Today in Maryland

Maryland reports drop in fatal drug overdoses in 1st quarter

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland's health department says fatal drug overdoses are down for the first three months of the year, compared to the same time last year.

In preliminary data released Tuesday, the department says there were 577 total unintentional intoxication deaths. That's a 15 percent decrease, compared to the first three months of last year. Of the total, 89 percent were opioid-related deaths, primarily attributable to fentanyl.

Steve Schuh is the director of the state's Opioid Operational Command Center. He says 16 of 24 local jurisdictions saw declines in the number of opioid-related fatalities in the first quarter of this year. He says the state has never seen that many counties report declines in opioid-related deaths.

Still, Schuh says the heroin and opioid crisis in Maryland is by no means over.

Baltimore Police: Hospital guard posed as officer in rape

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore police believe they've solved a rape case that had investigators pull more than 100 police cars off the streets to search for evidence.

A woman alleged that a uniformed officer ordered her into a patrol car and later raped her. Commissioner Michael Harrison announced Tuesday night that an exhaustive investigation led them instead to arrest a security guard for a hospital trauma center on charges of rape and impersonating a police officer.

The Baltimore Sun reports that police say 50-year-old Richard Barnes identified himself as a police officer when he stopped the victim's vehicle on June 1 and ordered the woman into his car.

Police say he was wearing his security guard uniform at the time. Investigators ultimately confirmed it was Barnes' personal vehicle, and not a squad car.

Planned Parenthood launches regional political group

BALTIMORE (AP) — Planned Parenthood says it is launching a regional political advocacy group to help protect abortion rights in Maryland, the District of Columbia and northern Virginia.

Planned Parenthood is announcing this week that it is creating the political 501(c)(4) group.

The announcement comes as abortion restrictions have been approved in state legislatures around the nation.

Karen Nelson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland and the co-CEO of the new regional group, is describing the action in other states as "a coordinated, aggressive and horrifying agenda to ban abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade." That's the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing the procedure nationwide.

Planned Parenthood says the new group will advocate politically to protect access to reproductive health care services.

CEO of Maryland technology development arm to step down

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — The CEO of Maryland's technology development arm is stepping down.

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation announced Wednesday that George Davis will step down, effective July 31.

In February, a state audit was critical of TEDCO for creating a three-member advisory committee to provide investment advice for a state venture fund without creating adequate polices to prevent conflicts of interest. The audit found that the firms of two members of the committee received more than $21 million through the Maryland Venture Fund.

State lawmakers passed legislation this year to increase oversight.

Two other leaders also have resigned, including Andy Jones, the chief investment officer, and Parag Sheth, the chief marketing officer of the Maryland Venture Fund.

TEDCO provides businesses with investment capital to help them start and grow in Maryland.

Ex-Navy employee pleads guilty to child porn offenses

BALTIMORE (AP) — A 35-year-old Maryland man who is a former employee of the U.S. Navy has pleaded guilty to child pornography offenses.

Federal prosecutors say Spencer Steckman pleaded guilty on Tuesday and will be sentenced in November for the production, transportation and possession of child pornography.

The former resident of Silver Spring had been charged last year after being detained by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service while working for the U.S. Navy in Japan.

While living in Maryland, prosecutors say, Steckman enticed two 13-year-old boys to take sexually explicit photos of themselves in exchange for money or videogame redemption codes. Investigators say they later found eight other victims in California.

Steckman has remained in custody since being detained by the NCIS in March 2018.

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