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Push grows for changes to Maryland’s gang laws

  • Published in Local

Maryland legislators need to update the state’s racketeering and gang statutes in order to better address a recent rise in gang activity and give prosecutors the tools to crack down on gang members, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said.

“That’s something where we need to get some assistance from our legislators in Annapolis to give us better legal tools to attack the gangs,” McCarthy said.

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McCarthy wants state to adopt RICO laws

  • Published in Local

Montgomery County State’s Attorney said the Maryland General Assembly needs to strengthen its racketeering laws in order to curb rise of gangs in the state.

At Tuesday’s meeting, County lobbyists to Annapolis told the County Council that the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association, which represents the leading prosecutors in all of the state’s jurisdictions, that it will push for a bill in Annapolis in the next legislative session to combat increased gang activity.

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MS-13 members indicted under racketeering charges

  • Published in Local

handcuffed manA federal grand jury indicted eight Maryland-based MS-13 gang members under federal racketeering charges.

The grand jury indicted Michael Eduardo Contreras, 22, of Silver Spring; Carlos Roberto Tejada Cruz, 20, of Beltsville; Kevin Alexis Hernandez-Guevara, 20, of Landover Hills; Rolando Aristides Juarez-Vasquez, 22, of Hyattsville; Jeffry Rodriguez 21, of Beltsville; Junior Noe Alvarado-Requeno, 20, of Landover; Luis Fernando Orellana-Estrada, 18, of Hyattsville and Donald Roberto Mendez-Lopez, 18, of Hyattsville.

Alvarado-Requino, Hernandez-Guevara, Juarez-Vasquez and Tejada-Cruz face a maximum sentence of life in prison, while Rodriguez, Contreras, Orellana-Estrada and Mendez-Lopez face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise. Both Orellana-Estrada and Mendez-Lopez face additional 20-year sentences while Tejada-Cruz and Hernandez-Guevara face additional 10-year sentences for extortion charges.

“The work on that federal indictment was done by prosecutors in my office and then the men and women who work for (Montgomery County Police Chief) Tom Manger in the police department,” said State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy about the indictment.

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Murder suspect won’t face charges for death of victim’s unborn child

  • Published in Local

4K5A4219 1Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy holds a press conference with Assistant State’s Attorneys Donna Fenton (left) and Mary Herdman (right) on the indictment of Tyler Tessier in the murder of Laura Wallen. PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIAN  

A grand jury has indicted Tyler Tessier on one count of murder in the homicide of his pregnant girlfriend Laura Wallen, but Tessier cannot be charged for the death of her unborn child due to Maryland law, according to State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

After finding the body of Laura Wallen in a shallow grave in Damascus, police arrested Tyler Tessier later that same day on Sept. 13 on charges of first-degree murder, altering physical evidence and making a false statement to an officer. While a grand jury indicted Tessier on one count of murder last Thursday, he will not be charged with the death of Wallen’s unborn child due to state law, McCarthy said at a press conference in Rockville on Friday.

“Her child was autopsied,” McCarthy said. “A medical team established at the time of Ms. Wallen’s murder the child was 14 weeks old. Based on medical testimony, the child was not viable independent of Ms. Wallen. Based on those medical findings, and as a matter of law in Maryland, as a result the defendant is not chargeable with a second count of murder related to the child.”

McCarthy confirmed Wallen died from a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Wallen, a 31-year-old high school teacher from Olney, was four months pregnant at the time of her death, according to online court records.

Tessier, 33, could face a maximum penalty of life in prison, but prosecutors will consider the unborn child and could ask the judge to consider life in prison without the possibility of parole, McCarthy said.

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Malvo denied sentence appeal

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John Greenberg ruled against convicted “D.C. sniper” Lee Boyd “John” Malvo’s appeal of the life sentences he received for the murder of six people in 2002.

“The decision of Judge Greenberg today affirms that Mr. Malvo was properly sentenced to a maximum sentence available for his heinous acts – six consecutive sentences of live without the possibility of parole,” said State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy.

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Former elementary school teacher found guilty of sexual abuse of students

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE — A former Montgomery County Public Schools teacher was found guilty Friday of sexual abuse of students.

After nine hours of deliberation Friday night, a jury found John Vigna, 50, of Silver Spring, guilty of four counts of sex abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sex offense, according to Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

John McCarthy, state’s attorney for Montgomery County said Vigna was arrested in June of 2016 after five Cloverly students, both current and former, reported that they had been touched inappropriately while sitting in Vigna's lap during the school day. Victims came forward after taking a mandated body safety class which helped them understand inappropriate contact.

“Body safety classes instituted by MCPS helped expose this child sex offender,” said McCarthy. “We commend the jury for working hard through a Friday night to render this verdict. It holds John Vigna accountable.”

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"Facts...do not support the charges"

  • Published in Local

Prosecutor drops rape case against teen charged in alleged Rockville rape

John McCarthy at press conferenceMontgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.                    PHOTO BY NEAL EARLEY

ROCKVILLE – A prosecutor from the State’s Attorney’s office for Montgomery County dropped the rape charge against Jose Montano, 17, in Montgomery County District Court Friday.

Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Herdman dropped the rape charge on behalf of the prosecution, spokesperson Ramon Korionoff said.

Police charged Montano and 18-year-old Henry Sanchez with first-degree rape and two counts of sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl on March 16 at Rockville High School.

According to Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, the prosecution dropped the charges against Montano after its independent investigation showed that there was not enough evidence to prove that Montano raped the 14-year-old Rockville High School student.                                                            

“After a painstaking investigation and review of these matters, we have concluded that the facts of this case do not support the charges originally filed in this matter,” McCarthy said.

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Cellphone helps lead to murder conviction

  • Published in Crime

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ROCKVILLE – A man and woman each face up to 30 years in prison after the Circuit Court jury found them both guilty of second-degree murder of the woman’s husband, State’s Attorney spokesperson Ramon Korionoff said Friday.

The jury spent more than 11 hours over two days discussing the case, Korionoff said. The pair’s sentencing date is July 25.

Takoma Park Police arrested Larlane Pannell-Brown, age 70, and Hussain Ali Zadeh, 50, in June 2015 for the murder of Cecil Brown, Panell-Brown’s husband, according to court documents. The arrests followed a months-long investigation after police found Brown dead in the woman’s backyard in August 2014.

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With a thick skin and a big heart one of the county’s best prosecutors is honored

  • Published in Local

Kathy KnightMaryland Senior State's Attorney for Montgomery County Kathy Knight.          PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

Sure, it is great to be identified as one of the elite in your profession, but as far as Maryland Senior State’s Attorney for Montgomery County Kathy Knight is concerned, there’s much work to be done.

After 21-plus years as a state’s attorney, where she has investigated and prosecuted pretty much any kind of crime you can think of, Knight looks at her induction as a fellow into the American College of Trial Lawyers mostly as a great resource. As a member of this prestigious organization, where only the top 1 percent of the total lawyer population in each state can belong, Knight is humbled and very excited to have legal friends all over the country.

Her boss, John McCarthy, state’s attorney for Montgomery County, called it “a great honor for one of our best and most senior prosecutors. Kathy Knight is a terrific attorney who mentors” assistant state’s attorneys “and handles tough assignments regularly.”

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State seeks life in prison for Tordil

  • Published in Crime

Eulalio-Tordil-MCPEulalio Tordil. FILE PHOTO  

The state’s attorney for Montgomery County said he plans to seek life in prison without parole for Eulalio Tordil, who is charged with the murder of one person at Montgomery Mall and another in Aspen Hill.

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