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This Week in Potomac 6-21-06

Students Indicted on Armed Robbery Charges

Douglas F. Gansler, State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, announced on June 15 that Thomas W. Ashley III, Alexander C. Krouskas, Patrick J. Lazear, Justin W. Schweiger, and Robert S. Warren, all 17-year-olds from Bethesda, were indicted on June 15 by a Montgomery County grand jury on one count each of armed robbery and one count each of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Each defendant is charged as an adult, and each faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in jail, if convicted. No trial dates have been scheduled.

According to police, an armed and masked gunman entered the Smoothie King at 7200 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda on March 30, approached two male employees, displayed a handgun and demanded money. Police said the employees gave the gunman $463 in cash, and the gunman fled the store. According to police, Krousas, who was one of the employees at the time of the robbery, identified Warren as the person who committed the robbery. According to police, Warren later admitted to committing the robbery, and identified Ashley, Krousas, Lazear and Schweiger as participants in the planning and commission of the robbery. All five defendants were juniors at Walt Whitman high school at the time of the incident.

Daniel N. Steven, defense counsel for Schweiger, issued a press release on June 16. "Justin Schweiger’s conduct was not in violation of the criminal law, and we are confident that at trial he will be found innocent of all charges. We and our client hope to have much more to say about this case and its implications at that point in time when we are able to say more," Steven said in the press release. "In the meantime, despite what may have been reported in the media, we ask that Justin Schweiger be accorded the presumption of innocence to which our Constitution and laws entitle him."

Van Hollen Files for Reelection

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced on Monday that he will run for reelection for the U.S. Congress to represent Maryland's Eighth District.

Van Hollen was elected to Congress in 2002 in a high profile election that received national attention. He is the Vice Chairman of the bipartisan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Co-Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force and Vice Chairman of the Democratic Task Force on Budget and Tax Policy. He serves on the House Education and Workforce Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Government Reform Committee.

After his re-election in 2004, Van Hollen was tapped by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to lead the national candidate recruitment effort for the House Democrats. He has also been asked by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to Co-Chair the Red to Blue program, which is designed to provide support to candidates challenging vulnerable Republican incumbents.

"I pledge to continue to fight for the priorities and values important to our community — providing every child with a first rate education, protecting our environment, expanding access to quality affordable healthcare, protecting our civil rights and liberties, and providing for security at home and effective U.S. leadership abroad," said Van Hollen in a press release.

Free Cab Rides on 4th of July

SoberRide is offering free cab rides (up to $50 fare) on fourth of July for people who are unable to drive due to alcohol consumption. The program is offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program and will be running from 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4 to 4 a.m. on Wednesday, July 5.

The cab ride is available throughout Montgomery County. Residents can call the toll-free SoberRide number 1-800-200-TAXI while Cingular customers can dial #-TAXI for the same service. For more informationn on the service, visit www.soberride.com.

Man Struck by CSX Train

Detectives from the Major Crimes DivisionóHomicide/Sex Section are investigating the death of a man who was struck by a CSX freight train in Kensington.

On June 19 at approximately 10:14 a.m., officers from the 2nd District and Fire/Rescue units were called to the train tracks that parallel the 10500 block of Metropolitan Ave. Upon their arrival, officers discovered a male who had been struck by a CSX train. The victim was transported to Suburban Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Preliminary investigation indicates that the man, who worked at a nearby business, was struck as he crossed the train tracks. The deceased has been identified as Robert J. Crowly, age 57, of 9200 block of East Park Hill Drive in Bethesda. The cause and manner of death will be released after the Medical Examiner's Office has completed its investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call The Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.

Bike the C&O Canal

Explore Washington, D.C., and the scenic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park this summer on bike tours sponsored by the National Park Service. Led by Ford Motor Company interns, the various free tours will stop at many points of interest while traveling the city or canal on bike. Many options are available for joining these tours, but reservations are required.

Two overnight camping bike trips are being offered. "Harpers Ferry to Georgetown," a 60-mile bicycling trip, will be held on Saturday, July 8 through Sunday, July 9, with participants traveling about 30 miles each day. The second bike tour, "Cumberland to Georgetown" will be held on Saturday, July 29 through Tuesday, August 1 and will cover the entire 184 miles of the C&O Canal towpath. Riders will bike about 45 miles each day. Both trips begin at 9 a.m. and finish about 4 p.m. These overnight camping trips originate at the Great Falls Visitors Center, 11710 MacArthur Blvd. in Potomac, Md. Riders must bring their own camping equipment for primitive camping sites on the canal. Participants may not stay in hotels.

All biking skill levels are welcome. Bikes are available on a limited first-come, first served basis. Participants are encouraged to bring their own bikes, with most bicycle styles acceptable. All tours are limited to 25 participants and reservations are required no later than the day before each trip is held. Riders should bring plenty of food and water and dress appropriately for the weather.

For additional information or to make reservations, please call the Georgetown Visitor Center at 202-653-5190. The C&O Canal website is www.nps.gov/choh.