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Two plead guilty in prostitution of teen girls

Two men allegedly associated with the Underground Gangster Crips street gang based in Fairfax County, pleaded guilty Thursday to their roles in running a prostitution business that recruited and trafficked high school girls, according to Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Michael Tavon Jefferies, aka “Loc,” 21, of Woodbridge and Christopher Sylvia, 23, of Springfield, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a juvenile, according to court documents.

According to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Jefferies admitted to being a member of UGC and that the gang engaged in sex trafficking of juveniles and adults from April 2009 through March 2012. Documents state he served as a bodyguard for the UGC prostitution enterprise and collected the proceeds received from prostitution, providing a portion to another member of UGC and keeping a portion for himself. Jefferies also admitted to paying for an advertisement on Backpage.com to solicit customers and paying for hotel rooms for one of the juvenile prostitutes.

In his statement of facts, Sylvia admitted that he was a UGC associate who assisted the gang in transporting juveniles in November 2011 and January 2012 as they engaged in prostitution on behalf of the gang.

Each faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison. Sentencing for both men is scheduled for July.

Neighbor credited with saving residents of burning house

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue officials say an astute neighbor is being credited with saving the lives of residents of a Lorton home that burned to the ground.

Firefighters responded to a house fire April 7 at approximately 4:50 p.m. in the Lorton area of Fairfax County, officials said. The single-family home is located in the 9200 block of Forest Greens Drive.

Firefighters said they encountered heavy smoke and fire coming from the two-story home upon their arrival.

Officials said the incident commander struck a second alarm, bringing more than 60 firefighters to the fire scene. Firefighters battled the fire from the interior and exterior, but the volume of fire was so overwhelming and intense that the order to withdraw all inside crews was given, officials said.

According to firefighters, the second floor collapsed minutes later.

Firefighters continued to fight the fire from the exterior. Firefighters brought the fire under control in approximately 25 minutes, they said. The residual heat of the fire caused major damage to the vinyl siding to an adjacent home and high winds also started several brush fires nearby, they said.

Fire officials said an unidentified neighbor is credited with rescuing occupants of the home — two female adults, a juvenile, and dog. Officials said the neighbor called 911 and then entered the home to alert occupants, helping them to safety prior to firefighters arriving on scene. Three adults, a juvenile, and a dog have been displaced. Red Cross support was declined by the family. One firefighter was transported for a non-life threatening injury. Officials said the home is a total loss, and was valued at nearly $1 million. According to fire investigators, the fire was accidental. An unattended candle on the wraparound front porch caused the fire.

DNA evidence leads police to burglary suspect

DNA evidence has led police to arrest a 45-year-old man as the suspect in a burglary of an 82-year-old woman’s home in February.

According to police, a woman was sitting in her bed watching television at about 9:30 p.m. Feb. 19, in the 8000 block of Russell Road, when her bedroom window was smashed out. As the woman went to the window she was surprised to find a man crawling inside.

The suspect allegedly grabbed the woman and forced her into another room, demanded money and disabled the home’s telephone. Police said the suspect took a cell phone, along with the woman’s car keys to a 1989 gray Pontiac Firebird. Police recovered the car on Feb. 22 in the Beacon Hill area. The woman did not require medical treatment.

Police said that after receiving information of a DNA hit, officers responded to the home of Bernell Gripper, in the 8100 block of Pine Lake Court in Alexandria, at about 11:30 a.m. April 11.

Gripper was charged with abduction, robbery, burglary, and disabling a telephone line to prevent help during the commission of a burglary. Gripper was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he is being detained without bond.

Cigarette lighter suspected of causing $100,000 damage to McLean home

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue officials say a lighter is responsible for $100,000 worth of damage to a McLean home.

Firefighters responded to a house fire April 5 at approximately 10:45 a.m. in McLean, they said. The single-family home is located in the 6400 block of Linway Terrace.

Firefighters said upon their arrival they encountered heavy smoke and fire coming from a shed, rapidly spreading up the vinyl siding of the nearby two-story home.

Officials said the fire was quickly advancing to the second floor, attic and roof. Firefighters rapidly conducted an exterior sweep of the fire, while simultaneously advancing hose lines to the second floor of the home and fighting the fire in the attic and roof areas. Firefighters brought the fire under control in approximately 20 minutes, then performed extensive salvage and overhaul operations throughout the second floor and attic areas. The two-alarm fire brought more than 60 firefighters to the fire scene.

There were no injuries reported. One adult and four juveniles were home when the fire started, and all escaped without injury, according to officials. Several family pets also escaped unharmed, firefighters said. There were no other injuries.

Weapons offenses in Herndon

An unidentified man was reported to have fled after getting in to an argument with another man and firing a handgun into the ground at the 300 block of Elden Street at about 10 p.m. March 4.

Two days later, on the 900 block of Grant Street, Bruno Place, 43, of Herndon was arrested for attempted malicious wounding, brandishing a firearm and resisting arrest at about 3 p.m., according to Herndon police. Police did not say whether the two incidents were related.