Week in Alexandria

Week in Alexandria

Rosemont Arrest

Alexandria police officers have arrested a man they say is responsible for a rash of burglaries from automobiles over the last few months in the Rosemont neighborhood. On Monday, the Alexandria Police Department announced the arrest of Vincent Edward Evans, 20, of Alexandria in connection with a series of burglaries and larcenies from automobiles.

Detectives are charging Evans with two burglaries, one in the 300 block of West Masonic View Avenue and the other in the 100 block of East Linden Street. For these two cases, Evans has been charged with two counts of conspiring to commit burglary and two counts of conspiring to commit grand larceny. Evans was also charged with one count of petit larceny and one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He is being held without bond in the city jail.

“At this point, we are still trying to figure out which ones he may have been involved with,” said Sgt. Michael Kochis, who works in the detective bureau. “This is still an ongoing investigation.”

Another Parking Scam

Three years ago, Alexandria detectives arrested a city employee for stealing buckets of quarters from parking meters. Now authorities are looking into another parking scam, although this one is decidedly more high tech.

Gente Yigzu, 46, of Alexandria was one of three Parking Management employees arrested last weekend by the Smithsonian Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation after finishing her shift Saturday afternoon. Federal prosecutors say she was part of a scheme to steal at least $400,000 of visitor parking fees at the Smithsonian Institution’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

“Yigzu is accused of stealing as much as $1,185 on a single day,” said Peter Carr, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Prosecutors say footage from closed-circuit television cameras shows Yigzu and two other Parking Management employees repeatedly unplugging electronic vehicle counters to manipulate the vehicle count. Visitors to the museum pay $15 per vehicle.

Like, Protection

Have you hit the “Like” button for Connection Newspapers, which publishes the Alexandria Gazette? If so, that simple act could be protected by the First Amendment.

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that when Facebook users hit the “like” button they are engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment.

“People are increasingly using social media to engage in political activities,” said Rebecca Glenberg, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia. “Just because some interactions on social media can be accomplished with a single click does not mean that they don’t express a point of view.”

The case arose in Hampton, where employees of the Sheriff’s Office argued that their freedom of speech was violated when they were fired after they hit the “like” button for the sheriff’s opponent during an election.

Waterfront Scoreboard

Three separate lawsuits are moving forward in the ongoing saga of the waterfront plan, with no resolution in sight for the controversial small-area plan. Two cases are currently before the Alexandria Circuit Court, an appeal brought by the city to contest the Board of Zoning Appeals. The Circuit Court is also hearing a challenge brought by two citizens charging that the plan is “arbitrary and capricious.” A third challenge is on file with the Virginia Supreme Court, which will determine whether or not to hear the case later this year.

A trial date for the city’s challenge of the Board of Zoning Appeals is expected to be scheduled next week.