SNOW HILL — Two men were arrested on drug distribution and other charges last weekend after a large quantity of cocaine was found in the engine compartment of their vehicle following a routine traffic stop for a seatbelt violation in the Pocomoke area.
Around 1:45 p.m. last Sunday, a Maryland State Police trooper was patrolling in the area of Route 13 and Brantley Rd. in Pocomoke when he observed a vehicle with its passenger not restrained by a seatbelt. The trooper initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the driver, later identified as Vashawn Walker, 27, of Newark, N.J. The passenger did not have any identification.
While talking with the occupants, the trooper noticed several criminal indicators and called for another trooper to assist in identifying the passenger. During questioning, both Walker and the passenger gave false information regarding the passenger’s identity. The passenger was later identified as Thomas Lee Richardson III, 31, of Norfolk. Richardson was found to be wanted on an extraditable warrant in Virginia for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession with intent to distribute.
While speaking with Richardson, the trooper noticed the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and a search was conducted. During the search, troopers opened the air cleaner box in the engine compartment and located a black plastic bag. Inside the plastic bag was a quantity of compressed powder cocaine weighing over 121 grams.
Richardson and Walker were arrested and transported to the Berlin barrack for processing. MSP troopers were assisted by the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs officials. Both Walker and Richardson were charged with possession and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and false statement and Richardson was also charged as a fugitive from another area. Walker was held on a $50,000 bond, while Richardson was held on a $75,000 bond for the local charges and held without bond on the fugitive warrant.
Fire Destroys Berlin Home
BERLIN — A multi-alarm fire on Burbage Road in Berlin on a snowy, icy Monday morning completely destroyed a residence and an out-building, but no one was injured.
Around 7 a.m. on Monday, the Berlin Fire Company was alerted to a reported outside fire at a residence on Burbage Road in Berlin. First arriving units reported fire extending from the roof of the two-and-a-half story residential structure. Several mutual aid fire companies were alerted to assist including Ocean City, Showell, Ocean Pines and Newark Fire Companies.
The fire was brought under control after roughly 45 minutes although fire crews remained on the scene extinguishing hot spots for about five hours. The dwelling was not occupied at the time and no injuries were reported. Although it was reportedly engulfed in flames for 30 minutes before the initial call was received, the fire was contained to the structure of origin and one adjacent outbuilding. Both structures were deemed a total loss. The cause of the fire is listed as undetermined and the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office investigation remains open. Anyone with additional information is urged to contact Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Matt Owens at 410-632-5666 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five Years For Stealing Steps
SNOW HILL — A Berlin man arrested last May for swiping two sets of aluminum steps belonging to the town of Ocean City from the Inlet parking lot was sentenced last week to 10 years in jail, all but five of which were then suspended.
Around 1 p.m. on May 9, Ocean City Police responded to the Inlet lot for a reported theft of town property. OCPD officers met with an Ocean City Public Works supervisor who told police two large sets of aluminum steps were stolen from a collapsible stage and trailer in the Inlet parking lot.
OCPD officers realized the sets of steps were stolen from an area of the Inlet covered by town of Ocean City surveillance cameras and were able to obtain surveillance images of a suspect stealing the items. After reviewing footage from several different cameras, OCPD officers were able to identify the suspect as Timothy Allen Aulinskis, 46, of Berlin.
OCPD officers then located Aulinskis’ pick-up truck at a residence in Berlin with the stolen city property still in the back. The stolen property was valued at around $3,000. Aulinskis was charged with two counts of theft from $1,000 to $10,000. The incident was another example of the town’s use of technology to solve crimes.
In December, Aulinskis pleaded guilty to theft from $1,000 to under $10,000 and a pre-sentence investigation was ordered. Back in court last week, Aulinskis was sentenced to 10 years with five years suspended. He was also placed on probation for two years upon his release and was fined $500.
Swiped Cab With Knife
SALISBURY — A Salisbury man was arrested on assault, carjacking and other serious charges last week after flashing a knife at a cab driver and taking the taxi before being found a short time later driving the vehicle under the influence.
Around 2:20 a.m. last Friday, Salisbury Police responded to the area of N. Division Street and Route 50 for a reported cab driver that had been assaulted with a knife. The investigation revealed the cab driver had picked up a fare later identified as Jeremy Michael Dow, 31, of Salisbury, at Brew River. While the cab was stopped at a traffic signal at Route 50 and Mill Street, Dow allegedly got out of the vehicle and began urinating in the roadway.
The cab driver told Dow to stop urinating and get back in the taxi. Dow got back in and displayed a knife and told the cabbie to keep driving. The victim then drove to the area of Route 50 and N. Division Street, the pushed the knife away from his body and fled from the taxi. Dow then got out of the back seat and got into the driver’s seat and drove away in the cab.
The victim was not injured during the incident. Salisbury Police located Dow and the stolen taxi a short time later at N. Division and Isabella Streets and immediately noticed the strong odor of alcohol on his person. Police also recovered the knife. Dow was arrested and charged with first-degree assault, robbery, carjacking, reckless endangerment, theft of a motor vehicle and driving while intoxicated.
Plane Crash At Airport
SALISBURY — The Salisbury-Ocean City-Wicomico Airport suspended all flight operations at one of its runways for about three hours last Sunday afternoon after a pilot failed to put down his landing gear and crashed onto a runway.
Around 2:10 p.m. on Sunday, the Maryland State Police Salisbury barrack was notified of an aircraft collision at the airport. The investigation revealed a pilot, identified as John Haffner of Eden, Md. failed to lower his landing gear before attempting a landing. The plane collided with the runway and slid roughly 500 feet before coming to rest in the middle of the runway.
The pilot was the only occupant of the plane at the time of the crash and reported no injuries. The runway was closed for roughly three hours during the investigation before normal flight operations resumed.
Jail For Burglar
Held At Gunpoint
SNOW HILL — A Pennsylvania man, who broke into a residence in Ocean City in August only to have the property owner hold him with a shotgun until police arrived, pleaded guilty this week in Circuit Court to second-degree assault and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, all but four of six of which were then suspended.
Around 11:45 a.m. on Aug. 30, Ocean City Police responded to a residence on Baltimore Ave. near 17th Street for a reported burglary in progress. Communications advised the responding officers the unidentified victim was holding the suspect down on the floor at gunpoint. Ocean City Police entered the unit and quickly placed the suspect, later identified as Joshua Luke Delp, 31, of Sinking Springs, Pa., under arrest.
The victim told police Delp entered through the unlocked front door of the unit, then walked into the victim’s bedroom and assaulted him. The victim then struck Delp back and grabbed a shotgun hidden nearby and asked a roommate to call police. The victim was able to hold Delp on the floor at gunpoint until police arrived.
Ocean City Police charged Delp with third- and fourth-degree burglary and second-degree assault. This week, Delp pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, all but six of which were then suspended. Delp was then given credit for two days served following his arrest, netting him four days in jail which he will serve on consecutive weekends this month. Delp was also placed on probation for two years and fined $500.
Suspicious Letter Found
SNOW HILL — Worcester County’s Hazardous Materials Team responded to an incident last week in Somerset County involving a suspicious letter containing an unknown white powder mailed to the health department’s office.
Just before noon last Wednesday, the Worcester County Hazmat team responded to assist the Princess Anne Volunteer Fire Department and the Somerset Department of Emergency Services with a suspicious package. Somerset County does not have a hazmat team. Upon arrival, Worcester’s hazmat team learned a letter had been mailed to the Somerset County Health Department and when it was opened, an unknown white powder fell out.
There were 10 victims who potentially came into contact with the substance and as a precaution, they were decontaminated and medically evaluated before being released from the scene. The substance was ultimately tested with specialized meters from the Ocean City Fire Department and was found to be non-hazardous. Maryland State Police are now handling the rest of the investigation. Crews remained on the scene for roughly four hours.
For Stockton Burglary
STOCKTON — A local man was arrested in December on burglary and other charges after kicking in the front door of a residence in Stockton pleaded guilty this week in District Court and was sentenced to 10 days, all of which was suspended in favor of probation and fine.
Around 10:45 p.m. on December 14, Worcester County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a reported burglary in progress at a residence on George’s Island Landing Drive in Stockton. Upon arrival, a deputy met with a victim who said the front door of the residence had been kicked in by a suspect later identified as Eric Todd Apgar of Stockton. The investigation revealed Apgar had tried to gain entry to the residence through the back door, but was unsuccessful He then proceeded to the front of the residence where he was able to kick in the door and destroy it in the process.
Apgar then fled the scene on foot, but was located a short time later and taken into custody. He was charged with fourth-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property. This week, Apgar pleaded guilty to fourth-degree burglary and was sentenced to 10 days, all of which was suspended. He was then fined $200 and placed on probation for two years.