Boardwalk Artist Acquitted

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OCEAN CITY — Two weeks after getting a generally favorable outcome in a civil suit filed against the town of Ocean City last June, perhaps the resort’s most known Boardwalk street performer got good news on criminal charges filed against him in Baltimore City. 
Earlier this month, the federal lawsuit filed by Boardwalk street performer Mark Chase, a spray paint artist at the center of the major controversy in Ocean City last summer, was resolved when both parties entered a consent decree allowing certain performers and vendors to sell their wares and eliminating the registration requirement approved by the Mayor and Council last June. As part of the consent decree, the town of Ocean City was victorious on the element of the case banning any street performers from setting up shop on the Boardwalk at North Division Street, a major access point for police and emergency services.

In early September, Chase gained a minor victory in the First Amendment case when a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction temporarily reversing the sections of the town’s ordinance regarding the selling of artistic expressions and the registration requirement, but upholding the North Division Street ban.

Just two days after the preliminary injunction was issued, however, Chase was arrested in Baltimore City for trespassing and failing to obtain a peddler’s license when he set up shop at the Inner Harbor in the area of Pratt and Light Streets. When told he could not practice his art on the private property without a permit, Chase was asked to leave. When he refused to comply, he was arrested by Baltimore City Police for trespassing.

Last week, however, Chase appeared in District Court in Baltimore and was acquitted of the charges against him.

Route 50 Accident Injury

BERLIN — A local woman was injured in an accident involving three vehicles on Route 50 near Whaleyville last Thursday evening.

Around 6:30 p.m. last Thursday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to a three-vehicle accident on Route 50 at Route 610 near Whaleyville. The investigation revealed a vehicle driven by Violita Kauffman of Salisbury was heading east on Route 50 when it failed to yield the right-of-way to a vehicle crossing at Route 610 and collided with the vehicle driven by Robert Palmer of Berlin.

According to police reports, Kauffman then got out of her vehicle to make contact with Palmer, but left her vehicle in the fast lane on eastbound Route 50. A third vehicle, driven by Leslie Fields of Ocean City, then collided with Kauffman’s vehicle, which was still in the travel lane on Route 50 during the rainy evening. Fields was taken to PRMC for treatment and was listed in stable condition. Kauffman was charged with negligent driving. Kauffman and Palmer were not injured in the accident.

More Cigarette Smugglers Nabbed

BERLIN — In the latest of case of what has been a recurring theme this winter, two more men were arrested for transporting illegal untaxed and unstamped cigarettes through Worcester County last week following a traffic stop near Berlin.

A little after 11 p.m. last Wednesday, a Maryland State Police trooper stopped a Honda Accord on Route 113 near Harrison Rd. for an equipment violation. Upon making contact with the occupants, later identified as Demba Maiga, 41, of Greensboro, N.C. and Mussa Cisse, 25, of the Bronx, N.Y., the trooper observed several cartons of cigarettes in the rear seat of the vehicle partially concealed with clothing.

During a subsequent interview, Maiga allegedly admitted having contraband in the vehicle and admitted transporting cigarettes from Virginia to New York. A search of the vehicle turned up 460 cartons of untaxed, unstamped cigarettes, nearly $4,600 in currency, a sales receipt for the cigarettes and a ledger listing the cartons.

The total tax loss to the state of Maryland came in at $9,200 and the total retail loss to the state came in at over $27,500, according to figures provided by the Maryland Comptroller’s Office. Maiga and Cisse were taken before a District Court Commissioner and each was ordered held on a $10,000 bond.

Crack Dealer Gets 15 Years

SALISBURY — A Salisbury man was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison after being convicted of distribution of crack cocaine by a Wicomico County jury in December.

Last Friday, Travis Gie, 20, of Salisbury was sentenced to 15 years in prison for a possession with intent to distribute conviction last December. The first 10 years of the sentence are to be served with only limited possibilities of parole. On June 16, 2011, Gie was stopped by Fruitland Police for a routine traffic violation. Fruitland Police called for assistance from the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and a K-9 scan of the vehicle turned up of large bag including 53 grams of crack cocaine concealed within the passenger seat.

45 Years For Child Scalding

SALISBURY — A Salisbury woman was sentenced last week to 45 years in jail for her part in the scalding of her 3-year-old grandson in a bathtub last June.

Investigators charged Joanne Evette Gail, 44, and Wynita Dale, 27, with multiple charges including first-degree assault, first-degree child abuse and reckless endangerment after discovering a three-year-old child had been scalded in a bathtub with water temperatures over 115 degrees for over an hour. The child was taken first to PRMC and later transported to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for treatment of the burns.

Dale told investigators her mother, Gail, advised her to place the child in the tub of scalding water as punishment for a potty training accident. Late last year, both Gail and Dale pleaded guilty in Wicomico County Circuit Court and sentencing was deferred pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation.

In early February, Dale was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but eight years suspended. Last Friday, Gail was sentenced to 45 years in prison for her role in the child’s scalding.

10 Days For Fighting Cops

SNOW HILL — A Salisbury man arrested on assault and other charges in January after allegedly scrapping with Maryland State Police troopers and urinating on the Berlin barrack sign following the arrest of an acquaintance on drunk-driving charges pleaded guilty last week to resisting arrest and malicious destruction of property and was sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 15, Maryland State Police troopers made a DWI arrest during which a passenger was located in the vehicle. The passenger, later identified as Colby Lane Wolfensberger, 32, of Salisbury, was offered ride to the MSP Berlin barrack to wait for a ride from a friend to his residence. According to police reports, Wolfensberger was extremely intoxicated and unable to drive any vehicle.

While waiting for a ride, Wolfensberger allegedly became combative, cursing civilians and MSP troopers who were coming and going from the barrack. At one point, troopers feared Wolfensberger was damaging police cruisers in the parking lot. Troopers exited the barrack and found that Wolfensberger had wandered close to Route 50 and was in danger of being struck by passing vehicles.

At that point, Wolfensberger allegedly kicked the MSP Berlin barrack sign before urinating on it. As troopers approached him, Wolfensberger allegedly began to swing at the officers. A struggle ensued and Wolfensberger was eventually subdued. He was arrested and charged with second-degree assault on a police officer, malicious destruction of property and resisting arrest.

Wolfensberger was taken to AGH for treatment of injuries sustained in the fight. One trooper was sent to AGH with minor injuries and was treated and released. Last Friday in District Court, Wolfensberger pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and malicious destruction of property and was sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Knifepoint Robbery Arrest

SALISBURY — A local man of no fixed address was arrested last week on armed robbery, assault and other serious charges after allegedly holding up another man at knifepoint.

Around 9:30 p.m. last Friday, Salisbury Police responded to the Barclay Street area for a reported armed robbery that had just occurred. Upon arrival, the officers met with a victim who told police he had been approached by an unidentified African-American male. The victim told police the suspect produced an unknown object from his pocket and advised him to put everything he had on the ground. The suspect then showed the victim a knife he was holding, according to police reports.

Fearing for his life, the victim removed everything from his pockets and laid his property on the ground, including his wallet, which contained $10. The suspect told the victim to leave the area before fleeing on foot. The victim was able to provide a physical description of the suspect including the clothing he was wearing at the time and the information was forwarded to other officers in the area.

A short time later, a Salisbury officer spotted the suspect, later identified as Rodney Elliot Stevenson, 44, of no fixed address, in the Wailes Street area. Upon being approached, Stevenson fled on foot. The officer was able to catch Stevenson and detain him after a brief struggle. The victim was brought to the scene and positively identified Stevenson as his attacker.

A search incident to the arrest revealed a knife, a quantity of suspected cocaine and a smoking device on Stevenson’s person. He was charged with armed robbery, theft, reckless endangerment, possession of a deadly weapon, first- and second-degree assault, possession of cocaine and possession of paraphernalia.

Salisbury Pharmacy Robbed

SALISBURY — Salisbury Police this week are looking for a suspect who robbed a pharmacy at gunpoint and stole prescription medicine.

Shortly before 2 p.m. last Saturday, Salisbury Police responded to the Peninsula Pharmacy on North Salisbury Blvd. for a reported armed robbery. The investigation revealed an unidentified white male entered the business and displayed a handgun with what appeared to be pearl-handled grips. The suspect allegedly jumped over the counter and demanded an unspecified amount of prescription medicine.

After receiving what he asked for, the suspect jumped back over the counter and fled the business. He was last seen on foot in the area of the Salisbury Mobile Home Park. No injuries were reported. The suspect is described as a white male, about six-foot tall and around 195 pounds wearing a dark blue Carhartt coat, light blue jeans, dark shoes or boots and latex gloves. Anyone with information is urged to contact Salisbury Police at 410-548-3165, or Crime Solvers at 410-548-1776.

Speed Cameras Go Live

SALISBURY — Salisbury Police this week are advising motorists of an aggressive speed camera campaign now underway in the area of the city’s public schools.

Salisbury Police issued an advisory this week that speed cameras would soon be operational along South Division Street near the intersection with Onley Rd. The cameras are located in an area within a half-mile radius of James M. Bennett High School and Middle School.

Salisbury Police said the main reason for the installation of speed cameras near the two Bennett schools was concern about the safety of the students, parents and school buses that use Onley Rd. to drop off and pick up children from the schools. Police are advising motorists who use the area to drive alert, slow down, be safe and watch for pedestrians.

The installation of speed cameras near the two Bennett schools is the first of perhaps many similar projects in school zones throughout Salisbury. For example, motorists should also be aware the next location for speed cameras has already been approved for the area of Route 50 and Davis Street near Wicomico Middle School.

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