pop-up store for just over $3,000 a month.

“We looked at the cost to see: How are we going to make money? Will we break even? Is this going to be a loss?” Garcia said. “We decided to go for it.”

In the new store, they will offer not only macarons, but also coffee, some breakfast and lunch foods and maybe even wine and Champagne.

Gussoff said he was not sure what he would do once Uncle Louie G returns next month. His soups are widely popular — his lobster bisque sold out the first day, thanks to the staff of nearby New York Methodist Hospital — but he said he knew business would drop off by 90 percent once the temperatures rise.

Still, his customers return each year, he said.

“There are people that come to us, and they say we're the only thing they like about winter,” he said.

Photo Credit: Noreen O'Donnell
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<![CDATA[The Science Behind #TheDress]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:01:11 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/buzzfeed+dress+2.jpg American University psychology Professor Art Shapiro explains why a hotly debated dress is perceived to be blue and black by some and white and gold by others.

Photo Credit: Tumblr/swiked]]>
<![CDATA[New Layer of Tax Fraud Protection]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:56:48 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009626082_1200x675_405648451917.jpg If you live in D.C., there's a new way for you to protect yourself from tax fraud. Consumer Reporter Erika Gonzalez explains the added layer of protection.]]> <![CDATA[Uber Breach May Affect 50K Drivers]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:54:43 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP943907754143.jpg

Uber says a database containing the names and drivers' license numbers of 50,000 of its drivers was breached in May.

The ride-sharing service says it has notified the drivers and hasn't received any reports of the information being misused. Uber says it will offer a one-year membership in Experian's ProtectMyID Alert identity theft protection service to the drivers involved.

The company said Friday the breach affects drivers in multiple states, but involves only a "small percentage" of its current and former drivers.

Uber says it discovered a potential breach in September. It announced the events in a statement posted on its blog and described them as a one-time occurrence. The San Francisco company says it has changed the access protocols for its database to prevent similar breaches.

Uber is the latest company to report a data breach in recent months. Others include retailer Home Depot, health insurer Anthem and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The problems can be costly as well as damaging to consumers' perception of a company.

Uber is privately-held and valued at $40 billion. It lets passengers summon cars through an app in more than 250 cities worldwide, but faces multiples legal and regulatory challenges as it expands in the United States and abroad. The company has been criticized over the thoroughness of the background checks it does on drivers and other safety issues as well as its method of raising prices when demand goes up.

Earlier this month Uber introduced new safety features for riders in India, include a "panic button" on its app that would let riders notify police in an emergency and a "safety net" that would let riders share trip details with others. The features were rolled out after a highly-publicized case where a passenger said she was raped by an Uber driver.

<![CDATA[Md. Man Gets 20 Years in Murder for Hire Plot]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:08:26 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0609-ndokey-enow.jpg

A Maryland man will spend 20 years behind bars for ordering the murder of his fourth ex-wife.

A judge sentenced Ndokey P. Enow to 40 years in prison Friday, suspending 20 years, for one count of solicitation of first-degree murder. Enow was also given five years of probation and ordered to have no contact with his ex-wife.

Detectives said Enow met with an undercover Montgomery County Police officer posing as a hitman in June 2014. Enow showed the undercover officer photos of his ex-wife and where she lived. Police said Enow was arrested for solicitation to commit first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.

Authorities said Enow had arranged to pay the "hitman" $1,000 for the murder.

<![CDATA[Suspect Wanted in 3 Md. Sex Assaults]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:27:00 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1022-pgco-sex-assaults.jpg

Prince George's County Police canvassed a Bladensburg neighborhood following three sexual assaults they believe are related.

The most recent rape was reported just before 8 p.m. Wednesday in the 4100 block of 54th Avenue, behind a church. The victim had been walking in the area when the suspect sexually assaulted her. He was described as a black man, between 30 and 40 years old, standing 6-foot tall.

At the time, he was wearing a blue and white knit cap, a blue scarf and a black jacket.

Police believe that incident is related to a September 2014 sex assault of a woman along a wooded trail in the 5100 block of Quincy Street, as well as an October 2014 sex assault in the 5800 block of Annapolis Road. Police had released a suspect sketch following those incidents, as well as surveillance video.

Prince George's County officers went door to door in Bladensburg Friday night, notifying residents of the attacks.

"It's a concern. I do feel a little better that police have been patrolling more," Bladensburg resident Christian Garcia said.

If you have any information, you're asked to call police. 

<![CDATA[13-Year-Old Girl Missing From Fort Washington]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:53:20 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kayla+Corynn+Claggett.jpg

Prince George's County Police are looking for a missing 13-year-old girl.

Kayla Corynn Claggett was last seen Friday morning in the 1200 block of Van Buren Drive in Fort Washington, Maryland, police said.

Police describe Claggett as African-American, 5-foot 10-inches tall, weighing 250 pounds with a curly pony tail. Claggett was last seen wearing a black coat, red pants and black shoes, according to a release from Prince George's County Police.

Authorities are asking anyone with information of her whereabouts to contact police at 301-749-5064.

<![CDATA[Bowser Could Name New D.C. Fire Chief Next Week]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:34:30 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1203-dcfire.jpg

News4 has learned D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is close to naming a permanent fire chief.

Eugene Jones has been acting as interim fire chief since embattled chief Kenneth Ellerbe stepped down last year.

At a recent oversight hearing of the D.C. Fire and EMS Department, union officials expressed concern that a lack of a permanent leader is creating problems with morale and making it difficult to move forward on new initiatives like rebuilding the dilapidated fleet or filling more than 100 vacancies.

Sources told News4 the announcement could come early next week. 

<![CDATA[Bowser Makes Final Changes to School Boundary Proposals]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:16:53 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/461046870.jpg

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Friday made several changes to the District's school boundary proposals.

She said she will grandfather in all new middle school students until 2022 and that students at Kelly Miller Middle School will have the option to attend either HD Woodson or Eastern high schools.

The mayor said these are her final tweaks to the program before it goes into effect next school year. The city's school-age population is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent by 2022.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Identity Thief Filled Out Tax Return Before Me, Victim Says]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:58:14 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/484588011.jpg

Virginia mom of three Brooke Taheri opted to spend her Valentine’s Day working on her taxes and didn't expect the holiday to get any less romantic.

Then she discovered her identity had been stolen.

“You get that sinking feeling in your stomach,” said Taheri, 37, of Fairfax County, describing the moment she realized something was wrong.

Tax-related identity theft is a growing concern, according to the Internal Revenue Service, which named it as one of its “dirty dozen” tax scams of 2015.

“Preventing and detecting identity theft and refund fraud remains a top priority for the IRS," the government agency said in a statement. "We have added and strengthened protections in our systems, and we continue to make important progress in stoping identity theft and other fradulent refunds."

Last year, the IRS initiated 1,063 identity theft-related investigations and the Federal Trade Commission reported receiving 109,063 complaints about tax-related identity theft, according to the IRS website.

Taheri found out she was a victim when she tried to e-file her taxes and got a notice saying the IRS already received her forms.

“I was livid and completely frustrated,” Taheri said.

Yet submitting your tax return is the only way to uncover the distressing news before the tax season's deadline hits.

Credit card companies continually monitor customers’ behavior, making it easier for them to pick up on any unusual activity. The IRS, however, only connects with taxpayers once a year. Fraudsters typically file early, beating taxpayers to the punch and making it difficult for the IRS to detect discrepancies against employers’ information, which the government agency receives in late spring.

Since many Americans have yet to file their returns this tax season, it is too early to tell how many others are victims of tax-related identity theft although the majority should not be affected.

About 1.5 million taxpayers received Identity Protection PINs, a six-digit unique number, by the IRS last year as part of a pilot program. The agency provided them with the extra security measure to all identity theft victims, including those whose data was compromised in schemes unrelated to their taxes.

The IRS also offered the PINs to another 1.7 million taxpayers whose accounts signaled they could be victims.

Filing early is one recommendation, but that didn’t prevent Taheri from experiencing a “very labor intensive” aftermath.

“Thus far I’ve spent over four hours on music hold with different federal and local government agencies and then once I talk to people it’s been another hour and a half,” she said.

Taheri filed a police report, contacted the IRS and the FTC, and checked with the Social Security Administration and other agencies to determine if her information had been used illegally, she said. And she still had to file her taxes, but now she must submit a paper copy along with an identity theft affidavit so the IRS can conduct its investigation, she said.

Updating your passwords and usernames regularly, and monitoring your credit report are a few other steps taxpayers should take to avoid identity theft, according to resources available on the FTC and IRS websites. Another suggestion: Don’t give your personal information when it is not required of you or through unsecure channels.

Taheri, who works in finance, admonished herself for failing to set up identity theft protection earlier.  She said she has now signed up for it. Taheri is also keeping a close eye on her credit reports and planning how she’ll avoid this in the future.

“As soon as I get my W-2s and tax information, I will be filing as early as I physically can,” she said. “I will be the first to file.”

And after a headache-filled Valentine's day, Taheri — who wasn't expecting a big hoopla — was finally able to celebrate with her family.

"By the time I got off all the phone calls, I think we got carry-out."

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Black Cat Showing "Wrath of Khan"]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:47:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/spock+photo-1200.JPG

The Black Cat is pre-empting its weekly "Star Trek: Next Generation" happy hour Friday night to honor Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The rock club will show the second film featuring the original cast, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," in which Nimoy's classic character Spock died at the end. What Trekkies in mourning really need is a real life "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," in which Spock is reborn.

Doors open at 5 p.m. The movie starts at 6:45 p.m.

The Black Cat hosts the "Ten Forward" happy hour every Friday in its Backstage bar. It's named after the bar on the USS Enterprise from the "Next Generation" series and features an episode from that series from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Star Trek-themed drink specials.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Woman, 91, Lands Her Dream Job in Silicon Valley]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:38:18 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2015-02-27+at+12.50.11+PM.jpg

Some land their dream job just weeks after graduation, but for Barbara Beskind, 91, it took several decades.

Beskind finally fulfilled her longtime dream of becoming a tech designer when she was hired at a top design firm in Silicon Valley two years ago.

"As a 10-year-old I wanted to be an inventor,'' Beskind told NBC's "Today show. "I've arrived. But it took me about 80 years."

She had a knack for design at an early age, making a hobby horse out of old tires during the Great Depression when she was just ten years old.

But she was discouraged to pursue a career in design by her high school guidance counselor who told her engineering schools don't accept females. So she decided to join the U.S. Army, where she served as an occupational therapist, while also writing books and learning to paint," she told "Today."

Two years ago she read about IDEO, known for designing the first mouse for Apple and other devices, and decided to apply for a vacant position. 

"Our culture is telling us, aging equals decline,'' IDEO associate partner Gretchen Addi told "Today". "And Barbara is very solidly standing there and saying, you know, 'I'm gonna call you on that.'''

Beskind focuses on projects related to aging. She has designed what she has dubbed a "trekker,'' a modified version of a walker, which is being developed into a prototype by IDEO.

She said coming to work every Thursday makes her "feel 30 years younger."

"Age is not a barrier to performance," she told "Today."  "Live life as an adventure, and expect change and endorse it, embrace it."

<![CDATA[Slushy Waves Hit Nantucket Shore]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:07:57 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Jonathan_Nimerfroh+%28104+of+6%29.jpg

It’s been so cold in New England that even the ocean waves are freezing.

A Nantucket-based photographer and surfer captured images of waves with the consistency of a 7-Eleven Slurpee hitting the coast of Nantucket, in Massachusetts, on Friday, Feb. 20.

“The wind was howling from the southwest which would typically make rough or choppy conditions not so good for surfing, but since the surface of the sea was frozen slush the wind did not change the shape,” Jonathan Nimerfroh said in an email to New England Cable News. “What resulted was perfect, dreamy, slush waves.”

The temperature was a high of 19 degrees that day, according to Nimerfroh, and the waves were around 2 feet high.

When Nimerfroh went back the beach on Saturday to take more photos of slurpee waves, it was even colder. The water had a thin sheet of ice over it and there were no waves at all.

Normally, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s not unusual for the harbor to freeze.

New England has experienced outsized snowfall and cold this winter. Boston has received 102 inches of snow, just 5.6 inches shy of the snowiest winter on record, according to the National Weather Service.

Another storm is expected to hit this weekend, dumping 6 inches in some areas. It won't take much to shatter the record.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Nimerfroh, www.jdnphotography.com]]>
<![CDATA[Wooden Passenger Fools Carpool Lane]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:34:15 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Fake+passenger.JPG

A Long Island man allegedly used a wooden figure in a hooded sweatshirt to drive solo in the Long Island Expressway's HOV lane because, he told officers, he was late to his new job, police said.

A Suffolk County Highway Patrol officer noticed the fake passenger when he pulled the man over for speeding at 77 mph at 6:30 a.m. on Friday in Dix Hills.

A photo of the crudely made dummy shows a wooden board with a block-shaped, wooden head wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

"I was trying not to laugh at the guy because I thought it was quite silly," said officer Jonathan Abrams. 

Abrams said for a moment, he actually thought it was a real person.

"The silhouette was realistic enough," he said. "You see people with hoods up, sleeping in the front seat all the time." 

The driver, James Campbell, told NBC 4 New York the officer seemed to have a sense of humor about it.

"He said, 'Passenger, can I see some ID?' And I said, 'Officer, I don't think so,'" said Campbell, chuckling. 

Campbell told the officer that he was driving to a new job and didn't want to be late.

"He said he started a new job and he couldn't afford to be late to his new job, so traveling through the HOV lane allowed him to get there a little bit faster," said Abrams. 

He was issued summonses for speeding and occupancy violation.

Campbell didn't seem deterred. He pulled up to his home Friday evening after work with the dummy still in the front seat, saying he'd been using it for months. 

He said, "He's got a sister down in the basement and on special occasions, I bring her out and she wears a tutu." 

Photo Credit: Suffolk County Police Dept. ]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Gardner Child Abuse Trial Delayed]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:39:06 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Michael-Gardner.jpg The new trial for Michael Gardner was delayed after he got a new lawyer. His previous conviction on charges he abused girls at his daughter's slumber party was overturned. News4's Richard Jordan reports.]]> <![CDATA[Teen Charged in Friend's Suicide]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:53:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Conrad+Roy+Michelle+Carter.jpg

A young woman who says she tried to help a Massachusetts teen before his 2014 suicide now faces manslaughter charges after text messages allegedly revealed that she encouraged him to take his own life.

Court documents from New Bedford court outline a deeper look into the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy, a student from Fairhaven and Mattapoisett.

In July of 2014, Fairhaven Police found Roy's body in his car parked behind a store. They believe he committed suicide by means of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Now, 18-year-old Michelle Carter of Plainville is facing involuntary manslaughter charges, having been indicted as a youthful offender.

After Roy's body was found, according to documents, police accessed his cell phone. There, they found thousands of text messages between Roy and Carter.

"Michelle not only encouraged Conrad to take his own life, she questioned him repeatedly as to when and why he hadn't done it yet, right up to the point of when his final text was sent to her on Saturday evening, July 12, 2014," police wrote after reviewing the messages.

The new charges have reopened old wounds for the Roy family.

"All I can think of is his smiling face," said Conrad's grandmother, Janice Roy. "He used to come play with his cousins on the beach."

Police also allege Carter misled friends and Roy's family members when he was missing.

The documents say that in other texts following his death, she told friends she heard him killing himself over the phone.

Police say Roy had told Carter he was scared to leave his family, but that Carter encouraged him to commit suicide.

"When he actually started to carry out the act, he got scared again and exited his truck," read the court documents. "But instead of telling him to stay out of the truck and turn off the generator Carter told him to 'get back in.'"

The court documents also show that Roy confided in Carter, saying, "I feel like I'm only staying alive for other people, not myself." He also reportedly said, "There's nothing anyone can do for me that's gonna make me wanna live."

Carter's attorney says his client is not a killer.

Roy's Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony's Church, Mattapoisett. Visiting hours will be held on Friday from 4-8 PM at the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Rd., Route 6, Mattapoisett. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Captain Conrad H. Roy III Scholarship Fund, c/o Northeast Maritime Institute, 32 Washington St., Fairhaven, MA 02719. For directions and guestbook, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com.

Photo Credit: Northeast Maritime Institute/Facebook.com]]>
<![CDATA[All Hands on Deck Trash Collection in D.C.]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:22:25 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009621937_1200x675_405464131762.jpg D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser calls for "all hands on deck" trash pickup as garbage piles up in some neighborhoods due to the snow. News4's Megan McGrath reports.]]> <![CDATA[Google Expansion Worries Hometown]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:58:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/google22.jpg

New expansion plans for Google headquarters, known as the Googleplex, has the city of Mountain View in a tough position as city leaders try to accommodate their biggest corporate taxpayer as well as non-Google residents who feel the tech giant is swallowing their town.

“I think most of us in Mountain View are concerned about where are we going to house the employees that work there, the new employees. How will they get to work given the traffic bottlenecks that already exist?” asked Mountain View councilman Lenny Siegel.

Reportedly, the new plans highlight a campus focused on walking or biking to work, which means one thing to Siegel: Mountain View must build new housing.

“We’re expecting as we put housing in north Bayshore and near north Bayshore that we’ll reduce the amount of miles traveled by commuters,” he said.

A mobile home park in the shadow of Google headquarters is also in the cross hairs.

“There is a mobile home park in north Bayshore, about 360 units and a growing number of Google employees are moving in there,” he said. “Now it’s unfortunately displacing some of the residents, they’ve been bought out basically.”

Gregory Legg, who lives in Mountain View said many of his neighbors are Google employees and they’re doing wonders for property values

“It’s actually bringing it up, the property values, which is good. It’s real good,” Legg said. “I mean, before, it was pretty low. And now it’s brought it up quite a bit.”

But with the higher prices, Rosemary Dozie Antoine said she will probably have to move.

“We would like to get out of here because everything’s too expensive for what I do,” she said. “And for what my husband does. So we need to kinda’ need to get out of here.”

The higher real estate is benefiting some, but pushing out others.

“It’s the housing and transportation issues that make me question the value of all this high-tech growth,” she said.

Siegel said opening up Moffett Field for a type of park-and-ride plan that would help alleviate street congestion could be in the works. But his main focus is discussing new housing developments around Google, something the council said no to last year.

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