By LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Mayor-elect Vincent Gray last week named gayormer D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnolettias co-chair o his transition team’s Committee onLegal Aairs and Public Saety.Spagnoletti, who served as attorney generalduring the administration o ormer Mayor AnthonyWilliams, is currently a partner in the D.C. law rmSchertler & Onorato, which specializes in criminaland civil litigation.Earlier this year, Spagnoletti took part in awidely reported trial as deense attorney or DylanWard, one o three gay men charged with obstruc-tion o justice, evidence tampering and conspira-cy in connection with the 2006 murder o Washing-ton attorney Robert Wone. A D.C. Superior Courtjudge ound Ward and ellow deendants JosephPrice and Victor Zaborsky not guilty on all charges.Prior to becoming attorney general, Spagnolettiserved as a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’soce in D.C. He is credited with helping to cre-ate programs to assist LGBT crime victims, includ-ing victims o hate crimes and domestic violence.His appointment by Gray to a mayoral transitionteam panel that will make recommendations onpublic saety issues comes at a time when LGBTactivists have raised concern that D.C. policehave not adequately addressed anti-LGBT hatecrimes in recent years.“This committee will look at the agencies re-sponsible or public saety and make recom-mendations on how to best ensure sae neigh-borhoods; and examine the government’s legalservice operations and make recommendationsor improvement,” an announcement by Gray ohis transition team says.Gray named Karl Racine, a local attorney andormer Clinton administration White House legalcounsel, as co-chair o the transition team’s LegalAairs and Public Saety Committee.Spagnoletti and Racine are two o 14 transi-tion team appointments that Gray announced at anews conerence on Wednesday. Others includeormer D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, ormer Clin-ton administration ocial Alice Rivlin, and ormerGeorge Washington University President JoelTrachtenberg.Mayoral transition team leaders usually don’t goon to permanent appointments by D.C. mayors,although some have served as inormal advisers.
Former D.C. Attorney General
was named co-chair o Vincent Gray’s transition team’sCommittee on Legal Aairs and Public Saety.
Washington Blade fle photo by Michael Key
2 washingtonblade.com • november 12, 2010
Gray makes firstgay appointment
Teen pleads guilty to murderof gay principal
A 19-year-old D.C. man pleaded guilty Monday to rst-degree elony murder in connection with the April 14 shootingdeath o gay D.C. middle school principal Brian Betts.Alante Saunders, one o our teenagers charged in Bet-ts’ murder, agreed to a plea bargain agreement oeredby prosecutors that is expected to result in a sentence re-duced rom lie in prison to 40 years. The plea took placeduring a hearing beore a Montgomery County Circuitcourt judge in Rockville.Betts was ound shot to death April 15 in his SilverSpring, Md. house.Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney SherriKoch told Judge John Debelius in a hearing that evidenceshows that Saunders shot Betts to death in the secondfoor bedroom o his house ater meeting the popular mid-dle school principal through an Internet chat line.Sources amiliar with the case have said the chat linewhere the two met caters to gay men seeking to meetother men or sex.In details o the case that had not previously been dis-closed, Koch told the court that Betts told Saunders that thedoor to his house would be unlocked and instructed himto enter and walk upstairs to his bedroom upon his arrival.Police and prosecutors have said Saunders and threeother men, one 19 and two 18, hatched a plan to meetsomeone on the chat line or the purpose o committinga robbery. Saunders’ lawyer, David Felsen, and Kochagreed that Saunders and the others charged in the casedid not intend to kill Betts.“This was, or want o a better word, a robbery that wentbad,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John Mc-Carthy at a news conerence ollowing the guilty plea.“This case should serve as a reminder to all those in thecommunity who use chat lines that there are dangers,” hesaid at the news conerence.Neither McCarthy nor Koch, in her courtroom remarks,mentioned that Betts was gay or that the youths chargedwith his murder met him through a gay sex chat line.Court observers believe the State’s Attorney’s oce is ne-gotiating with attorneys representing the other deendantsover possible plea bargain agreements that would avoidthe need or a trial. The others charged in the case are JoelJohnson, 19; Shari Tau Lancaster and Deontra Gray, both18. Each is charged with murder, even though authoritiesbelieve they may not have been in Betts’ house at the timeo the shooting.Police have said some or all o the other three men en-tered the house at some point ater the shooting to helpSaunders steal Betts’ belongings, including credit cardsand his car.Saunders is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 23.
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
Md. attorney gen’l:No marriage bill in 2011
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler told a gaybusiness group this week that he doesn’t expect lawmak-ers to pass a same-sex marriage bill next year.“We won’t get marriage equality in the legislative ses-sion this year,” Gansler told the Maryland Gay & Lesbi-an Chamber o Commerce. “It will happen through thecourts.” He cited a coalition o Republicans, Catholicsand certain older black lawmakers who oppose same-sexmarriage as the reason or the lack o movement.A marriage bill is among Equality Maryland’s top legisla-tive priorities and hopes or progress were high ater threegay and lesbian candidates joined our openly gay incum-bents in winning last week’s elections. Maryland now hasseven openly gay and lesbian state lawmakers.“Attorney General Gansler stated that a marriageequality bill is unlikely to advance in the General Assem-bly due to lack o support rom certain constituencies,”said Charles Butler, Equality Maryland’s board chair, in astatement to the Blade. “We appreciate the AG’s unequiv-ocal support or marriage equality, but respectully dis-agree with him on his recent statement. Maryland votersjust embraced two important pro-marriage candidates inre-electing Gov. O’Malley and the AG. … With this kind osupport or equality, we believe the Legislature will do theright thing, honor the trust that the electorate has placed inits members, and enact marriage equality legislation dur-ing the upcoming session.”
Gay bar Mova files forbankruptcy in Florida
The owner o the D.C. gay bar Mova led or Chapter11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 20 in U.S. BankruptcyCourt in Miami, Fla., according to court documents.Mova owner Babak Movahedi led the bankruptcy docu-ments through Logan Circle Spectrum, LLC, the companythat owns Mova bars in both Washington and Miami Beach.Movahedi is the sole shareholder o the company, accordingto bankruptcy documents.Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows companies unable topay creditors to reorganize and make arrangements topay o the debt over an extended time period without go-ing out o business. Movahedi has said he intends to keephis Mova bars open.The bankruptcy ling shows that Logan Circle Spec-trum, which is headquartered in South Miami Beach, hasliabilities totaling $874,817 and assets totaling $72,507.The largest single creditor is PNC Bank, which is owedmore than $560,000, according to the ling.Gay D.C. businessman and drag perormer David Lettand Lett’s company, Harlet Enterprises, Inc., holds the pri-mary lease to the building in which Mova D.C. is locatedat 1435 P St., N.W. The bankruptcy ling records showthat Mova owes Harlet, Mova’s landlord, $77,745.It says the money owed to Lett and Harlet Enterprises isor “leases, permits, agreements, personal property, urni-ture, xtures, equipment and all other assets located in orupon the premise or used in connection with the businessconducted in the premises.”
LOU CHIBBARO JR.
LGBT program atUniv. of Md. wins award
The University o Maryland’s One Project won the 2010National Orientation Directors Association’s InnovativeProgram Award.The One Project is the First-Year Experience programor LGBT and ally students at the university developed byDian Squire, assistant director o orientation. It is a jointeort by the Oce o LGBT Equity (lgbt.umd.edu) and theOrientation Oce (orientation.umd.edu).“We’re just really looking to connect students to otherstudents … and the community at large,” Squire said.The award gives the program a proessional stamp oapproval because it comes rom an association that spe-cializes in these types o programs, he said.“The criteria or the award is, one, it’s innovative, andtwo, that the NODA board sees that the program can betaken and used anywhere in the nation,” Squire said.The program is meant to help students make a smoothtransition to college and “represents a hope that the LG-BTQA community can come together in an intellectual,social and civically minded way to support each otherthrough the rst year o college.”“I went to Luke Jensen [director o the Oce o LGBTEquity] and asked i there was something I could do,”Squire said as to why he developed the One Project. “Hesaid ‘Why don’t we start a rst year program?’ and I tookthat small seed and ran with it.”The award will be presented at the association’s annualconerence, Nov. 6-9 in St. Louis.For more inormation on the One Project or NODA, visittheir respective websites, theoneprojectumd.com andnodaweb.org.
JULIETTE M. EBNER