Tenants say A/C banned by landlord despite record heat wave
Story Created: Jul 30, 2009 at 4:08 PM PDT
Story Updated: Jul 30, 2009 at 4:08 PM PDT
Anita Kissee KATU News
LINK TO PHOTO AND VIDEO:
ALOHA, Ore. – As people around the region try to keep cool and safe in the triple-digit heat wave, tenants at one apartment complex in Aloha say they have been told not to install air conditioning units in their windows.
One stated reason tenants said they were given by the landlord: they look “tacky.”
That’s what tenants at the Arbor Creek complex in Aloha told KATU News on Wednesday as the temperature soared to 106 degrees in Portland, just one degree shy of the all-time high for the city.
But in outlying locations like Aloha, some thermometers were reading 107 or even 108 degrees.
Inside Jessica Burnette’s apartment, a thermometer registered 95 degrees. Nearby, Shanna Frettim said she got a note from the landlord telling her to remove her window unit or she could be evicted.
“They sent me notices telling me if I did not take it out I would have a ten day period to get out of my apartment,” Frettim said.
“As a matter of fact, on these notices it says ‘for the benefits of the residences,’” Frettim added. “I am wondering how that ‘benefits the residents’ when they can't have air conditioners. How does that benefit us? Our kids end up in the hospitals or they end up sick.”
A check of the rental agreements and property rules supplied by tenants by contained no mention of a ban on A/C window units.
Frettim said she was told that if she wanted A/C, she had to have it professionally installed at a cost of about $500, which she says she cannot afford.
Another tenant who wanted to remain anonymous installed an unauthorized window unit in a back bedroom. The temperature in the room dropped from the 90s to a comfortable 74 degrees in minutes after the machine was turned on.
Tenant Angela Powell installed a window unit in her apartment against the alleged regulations because she said she could find no rule or stipulation prohibiting it.
Calls to the property management company that runs the Arbor Creek complex went to voice mail and no calls were immediately returned. Emails have also not been answered.
A maintenance person who works on the property was reached by phone but declined to say where the rule banning A/C units could be found or who could help tenants and KATU News find the stipulation.
“How can they make up rules we didn't sign on?” Jessica Burnett asked. “People die in this weather… our kids are up all night complaining of tummy aches and stuff because they're heat sick.”
Neighbors claimed one child has already been hospitalized with heat stroke.
Burnett said she does not have health insurance.
KATU News is continuing an investigation related to this story.
Va. Beach councilman seeks permit to sell guns from home
|Councilman Bill DeSteph said, if approved by the city, he will apply for a federal permit to be a licensed dealer.|
Councilman Bill DeSteph has applied to the city for a permit to sell guns out of a Great Neck home he will be moving into later this summer.
DeSteph, a gun collector, said he wants to expand his hobby into a business.
If the City Council approves the permit, DeSteph said he will apply to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for a permit to be a licensed dealer.
“Once you’re clear with city zoning, the federal requirements for dealers are the same out of your house or a storefront,” ATF inspector Michael Adkins said.
Three people in Virginia Beach have city permits to sell guns from their homes, city records show.
DeSteph added a 17-by-10 foot concrete vault to the home to store firearms.
His targeted clientele listed in the permit application includes “elected officials, law enforcement, military and other dealers and collectors.”
“We have other elected officials who collect guns,” he said.
DeSteph wasn’t sure how many guns he owns.
“Honestly, I’d have to count,” he said.
He estimated he has close to 20, including pistols, shotguns, rifles and machine guns. Part of his collection is of machine guns manufactured before 1986, the year federal legislation banned civilians from owning machine guns manufactured after that date, he said. As a result, those guns tend to be valuable.
“The good thing is they appreciated on average 10 to 15 percent a year,” DeSteph said. “They are a darn good investment. Some people collect art, I collect guns.”
DeSteph’s application will be evaluated mainly for zoning issues, such as land use, traffic, number of employees and signage, said Karen Lasley, the city’s zoning administrator.
“You can’t just hang out a shingle and have people walk off the street,” she said.
JULY 31--This week's mug shot roundup kicks off with a group of arrestees who were nabbed Thursday night in Florida on grand theft charges. The young perps are aged, clockwise from upper left, 10, 12, 12, and 12. As for the remaining suspects, the pictures speak for themselves
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Man gets 16 years after licking speed off jail cell floor
July 30, 2009 • 11:07 am
By Diana Fasanella
A Texas man pleaded guilty to drug possession after he was caught on camera licking a white powder off a jail cell floor in 2008.
Delmast, you dog you!
Grayson County prosecutors used the video to get Samuel Dewayne Delmast 16 years in prison for possession of methamphetamine found on him during a traffic stop in Howe, MyFox National reports. It was unclear how much of the drug was confiscated.
After his arrest, the 32-year-old man was taken to a holding cell where a closed circuit camera caught the image of more white powder slipping out of his pants. Delmast then dropped to the floor and lapped up the substance later determined to be methamphetamine.
Confronted with the video, Delmast pleaded guilty to the charges.
One way to speed up a trial.
Police: Greensburg bank robbery suspect admits holdup five years ago
Thursday, July 30, 2009
A South Huntingdon man who confessed to robbing a Greensburg bank Tuesday also said he held up a bank in Hempfield about five years ago and considered a third holdup but didn't go through with it, according to Greensburg police.
City police Chief Walter "Wally" Lyons said Wednesday that David Morgan, 35, of 177 Highway St., Yukon, made the admissions during questioning.
"In his statements, he admitted to an attempted holdup at a bank in North Huntington Township and a 2004 bank robbery in Hempfield Township," Lyons said.
The chief said his department has contacted authorities in those areas. Charges are possible.
Morgan is facing charges of robbery, theft and receiving stolen property in a holdup at the First Commonwealth Bank branch behind the Shop 'n Save store on East Pittsburgh Street about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday. He did not show a weapon and fled with $660, police said.
Authorities described Morgan as having long black hair and wearing a University of Michigan baseball cap, a black T-shirt over a white long-sleeved shirt, jeans and tennis shoes.
He handed the teller a note, police said.
"Please just give me the money from your cash drawer, all of it, and I will go peacefully," the note read, according to court papers. "Please don't sound alarm, or else. Thank you, and have a nice day. No dye packs, either."
A smiley face was drawn on the note, police said.
"Apparently, he was trying to be polite, I guess," Lyons said.
Authorities took Morgan into custody Tuesday afternoon as he was counting money while walking on East Pittsburgh Street.
Lyons said a neighbor contacted authorities after overhearing an argument between Morgan and his mother, who lives in Greensburg, over a wig, a hat and sunglasses. Police believe Morgan was wearing a wig during the Greensburg robbery, but had taken it off before he was apprehended.
"I think she just thought something was awry, something wasn't right that he had a wig, hat and sunglasses," Lyons said of the argument.
Among the items found in Morgan's backpack were money, a University of Michigan baseball cap, sunglasses, a black T-shirt, black pants and a white, long-sleeved T-shirt. Morgan told police the bank robbery note was inside a pants pocket, according to court papers.
Morgan told police that he didn't go through with the planned robbery at the North Huntingdon bank after a bank employee approached and offered to help him before he could reach the counter, Lyons said.
Lyons said authorities believe the Hempfield holdup involves a bank along Route 136.
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Downtown Fort Myers condo has 32 stories, and one lonely tale
Condo can get spooky for tower's only family
July 30, 2009
Victor Vangelakos lives in a luxury condominium tower on the Caloosahatchee River. He never has to worry about the neighbors making too much noise.
There are no neighbors.
Vangelakos, 45, his wife Cathy and their three children are the only residents in the 32-story Oasis I condo on the east edge of downtown Fort Myers.
The 45-year-old Weehawken, N.J., firefighter bought the condo from Miami-based The Related Group for $430,000 and closed on it in November. He planned to make it a vacation getaway and eventually his full-time residence when he retires in four years.
But prices have fallen hard since the real estate bubble burst in early 2006. Only a handful of those who put down deposits on the tower’s units actually closed on the deal. Those who did have swapped their Oasis I units for condos in Oasis II next door.
Vangelakos didn’t, because he was unable to convince his lender to agree to the swap, said Betsy Lu McCoy, vice president and associate corporate counsel for Related.
That leaves the Vangelakos family splitting their time between New Jersey and a creepy, surreal life in Oasis I.
They’re the only ones using a well-appointed clubhouse, but they can’t watch the big plasma TV.
“We haven’t found the remote controls,” Victor said.
Pause for a moment anywhere in the building during the day and the silence is deafening.
At night, Vangelakos said, they often hear people on the grounds or even inside the building itself. It’s not hard to break in one of the many entrances.
Once, late at night, “Somebody banged on our door,” Vanelakos said.
It wouldn’t have been hard to find the person in the otherwise darkened building.
“At night,” he said, “you can see our TV from the street.”
Especially popular for intruders is the swimming pool, Vangelakos said. They heard people there one night “and the next day all our chairs were in the pool."
His relationship with Related is testy at best. Once, he said, when management turned off his water to fix a leak in a pipe, “we came back 10 days later and the water was off but our TV was on.”
Now, after months of exchanging letters with Related about building maintenance and other issues, Vangelakos said he just wants out.
He hasn’t filed a lawsuit but his attorney, Fort Lauderdale-based John Ewing, said Related hasn’t delivered the marina, pro shop and fancy restaurants that were promised.
“They have the ability to buy him out,” Ewing said. “They can resolve this in a fair way.”
McCoy said it’s not that simple.
“His concerns have not fallen on deaf ears,” she said, but it isn’t Related’s fault he hasn’t been able to persuade his lender, JP Morgan Chase Bank, to transfer the mortgage to a unit in Oasis II.
“What he paid went to our lender, it didn’t come to us,” McCoy noted, so Related would have to pay off the mortgage before it got the unit back.
Besides, she said, the situation is the result of market forces beyond anyone’s control.
“We did not foresee, nor did anyone else foresee, the collapse of the real estate business and the concurrent collapse of the lending industry,” McCoy said. “They’re caught and we’re caught.”
Victor Vangelakos, a New Jersey firefighter, looks out from his seventh-floor apartment balcony at the 32-story Oasis I in downtown Fort Myers. He and his family are the only residents in the building. (Valerie Roche/news-press.com)
Texting-while-driving truck driver crashes into swimming pool
LOCKPORT — The driver of a tow truck texting on one cell phone while talking on another Wednesday morning crashed into a car at Tonawanda Creek Road North near Willow Wood Drive, injuring a woman and her niece, Niagara County sheriff's deputies said.
The flatbed tow truck then crashed through a fence and into a house before ending up in a swimming pool.
Chief Deputy Steven Preisch said the driver of the Adams tow truck, identified as Nicholas Sparks, 25, of Burt, admitted he was both texting and talking just after 8 a.m., when he hit the car on Willow Wood, which was stopped to make a turn.
"According to witnesses, he did not even stop, slow down or hit the brakes," Preisch said.
Sparks was charged with reckless driving, talking on a cell phone and following too closely. Preisch said deputies will be seizing his two cell phones and will request search warrants for the phone records to verify allegations the driver was talking on the phone.
"It's crazy the law [for texting while driving] is on the governor's desk. But it's irresponsible," Preisch said. "Here's an example where technology is progressing faster than the bureaucracy and laws can keep up. It doesn't make common sense."
Sparks was heading east on Tonawanda Creek Road North when he rear-ended the car of Lily White, 68, of Lockport, who suffered head injuries and was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo. She was listed in good condition.
Her great-niece, Kiara McDowell, 8, of the Town of Lockport, who was in the rear seat, was taken to Women & Children's Hospital, Buffalo, for treatment of wrist injuries, Preisch said. She was later released. Sparks also was treated in ECMC for back and neck injuries.
Preisch said the flatbed truck was towing two vehicles, with two motor cycles on the bed.
Preisch said that after the collision with the car, the flatbed went through a yard and sideswiped a house at 6369 Tonawanda Creek, with one of the towed vehicles hitting the house, then continued through a privacy fence and into the in-ground pool.
He said the cleanup at the house, owned by Brad Kanel, took more than five hours. He said it was hard finding a truck big enough to pull the flatbed out of the family's pool.
A damage estimate was being tabulated.
Mother allergic to own baby
A mother, Joanne Mackie, who developed blisters and a burning rash after giving birth discovered she was allergic to her own baby.
Published: 2:46PM BST 29 Jul 2009
Mrs Mackie, 28, could not even cuddle her new born son James or pick him up because she was in so much pain.
The new mother was forced to cover herself in Muslin cloth before she went near her son.
After a skin biopsy she was diagnosed with Pemphigoid Gestationis, a rare skin disease caused by an allergic reaction to her baby developed while she was still pregnant.
Mrs Mackie was put on a course of strong steroids and after a month the blisters subsided leaving her able to hug James for the first time without feeling pain.
"The idea of not being able to hold James for that long was unbearable," said Mrs Mackie. "At first, when I was told I was allergic to my own baby I thought it was some sort of joke.
"But when it sank in I was totally devastated. It felt like my world had caved in. It was such a heartbreaking time. I had to watch while my husband gave our son his first bath.
"And in those first few weeks when James cried I had to watch as my husband picked him up to comfort him instead of me."
The problems began the morning after he was born when Mrs Mackie began breastfeeding.
She noticed the palms of her hands were tingling and the day after the tingles started turning into a red blotchy rash which spread all over her body.
"For weeks I had to wrap damp towels round my arms to feed James from a bottle - but it just made the rash worse. Now I can cradle my little lad it's heaven. I never want to let him go now."
Mrs Mackie, of Erdington, West Midlands, added: "A cuddle from your own child is the most precious thing in the world and now I can cradle my little lad, it's heaven. I never want to let him go now."
Husband Robert, 37, added: "It was heartbreaking to see how upset Joanne was. But when the time finally came for her to be able to cuddle James without feeling any pain it was such a special moment which neither of us will ever forget."
07/29/2009 12:02 CDT
Drive-through bank teller stalls, helps customer
A North Side bank drive-through teller stalled long enough to call police Wednesday morning when a customer sent a note requesting help to get away from a man she said was holding her against her will.
John Worthington, senior vice president at Security Service Federal Credit Union, said the woman was with a man wearing a baseball cap when they pulled into a drive-through lane. He said she wrote the note requesting help from the teller on the back of a withdrawal slip.
“She was just trying to get help,” he said. “The teller was suspicious because of the note and because the woman was talking like she was distressed, and the manager called security, who called 911.”
San Antonio police arrived at the bank in the 1400 block of Loop 1604 North, around 8:30 a.m., authorities said.
Worthington said the woman had been at breakfast with friends when she was approached by the man, whom she knew. She told Worthington the man took her keys and somehow forced her to drive to the bank.
When officers arrived, the vehicle was still in the drive-through lanes and both people were still inside of the car, Worthington said. Police detained the man, who had been hunched down in the passenger seat. The woman was unharmed, and no money was withdrawn, he said.
Britain's most avid reader, 91, has borrowed 25,000 library books
A pensioner has laid claim to the title of Britain's most avid reader after it was disclosed she is on the brink of borrowing her 25,000th library book.
By Simon Johnson
Published: 2:53PM BST 29 Jul 2009
Louise Brown, 91, has read up to a dozen books a week since 1946 without incurring a single fine for late returns.
She borrows mainly large print books because she is partially sighted, and has almost worked her way through her local library's entire stock
Library staff in Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway, say the pensioner's rapacious reading habits over 60 years could earn her a place in the record books.
Mrs Brown, a widow, said: "My parents were great readers and I've always loved books. I started reading when I was five and have never stopped. I like anything I can get my hands on."
She said her favourite genres are family sagas, historical novels and war stories, but added: "I also like Mills and Boon for light reading at night."
She said she had read too many books to have a favourite or top five, but if she had to choose a preferred genre it would be family sagas or historical novels.
Louise Pride, her daughter, said: "She has aids to help her sight and usually borrows large print books. But the trouble is she has read nearly all of them in the local library. She still finds time to ready a newspaper every day and to watch TV."
Welsh-born Mrs Brown joined a library in Castle Douglas, near Stranraer, in 1946 when she moved there after getting married.
Seven years ago she moved to Stranraer to live with her daughter and has been regularly borrowing books from the library ever since.
Over the past six decades she has borrowed at least six books every week throughout each year and has recently increased that to about 12 every seven days.
Janice Goldie, of Dumfries and Galloway Libraries, said: "We are amazed at Mrs Brown's achievements. When she first joined the library service she was allowed to borrow six books a week. This has now risen to 12 and she always takes her full quota.
"Although she has borrowed nearly 25,000 books, she has never once had to pay an overdue charge.The staff at Stranraer Library think she's a remarkable lady and look forward to her weekly visits. They would like to know if anyone can beat her reading record."
Last Updated: 8:37 pm
Boy, 11, charged in scooter robbery
July 28, 2009
PRICE HILL – An 11-year-old boy has been charged with holding up two children and trying to steal their scooters with what turned out to be a plastic toy gun.
Cincinnati police arrested the boy, locked him up and accused him of trying to take the children’s silver push scooters Monday evening at Rapid Run Park in the 4400 block of Rapid Run Road.
The children were not injured, but the frightening experience is one the family will never forget, their father, Rich Harrison, said Tuesday.
“There are so many bad things anymore. Kids with real guns and fake guns,” he said. “You just never know what to do or who to trust anymore. I have been in a daze since yesterday, having it in my mind there could have been a chance my kids could have gotten shot over a scooter.”
The startling incident unfolded at the top of the hill in the park, where there are athletic fields, he said. His two sons, Kyle, 8, and Kevin, 10, and daughter Ryan, 11, all attend St. Williams School. The family was headed to his youngest son’s football practice for the school team.
The two older children were on their beloved scooters, Christmas gifts from an uncle. They wanted to ride around the pond and meet their father and Kyle on the other side.
But about halfway around the pond, a boy they did not know approached them.
“We’re going to play a game,” he told the children, according to a police report. “I’m going to take your scooter.”
What happened next was no game. He pointed what appeared to be a real gun at the children and tried to take the scooters.
The siblings tried to get away, scooting as fast as they could toward their father.
The boy, still holding the plastic toy gun, gave chase
“It was aggressive,” Rich Harrison said. “He came down with no fear whatsoever to try to take the scooters.”
The boy stopped and retreated when he saw the father, heading toward two friends waiting for him under a shelter.
Rich Harrison said he called 911 and when police arrived, they found the boy and two friends nearby. All seemed to have fake guns or BB guns, he said, but he wasn’t sure.
“The police didn’t tell me,” he said. “They looked like real guns. It scared all of us. There were several different ages of kids up on the hill at practice. All the parents were up there in fear for a little while.”
He is using the experience as a learning moment for his family.
“Let this just be a lesson when I tell you guys to stay by my side so I can keep an eye on you,” he said he told his children. “That’s why I do that. Times are different.”
The boy remains in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court Youth Center. Hamilton County Juvenile Magistrate David Kelly scheduled an Aug. 7 hearing to determine the boy’s competency, said Harvey Reed, the youth center’s administrator.
A public defender questioned the boy’s ability to understand the consequences of his behavior, Reed said.
Ryan Harrison, 11, and her brother Kevin, 10, ride their scooters around the pond at Rapid Run Park. Not long ago, they were doing just that when a gun was pulled on them by a would-be thief.
(The Enquirer/Malinda Hartong)
After 100 alcohol arrests, judge draws line
Last Updated: 12:27 pm July 28, 2009
Jesse Shadrick has more than 100 alcohol related arrests in Hamilton County, Kentucky and Tennessee after nearly drinking himself to death his whole life.
The homeless man shuffled into court Tuesday, knowing the robbery charge he pleaded guilty to carried a possible sentence of up to five years in prison.
But Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Pat DeWine said enough is enough: the cycle of arrest and release must be broken.
Instead of sending Shadrick, 41, to prison or giving him another probation term, which Shadrick would likely violate anyway, DeWine sentenced Shadrick to get alcohol and mental health treatment and Talbert House program that will keep him locked up until it's done.
"You have over 100 alcohol-committed offenses, in and out of here," DeWine said. "Frankly, you're going to kill yourself if you don't get this under control.
"I am going to try and get you some treatment," he said.
Though tears, Shadrick told the judge: "I have been in this state of alcoholism for quite some time now. I have been in oblivion you might say for 22 or 23 years."
Shadrick, who apologized for his unkempt appearance, said he wants to get off the streets, tired of life how it is.
"I want to get sober and be somebody, someday, any way," Shadrick said.
If Shadrick doesn't comply with treatment, DeWine said the second chance would evaporate and he'd sentence him to three years in prison.
Born in Cincinnati, but raised in Tennessee, Shadrick started drinking at a young age, and really, never stopped. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade and the arrests started shortly thereafter.
In his mid-20s he began hitch-hiking from Ohio to Tennessee to Florida, never settling in any one place. He's racked up numerous arrests - mostly alcohol related - in all three states.
He lists his home as the Drop Inn Center in downtown Cincinnati.
Looking at Shadrick, the first thing a person notices is his nose, bent to the side.
He broke in during a skirmish with Tennessee police and never had the money to get it fixed, he said.
The crime that landed Shadrick in court this time was a felony charge of robbery. He stole an 18-pack of Budweiser from the Sunoco on West 8th Street downtown. When store owner Christopher Zimmerman chased Shadrick outside, Shadrick hit Zimmerman in the stomach with the stolen contraband.
That confrontation upped the charge from misdemeanor theft to felony robbery.
Woman charged with running strip club in basement
Updated July 28, 2009
By Megan Matteucci and Alyse Knorr
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An alleged illegal strip club inside a Lawrenceville home attracted up to 200 people, including teenagers in the middle of the night, a neighbor said.
Jim Ferguson, who lives next door to the makeshift club, said he called police around 2:30 a.m. July 18 to complain about a noisy party.
“I heard a young woman ... yelling ‘I’m going to kill you,’” Ferguson recalled Tuesday.
He went outside and saw dozens of cars parked along his street and around the block. Teenagers were roaming around the street and the parking lot of the Georgia Power office across the road, Ferguson said.
Gwinnett County Police said the homeowner, Constance Trahan, was operating a strip club in the basement and garage of her home in the 1400 block of Purcell Road.
Police said they found a sign that read “1 Dollar Jello Shots,” along with minors consuming alcohol on July 18.
“There were about 200 people there,” Ferguson said Tuesday. “It took an hour and half to clear the house.”
Trahan was at work Tuesday afternoon and not immediately available for comment, but her friends said there is no club at the home.
“It was a regular gathering,” said Christyan Hall, who lives with Trahan. “It’s just a misunderstanding.”
Trahan, a carpenter, had just finished renovating her Lawrenceville home. She set up a lounge area for the group to relax, Hall said.
Friends threw Trahan, 28, a party to celebrate her birthday and the newly remodeled home, Hall said.
The party ended with police at the door and guests fleeing.
“The music was loud, but it’s a quiet home. There were no strippers, no club, no underage drinking,” Hall said Tuesday. “What people do in the privacy of their own home is their own business.”
Hall said the Jell-O shots were for the adult guests.
Trahan was charged with maintaining a disorderly house, a misdemeanor. She remains fee on a $1,300 bond.
Police also arrested party guest Lester Ramirez, 20, who told officers there were dances in the garage/basement area and that Trahan was selling alcohol, according to a police report.
Ramirez, who lied about his age, was found carrying marijuana in his mouth, according to a police report.
Ramirez was charged with marijuana and alcohol possession, along with providing police with a false date of birth. He has since been released on a $3,900 bond.
Ferguson said he never saw any dancers, but knew there something more than a birthday party going on next door.
“It was just too intense to be a house party. This was like a bar,” he said. “There were lots of people who don’t know each other coming.”
Neighbors said Trahan rents rooms inside her home to several adults.
The July 18 party was the latest in a series of noisy gatherings at Trahan’s home, neighbors said.
Ferguson said he also called police last month after being awoken to excessive noise and traffic in front of his home. Ferguson said he had to stand in front of his driveway to prevent people from parking and doing wheelies on his property.
On Tuesday, Trahan’s ranch style house was quiet. Several friends talked in the driveway, but there were no signs of a club. Lawn chairs sat in the yard and a basketball lay next to the driveway.
Ferguson said he hopes the arrests will send a message to his neighbors, especially since his 7-year-old son will have to start school soon.
“For the past few nights, I’ve finally been able to sleep,” Ferguson said. “I hope it stays this way. ... In a situation like this, anything could happen.”
Gwinnett County Police Lawrenceville resident Constance Trahan has been charged with maintaining a disorderly home for allegedly operating a strip club in her basement.
Megan Matteucci, [email protected] Gwinnett County police allege Constance Trahan, a carpenter by trade, ran a strip club in the basement of this home on Purcell Road in Lawrenceville. Friends of Trahan deny the charge.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
'Not gonna go!' / Boy, 7, drives away in family car to skip church
PLAIN CITY -- Maybe he also missed the day the sermon covered the Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not steal.
A 7-year-old boy led officers on a car chase Sunday through Weber County in an attempt to avoid going to church, authorities say.
"Most kids fake illness," said Weber County Sheriff's Capt. Klint Anderson. "They don't take the car out and go joy riding."
Dispatchers received reports of a child driving a vehicle recklessly near 4100 West and 1975 North around 9 a.m.
The motorist who called in the complaint followed the child and witnessed the boy drive through a stop sign at 4700 West, Anderson said.
Two deputies caught up with the boy a few blocks away and attempted to stop the car, but the child kept driving, Anderson said.
The boy drove through a parking lot, then went south on 4700 West before driving the family's white Dodge Intrepid into a driveway on the 5000 block of 1500 North. The driver reached 40 mph and ran stop signs along the way, Anderson said.
The boy reportedly entered the home through the garage and ran upstairs. When deputies questioned the child's father, he told them he had no idea his son had taken the car.
"They had to explain to him they had chased his car," Anderson said.
"The father confronted the kid, and the boy straight-up admitted he had driven it. When asked why he took the car, he said he didn't want to go to church."
The boy's father was told to make sure his car keys are kept where they are not accessible to children, and the child was lectured about the dangers of taking a vehicle out on the road, but authorities cannot do much else.
Police would not identify the family, as there would be no citations issued.
Anderson said the boy is too young to prosecute and that the boy's father won't be cited because he was unaware his son had taken his car.
For a 7-year-old, his driving wasn't too bad, Anderson said.
"He had a few near misses, but he didn't hit anything or crash."
Chicago tenant's Twitter slam draws suit
Apartment manager says it has to protect its reputation
It was a not-so-sweet Tweet about a Chicago apartment.
In response, Horizon Group Management LLC filed a libel lawsuit Monday against Amanda Bonnen, a former tenant of a North Side apartment building it manages.
The real estate management firm — which is seeking $50,000 in damages — says that one of Bonnen's Twitter posts “maliciously and wrongfully” slammed her building at 4242 N. Sheridan and the management company.
The May 12 Tweet from "abonnen" read in part: “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay.”
The suit and Twitter account identifies "abonnen" as Amanda Bonnen of Chicago.
Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, said: "The statements are obviously false, and it's our intention to prove that."
Michael said that while Bonnen moved out recently, the company never had a conversation about the post and never asked her to take it down.
"We're a 'sue first, ask questions later' kind of an organization," Michael said, noting that the company manages 1,500 apartments in Chicago and saying it has a good reputation that it wants to preserve.
Bonnen couldn't be reached for comment.
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AT&T Charges You A Fee For Getting A Discount
Reader "ValentineHumphrey" has a part-time job with a company that gets a 25% discount from AT&T. It sounded like a good deal until she found out there was actually a fee for signing up for the discount. What?
I call the 800 number for AT&T and ask the nice gentleman on the phone if there is anything he can do, can he add the discount even though I already signed a 2 year contract? YES! You (the consumer) can add a discount at any time. He is unable to do so, however, due to the computer program (they do not have access) but he is more than willing to walk me through the process. "Do you have a work email?" No, I'm out of luck online. I can add the discount myself with the discount sponsor code, but without an employee email for employment verification I will have to go to a store.
No problem, there is a store near my home. I called on Wednesday, and went to the store on Friday. I know they will want employment verification so I bring my name badge, photo id, the paper with the discount code. Go in and the man at the desk goes about setting me up. Then he says this "There is an activation fee of $36 to add this discount to your account."
I look at him shocked. I asked how long they were doing this for, the answer, it started just this week. He was unsure of his words, and seemed like he anticipated my reaction.
I asked "what?! Are you becoming an airline? You want to charge me for a discount, why? Is it because AT&T thinks they lose money on a discount?" He responds with "No, they don't think that". In shock I say "so what you are saying is I won't actually get my discount for 3 months, my discount comes to be about $12 (this was rough calculation in my head on the spot), so it will take 3 months for me to see any discount for my phone."
The guy was nice, I wasn't being belligerent, and let them know that I am sure others will feel the same. I signed my papers stating I worked where the discount was coming from and was on my way, along with a copy of their estimated bill.
I then immediately called the 800 and spoke with a very nice woman. While she was pulling up my account I told her why I was calling. "I just want to know why the gentleman I spoke to on Wednesday did not tell me of the $36 activation/sponsorship fee for adding the discount to my account." The agent was shocked "He didn't tell you!?"
It turns out the notification of the fee was JUST released to the call centers that week. It was brand spankin' new and she wasn't even aware stores had started charging it. I was willing to pay, was not on the phone to get the charge reversed (although that was my hope!) but said, in the future, if any fee is even being considered, they should let the consumer know that "we will soon be assessing X fee" so we can be informed.
She sympathized with me and said if she were in my place she would be upset too. She offered to speak with her supervisor to "see if there was something they could do". She had me on hold for a few minutes and came back saying they would reverse that charge.
Since my acount balance was zero (I had just paid the bill) I would have a credit of $36 on my account, so when the new bill hits (with the activation/sponsorship fee) the fee will essentially be gone.
So, just a heads up, being uninformed is good if you get wonderful customer service and someone who sympathizes. I was not rude, nor angry, nor beligerant. I was more sarcastic and shocked, and jokingly compared them to an airline - a fee for everything and everything for a fee! I went to the source of my information (the call center) to iron out why I was not informed and did not ask for anything... she offered it to me. Although had she not offered, I would have asked if there was anything she could do for me.
We're glad you got the fee reversed, but we're still blinking at the idea of charging a fee for a discount. It's like those coupon books that school kids try to sell you, only it doesn't help any school kids.
Police: Denver Officer Pulls Weapon Over Slow Service
Derrick Saunders Faces Numerous Charges In Aurora
Updated 2:56 pmJuly 27, 2009
AURORA, Colo. -- A Denver police officer assigned to Denver International Airport was on administrative leave Tuesday after employees at an Aurora McDonald's said he pulled a gun on them when his order wasn't filled fast enough.
The incident was reported in May, when Derrick Curtis Saunders, 29, ordered food at the restaurant at 18181 E. Hampden Ave.
According to employees, Saunders was with another police officer AURORA, Colo. -- A Denver police officer assigned to Denver International Airport was on administrative leave Tuesday after employees at an Aurora McDonald's said he pulled a gun on them when his order wasn't filled fast enough.
The incident was reported in May, when Derrick Curtis Saunders, 29, ordered food at the restaurant at 18181 E. Hampden Ave.
According to employees, Saunders was with another police officer
Saunders was formally charged with menacing, prohibited use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct, the Aurora Police Department said.
A booking photo of Saunders was not released by Aurora police.
He has been a Denver police officer since 2007, and has been on administrative leave for the past month, Denver police said. Saunders was formally charged with menacing, prohibited use of a weapon, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct, the Aurora Police Department said.
A booking photo of Saunders was not released by Aurora police.
He has been a Denver police officer since 2007, and has been on administrative leave for the past month, Denver police said.
N.J. corruption probe includes first organ trafficking case
by The Associated Press
NEWARK -- Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn called himself a "matchmaker," but his business wasn't romance. Instead, authorities say, he brokered the sale of black-market kidneys, buying organs from vulnerable people from Israel for $10,000 and selling them to desperate patients in the U.S. for as much as $160,000.
The alleged scheme exposed this week by an FBI sting, rocked the nation's transplant industry. If true, it would be the first documented case of organ trafficking in the U.S., transplant experts said today.
"There's certainly cross-national activity, but it hasn't touched the United States or we haven't known about it until now," said University of Pennsylvania medical ethicist Arthur Caplan, who is co-directing a U.N. task force on international organ trafficking.
Rosenbaum was arrested Thursday, 10 days after meeting in his basement with a government informant and an FBI agent posing as the informant's secretary. The agent claimed to be searching for a kidney for a sick uncle on dialysis who was on a transplant list at a Philadelphia hospital.
"I am what you call a matchmaker," Rosenbaum said in a secretly recorded conversation. "I bring a guy what I believe, he's suitable for your uncle." Asked how many organs he had brokered, he said: "Quite a lot," the most recent two weeks earlier.
As part of the scheme, the organ donors were brought from Israel to this country, where they underwent surgery to remove the kidneys, authorities said. Prosecutors did not identify which hospitals in the U.S. received the donors and their kidneys.
"The allegations about an organ trafficking ring in the United States are appalling," said John Davis, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation.
Israel Medical Association spokeswoman Orna Cohen said the organization had no reports there of Israelis selling organs. "If it's true, then it's shocking," she said.
Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Israel's national police force, said Israeli police were not involved in the investigation, and he would not comment further.
Under 1984 federal law, it is illegal for anyone to knowingly buy or sell organs for transplant. The practice is illegal just about everywhere else in the world, too.
But demand for kidneys far outstrips the supply, with 4,540 people dying in the U.S. last year while waiting for a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. As a result, there is a thriving black market for kidneys around the world.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropology professor at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of an upcoming book on human organ trafficking, said that she has been tracking the Brooklyn-connected ring for 10 years and that her contacts in Israel have called Rosenbaum "the top man" in the United States.
Scheper-Hughes said she was told Rosenbaum carried a gun, and when a potential organ seller would get cold feet, Rosenbaum would use his finger to simulate firing a gun at the person's head.
Rosenbaum was arrested in a sweeping federal case that began as an investigation into money laundering and trafficking in kidneys and fake designer bags. It mushroomed into a political corruption probe, culminating in the arrests this week of 44 people, including three New Jersey mayors, various other officials, and five rabbis. The politicians and rabbis were not accused of involvement in the organ trafficking.
Rosenbaum, 58, is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn, where he told neighbors he was in the construction business.
For someone who was not a surgeon, Rosenbaum seemed in his recorded conversations to have a thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of kidney donations, including how to fool hospitals into believing the donor was acting solely out of compassion for a friend or loved one.
He was recorded saying that money had to be spread around liberally, to Israeli doctors, visa preparers and those who cared for the organ donors in this country. "One of the reasons it's so expensive is because you have to shmear (pay others) all the time," he was quoted as saying.
"So far, I've never had a failure," he bragged on tape. "I'm doing this a long time."
At a 2008 meeting with the undercover agent, Rosenbaum claimed he had an associate who worked for an insurance company in Brooklyn who could take the recipient's blood samples, store them on dry ice and send them to Israel, where they would be tested to see if they matched the prospective donor, authorities said.
Four checks totaling $10,000, a downpayment on the fictitious uncle's new kidney, were deposited in the bank account of a charity in Brooklyn, prosecutors said.
It was not immediately clear today who Rosenbaum's attorney was.
Dr. Francis Delmonico, a Harvard professor, transplant surgeon and board member of the National Kidney Foundation's Board of Directors, said similar trafficking is going on elsewhere around the world. He said an estimated 10 percent of kidney transplants -- 5,000 to 6,000 each year -- are done illegally. Hot spots are Pakistan, the Philippines and China, where it is believed organs are obtained from executed prisoners, he said.
Caplan, the University of Pennsylvania ethicist, said he expects the U.N. task force to make recommendations in October that would hold hospitals worldwide accountable for establishing the origins of each organ they transplant and whether it was freely donated without compensation.
"There is a black market, almost exclusively in kidneys," Caplan said. "All international medical groups and governments ought to condemn any marketing in body parts. It's simply too exploitative of the poor and vulnerable. The quality of the organs is questionable. People lie to get the money. The middle men are irresponsible and often criminals. They don't care about the people who sell."
Scheper-Hughes said her research has uncovered hundreds of cases of illegal organ transactions brokered by and for Israelis in Israel, South Africa, Turkey and other countries, with sellers recruited from poor communities in Moldova, Brazil and elsewhere.
A few transplant surgeons support changing the law to allow a system of regulated compensation to increase the pool of donor kidneys.
Arthur Matas, a transplant surgeon who directs the kidney transplant service at the University of Minnesota Medical School, said donors could be compensated with some combination of lifetime access to medical care, life insurance, a tax credit, help with college and a small direct payment.
"It would minimize the extraordinary black market and exploitation of impoverished people internationally," Matas said.
Martin Weinfeld, who lives around the corner from Rosenbaum in Brooklyn, said the allegations bring shame on the community.
"It puts a bad name on good people," he said. "Religion is supposed to be about God, helping others, not about the cash."
Burglars who broke into drinks depot 'too drunk to escape'
Keith Cullen and Paul Wiggins, two burglars who broke into a Swansea drinks depot, drank until they were incapable of escaping.
4:16PM BST 27 Jul 2009
Cullen and Wiggins were only able to make it to the yard next door during the incident in March, where police found them the following morning.
They had wheeled out more than £700 worth of alcohol causing £1,400 worth of damage, and could not resist drinking the stock.
They then turned up at Swansea magistrates' court so drunk that Cullen was not even allowed in the building.
When Cullin was turned away by security guards at the courthouse, Wiggins also left.
Wiggins disappeared from the foyer. Neither have been seen since and magistrates have subsequently issued arrest warrants.
Cullen, 33, of Waunarlydd, Swansea, and Wiggins, 45, of Townhill, Swansea, were tried in their absence and convicted of burglary and theft.
Andrew David, prosecuting, said CCTV cameras had filmed the duo breaking into the Kuehne Nagle Drinks Logistics depot in Plasmarl, Swansea.
Wiggins could be seen knocking back bottles of beer.
Police were called and officers found cases of beer and cider stacked up and ready to be removed.
They also found "a lot" of empty bottles and then came across Cullen and Wiggins asleep in a yard next to the depot.
They are expected to be sentenced later this week.
Men face theft, public intoxication charges after allegedly stealing water for outdoor slide
ATLANTIC, Iowa (AP) -- Two men face theft and public intoxication charges after allegedly stealing water from a fire hydrant for an outdoor water game. Pottawattamie County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Dwayne Ritchie said the men were arrested Saturday after a trailer pulled behind the pickup they were driving blew a tire, sending the pickup and trailer into a ditch.
According to authorities, the trailer was hauling a 15-hundred gallon tank filled with water allegedly stolen from a fire hydrant in Underwood. Ritchie said a witness saw the men filling the tank from a city hydrant and reported the action to police.
Ritchie said the men indicated they were going to use the water for a water slide.
Information from: KJAN-AM, http://www.kjan.com
British Grandmother Wanted in France
Woman Says She Didn't Know She Was Convicted 20 Years Ago
Deborah Dark, 45, didn't know she was convicted on drug charges in France.
911 Call: Man Catches Robber in Home
Updated: Sunday, 26 Jul 2009, 6:20 PM MDT
Published : Sunday, 26 Jul 2009, 6:20 PM MDT
GLENDALE - 911 calls normally aren't funny -- but when a Glendale man came home to a man robbing his house over the weekend, he tackled him and held him still while talking on the phone to a 911 dispatcher.
Homeowner Perry Bigley told a 911 operator, "I have the robber in one hand and the phone in the other."
Officers arrived to the home in the 4600 block of W San Juan where they found the victim on top of the suspect, holding him down.
Bigley told police he came home through the garage about 4 a.m. and found the storage door open. He then spotted the suspect going rifling through his DVDs.
On the 911 tape, Bigley says, "All I am doing is holding him down on the ground… He's saying he can't breathe he's tried to run twice but I caught him in my home."
"Look please stop struggling... we're going to wait here and were going to wait for the cops to come."
The suspect told Bigley there were other robbers upstairs, but they got away and ran down the street. The burglars took six TVs, a stereo, a laptop and a digital camera -- about $11,000 worth of electronics.
LINK TO VIDEO/ 911 CALL:
Sky-high ambition: Meet the man who's flying from Land's End to John O'Groats... by bike
By Tamara Cohen and Elizabeth Hopkirk
Last updated at 9:19 AM on 25th July 2009
It looks far too solid ever to get off the ground. But if John Carver pedals really hard, revs up his little lawnmower engine and thinks happy thoughts... he is soon 2,000ft up in the air.
Then, give or take the odd rain shower, he stays up for two glorious hours, pootling along at 25mph and enjoying the fabulous views unfolding below.
His flying bike, or flyke as it is known, is taking Mr Carver on an epic 800-mile trek this summer, from Land's End to John O'Groats, touching down to camp in fields along the way.
John Carver gets ready for lift-off as he prepares to travel from Land's End to John O'Groats in a flying tricycle
If he succeeds, it will be the longest ever journey taken by a flyke. He hopes to raise £10,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as well as break a record.
Mr Carver, an Old Etonian, bought the £8,000 German-built craft six years ago.
It weighs a mere 110lb and takes off at just 20mph, needing a 'runway' the size of a football pitch. The parachute canopy helps get it aloft and touch down.
The flyke has only recently been legalised in Britain and Mr Carver has registered it with the Civil Aviation Authority.
Mr Carver demonstrates his flying bike or flyke, in action
Mr Carver shows the sky is the limit as he sets sail on a practice run
The 37-year-old IT teacher from Oxford will strap himself in for the ride on August 1, along with a tent weighing just 17oz. Its 15-litre tank takes unleaded petrol.
'When you wheel it into a petrol station and you tell them it flies, they don't believe you,' he said.
Like the British weather, two-stroke engines are notoriously unreliable and he is resigned to having to cycle some of his route.
He has learned the hard way not to risk flying in winds over 15mph, after being flipped over by sudden gusts.
But he is adamant there is no better way to travel. 'You are totally at one with the sky. It's that freedom that is quite special.'
The flyke can power along at 25mph and reaches heights of 2,000ft
Prisoner had sex with girlfriend in exchange for confession
July 25, 2009 12:00am
IT'S almost too fanciful to be true: a prisoner is picked up from jail and taken for a drive by police officers through the suburbs on Brisbane's southside.
He's handed a list of unsolved break-and-enters, perhaps as many as 300. He reads the details: how entry was gained, what was taken, the time the crime was committed.
And he's told that he needs to admit to at least 20 to make his reward worthwhile.
What was that? According to evidence given by the prisoner to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, police collected his girlfriend and delivered her to Morningside police station.
And it was there where they engaged in sex and the prisoner injected himself with drugs his girlfriend brought.
The prisoner, called RI in the scathing report into police released this week, was not the only person allowed to come and go from their jail cell.
Murderers and armed robbers were allowed out of custody: one to meet his partner and young children in Roma Street Parkland for a play; another to lunch at a swish riverside restaurant.
The CMC's Dangerous Liaisons report, based on its Operation Capri, is not a repeat of the Fitzgerald inquiry - but it's certainly a reminder of how a bad lot of eggs can stink out a whole refrigerator. And with more than 25 officers implicated in wrongdoing - ranging from stupidity to outright criminal activity - it should not be dismissed as easily as it was this week.
The sheer brazenness of some officers seems to know no bounds. Take this example, also outlined in the report.
An informant fund existed, courtesy of the Australian Bankers Association and the Credit Union Security Forum. And over the period of its operation, 77 payments were made, a total of $17,990.
But no records were kept, an "end justifies the means" mentality meant that few rules existed, and money was misappropriated.
Police also falsely claimed payments had been made to informants, signatures were forged and evidence of transactions faked.
There's no better example of the latter than one outlined by Robert Needham and his team in their comprehensive and temperate investigation report.
In that example, officers faked an audiotape and produced it as proof of a payment to an informant. The audio was supposed to support a meeting between two officers and an informant at a coffee shop at West End.
But investigations showed it was made in carpark bay 148 on level B2 of police headquarters, and that a police officer assumed the role of an informant for the recording.
The litany of misdemeanours, maladministration and outright corruption weaves its way throughout the report, but it is Lee Owen Henderson, who is shown to have more influence on one group of officers than their own commissioner, Bob Atkinson.
Henderson had 1241 calls diverted through one police station, at a cost of $2056, and his monthly telephone call bill was $535 - a big sum for a prisoner without any obvious source of income.
But he was no ordinary prisoner. Called "The General", he had his own police locker, was able to arrange a police drug raid and despite earning only $7500 as a prisoner in a six-year period, spent at least $100,272.17.
He helped one officer buy a car, organised a theft from prison, and even sent two fluffy toys and two bibs - worth $85 - to a couple of police officers who were celebrating the birth of their baby daughter. He signed it "loyalty and love always".
Henderson was allowed to pose as an underworld crime figure with connections to corrupt police, had his own locker at the Rockhampton police station, and had access to police computers to help someone who wanted to give a "flogging" to a person they couldn't find.
The revelations this week are terrible but so is the response to them at every level.
The Police Union decided to go in to bat for those police officers who were subject to the report, not the 99.9 per cent of others who are honest and law-abiding and who will be tainted by the accusations levelled at their colleagues.
Commissioner Atkinson, who accepts responsibility for the misconduct, has allowed many of those under a cloud to resign on full benefits.
That means they've got off scot free.
And the Government? Originally elected on a post-Fitzgerald reform agenda, it seems to have decided silence is the best policy.
Queenslanders deserve better, especially those law-abiding, honest and hard-working police officers who will now be unfairly tainted by the wrongdoing of their unscrupulous colleagues.
Drive-through robber orders cash to-go at McDonald's, Wendy's in Dallas
09:38 AM CDT on Friday, July 24, 2009
The Dallas Morning News
Dallas police are searching for a drive-through bandit who ordered food to-go but then demanded a side of cash.
The robber on Thursday morning hit three fast food restaurants along or near North Central Expressway in Dallas -- a McDonald's and a Whataburger in Oak Lawn and a Wendy's in North Dallas, police said.
In each case, the man in his late 20s or early 30s, placed an order at the drive-through. When he drove up to pay, he would show a gun and demand money, police said.
Authorities describe the robber as about 5 feet, 6 inches tall with a sparse mustache and beard. He has numerous tattoos down both arms. He was driving a maroon Ford Expedition with a beige interior. The vehicle also has gold or copper-colored running boards, a luggage rack and a sun roof.
LINK TO VIDEO:
The Broward County Sheriff's Office said witnesses reported seeing an armed man run up to a Brinks armored truck Friday morning outside of the Bank Atlantic in Oakland Park just in time to see the truck drive away, the Miami Herald reported.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright said the Brinks guards inside the truck did not even realize there had been an attempted robbery. Police were called by a bank employee who saw the man run toward the truck.
"(The guards) had loaded up and were getting ready to go and were pulling off when the robber tried to rob them," Coleman-Wright said. "They didn't even realize robbers were trying to rob them."
The sheriff's office said the man was seen fleeing the bank in an older model red
Friday, July 24, 2009
Time is up! $30,000 diamond ring goes unclaimed
Fullerton police display the property envelope containing a diamond ring appraised at $30,000. The jewelry is kept in a property room safe. Police would not allow a picture of the ring.
BARBARA GIASONE, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Fullerton police confer with city attorney to see if finder or property owner should get the gem.
FULLERTON – Police waited the mandatory four months to see if anyone would claim a 2.5-carat diamond ring found on a local school playground.
As of the deadline date Tuesday, there were no takers for the gem, appraised at $30,000, Sgt. Mike MacDonald said Thursday.
According to law, if no one responds within the required time period, it's "finders, keepers" for anything valued more than $250.
"We're planning to send a letter to the finder, but first we want to check with the city attorney to determine who should get the ring, the finder or the property owner," MacDonald said.
The ring had one identifying mark that only the owner would know, said April Baughman, who oversees the Police Department property room where unclaimed jewelry is kept in a safe.
Pot law leaves cops high & dry
Many blow off $100 fines
Thumbing their noses at the state’s lax new pot law, Bay State stoners are brazenly lighting up in front of cops and then refusing to pay fines - leading some frustrated police chiefs to all but give up the fight.
Local police report widespread defiance of the six-month-old law, and a Herald review shows a vast majority of potheads cited by cops blowing off their $100 fines.
Some egregious examples of tokers flaunting the law include:
• In Arlington, a public works employee was cited by the local police chief for smoking a pot pipe as he stood next to his town-issued tractor.
• At bustling Park Street Station, a pair of nonchalant lovers out on the town openly lit up a joint and continued toking even after confronted by off-duty Milton Chief Richard Wells.
• In East Boston, four teens spotted in a “smoke-filled vehicle” unabashedly told a cop they were “just smoking marijuana.”
• A man caught near a Dorchester playground laughed when police said he faced a $100 fine - and then taunted the cops with an expletive-laced tirade.
All told, a staggering 83 percent of 415 tokers cited in Boston since the law took effect in January have refused to pony up the $100, a Herald review shows.
In Braintree, 15 of 28 citations went unpaid, while in Brookline 26 of 33 blew off the fines.
Somerville Deputy Chief Paul Upton said his officers are now writing few if any citations, in part because enforcing the law costs more money than it’s worth.
“If we send an officer to court, it’s going to cost us $250,” Upton said. “We’re not getting a lot of (citations) written.”
In Milton, Chief Wells said the new pot law is unenforceable because there’s nothing encouraging scofflaws to pay fines or even give their real names to police.
Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless, head of the state prosecutors group that fought against relaxing pot sanctions, said, “It’s exactly what we were afraid of, and what we predicted would happen. They’d issue citations, and they’d be ignored.”
Proponents argued pot convictions made youthful indiscretions into lifelong liabilities. But while unpaid parking tickets can cost drivers their licenses, unpaid pot fines carry no repercussions.
“There’s nothing that can happen,” Capeless said.
Thomas Kiley, the Beacon Hill powerbroker who crafted the measure, insisted the law has teeth.
Tucked in the law is language that places pot possession on par with other citations, and police can haul a scofflaw into court, Kiley said. “We did (anticipate) this,” Kiley said.
But Cheryl A. Sibley, chief administrator for the Boston Municipal Court Department, said police are powerless because that provision is neutralized by language clearly stating the only penalty the offender pays is the $100 fine.
Meanwhile, in Braintree on Monday night, police spotted a suspected perv smoking pot in a car filled with coils of rope, a pair of handcuffs and bottles of NyQuil. But they had to let the man go, even though he was awaiting trial on child sexual assault charges.
Said Deputy Chief Russell Jenkins, “Had the law not been changed, he absolutely would have been placed under arrest.”
Cop impersonator arrested after trying to stop real Oakland officer, police say
OAKLAND — A man suspected of impersonating an undercover police officer was arrested after he tried to stop a real Oakland undercover police officer, authorities said Friday.
Authorities said the suspect, Antonio Fernandez Martinez, 21, of Oakland, a convicted car thief, was not charged with impersonating a police officer, which is a misdemeanor. Instead, he will have his felony probation revoked and could face a prison term.
Police said Martinez, who was arrested Wednesday, at first denied trying to stop the officer's vehicle. But Officer Jim Beere, an undercover officer assigned to the vice/child exploitation unit whose vehicle Martinez was trying to stop, said Martinez later claimed he thought Beere was a member of a street gang he was having problems with and wanted to see who he was.
Martinez's act, which included him driving a car made to look like an undercover police vehicle, unraveled in the Fruitvale district, where Beere and other officers were looking for underage prostitutes who work the area, authorities said.
Although police have no reports about Martinez from any prostitutes, Beere said the concern is that he may have wanted to lure some of them into the car to assault them.
"But then he saw me and thought I'd be an easy mark" to rob, Beere said.
Beere was by himself in an undercover car when Martinez started following him about 5:35 p.m. Wednesday on International Boulevard near Fruitvale Avenue.
"He was in a black Ford Crown Victoria similar to our unmarked cars," Beere said. "He accelerated and turned on some flashing lights on his dash board. In the grill it looked like he had red and blue lights that seemed to be on, but they turned out to be painted speakers he had for a microphone he had in his hand and appeared to be talking into."
Beere thought Martinez wanted to pull him over and alerted other officers on his radio.
Martinez also made a hand gesture indicating he wanted Beere to stop his vehicle. That's when Beere saw Martinez's long hair and scruffy appearance and thought, "He's not a cop."
When Beere stopped for a red light at 25th Avenue and International, Martinez turned onto 25th Avenue. Martinez was arrested by officers a few blocks away. The modified car was registered to someone else.
Police are notifying other departments to see if Martinez might have been involved in similar incidents in other cities.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Jul 20, 2009 11:00 pm US/Eastern
Ocean County Man Finds Purple Pearl
MYSTIC ISLAND, N.J. (CBS 3)
An Ocean County man turned his craving for some fresh clams into a possible small fortune.
Ed Seitzy asked his clam-digging neighbor, Joey, last Thursday if he could have a few clams for dinner.
"I opened it and it had this funny looking thing in it. I sort of knew what it was, but it sort of looked like dirt. I hit it and thought it was a pearl," said Seitzy.
What Ed found wasn't just any pearl, it was a purple one.
When Ed learned the odds of finding a purple pearl, one in two million, he decided to call a jeweler.
"The reaction was pure disbelief because nobody had heard of it before. Several jewelers didn't know what we were talking about," said Seitzy.
In January, a Florida couple found a smaller purple pearl and netted $25,000. But Ed has heard about even bigger payouts.
"A million dollars maybe."
Ed is going to get the pearl appraised and said if the pearl is worth a million, he will give Joey his boat.
After all, Ed may be upgrading.
LINK TO VIDEO:
GEM THIEVES IN SWITCHEROO
'120 GRAND' CENTRAL CAPER
Last updated: 3:43 am
July 25, 2009
Posted: 3:42 am
July 25, 2009
The timing was perfect -- perhaps a little too perfect.
In an elaborate heist, three crafty crooks made off with a duffel bag stuffed with $120,000 in baubles by duping two jewelry salesmen in the Grand Central Terminal food court, MTA police said yesterday.
The ruse involved one con man following a salesman for hours on the day of the crime, tailing him for miles on his regular route from Chinatown to Midtown.
Once at Grand Central, the thieves used two distractions to swap one of the jewel-laden bags with one of equal heft and appearance.
An inside job has not been ruled out, with police still baffled a month after the June 24 caper.
"The three that did this were obviously well planned, and it was well thought out, and it was pretty well followed through on," said MTA Police Detective Michael Alfalla, whose agency released surveillance footage of the prime suspect.
Cops have not ruled out the possibility that one or both of the salesmen, who worked for jewelry wholesaler My Oro USA, were in on the scheme.
The goods were poorly guarded and somehow the thieves knew the exact weight of the bags.
"It is being investigated as suspicious. I have rarely seen something played out like that," Alfalla said.
Police questioned the salesmen but said their stories were consistent with witness accounts.
The two merchants were both lugging black bags loaded with 800 items, including gold and diamond rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings -- all of them inscribed with the initials "MO" -- and $2,000 in cash.
At the end of their shift, they stopped for a food-court meal. One salesman got up to throw away trash and asked his partner to watch his bag.
When he got to the nearby can, a man suddenly took what looked like an accidental spill right in front of him and asked if the salesman could help him up.
At the same time, a second con man tapped the seated jeweler on the shoulder and told him he'd dropped $10 on the floor -- a bill the thief had placed there seconds earlier.
With the salesmen distracted, a third crook switched one of the bags with the near-identical phony.
Unusual facial tattoo leads to robber's arrest, cops say
Tampa Bay Online
July 20, 2009
Last Updated July 23, 2009
TAMPA - It wasn't particularly hard for the victims of a Riverview home invasion to identify the burglar. He was the only one with an outline of the state of Florida tattooed on his face, authorities say.
In addition to the Florida tattoo, Sean Roberts also has the words "Crazy Cracker" written or tattooed on his head, Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman J.D. Callaway said.
The victims identified Roberts via photos, Callaway said.
The armed home invasion occurred about 5 a.m. July 8 at a Riverview mobile home. Roberts and a woman entered the home and threatened the residents, forcing the victims into a bathroom, deputies say.
Roberts, 19, of Riverview, and the Billie Kiser, 28, took prescription drugs, a DVD player, a CD player and $120 in cash, Callaway said.
Roberts has the aliases "Crazy Cracker" and "Pretty," according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Web site.
Roberts and Kiser were arrested Sunday and charged with armed home invasion. Kiser also was charged with battery and domestic battery by strangulation.
Roberts and Kiser remain in jail without bail.
7-year-old waits in getaway vehicle while dad attempts robbery
08:11 AM CDT on Friday, July 24, 2009
By Jeremy Desel / 11 News
HOUSTON -- Harris County deputies say a man took his 7-year-old daughter along as he tried to break into an apartment.
But things didn't go as the suspect planned, because the person who lived there -- a former Harris County deputy -- happened to be home at the time.
The former deputy had just left the department in May.
Glesmann says the former deputy grabbed his gun and fired three shots. Two hit the suspect, who fled the scene in his truck and drove himself to the hospital.
But he was not alone. The suspect’s daughter was waiting for him in his truck and rode with him to the hospital.
LINK TO VIDEO:
"He is putting her at great risk and that is a shame. That is something that they will consider as they start filing charges on him," said Glesmann.
The girl told investigators that her father threw a bag out of the truck on the short drive to the hospital. In the bag, deputies found a list of apartments at the Toscana complex. They believe they were the ones the man was going to hit.
Deputies say the suspect didn't go far from home. They served a search warrant at a hotel across the street from the apartment complex.
The suspect is in stable condition at an area hospital.
He was hit twice. One of the bullets hit him near his spine.
The little girl is in CPS custody.
Sheriff says muscle car useful
RALEIGH -- Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says the Corvette Z06 being used by his deputies to pull over cars on Interstate 40 is a potent tool for fighting illegal drugs.
"We saw a need for it," Harrison said Wednesday about the special-model Chevy that goes 198 mph and was seized from a cocaine dealer. "We're going to get a lot of drugs off the road."
A Wake judge ordered Lawrence Creech Jr., the Corvette's previous owner, to forfeit it to the Wake Sheriff's Office following his arrest in December for cocaine possession and maintaining a vehicle for the keeping of controlled substances, according to court records. The 2007 car has a current retail value of $56,990, according to Kelley Blue Book.
The North Carolina Constitution says all forfeitures and all fines for breaking the state's criminal laws "shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for maintaining free public schools."
But there is also a state law that says a law enforcement agency in custody of a seized car can "retain the property for official use."
Harrison said Wednesday that he intends to keep the car as long as it proves useful. When his department is done with it, the car will be sold, and the proceeds will go to the Wake County Public School System.
North Carolina's largest school district could use the money. Facing a sour economy and the prospects of deep state budget cuts, school officials have instituted a hiring freeze, announced plans to cut about 1,500 employees and are bracing for additional cuts in the coming months.
But Wake County Attorney Scott Warren and Michael Crowell, a lawyer at the UNC School of Government, both agreed that Harrison is within the law to keep the car. There is nothing that would require the sheriff to sell the seized car within a specific period, they said.
"We would certainly appreciate any extra dollars we could have this year to hire more teachers or keep more teachers," said Anne McLaurin, a member of the Wake school board. "But I don't think there's anything we can do about the sheriff's decision, except encourage him to be generous."
Wake teacher Maryanne Faneck is more blunt. In the current economic environment, with teachers being laid off and education programs being cut, Faneck said using such an extravagant car to patrol the county's highways reflects poorly on the sheriff's department. It should be sold and the proceeds given to the schools, she said.
"I think they just want to drive a cool car," said Faneck, who teaches physical education at Swift Creek Elementary School in Raleigh.
Though the county got the Corvette free, that doesn't mean it comes without costs. Harrison estimated his department spent about $9,000 to outfit the car with blue lights, siren, radar gun, radio, laptop computer and other standard gear.
Records from the county garage show the Z06, which had 10,278 miles on its odometer when it was titled to the county on April 2, required a new set of special high-speed tires earlier this month. The four Goodyear F1 tires cost the county $1,571.98, according to the written repair order.
The car sat largely unused until Friday, the sheriff said, when it was assigned to a deputy with the department's Drug Impact Team.
On his first night on patrol in the Corvette, the deputy nabbed a car carrying drugs. Harrison said the car's stealthy, low-slung profile makes it difficult for drug runners or speeders to spot.
"Certainly, most people don't see a Corvette as a law enforcement vehicle," he said.
And the Z06's 505-horsepower, V8 engine also ensures it can catch just about anything on the road.
"It drives great," said the sheriff, who took the car home one night last week. He said it was the only time he has driven the Corvette, which rides a little rougher than the department-issue Dodge Charger he uses as his primary vehicle.
In response to a public records request, Harrison said he had no log or other document showing who has driven the car or when. As it sat in the parking garage under the county jail Wednesday, the Corvette had just 11,792 miles on the odometer -- 1,514 more than it had when the department took possession.
Faneck predicted the car will cost taxpayers more than it's worth.
"Who's going to pay for the maintenance on that high-dollar car?" she asked. "I mean $1,500 for a set of tires every 10,000 miles? As a teacher who was furloughed, I hope I'm not paying for that."
Deputies using Corvette to catch speeders
July 21, 2009
RALEIGH -- If you plan to outrun the law in Wake County, you’d better have a very, very fast car.
Or maybe a rocket.
Wake deputies have been spotted using a black Chevy Corvette Z06 to pull over speeders on Interstate 40. Among the fastest production cars in the world, the Z06 has a base sticker price of $74,875 and a growling V8 racing engine that turns out 505 horsepower.
The car has a top track speed of 198 miles per hour, according to Chevrolet.
Though the car has set tongues wagging among Triangle sports-car enthusiasts, Sheriff Donnie Harrison declined to talk to The New & Observer about the Corvette Monday or Tuesday. He did show the car to crews from local television stations.
“You’re not going to force me to talk about anything, you understand?” the sheriff said by telephone late Tuesday, his voice raised. “I’ve got a schedule to run. I don’t sell papers.”
Harrison said he was upset by an N&O reporter calling county commissioners for comment about the Corvette before he was ready to hold a media conference about it.
County Manager David Cooke said that it is his understanding that the Corvette was seized from a drug dealer, but that he could provide no further information, such as how much county money had been spent to upgrade the car.
Gary Buchanan, a Raleigh resident who owns a 2007 Corvette, saw Wake deputies last week using the stealthy, unmarked Z06 to enforce the 65-miles-per-hour speed limit on I-40 in Cary.
“It had blue lights in the back and blue lights in the front,” Buchanan said. “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. Something like that is so extreme. I mean, if my wife was out driving and this thing came up behind her and the lights started going off, man, she’d be scared to death.”
A Corvette co-insurer, Buchanan said he was concerned about the safety and expense of using the car for law enforcement. The special high speed tires the Z06 requires have to be replaced every 10,000 miles and cost up to $1,500 a set. The vehicle handles poorly in wet or cold weather, he said, and he wondered how a deputy could use a stick shift and work the blue lights and radio all at the same time.
The car’s wide, low-slung profile makes it nearly impossible to take off road, such as would be required to cross an interstate median. “This thing is not cheap to operate,” Buchanan said. “And Corvettes have to be driven by people who know what they’re doing.
"Because if you don’t, you can get into serious trouble real quick. The Z06 in particular is a pretty potent automobile.”
Other North Carolina sheriff’s departments have deployed flashy, souped-up cars in the past.
Former Davidson County Sheriff Gerald Hege had a black Chevy Impala SS with a painting of a black widow spider emblazoned on the side doors. Rebuilt by the Welcome shop of a NASCAR team-owner, the government-owned car Hege drove had a Corvette engine and two tanks of nitrous oxide to boost its horsepower.
The “Spider Car” was sold at auction for $32,000 in 2005, after Hege was removed from office and convicted on corruption charges.
In Forsyth County, former sheriff Ron Barker bought several Camaro Z28s in 1999 for a special Highway Interdiction Team. Kevin Barker, the sheriff’s grandson and a deputy, soon wrecked and totaled the $21,000 sports car while traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour during a high-speed pursuit.
The Wake Sheriff’s Office refused to comment on how its Z06 will be used or who gets to drive it. Asked Monday whether the car could be photographed, spokeswoman Phyllis Stephens said it was not available because the deputy it was assigned to was not on duty. Asked whether the deputy had taken the car home, Stephens refused to answer.
There are several photos of the sheriff’s car posted on Internet sites run by Corvette enthusiasts, however.
A request filed early Tuesday seeking public records related to the vehicle’s acquisition was not granted.
“I can get those to you at my convenience and at a time allowed by law,” Harrison said. “We’ll get you public records when I get time to get the public records to you.”
State public records law dictates that government agencies provide public records “as promptly as possible.”
Wake Commissioner Tony Gurley, who used to race stock cars, said he first heard about the Z06 being used by the sheriff’s office while at a recent car show.
“I was looking at a Highway Patrol car and a trooper told me about it,” Gurley said. “He was jealous. I told him that I didn’t remember voting on any funds to authorize that. I can’t even afford one for myself.”
Board chairman Harold Webb questioned whether using such a car at a time when the Wake sheriff’s officer and other county agencies are undergoing deep cuts and staff layoffs sends the right message.
“I hope he didn’t use any stimulus money for this,” Webb said of the sheriff.
The woman who keeps growing
Standing at 6ft 6ins and weighing 34 stone, Tanya Angus has been dubbed a modern day giant - and she is still growing.
Published: 9:54AM BST 23 Jul 2009
She has gained ten inches in just 12 years as a result of a rare growth condition, and is already one of the tallest and heaviest women on the planet.
Now doctors say Miss Angus, 30, from Nevada,i s the only woman in the world whose growth cannot be halted by medication.
Suffering from a rare disease known as Acromeglia, a condition often referred to as "gigantism" where the body produces too much growth hormone, Miss Angus grew from a slender 5ft 8ins at the age of 18 to 6ft 6ins and 34 stone.
"I'm staying hopeful," she said.
"Without hope you don't have anything. I hope they can stop me growing one day so I can try to live as normally as possible."
Miss Angus's troubles began in her late teens when she noticed that her feet, face and figure were continuing to grow at an alarming rate.
"I started to feel unhappy with my appearance. I started spending a fortune on make-up, trying to make myself look better. I couldn't understand why my face didn't look as attractive any more," she said.
She also began suffering severe migraines and felt run down and depressed, as if she was suffering from constant flu.
But though she kept going to see her GP, he believed the 20-year-old was just an attention-seeker hoping to be given anti-depressant drugs, and refused to help.
Even more shockingly Miss Angus's figure started to alter, and her once womanly body became larger overall, and straight up and down like a man's body.
"Someone at work actually asked me if I used to be a man," she said.
"My voice had also changed and become deeper. I was devastated and started to feel very shy and insecure." Things finally came to a head when her own boyfriend also asked her about her new shape, and got his mum to ask her whether she'd had a sex change. "I was heartbroken and I decided I didn't want any more to do with him," she said. "I phoned my mum and said I wanted to come back to Nevada.
"As soon as my sister saw me at the airport, she knew I'd changed, and she called my mum and told her we needed to see a doctor."
The family GP immediately recognised the signs of gigantism and referred Miss Angus to a specialist. At that stage she was 6ft 1ins tall, and a size 14 to 16, with a size 10 feet.
An MRI scan eventually showed a tumour the size of a grapefruit in her brain which had wrapped itself around her inner carotid artery, causing an overproduction of growth hormone. It was so big, doctors at first said there was nothing to be done. But Miss Angus's mother, Karen, searched the Internet and medical publications until she finally found a doctor who said he could operate.
In 2003, she finally underwent surgery to remove most of the tumour, although small parts of it were too difficult to separate from her brain. She was then given a tail of drugs to try to control the huge amounts of growth hormones still in her body.
Tanya had a count of 3,000 of the hormones, compared to an average person's of just 250.
Doctors were anxious to bring the level down to less than 1,000, but they were barely able to do that. Her height had crept up to 6ft 3ins, and she was now a size 20.
Unable to walk properly, she had to live with her mum and stepdad. She barely went out and was subjected to stares and rude comments in the street.
"It was horrible," she said. "My whole life had to change, and I couldn't do anything for myself any more. The hardest thing is that people kept thinking I was man, and calling me sir, which really annoys me. I try to dress in feminine clothes and wear make-up to look nice, but it's really hard when you're my size." Two years later in 2005, the hormone levels again began to soar, and Tanya's mum sought out a second specialist who discovered the tumour had grown again and was now the size of an orange.
She underwent further surgery, and fat from her stomach had to be used to pad out areas of brain tissue from where the tumour had been removed.
Tanya was put on another set of medication to reduce the growth hormone, but her levels have never sunk to below 900 and are now way over 1,000. She is now one of the world's tallest women, and also one of the heaviest.
Then two years ago, Miss Angus also suffered a stroke, caused by the pressure her massive body was putting on her heart.
She had to learn how to walk and talk again, and now suffers hearing difficulties. She recovered and went to live with her sister, but still struggles to get around, and now uses a wheelchair.
"Doctors just say there is nothing we can do for her," said Karen.
"You don't know how many doctors we have called to try and help us. We've spent all our savings, over $200,000 trying to help her.
"One doctor even told me that my daughter had only two months to live. "That was eight months ago, but I refused to believe it. I won't stop until we can find something to halt the growth."
Now Tanya has a new doctor, who she's been seeing for three months, and he is hopeful of finally finding a drug combination to slow down her growth.
"I'm doing this story because I want people to understand why I'm this way," she says.
"It's not my fault I ended up like this.
"People even in my home town are still so hurtful, and I'd like people to be educated so they can treat me as a real person at last."
Upshur BOE fires principal
The Inter Mo
After weeks of suspensions and speculation, the Upshur County Board of Education voted Tuesday morning to fire Dr. Brenda Wells from her position as principal at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
On July 8, Wells told The Inter-Mountain that Superintendent of Schools Scott Lampinen had fired her two days before and that the board would later vote on his recommendation.
During the meeting Tuesday, board members went into an executive session to discuss the issue. Lampinen's recommendation was to suspended Wells without pay July 6 through July 21 and to terminate her contract on July 21. After a short discussion, the board voted unanimously for the superintendent's recommendation.
Wells had been suspended in May for 10 days until the board could make its decision. The day before graduation, she was suspended for five more days without pay.
Wells told The Inter-Mountain that the incident that led to her suspension involved a fight in the cafeteria where several students were in "a dog pile."
"While attempting to stop the food fight, I observed two boys fighting and I went over in an attempt to break up the fight," Wells said. "I saw everyone was laughing and to relieve the tension I jumped on. I didn't get 2 inches off the floor, and I probably looked like a huge beach ball and I was down and up before you could say one."
In other action, the board also hired Bill Struble as the new head football coach at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. Struble had resigned after last season at West Virginia Wesleyan College where he had been the head coach for more than 20 years. Struble replaces Dave Chipps, who resigned last month.
B-UHS principal says she was fired
After weeks of speculation and suspensions, Buckhannon-Upshur High School Principal Dr. Brenda Wells says she has been fired. School officials are releasing little information saying only that a vote will take place at the next Board of Education meeting later this month.
On Tuesday, The Inter-Mountain received an e-mail from Wells explaining a change in location for a U-CARE meeting. Wells said the meeting would not be at B-UHS because she has been fired. "As of Monday, Scott Lampinen, the superintendent of school, basically fired me," the e-mail states. "Of course it has to go to the board, first, but since they have only heard the complainers so far, plus other reasons, I do not feel a single one of them wants to hear the truth."
Wells said she and her attorney met Monday with Lampinen, Assistant Superintendent Roy Petit and the attorney for the Upshur County Schools when she was told she was fired.
Petit was the only administrator from the board office to return a call to The Inter-Mountain. He said the board will have to vote on the issue at its July 21 meeting before it is official.
In a phone conversation with The Inter-Mountain, Dr. Wells said, "I was suspended for 10 days with pay so they could decide what to do about an incident that lasted a few seconds that was on video. I believe it was on purpose to keep me from attending senior activities. At the end of the 10 days just one day before graduation, I was told they had decided to suspend me for five days without pay."
Wells described the incident as "a dog pile" that took place in the cafeteria. "While attempting to stop the food fight, I observed two boys fighting and I went over in an attempt to break up the fight," Wells said. "I saw everyone was laughing and to relieve the tension I jumped on. I didn't get 2 inches off the floor, and I probably looked like a huge beach ball and I was down and up before you could say one."
Wells added that she feels she is a victim of a personality difference and she was promoting the best practices of today.
"School principals need to build relationships with the kids and have fun," Wells said. "This way students will better accept you. I have eight years of administration experience, six of them in high school and when the kids like you and respect you they will behave better and will understand you better when you have to discipline them. "
Wells said problems experienced at the recent B-UHS graduation could have been prevented if they had not pulled the head principal off campus and if the principal with the most experience with high school students would have been there.
"I do not blame my assistants for the problems at graduation," she said. "I almost have more high school administrative experience than all the assistants put together.
"It is my understanding after I was pulled from campus the school became chaotic," she said. "The faculty was told at a meeting that all three assistants principals would be head principals. I also understand that the practice for senior activities was also chaotic.
"I do not blame the senior sponsors," Wells said. "The administrator who could have helped them the most was pulled off campus. It was of the upmost importance for me to be there. Buccaneers are worth whatever it takes."
Wells said that some of the teachers fought the changes she was trying to put in place.
"I currently have filed grievances and anticipate future litigation," Wells said
Bee mine ... the happy couple
By AMY ST JOHNSTON
Published: 23 Jul 2009
WILL you bee mine?
A Chinese couple have tied the knot covered in a layer of BEES.
Li Wenhua and Yan Hongxia, who work for the Nanhu forestry commission in Ning'an city, Northern China, have been keeping the creatures for more than 25 years.
So when Li popped the question they decided the only way to make their big day buzz was to invite their bumblebee buddies.
The pair attracted the swarm to them by using queen bees as bait.
Li said: ""I have been working with bees for two decades and it was the obvious choice for us for our big day."
His new wife added: "It was an amazing feeling to have a carpet of living bees moving over my body. I could feel them as they moved around — it was amazing.
"I have always loved bees but this was a totally new experience."
Seems they think they're wedding was the bees knees.
Wanted: volunteers to eat chocolate every day for a year in the name of science
Scientists from the University of East Anglia are searching for volunteers to eat chocolate every day for a year.
Published: 9:12AM BST 23 Jul 2009
Researchers studying the potential health benefits of dark chocolate at UEA in Norwich, Norfolk, need 40 women to test specially made bars.
Participants must be post-menopausal and have type 2 diabetes to help see whether flavonoid compounds in chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Some 150 volunteers who took part in the study's first round of tests last year will soon be tested for any health benefits.
Dr Peter Curtis, of the UEA's School of Medicine, said: "Our first volunteers are about to return for their final visit to see if the markers of heart health – such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels – have changed.
"A successful outcome could be the first step in developing new ways to improve the lives of people at increased risk of heart disease."
Researchers believe that chocolate rich in flavonoid plant compounds found in cocoa and soy could help postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes ward off heart disease.
A Belgian chocolatier has been used to create bars rich in flavonoids, and the test bars used in the clinical trials are said to have a "bitter" taste.
The new volunteers must be under 76 years old and must not have had a period for at least one year or be taking HRT.
They must also be non-smokers and have been taking cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins for at least a year.
The UEA said that this will involve giving blood and urine samples, having an ultrasound scan of their arteries and filling in questionnaires about their lifestyle.
Participants would have their risk of heart disease tested five times during the year to see whether change occurred.
The study is being funded by research group Diabetes UK and staff from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the Institute of Food Research would be involved.
YOUR TAXES BUILT THIS DRUG DEN
STATE STAFFERS HUNG OUT IN 'MAN CAVE' AT WORK
New York Post
Last updated: 9:00 am
July 22, 2009
Posted: 1:54 am
July 22, 2009
Two state employees, accused of fashioning a secret "man cave" at the Capitol Building in Albany so they could watch TV, smoke dope and zone out on the taxpayer's dime, racked up nearly $30,000 in overtime, according to state records.
A spokesman for the state Inspector General Joseph Fisch said the cumulative overtime payouts of $28,400 over the past five years are part of the sweeping investigation into the secret, unauthorized party lounge, tucked inside a maintenance area of a Capitol garage facility.
Louis Marciano, 50, a supervisor with the state Office of General Services, and Gary Pivoda, a cleaner working under him, decked out their lair with a TV, board games, DVDs and couches, said Fisch, who raided the hideout and issued a devastating report last week.
Investigators found rolling papers and marijuana scales, authorities said. They dubbed it a "man cave" before dismantling the room.
Marciano and Pivoda allegedly showed up for work every day at 4 p.m., immediately lit up a joint, then zonked out on the couch while their co-workers did the cleaning in the state-owned Empire State Plaza garage.
Pivoda, 48, of upstate Latham, however, did more than just chill, according to state investigators.
He allegedly tooled around the Capitol neighborhood making drug deliveries in his OGS truck to other state employees, as well as electricians and plumbers.
Both have been suspended without pay, and Pivoda has been charged with marijuana possession and criminal use of drug paraphernalia.
Pivoda, who has worked for the state for nine years, was paid an annual salary of $29,600 and his cumulative overtime for the past five years was more than $4,700, according to records from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Pivoda declined comment.
His boss, Marciano, had spent 31 years as a state employee and was paid a salary of $37,470. He racked up a cumulative $23,738 in overtime since July 2004, according to the comptroller's report.
An OGS spokesman said Marciano's job entitles him to overtime because he's required to clean up after summer concerts and remove snow in the winter.
"This kind of behavior won't be tolerated by the state. We went straight to the inspector general when we learned of this behavior," said spokesman Bard Maione.
In announcing the suspensions, Fisch said, "Public employees are paid to work for the good of New York."
Marciano's lawyer, Lee Kindlon, described his client as "a blue-collar guy, salt of the earth" and insisted Marciano had earned the overtime fairly.
"He earned overtime approval from the state. It hasn't been an issue until now," he said.
Kindlon characterized the "man cave" as a break room.
"Initially, it was a place to get out of the cold. They didn't really provide a break room for him," said Kindlon.
He pointed out, "I've got a break room with a refrigerator in it."
'DOPE': Gary Pivoda is accused of smoking dope
in this homemade lounge in a government
'DOPE': Gary Pivoda is accused of smoking dope
in this homemade lounge (above) in
a government garage.
Lawyer Accused of Murder-for-Hire Plot Released La Jolla's Steven R. Liss was being held on $1M-plus bail
ERIC S. PAGE
San Diego News
Updated 8:29 AM PDT, Wed, Jul 22, 2009
An attorney with an office in La Jolla who police said tried multiple times to hire someone to kill his wife is being released from jail, according to the district attorney's office.
Steven Liss, 53, was arrested Friday by San Diego police, who said Monday that he was booked on four counts of solicitation to commit murder, false imprisonment and spousal battery.
A day later, however, a spokesman said the district attorney's office did not feel it had enough evidence to prosecute Liss beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, the case is being sent back to the police for additional investigation, according to the spokesman. It's not clear if Liss has been released from jail yet, but the Who's in Jail Web site run by the county sheriff's department still had him listed in custody.
Liss, a La Jolla resident, was taken into custody after his wife, Karen, and community members came forward with concerns for her safety, police said Monday. Investigators the same day said Liss sought the help of others multiple times in recent months to have his wife murdered.
The couple filed for divorce in February. Police said Karen Liss had a restraining order against her husband.
A law practice operated by Steven R. Liss is located on La Jolla Boulevard and apparently specializes in family law and adoptions. According to the state bar association’s Web site, he was admitted to the California bar in September 1987. State bar association records reveal that Liss has been disciplined for failure to perform competent legal services and failure to promptly refund unearned legal fees, but he is currently licensed to practice law in California.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Liss was being held in lieu of $1,060,000 bail pending his release.
The Baltimore Sun
July 21, 2009
Three boys, ages 7, 8 and 11, were arrested after a neighbor spied them stealing bicycle parts from Northeast Baltimore's Medfield community, according to a report on WBAL-TV last night. Their parents complained cops put them in handcuffs, into a wagon and to jail.
LINK TO VIDEO:
They weren't charged but were put into a program; they were held about two hours, the television station said.
Baltimore police defended the arrests. I know that handcuffs are usually required when an arrest is made both for the safety of the officers and the suspect. I'm all for teaching these kids a lesson, but is it necessary to put someone this young in handcuffs?
Back in 2007, Mayor Sheila Dixon apologized for police officers who arrested and handcuffed a 7-year-old boy who had been seen riding a motorized dirt bike. She said then that officers had "better options" than to handcuffing and detaining such a small child. The mayor called it "a bad choice."
But police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told WBAL: "We are just going to hold people accountable for their actions -- whether it's a 7-year-old who's taken property or not. If it was your property, you would want some justice for that."
Kids' case spurs debate over crime, punishment
By Peter Hermann
The Baltimore Sun
July 22, 2009
Here are two consistent complaints about Baltimore and why it seems to be a city out of control: Punishment rarely fits the crime, and parents don't take responsibility for their children.
So what do you do when three boys, ages 7, 8 and 11, steal a scooter, a wagon and bicycle parts from a neighbor's yard in North Baltimore's Medfield community?
The angry victim called police, who promptly came, handcuffed the youngest boy, got him to roll on his friends and then handcuffed them as well. The officer marched all three to the back of a wagon and took them to juvenile jail, where they stayed for at least two hours Friday before being retrieved by their parents.
Was the punishment too harsh and done without giving the parents a chance to act - as the mother of one boy complains - or just right to teach a valuable lesson about right and wrong in the absence of proper oversight, as police and some city residents suggest?
LINK TO VIDEO OF BOYS:
Toya Goodson said a second-grader is too young to be arrested for such a transgression. She readily acknowledges that her son, Ayize Massey, joined older kids and stole the man's scooter from Newport Street, then dropped it as the owner chased him to the boy's home on Falls Road and called 911. The officer came, and Goodson said the man "pointed to my son, [saying,] 'That's the one right here.'
"I said, 'Let's talk to my son,' " the mother added. "The officer said, 'I don't have time, I'm locking him up.' "
Goodson said Ayize, in tears, gave up his friends, was put in metal handcuffs and taken away in the wagon to the Juvenile Detention Center on Gay Street. She said her son is now grounded, has apologized to the man and is writing him a letter. "I'm not raising my son to steal," Goodson said. "But he's still a child, and we've all done things that we thought we could get away with. Our job as parents is to teach them. I have no problem with disciplinary action, but I think this could've been handled differently."
Baltimore police expressed little sympathy, other than to note that officers have few options in dealing with such a scenario. "Our position is that we have to hold people accountable," said the department's chief spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi. "In this case, we had a confession from a group of juveniles who stole property. It showed the kids the criminal justice system."
The spokesman noted that one of the kids told a television station that he would "never steal again." Said Guglielmi, "That is exactly what we want to hear." He said none of the children was charged criminally, but instead they were put into a program to help young offenders.
Two years ago, Mayor Sheila Dixon apologized to the family of a 7-year-old boy who was arrested after an officer saw him riding a dirt bike on a sidewalk. She called the bust "not consistent with my philosophy on community policing" and "a bad choice" on the part of the officer.
Dixon said Tuesday that in the earlier case, the boy "was on his own bike, he wasn't stealing." She refused to offer an apology in the present case, but she said that given that the youngsters' parents were home, "I might've handled it a little differently" and written the report inside the house instead of taking the children to jail.
Guglielmi said that in the 2007 case, the boy was arrested by a sergeant after the mother had complained about a warning her son had received from another police officer; as a result, the spokesman said, the child's arrest was alleged to have been what he called a "retaliation attempt." (The family has sued the city for $40 million, and the case is pending.)
"Things leading up to that arrest were very different" from what happened Friday, Guglielmi said.
The spokesman said the kids perhaps "learned a valuable lesson," not unlike the one he learned one day when he defied police in his hometown in Connecticut by playing hockey with his friends in the street. After repeated warnings, officers handcuffed him and took him in.
He was 6 years old.
Guglielmi said he wasn't criminally charged but afterward, "I didn't go near the street."
His parents had to collect him from the authorities. "The Italian form of discipline is much worse," Guglielmi said when asked about how his parents had reacted, before abruptly stopping in midsentence. He would only add, "It was a good learning experience for me."
In keeping with the mantra from the mayor and the police commissioner, who continually preach responsibility, the police spokesman said, "My parents never yelled at the police. It was my fault."
East Naples woman accused of being an illegal dentist
Naples Daily News staff
July 22, 2009 at 11:30 a.m.
An East Naples woman was arrested late Tuesday after an investigation revealed that she had been practicing dentistry without a license in her converted garage.
According to reports, investigators received a tip on July 21 that Rosa Maria Toledo, 56, 1065 Moon Lake Drive, was practicing dentistry illegally.
They obtained a search warrant, which was executed Tuesday evening.
Inside Toledo’s home they found that the garage had been converted into a dental office. In the room was a black reclining chair, a water-powered drill set, and a cabinet containing dental castings, molds, dental crown glues, crowns, partial dentures and bridges. Another cabinet contained novacaine and other substances. Several dental tools were hanging on the wall. Also in the office was a ledger containing information for hundreds of patients.
Deputies received information indicating that Toledo had been a practicing dentist in Mexico before moving to the United States.
Toledo was charged with practicing dental hygiene without an active license and non-licensed person leasing or operating dental equipment.
35 Million Joints' Seized in Gulf of Aden
July 22, 2009 11:58 a.m. EST
A British ship carried out the largest drug bust ever recorded in the Middle East this week, seizing an amount of cannabis sufficient to make 35 million marijuana cigarettes, the British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.
The HMS Cumberland ship caught the drugs off the coast of Oman during a Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 patrol.
The seized drugs, comprised of 12.4 tons of cannabis resin, have a street value of $70 million.
"If you look at individual seizure cases, it's the largest seizure of cannabis resin ever, according to our databases," Thomas Pietschmann, a Research Officer at United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime told The Media Line. "The only larger seizures were in Turkey in 2001, when 19 tons were seized, and in Spain where we had 15.8 tons." Pietschmann explained that while in terms of global of seizures, this drug bust is equivalent to 0.9 percent of seized cannabis resin, a relatively low figure, the significance lies in the quantity seized in a single operation.
In 2007, the last year for which the U.N. drug office has complete information, only 11 countries seized more cannabis resin throughout the year than the amount taken in the one seizure this week.
The HMS Cumberland was examining a suspicious cargo vessel and found a secret compartment with large bales of narcotic material identified as cannabis resin. The drugs were later destroyed.
An engineering mechanic from the Royal Navy team that boarded the vessel was quoted as saying his team was well-trained in these kinds of operations.
"But you don't expect to find this quantity," he said. "Twelve tons is a huge amount of drugs and looked like bags of potatoes piled up when we got it on deck."
Officials believe the drugs were intended to reach the Europe and the seizure is seen as an important step in stopping the financing of terrorism.
"Typically, it seems that this would originate in Afghanistan, exported via Pakistan to the sea and exported from Pakistan onward, either to Europe or to Africa," Pietschmann said.
"We've seen for quite some time that Afghanistan is really expanding its cannabis resin production," he added. "The largest producers of cannabis resin in the world are Morocco and Afghanistan."
The CTF 150 is a multinational coalition naval task force which conducts maritime security operations as part of the war on terrorism. It operates southeast of the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
2:10 PM EDT, July 21, 2009
LINK TO VIDEO:
Woman jumps out of shower to chase bike thief
A woman chased after a thief who stole her bicycle while she was in the shower and shamed him into handing it back.
Published: 7:00AM BST 21 Jul 2009
Lesley Dedman, a former town mayor, spotted the man peddling off when she looked out of her bathroom window.
Although wet-through, she was so enraged that she threw on a pair of jeans and a sweater and jumped in her Jaguar car.
She drove for nearly a mile before over-taking and then swerving in front of the man, causing him to slam into the side of her car.
The offender gave her a mouthful of abuse until she told him he had stolen her bike, at which point he ran off limping from an injury caused by the collision.
Grandmother Mrs Dedman, of Longham, near Ferndown, Dorset, said: "I was shaking with a mixture of fear and rage and was soaking wet at the time, I must have looked like a wild woman.
"I was just so livid that somebody could take my bike that I was determined to get it back. I would do the same again."
Mrs Dedman, who is 5ft 5ins tall, was shocked when she realised the thief was not a youth as she had thought but a burly, middle-aged man.
She added: "Luckily he grabbed a bag he had put in the front basket and hobbled off."
Mrs Dedman put her mangled Daimler ladies' push bike in the back of her car and drove home and called the police.
The thief is described as being 6ft tall, had ginger and brown hair and was wearing a white baseball cap at the time.
Dorset police is now investigating the theft.
Pensioner reunited with wedding ring 33 years after she lost it under a hedge at her former home
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:15 PM on 21st July 2009
Anthea Capewell had long ago given up hope of finding her wedding ring after losing it under a hedge 33 years ago.
The 60-year-old's wedding and engagement rings both flew off her finger as she swung shut her garden gate in 1976.
Despite conducting a thorough search involving a metal detector, Mrs Capewell and her husband David only managed to locate the engagement ring.
The couple moved out of the house in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire, eight years later.
So Mrs Capewell was astonished to receive a call from her former neighbour to say the ring had been found buried in some garden weeds.
Long time coming: Don Rigby points to the spot where his wife found the wedding ring that former neighbour Anthea Capewell lost in 1976
'I was absolutely gobsmacked and, of course, I was ecstatic,' she said. 'I just couldn't believe it.'
The former shop assistant have kept in touch with neighbours Don and Carol Rigby - who lived on the other side of the hedge - in the 25 years since they moved four miles away.
It was Mrs Rigby who dug up the ring while gardening - prompting a jubilant call to the Capewells' current home in nearby Bilborough.
Mrs Capewell said: 'Carol phoned and said she had some news for me. She told me I had better sit down. I didn't know what to do expect.
Together again: An overjoyed Anthea and David Capewell pose with the ring and a photo taken on their wedding day in 1969
'Then she explained she had been collecting the clippings after cutting the hedge and had decided to do a bit of weeding underneath.
'She pulled up a dandelion and noticed a piece of metal come up with it - and as soon as she shook the soil off she realised what it was.
'It must have worked its way down into the soil after we missed it all those years ago. It came up like new with just a bit of soap water.'
'When I used to walk through our garden gate I was in the habit of flinging my hand behind me to shut it,' recalled Mrs Capewell.
'That day, as I did it, I felt my rings go - not just my wedding ring but my engagement ring, too. They just slipped off and flew through the air.
'I was sure they had gone into the hedge. We looked for weeks and even used a metal detector, but we just couldn't find them.'
Mrs Capewell's husband David, now 62, finally stumbled across the engagement ring later that year while he was laying a new driveway but the wedding band had remained elusive.
Inspired by the extraordinary find, the Capewells are now set to renew their wedding vows next year.
The couple, who have three children and 11 grandchildren, married in 1969 and only recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
Mrs Capewell said: 'I was devastated all those years ago. I didn't have a ring for quite a while, because we thought they would turn up.
'David bought me a new wedding ring after we gave up the search, but now I'll always wear the original. I kiss it every single morning.'
Mr Capewell added: 'We assumed it was lost forever until Carol called. I thought we had won the lottery when I heard Anthea's reaction.
'She was overjoyed, and you could have knocked me down with a feather. I couldn't believe it how well preserved it was. It's amazing.'
Zephyrhills store offers drive-through weddings
Helen Anne Travis,
St. Petersburg Times
Monday, July 20, 2009
Kimberley Estes, left, shows the Rev. Sharon Burnett, owner of Mother Earth Goddess, the digital mural she is affixing to the sliding glass doors where weddings will be performed.
ZEPHYRHILLS — Lining the main drag through town, signs advertise drive-though restaurants, drive-through ATMs and now, drive-through weddings.
The Rev. Sharon Burnett opened Mother Earth Goddess metaphysical store in a former dry-cleaning business on Gall Boulevard in early July.
Unsure what to do with the sliding glass doors where customers used to pick up their pressed and cleaned garments, Burnett, a notary public and minister, decided to officiate behind-the-wheel nuptials. Couples with a marriage license, a witness over the age of 18 and $20 can exchange vows without turning off the engine.
"It's no different than standing at the courthouse," said Burnett, 58.
Appointments aren't necessary.
"It would be nice, but I can get it done in no time," she said, snapping her fingers.
The sign on the side of the gray cinder block building at the end of the Zephyr Plaza strip mall hasn't attracted any couples yet, but plenty of curious passers-by.
"They ask, 'Are you for real?' " Burnett said.
That was the same response from the Department of State Division of Corporations, which oversees notaries in Florida, when asked if they had heard of any similar services.
"I don't know of any," said Karon Beyer, a bureau chief with the Department of State. "Because it's so unique, that would be something we would talk about."
Those seeking an exhaust-free ceremony can also wed inside the Mother Earth Goddess store. Burnett will push aside the bench where healers perform Reiki and chakra work in her back room and turn the small area into a sanctuary. But keep your guest list tight.
"I only have 28 chairs," she said.
In the back room or at the drive-through window, Burnett will also officiate vow renewals and commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.
Mother Earth Goddess is Burnett's third metaphysical store. The former IT professional opened InnerLight Metaphysical Center in Zephyrhills in 1999, but had to close it after nearly four years to take care of her ailing mother in Georgia.
In 2008, the spiritual world called her back and she ran Mother Earth in Tampa for a year, before bringing it closer to her home in Zephyrhills.
The store sells candles, incense, dream catchers and books on Kabbalah and tarot cards.
When asked if the serene, reverent aura of the stores clashes with the Vegas-style weddings offered at the window, Burnett dismissed the notion with a flick of a wrist.
"Metaphysical people aren't always serious," she said. "They like to have fun, too."
Scholar's arrest raises profiling questions
AFP/Getty Images/File –
Henry Louis Gates, an acclaimed
black US scholar has accused a
Massachusetts police officer of racism
BOSTON – Supporters of a prominent Harvard University black scholar who was arrested at his own home by police responding to a report of a break-in say he is the victim of racial profiling.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. had forced his way through the front door of his home because it was jammed, his lawyer said Monday.
Cambridge police say they responded to the well-maintained two-story home near campus after a woman reported seeing "two black males with backpacks on the porch," with one "wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry."
By the time police arrived, Gates was already inside. Police say he refused to come outside to speak with an officer, who told him he was investigating a report of a break-in.
"Why, because I'm a black man in America?" Gates said, according to a police report written by Sgt. James Crowley. The Cambridge police refused to comment on the arrest Monday.
Gates — the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research — initially refused to show the officer his identification, but then gave him a Harvard University ID card, according to police.
"Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him," the officer wrote.
Gates said he turned over his driver's license and Harvard ID — both with his photos — and repeatedly asked for the name and badge number of the officer, who refused. He said he then followed the officer as he left his house onto his front porch, where he was handcuffed in front of other officers, Gates said in a statement released by his attorney, fellow Harvard scholar Charles Ogletree, on a Web site Gates oversees, TheRoot.com
He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior." He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26.
Gates, 58, also refused to speak publicly Monday, referring calls to Ogletree.
"He was shocked to find himself being questioned and shocked that the conversation continued after he showed his identification," Ogletree said.
Ogletree declined to say whether he believed the incident was racially motivated, saying "I think the incident speaks for itself."
Some of Gates' African-American colleagues say the arrest is part of a pattern of racial profiling in Cambridge.
Allen Counter, who has taught neuroscience at Harvard for 25 years, said he was stopped on campus by two Harvard police officers in 2004 after being mistaken for a robbery suspect. They threatened to arrest him when he could not produce identification.
"We do not believe that this arrest would have happened if professor Gates was white," Counter said. "It really has been very unsettling for African-Americans throughout Harvard and throughout Cambridge that this happened."
The Rev. Al Sharpton said he will attend Gates' arraignment.
"This arrest is indicative of at best police abuse of power or at worst the highest example of racial profiling I have seen," Sharpton said. "I have heard of driving while black and even shopping while black but now even going to your own home while black is a new low in police community affairs."
Ogletree said Gates had returned from a trip to China on Thursday with a driver, when he found his front door jammed. He went through the back door into the home — which he leases from Harvard — shut off an alarm and worked with the driver to get the door open. The driver left, and Gates was on the phone with the property's management company when police first arrived.
Ogletree also disputed the claim that Gates, who was wearing slacks and a polo shirt and carrying a cane, was yelling at the officer.
"He has an infection that has impacted his breathing since he came back from China, so he's been in a very delicate physical state," Ogletree said.
Lawrence D. Bobo, the W.E.B Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard, said he met with Gates at the police station and described his colleague as feeling humiliated and "emotionally devastated."
"It's just deeply disappointing but also a pointed reminder that there are serious problems that we have to wrestle with," he said.
Bobo said he hoped Cambridge police would drop the charges and called on the department to use the incident to review training and screening procedures it has in place.
The Middlesex district attorney's office said it could not do so until after Gates' arraignment. The woman who reported the apparent break-in did not return a message Monday.
Gates joined the Harvard faculty in 1991 and holds one of 20 prestigious "university professors" positions at the school. He also was host of "African American Lives," a PBS show about the family histories of prominent U.S. blacks, and was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1997.
"I was obviously very concerned when I learned on Thursday about the incident," Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust said in a statement. "He and I spoke directly and I have asked him to keep me apprised."
LINK TO SLIDESHOW:
'Gambling Granny' sentenced to 14 months of house arrest
She left 2 grandkids in car while she played the slots
By Tonya Alanez
South Florida Sun Sentinel
1:14 PM EDT, July 20, 2009
A Broward County judge this morning sentenced a grandmother to 14 months of house arrest for leaving her two grandchildren unattended in a car while she gambled at a Hallandale Beach casino, a prosecutor said.
Jeanne Shahan, 54, of North Miami, pleaded guilty to felony child abuse, misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and misdemeanor leaving a child unattended in a vehicle, said Assistant State Attorney Mary Ann Braun.
On Aug. 19, 2008, Shahan left her grandchildren -- a 2-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy -- unattended in a vehicle for more than an hour while she played the slots at Mardi Gras Gaming, 831 N. Federal Highway, police said.
The car's air-conditioning was off, but the windows were down.
"She's a very good lady who just used poor judgment, and she's very sorry about it," Shahan's defense attorney, Chris Narducci, said today.
Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson also ordered three years probation upon completion of house arrest, Braun said.
Levenson also prohibited Shahan from entering any gaming institutions.
World's Smallest Cell Phone Set to Hit Stores In Israel
July 20, 2009 6:37 p.m. EST
Jerusalem, Israel (MEDIA LINE)
Title doesn't mean much to Breuning
By KARL PUCKETT • Tribune Staff Writer • July 20, 2009
Walter Breuning of Great Falls, who is 112, downplayed being the oldest man in the world Sunday after 113-year-old Henry Allingham of England died Saturday, but others paused to acknowledge the milestone.
So you're the king on the hill," 95-year-old John Kenny kidded Breuning as they passed each other in the lobby of the Rainbow Retirement Home, where Breuning lives.
As Breuning sat in the sun room, other residents stopped to offer congratulations.
"It's not half as important as feeling good," Breuning said.
Breuning said he's most grateful for his good health, not a world title, noting that he still is hungry for breakfast when he gets up each morning.
"If you're in good health, you've got everything there is," he said.
Following Allingham's death, both the Guinness World Records and Gerontology Research Group Web sites listed Breuning as the world's oldest man, pending verification.
Longevity doesn't run in Breuning's family.
Breuning said his father, a civil engineer, died at 50, and his mother, a housewife, at 46. Two brothers and two sisters died in their 70s, he said.
Breuning credits his longevity to keeping busy and moderation.
He worked until he was 66, retiring in 1963 after a long career with Great Northern Railway, where
he began work at 16 in Minnesota before transferring to Great Falls five years later.
But he continued to serve as the manager-secretary of the local Shriner's Club until he was 99.
For the past 30 years, Breuning has eaten two meals a day, including good-sized helpings of fruit. The country's growing problem with obesity is easy to explain, he says. "They eat too much."
He takes no pills and still walks up the ramps to get to his second-floor apartment each day after breakfast.
When he was younger, Breuning said he enjoyed an occasional beer or "high ball," but he didn't drink in excess. He gave up his beloved cigars, which he had smoked all of his life, when he was 99.
Breuning was born in Melrose, Minn., on Sept. 21, 1896, the year William McKinley won the presidency. Breuning cast his first presidential ballot for Woodrow Wilson, who served from 1913 to 1921, and he's voted in every presidential election since.
As a young boy, the family moved to Minneapolis and later to De Smet S.D.
A lot has changed over the past century, he says. "I bet you never saw a horse pull a fire engine."
Walter Breuning, who is 112, has lived at the Rainbow Retirement facility in downtown Great Falls for 29 years. "It's not half as important as feeling good," he said of the possibility of being the world's oldest man. (TRIBUNE PHOTO/KARL PUCKETT)
LINK TO VIDEO OF WALTER BREUNING:
Thieves prey on the grief-stricken at Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary
WHITTIER - Thefts of purses, laptops and other valuables from mourners' cars at Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary isn't rare.
But the number of such crimes, mostly from unlocked vehicles, have jumped. Now deputies and cemetery officials are warning people not to leave valuables in their cars.
There have been 26 thefts from cars at Rose Hills so far this year compared to the 11 last year, according to Sgt. Richard Hernandez. The sheriff's Pico Rivera Station handles crimes committed on the 1,400-acre cemetery at 3888 Workman Mill Road in Whittier.
"They take advantage of mourners," he said. "I think these burglars and thieves have found a rich target."
Because of the increased thefts, deputies have conducted surveillance and patrolled the cemetery. The cemetery said it started passing out fliers to drivers who stop at the information booth. The flier warns people to lock their cars and not to leave valuables in the vehicles.
The same flier is posted at the park's entrances, said Richard Hardy who is the park's visitor services manager. He is in charge of Rose Hill's park patrol.
"We try to get people to lock their car. This is the LA Basin. Whatever happens outside, happens inside a cemetery," Hardy said.
"People tell us, `Who would steal at a cemetery?' Thieves. They have no conscience. We really
despise these types of activities on our families. It's disgusting."
He suspected the culprits would pick a car and very quietly steal the valuables inside. He was told by deputies the thieves start using the victims' credit cards within a half hour.
Out of all the thefts, Hardy recalled only one case where a victim saw a man carrying her purse get into a gray sport utility vehicle. She ran after the man.
"She beat on the window, yelling, `Stop! Stop!'," Hardy said.
The thief got away. But that's the only description of a suspect vehicle they have, Hardy said.
"The difficulty is we don't know who we are looking for," Hardy said.
He said he heard similar thefts are happening at other cemeteries.
Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Guerrero said there's been a consistent problem with thefts at Rose Hills and there's been surveillance conducted before this year.
The current bumper crop of thievery are almost all whodunits, authorities said.
"It could be anybody," Guerrero said.
So far, deputies arrested three people. Two of them were in possession of stolen property and drugs, Guerrero said.
Two couldn't be tied to the thefts but had their parole violated.
"You have two parolees with prior theft convictions driving through Rose Hills," Guerrero said. He said the men told deputies they were there to visit the graves of "homeboys."
A third man was caught July 13.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Hernandez said deputies patrolling the cemetery arrested a parolee at the cemetery who allegedly had heroin, meth, a syringe, ammunition, a box of illegal fireworks, two envelopes with escrow documents addressed to others, an envelope with checks in other people's names, a new model iPhone, four iPods and a slim jim in his car.
Deputies are investigating whether Joseph Mayorga, 27, is involved with the thefts.
No charges have been filed yet against Mayorga related to the arrest. But he is being held at Men's Central Jail for parole violation.
"He was caught as he was driving. He said he was there to see a homeboy who had been shot and killed. He couldn't tell us what plot," Guerrero said.
Boy, 14, collapses after overdosing on nicotine gum handed out in school
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:19 PM on 20th July 2009
A boy of 14 collapsed after overdosing on nicotine gum handed out by school counsellors to help smokers quit cigarettes.
Aiden Williams was rushed to hospital after he chewed his way through 30 pieces of the tobacco substitute Nicorette during lunch hour.
His mother today hit out at the school, which allows children as young as 12 to be given up to a week’s supply - 105 pieces – without parental consent.
Caroline Williams said: ‘I couldn’t believe that this gum can be given out like this without parents knowing. It is then being passed around the playground.
‘The doctors said that he could have died and he had to be kept in for 24 hours for observation.
‘I know what my son did was stupid, but if anything it proves that these kids can’t be given responsibility for taking medication that could do serious harm.’
Aiden, a pupil at Menzies High School Science College in West Bromwich, West Midlands, said he was given the gum by a classmate who had allegedly been caught smoking.
Workers from Sandwell Council’s Drug Education, Counselling and Confidential Advice (Decca) had been into school that morning and given out hundreds of boxes of the gum to pupils who smoke.
Aiden was rushed to Sandwell General Hospital with stomach pains after he collapsed in the playground at lunchtime.
He admitted having eaten two days worth of the gum - 30 pieces - in just one hour, was kept in overnight for observations and allowed home the following afternoon.
Paul Harris, deputy head at Menzies School, said: ‘We have older teens in school who have issues with smoking and work directly with Decca, which offers support.
‘This is low-strength nicotine gum and there is nothing stopping youngsters from the age of 12 buying it over the counter.
‘Decca does not have to inform pupils’ parents about this.’
Margaret Storrie, from Decca, said: ‘Aiden overdosing on gum like this is the first time such an incident has happened and we are disappointed to hear about it.’
Quitting aid: Schoolboy Aiden Williams
collapsed after chewing 30 pieces
of Nicorette gum
Amazing Hotel Lets You Sleep Among the Gods
Weird Asia News
Updated July 18, 2009
When a travel agent offers you “a peach of a hotel room,” she’s usually referring to the view or the size of the Jacuzzi. But a hotel in China’s Hebei province lends that expression a whole new meaning.
By conventional standards, the Tianzi Hotel, in Yanjiao, doesn’t look like a place where you’d spend a few nights on a business trip. But that’s just what it is: a colorful ten-story hotel in the shape of a familiar trinity of Chinese Taoist figures.
The giants are known as Fu, Lu, and Shou. Their names translate as “good fortune,” “prosperity,” and “longevity,” traditionally considered the three attributes of a good life. They in turn represent three important stars, which are said to embody these attributes.
The longevity concept gets a further boost from the peach in Shou’s left hand. Peaches, too, are a classic symbol of long life, but this one has a little something extra: It’s actually one of the hotel’s suites, and the two holes in front are windows!
The Tianzi Hotel has been around since 2001, and it reportedly landed some kind of Guinness Book record. The question is, for what category? Fanciest Hotel Room that Looks an Awful Lot like a Peach? Largest Depiction of Three Mythical Figures that Also Features Room Service? Or maybe Scariest Hotel to Return To after Drinking Too Much at a Dinner with Clients?
Wisconsin court praises drunken concert goer
By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press Writer
5:24 PM CDT, July 15, 2009
MADISON, Wis. - An Illinois teen knew he was too drunk to drive home after a Dave Matthews Bandc oncert south of Milwaukee. So he fell asleep in his car, only to be awoken by a state trooper.
Travis Peterson, 19, of Dixon, Ill., said even though he told the officer he was drunk and sleeping it off, the trooper ordered him to leave because the lot was being cleared.
Once out of the parking lot, Peterson was arrested for drunken driving. He was subsequently found guilty and ordered to spend 60 days in jail.
A Wisconsin appeals court on Wednesday commended Peterson for doing the right thing by trying to sleep it off, and said the trial court was wrong not to let him argue that police had entrapped him.
The state had argued successfully at trial that people who choose to drink too much can't argue they've been entrapped when stopped for drunken driving. The 2nd District Court of Appeals disagreed.
"Drinking alcohol to excess, while inadvisable and unhealthy, is not unlawful by itself," the appeals court said.
It did not address the fact that Peterson was underage. Peterson's attorney, Andrew Mishlove, said that was irrelevant given the other issues at stake.
The trooper testified he checked on Peterson's car because Alpine Valley staff thought there was a dead person in it. The trooper said he had to bang on Peterson's car window for up to seven minutes, shine a flashlight in his face and turn on the his siren and lights before Peterson woke.
The trooper said he told Peterson he would come back later to check on him. Two hours later, the trooper was asked to assist another officer who had pulled over Peterson for drunken driving.
Because Peterson and the trooper told different stories, a jury should have been allowed to determine whether Peterson had been entrapped, the appeals court said.
Birthday card thief sentenced to 5 months in prison
An East Linda man who stole cash from children's birthday cards while working at the U.S. Postal Service facility in Olivehurst will serve five months in federal prison.
Dean Edward Hudson, 29, was sentenced Friday in Sacramento by U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia. He could have been sentenced to as long as five years, the U.S. Attorney's Office said earlier.
Garcia ordered Hudson to serve five months on home detention after the prison sentence and pay $2,944 restitution to theft victims.
A U.S. attorney estimated earlier that Hudson stole between $5,000 and $10,000 from July to December 2008 while working on a mail sorting line.
Hudson pleaded guilty May 5. He will begin serving the sentence Aug. 28.
Hudson's previous job was working as a Wal-Mart loss prevention specialist.
According to investigators, Hudson opened more than 1,000 pieces of mail. After taking cash from cards, he replaced envelopes upside down on a sorting line so they would not jam machinery.
The Postal Service's Office of Inspector General arrested Hudson in December after observing him for an extended period of time during which he rifled through mail and took numerous breaks and trips to the restroom.
On Dec. 6 and 7, inspectors saw Hudson putting mail in a drawer and hiding it in his clothing.
The investigation began after customers in Chico, which is served by the Olivehurst facility, received mail that had been opened and cash removed.
The Appeal-Democrat received similar reports as early as September.
Teenager convinces airline bosses that he is an aviation tycoon
In a scam that recalls the Steven Spielberg movie, Catch Me If You Can, a teenage boy has tricked British aviation executives into believing that he was a tycoon about to launch his own airline, it has emerged.
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Published: 7:45AM BST 19 Jul 2009
The 17-year-old, from Yorkshire, posed as a businesman in his twenties, claiming to have a fleet of jets and a team of colleagues.
Using the pseudonym Adam Tait, he flew to Jersey to hold a meeting with the director of its airport and dealt with industry bosses over his proposals for a cut-price Channel Islands-based airline servicing most of Europe.
Tait's performance was so convincing that he persuaded the executive to meet with him again the following week.
His exploits echo the schemes of the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can. The film, in turn, was based on the real life escapades of Frank Abagnale Jr, who posed as an airline pilot from the age of 16 and 21.
To give his talks credibility, Tait bought up websites in the name of American Global Group and Island Airways, and said that an American parent company had a readily available fleet of 12 jets.
Tait then approached various established airlines to ask whether they wanted to give him a franchise agreement.
A number of different names were used, such as David Rich and Anita Dash, in telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges with senior airline executives to give the impression that he was part of a team.
The teenager managed to carry off the ruse for six months until journalists at a publication that had reported on his proposed business venture became suspicious.
According to the Sunday Times, he was questioned by Essex police while trying to gain access to a 93-seater jet at Southend airport, having convinced the plane's marketing agent that his "company" wanted to lease it.
The police will not be taking action against the teenager, who is reported to suffer from a form of autism and to be able to recall the exact detail of every airline's flight schedule.
Malcolm Coupar, the commercial manager of Aurigny, the airline owned by the Guernsey government, said he and his managing director had been interested in the proposals put forward by Tait.
"Some of the things he said were the sort of things that were indicative that there might have been some substance to his claims," said Mr Coupar.
"If they were real then there would have been opportunities for us to expand our business and that's not the sort of thing we are going to ignore."
Professional mover finds $16,500 in rare antiquities in the trash
BY Nicholas Hirshon
DAILY NEWS WRITER
Updated Sunday, July 19th 2009, 12:31 PM
Art expert Howard Nowes (r.) examines artifacts found by Nick DiMola.
Rubbish Removal Company President
Nick Dimola with objects he found in
2006 at the Manhattan apartment
of Artist Clinton Hill.
One man's trash turned into Nick DiMola's treasure.
Five years after the Queens rubbish remover took home a mysterious barrel from a SoHo apartment, he opened it to find dozens of ancient Mexican artifacts.
The mix of bowls, figurines and jugs were made between 300 B.C. and 500 A.D., some by Mayans.
They're worth an estimated $16,500 - and DiMola said he's not at all surprised.
"There's always something in the garbage worth money," he said.
DiMola, 39, came to own the booty when his Ridgewood company was hired to clear the cluttered space of abstract artist Clinton Hill, who died in 2003.
Hill left his possessions to his longtime partner, Allen Tran, who died just months later, said John Koegel, a lawyer for their estates.
The couple's property fell to friends, who formed a nonprofit foundation to take the valuables from the studio.
The scuffed cardboard barrel was mistakenly considered trash and DiMola stuck it in a warehouse, where it collected dust for years.
He recently decided to peek inside just to see what treasure might await.
Even though no one intended to toss out the artifacts, Koegel said the foundation has no legal claim to recoup them from DiMola.
"If he is given a contract by the owner of property to remove and dispose of certain things, if the owner makes the mistake, that's the way it is," Koegel said.
Still, the attorney declined to congratulate DiMola on his find.
"I'm not happy for him," Koegel said. "I'm sorry that [barrel] slipped through the cracks."
The most valuable object that DiMola brought to upper East Side art dealer Howard Nowes for appraisal was a $1,000 stone ax god - perhaps intended as a sacrifice - from the Mezcala region of Mexico.
As for the pieces' future, DiMola said he first planned to pack them back into the barrel. He doesn't collect ancient art, so he said he was open to selling the pieces.
"I don't see the beauty in this, to be honest with you," he said. "I like things about history, but this pottery doesn't grab me."
World's oldest man Henry Allingham dies
First World War veteran Henry Allingham – who last month officially became the world's oldest man – has died at the age of 113.
By Patrick Sawer
Published: 7:52AM BST 18 Jul 2009
Mr Allingham died in his sleep at 3.10am on Saturday at his care home near Brighton, after a life that saw him marked out as a national treasure. He was one of the last three surviving British veterans of the First World War.
He was also the last surviving founder member of the RAF, the last man to have witnessed the Battle of Jutland and the last surviving member of the Royal Naval Air Service.
On June 20 Guinness World Records had announced that Mr Allingham, who celebrated his 113th birthday on June 6, became the world's oldest man after the previous incumbent, Tomoji Tanabe, died in his sleep at his home in Japan, also at the age of 113.
He jokingly attributed his longevity to "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women".
Mr Allingham, who became a familiar face at Remembrance ceremonies, was born in Clapton, East London, in 1896.
After his father's death he was brought up by his mother, who persuaded him not to join up as soon as war broke out. When she died in 1915 he enlisted, serving first as a seaplane mechanic and then as a spotter, or bomber.
He later confessed that he did not realise what war meant when he signed up, but his experiences at the Third Battle of Ypres, widely known as Passchendaele, resulted in his naïve enthusiasm for battle and glory that gave way to a passion for peace.
He once told the BBC: "War's stupid. Nobody wins. You might as well talk first, you have to talk last anyway."
The scenes he witnessed of soldiers waiting to go over the top at Ypres have stayed with him ever since.
"They would just stand there in 2ft of water in mud-filled trenches, waiting to go forward," he said. "They knew what was coming. It was pathetic to see those men like that. I don't think they have ever got the admiration and respect they deserved."
Mr Allingham and his wife Dorothy were together for more than 50 years, living to see his first great-great-great-grandchild. After the war he went into the motor industry, eventually joining the design department at Ford before retiring in 1961.
When asked how he had lived so long, Mr Allingham, who held the Legion d'Honneur, said: "I don't know if there is a secret, but keeping within your capacity is vital.
"I've had two major breakdowns, one during the war and one after but both when I was trying to do the work of three men.
"The trick is to look after yourself and always know your limitations."
Mr Allingham's nephew, Ronald Cator, said it was "a very sad day for the family".
He added: "He had an incredible life - a hard one, and an enjoyable one in the last few years.
"He was an incredible man. It's a very sad day for everyone."
Mr Cator, 75, from Acle, Norfolk, said he last saw Mr Allingham last month at his 113th birthday celebrations in London.
He said: "He was very, very frail. I visited him in April as well and he had been going steadily downhill ever since then."
Asked what memories he had of Mr Allingham from earlier years, he said: "I always remember him singing.
"He would sing all the old songs. He and my father would love to get together and have a good sing-along."
Since April 2006, Mr Allingham, who lost his sight as a result of macular degeneration, had been cared for by St Dunstan's, the charity providing support for visually impaired ex-Service men and women, at its centre in Ovingdean, near Brighton.
Robert Leader, chief executive of St Dunstan's, said: "Everybody at St Dunstan's is saddened by Henry's loss and our sympathy goes out to his family.
"He was very active right up to his final days, having recently celebrated his 113th birthday on HMS President surrounded by family.
"As well as possessing a great spirit of fun, he represented the last of a generation who gave a very great deal for us. Henry made many friends among the residents and staff at St Dunstan's. He was a great character and will be missed."
Mr Allingham had five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.
A funeral will take place later this month at St Nicholas' Church in Brighton.
Mr Leader said: "He was very active right up to his final days, having recently celebrated his 113th birthday on HMS President surrounded by family.
"As well as possessing a great spirit of fun, he represented the last of a generation who gave a very great deal for us.
"Henry made many friends among the residents and staff at St Dunstan's. He was a great character and will be missed."
Mr Alllingham's death leaves just two surviving British veterans of the First World War - Harry Patch, 111, who is the last surviving soldier in the world to have fought in the trenches, and Claude Choules, 108, who served in the Royal Navy.
Speaking from Fletcher House care home in Wells, Somerset, Mr Patch paid tribute to Mr Allingham, saying he was "very sad at losing a friend".
Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to Mr Allingham on Saturday.
He said: "I had the privilege of meeting Henry many times. He was a tremendous character, one of the last representatives of a generation of tremendous characters.
"My thoughts are with his family as they mourn his passing but celebrate his life."
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said: "The Queen was saddened to hear of the death of Henry Allingham.
"He was one of the generation who sacrificed so much for us all.
"Her thoughts are with his family during this time."
Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, said Mr Allingham's death marked "the end of an era".
Mr Allingham left a legacy of memories to the nation, according to Dennis Goodwin, from the First World War Veterans' Association.
He said: "He left quite a legacy to the nation of memories of what it was like to have been in the First World War."
In love? It's not enough to keep a marriage, study finds
SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Living happily ever after needn't only be for fairy tales. Australian researchers have identified what it takes to keep a couple together, and it's a lot more than just being in love.
A couple's age, previous relationships and even whether they smoke or not are factors that influence whether their marriage is going to last, according to a study by researchers from the Australian National University.
The study, entitled "What's Love Got to Do With It," tracked nearly 2,500 couples -- married or living together -- from 2001 to 2007 to identify factors associated with those who remained together compared with those who divorced or separated.
It found that a husband who is nine or more years older than his wife is twice as likely to get divorced, as are husbands who get married before they turn 25.
Children also influence the longevity of a marriage or relationship, with one-fifth of couples who have kids before marriage -- either from a previous relationship or in the same relationship -- having separated compared to just nine percent of couples without children born before marriage.
Women who want children much more than their partners are also more likely to get a divorce.
A couple's parents also have a role to play in their own relationship, with the study showing some 16 percent of men and women whose parents ever separated or divorced experienced marital separation themselves compared to 10 percent for those whose parents did not separate.
Also, partners who are on their second or third marriage are 90 percent more likely to separate than spouses who are both in their first marriage.
Not surprisingly, money also plays a role, with up to 16 percent of respondents who indicated they were poor or where the husband -- not the wife -- was unemployed saying they had separated, compared with only nine percent of couples with healthy finances.
And couples where one partner, and not the other, smokes are also more likely to have a relationship that ends in failure.
Factors found to not significantly affect separation risk included the number and age of children born to a married couple, the wife's employment status and the number of years the couple had been employed.
The study was jointly written by Dr Rebecca Kippen and Professor Bruce Chapman from The Australian National University, and Dr Peng Yu from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
Police pay off suspect, FBI investigating incident
Posted: July 17, 2009 10:42 PM EDT
Updated: July 17, 2009 10:47 PM EDT
SARASOTA, FL - A Sarasota man that was caught on camera allegedly being kicked by a Sarasota Police officer has been given a settlement check by the city. Now the FBI has been called in to investigate.
Juan Perez also signed a document which says he will basically release the city from any charges regarding the incident, which happened June 26th. But his attorney says his client, who doesn't speak English, was confused.
The video shows officer Christopher Childers taking Juan Perez into the booking area of the Sarasota County Jail. Perez had been arrested on charges of disorderly intoxication and obstruction. Officer Childers is seen going over to Perez, kicking him, then holding him down with his foot.
"As anybody would be looking at raw footage, I was very concerned. We wanted to make sure that we got to the bottom of this as soon as I could," says Sarasota Police Chief Peter Abbott.
Apparently the city worked quickly. Officer Childers was put on administrative leave, pending an investigation. And a $400 check has already been cut insuring Perez wont sue...as a settlement for the incident.
His lawyer says not so fast. "I do not believe that that release is enforceful. He was not aware of what he had signed." Jim Delgato, Perez's attorney, says his client is Guatemalan. He doesn't speak English, and Spanish is his second language. So communicating is a challenge.
"As a taxpayer, I'm bothered. As a citizen I'm bothered. This has nothing to do with Mr. Perez being Latino. This has nothing to do with that. This is just inappropriate action by law enforcement officer or officers."
The police department says the Risk Management department of the City of Sarasota handled this issue. When possible litigation is involved, Risk Management takes over. "I don't give checks to people. We don't give checks to people. That is a Risk Management function. Obviously you saw the video...there is a possibility of litigation. You call Risk Management and put them in a place to manage the risk," says Chief Abbott.
The FBI was called in by Chief Abbott to investigate the criminal charges against Officer Childers.
ABC 7 tried to contact officials from the City of Sarasota to ask them about their policies for settlements and who approved this check. Our calls were not returned.
Link to Police pay off suspect, FBI investigating incident:
Link to Raw video of officer kicking man outside sheriff's office:
Dentist sued, accused of dropping tools down patient's throat -- twice
Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
12:44 PM EDT, July 17, 2009
A Winter Park dentist who allegedly twice dropped tools down the throat of an elderly patient -- a 90-year-old man who died after the second incident -- is being sued for negligence.
Relatives of Charles K. Gaal Jr. recently filed the suit in Orange County Circuit Court against Dr. Wesley Meyers of Aloma Park Dental.
They accuse Meyers of failing to take precautions to guard against dropping and losing his dental tools down Gaal's throat and failing to handle his tools properly during the second incident, which they say occurred May 1, 2007.
On Oct. 4, 2006, while he was performing work on Gaal, Meyers dropped an "implant screwdriver tool" down the patient's throat, the suit said.
Gaal swallowed the tool and two days later, he underwent a colonoscopy. The tool was removed from his intestines, the suit said.
On May 1, 2007, Gaal visited Meyers because he had a sore mouth. The suit says Meyers wanted to remove a "ball" attachment on an implant.
It was during that procedure that Meyers allegedly dropped a "mini-wrench" into Gaal's throat, which the patient swallowed. Also, Meyers lost a "ball attachment," which he presumed Gaal also swallowed, the lawsuit said.
Gaal underwent multiple medical procedures. The tool was spotted in his lung.
His chest cavity was cracked open, part of his left lung was removed and the tool was found. The ball was never recovered.
Gaal never fully recovered and was in "grave medical condition," the lawsuit said. He suffered a "cardiac event" on June 13, 2007, which required resuscitation. On June 19, 2007, he died.
In June 2008, the state fined Meyers $17,000. In a settlement, officials found Meyers negligent for dropping the tools in Gaal's unprotected throat in October 2006 and May 2007.
Meyers did not return a telephone message or e-mail. A message on the voice mail at his office said it was closed for vacation.
Dr. Wesley Meyers
Family Upset After Relative Dies When Dentist Drops Tool Down Throat
Posted: 5:40 pm EDT June 20, 2008Updated: 7:58 am EDT June 21, 2008l
LINK TO VIDEO:
The dentist has been in practice for quite a while. Dr. Wesley Meyers has been a family dentist for more than 30 years and in good standing with the state board. Now, the daughter of the man who died says Dr. Meyers should retire before someone else gets hurt.
Charles Gaal, Jr. went to Dr. Wesley Meyers to have his lower dentures replaced. During the procedure in September of 2006, Dr. Meyers dropped a small screw driver down Gaal's throat. It was surgically removed from his colon.
Then six months later during a follow up visit, it happened again.
"He told us it had never happened and never would again," said Anne Marie greer, the victim's daughter.
The complaint with Florida's board of dentistry says Dr. Meyers dropped a small wrench down Gaal's throat during the follow-up visit. An x-ray image showed the one inch metal cylinder lodged in the elderly man's lung. Less than two months later, the World War II veteran died from complications.
The state's board of dentistry banned Dr. Meyers from doing dental implants without refresher training. But since it was ruled an accident, Dr. Meyers was allowed to keep his license.
Dr. Meyers' Tallahassee attorney said Meyers would gladly retire if he could bring Charles Gaal, Jr., back. As part of his voluntary deal with the state, Dr. Meyers can only practice on patients younger than 64.
In the meantime, Gaal's family is planning to sue their longtime dentist.
Thief Leaves Behind Note
LINK TO VIDEO:
Teen fined $25,000 for cost of NH mountain rescue
Associated Press Writer Holly Ramer
Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 17, 5:27 pm ET
CONCORD, N.H. – A Massachusetts teenager who spent three nights alone on Mount Washingto inn April after he sprained an ankle and veered off marked trails has been fined more than $25,000 for the cost of his rescue.
Scott Mason had been praised for utilizing his Eagle Scout skills — sleeping in the crevice of a boulder and jump-starting fires with hand sanitzer gel. But authorities say he wasn't prepared for the conditions he encountered and shouldn't have set out on such an ambitious hike.
"Yes, he'd been out there in July when you could step across the brooks. And people have been out there in winter in hard-packed snow. But with these spring conditions, it was soft snow, it was deep snow," said Fish and Game Maj. Tim Acerno.
Acerno said he believes Mason's fine is the largest ever sought under a 9-year-old New Hampshire law that allows lost hikers and climbers to be charged for rescue costs. Mason's rescue was particularly expensive because the helicopters the state typically used were unavailable, and a helicopter from Maine had to be brought in, Acerno said.
Mason, 17, of Halifax, Mass., had planned to spend one day hiking 17 miles in the New Hampshire mountains but ended up lost after he hurt his ankle and decided to take a shortcut. The shortcut led him into rising water and deep snow caused by unseasonably warm weather.
Mason was negligent in continuing up the mountain with an injury and veering off the marked path, Acerno said. Negligence, he said, is based on judging what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.
"When I twist my ankle, I turn around and come down. He kept going up," Acerno said.
"It was his negligence that led to him getting into that predicament," he said. "Once he was in that predicament, yes, that's what we praise him for — he used his Boy Scout skills, and that's why he's still alive."
Several states, including neighboring Maine and Vermont, have rescue repayment laws similiar to New Hampshire, though others tend to be more lenient. In Washington state, a bill that would have created a reimbursement system with fines capped at $500 never even made it out of committee this year. In New Hampshire, however, lawmakers made it even easier to charge for rescues last year when they changed the law to allow fines for those who acted negligently instead of the harder to prove standard of recklessness.
New Hampshire officials have estimated that they could seek reimbursement in about 40 of the 140 or so rescues it typically handles each year. The money goes to the Fish and Game department's rescue fund. In most cases, hikers pay a few hundred dollars.
For the fiscal year that ended June 30, there were 131 missions that cost $175,320, Acerno said. He did not know how many of them resulted in fines.
Mason's family said they would not comment on the bill, which was mailed July 10. Mason has until August 9 to pay the bill; he could also take the state to court to contest the fine.
Paroled killer gets life for shoplifting
Past that included a murder 25 years ago comes back to haunt him
July 17, 2009, 10:25AM
Brian Keith Balentine told jurors he
thought he had already paid his debt to
society, a prosecutor said.
Brian Keith Balentine said he had paid his debt to society.
But a Montgomery County jury thought otherwise on Thursday, sentencing the paroled murderer to life in prison for shoplifting five compact discs last year from a Wal-Mart in Conroe.
Jurors learned of Balentine's criminal past during the punishment phase of his robbery trial.
That past included murder — the shooting death 25 years ago of a man trying to protect his new wife — and for several subsequent counts of theft.
Balentine told the jurors he thought he had already paid his debt to society, said Brett Peabody, a Montgomery County prosecutor.
“They agreed with us that he just needed to go away for the rest of his life,” said Peabody “He was not going to be able to adapt to life in the free world with honest people.”
In August 1984, Leroy and Marilyn Larson were returning home from their honeymoon in Galveston when they spotted Balentine and his older brother, Terry Balentine, standing next to their apparently disabled car at a rest stop in Freestone County — about midway between Houston and Dallas.
“The Larsons stopped to help. They were being Good Samaritans,” Peabody said.
Instead, the newlyweds were forced at gunpoint to drive along back roads while the brothers plotted their next move.
“They discussed the ways they were going to molest the young lady,” Peabody said.
Leroy Larson grabbed the steering wheel, forcing the car off the road. One of the brothers opened fire. Leroy Larson was shot twice.
Marilyn Larson grabbed the keys from the ignition and ran. They began shooting at her.
She was struck twice but managed to flag down a passing Department of Public Safety trooper.
The brothers received three life sentences. Brian Balentine, now 43, was released on parole in August 2006, Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said. His brother, now 47, remains in prison.
Marilyn Larson is believed to be still living in the Dallas area. Peabody said Freestone County authorities will notify her of the new conviction.
Since his release from prison in 2006, Balentine has been linked to at least three additional thefts.
The jury convicted him for a March 20, 2008, shoplifting incident at Wal-Mart at 18700 Highway 105 West.
He was charged with robbery rather than theft because he had injured the store's loss prevention officer who tried to detain him, officials said.
Days before that arrest, Balentine completed a 30-day jail sentence for a Harris County theft case.
Because of his violent criminal past, Balentine was charged with first-degree rather than second-degree robbery in the Conroe case.
Peabody said Balentine's parole for the 1984 murder case will likely be revoked. The trial judge on Thursday ordered that the life sentences will now run consecutively.
“Which really means he is never going to get out of prison,“ Peabody said.
Balentine will remain at the Montgomery County Jail until Texas prison officials take custody of him.
Attorney Earl Pryor, who represented Balentine during the trial, said he was disappointed with the life sentence the jury gave his client for a crime involving a handful of stolen CDs. “I was shocked,” Pryor said. “I was beyond shocked.”
Pryor knew that the prosecutors would bring up the 1984 murder conviction during the punishment phase of the trial but said he didn't realize the impact it would have on the jury.
“There's no doubt in my mind that they wanted to re-punish him some more for that case,“ he said. They just couldn't get past his past.”
Police say they nabbed robber on scooter
Just 45 minutes after he demanded money from a teller in Milton and fled on a red Vespa scooter, a Milton man was arrested by State Police in Dorchester yesterday, police said.
About 9:15 a.m., William Donovan, 35, walked into the Citizens Bank on Granite Avenue and handed the teller a note, said Deputy Chief Paul T. Nolan of the Milton police.
The teller handed over a bag of cash - police would not disclose the amount, but said a dye pack was included - and activated a silent alarm. State Police caught up with Donovan shortly after 10 a.m. on Gallivan Boulevard.
Donovan has been charged with armed robbery because the note threatened to shoot the teller, Nolan said. State Police caught up with Donovan shortly after 10 a.m. on Gallivan Boulevard. Donovan has been charged with armed robbery because the note threatened to shoot the teller, Nolan said.
Woman's Bingo Winnings Check Bounces
Inkster's Misty Laturnus Wins $26K At Bingo
Misty Laturnus, of Inkster, is a mother of three boys with another one on the way.
She said she was playing at the Ford Wayne Civic League on July 11 when she won.
"I was waiting for B6 for like seven numbers and it came," Laturnus said. "I jumped up, fell down and hit my head."
She was given a check for $26,449, and said she knew right away what she was going to do with the money.
"Pay off some bills and put a down payment down on a house was the main goal," Laturnus said.
Laturnus said she went Sunday and opened up a new account with a bank to deposit the money.
LINK TO VIDEO
"The next business day it was returned as uncollectable," Laturnus said. "The bank said they didn't have sufficient funds in their account to clear the check."
The president of the Bingo club said he became aware of the problem Wednesday morning and immediately called the bank to sort the problem out.
The president said he had funds transferred to Laturnus' account.
Late Wednesday evening Laturnus said she did see a pending transaction to her account for the amount she was owed, but would have to wait until Thursday to see if it cleared.
Ousted police chief's home is robbed on his last day
By BILL McGRAW • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • July 15, 2009
When Mayor Dave Bing introduced new Police Chief Warren Evans on Monday and talked about cutting crime in Detroit, ousted Chief James Barren was licking his wounds.
But Barren’s hurt wasn’t entirely due to the loss of his job. He was also upset about his Detroit home, which burglars hit last Thursday, his final full day as the city’s top cop.
“They got me pretty good,” Barren said Wednesday night.
He said the thief or thieves broke in during the day and stole a computer, camcorder, television, jewelry, watches and other items. He had no cost estimate.
As chief of the state’s largest police force since October, Barren, a 31-year DPD veteran, heard many residents complaining about break-ins.
“You relate to people and what they’re saying,” he said. “You think, ‘Wow. They got me.’ ”
He added: “This is part of living in a big city. It goes with the territory.”
Barren lives in the 8 Mile and Greenfield area, near Northland Center. Burglars have hit other homes in the neighborhood recently.
He said he has had cars stolen in the past and, many years ago, experienced another burglary.
Detroit police used to combat break-ins with special surveillance squads that targeted people suspected of being burglars, Barren said. That might work today, but he acknowledged the department is short of personnel.
“Resources are scraped to the bone,” Barren said.
Among the problems caused by too few Detroit cops is slow -- or no -- response.
Asked if police responded to what was then a crime scene at the home of the boss, Barren said: “They made it.”
Detroit Police Chief James Barren, at a news conference at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building in Detroit on Sept. 17, 2008, lost his job and had his home burglarized in the same week.
(ANDRE J. JACKSON/Detroit Free Press)
Elizabeth man arrested after he returns to crime scene to say sorry
The Star-Ledger Continuous News Desk
RAHWAY -- An Elizabeth man returned to the home he allegedly burglarized two weeks ago in an attempt to apologize to the homeowner Wednesday, and was arrested shortly after, according to a report by Central Jersey
The report said 35-year-old Craig Fletcher was charged in the June 29 break-in on Egolf Drive and another burglary on Inman Avenue the day before his arrest.
Fletcher allegedly rang the victim's doorbell Wednesday morning, the report said, apologized for committing the June 29 robbery and then fled on foot. The victim quickly called police, who arrested him a short time after, the report said.
According to the report, the victim came home on June 29 to find Fletcher in his backyard, carrying the victim's backpack, which was loaded with three laptop computers and an XBox video game console.
Fletcher was also charged with taking $200 in cash and a camera from a home on the 600 block of Inman Avenue Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 10:20 a.m., the report said. He was charged with two counts of burglary and is being held at the Union County Jail in lieu of $60,000 bail, according to the report.
Man jailed for not supporting someone else's child
The Associated Press
ADEL, Ga. — A Georgia man spent more than a year behind bars for failing to pay child support for a child that wasn't his, but he was released after DNA tests showed he wasn't the father.
Frank Hatley, 50, had been jailed since June 2008 for not making payments, but two separate DNA tests in the last nine years showed he was not the father of the boy, who is now 21.
Southern Center for Human Rights attorney Sarah Geraghty won Hatley's release at a hearing Wednesday in Superior Court. A court order has also relieved him of his financial obligation to the Georgia Department of Human Resources.
"State child support officials have shown extraordinarily poor judgment in Mr. Hatley's case," Geraghty said.
Although Hatley was freed from making future payments after a 2001 hearing, Superior Court Judge Dan Perkins had ordered him to continue making $16,000 in back payments. He paid $6,000 of that before being laid off from his job.
Perkins ordered Hatley's immediate release Wednesday after determining that he was indigent. Although he was released, Hatley's paternity case is still unresolved. No future hearings are scheduled.
"Out of it all, I just feel like justice should be served for me in this case," Hatley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shortly after his release. "I shouldn't have to keep being punished for a child that is not mine."
Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison, who had a baby in 1987 and told Hatley the child was his, according to court records. The couple never married and split up shortly afterward.
In 1989, Morrison applied for public assistance through the state Department of Human Resources. Hatley agreed to reimburse the state because he believed the boy was his.
Documents show Hatley paid at least $9,500.
But in 2000, DNA samples showed the two were not related, according to court records. A test earlier this month confirmed that.
July 16, 2009 03:56 PM EDT
Man jailed for child support, even though he was not the father, released
By Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A South Georgia man who had been jailed for more than a year for not paying child support — even though he was not the biological father — was released from custody on Wednesday.
“I thank God for this day,” Frank Hatley, 50, said in a telephone interview shortly after his release. “It feels good being free.”
Hatley had sat in a Cook County jail since June 25, 2008, even though a special assistant state attorney general and the judge knew Hatley was not the child’s biological father.
After showing a judge during a hearing Wednesday that he was indigent, Hatley was ordered released from confinement, his lawyer, Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said.
The judge, however, postponed deciding whether Hatley must still repay the more than $10,000 in child support the state says he owes. But Hatley does not have to make any monthly payments until that issue is resolved, Geraghty said.
“I’m certainly glad Mr. Hatley has been released but the underlying issue has still yet to be resolved,” Geraghty said.
Two DNA tests — one conducted nine years ago and another earlier this month — proved that Hatley was not the father of Travon Morrison, who is now 21. Even after learning he was not the father, Hatley paid thousands of dollars the state said he owed for support. After losing his job and becoming homeless, he still made payments out of his unemployment benefits.
In the 1980s, Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison, who became pregnant. Morrison had a baby boy in 1987 and told Hatley the child was his, according to court records. The couple never married and split up shortly after Travon was born.
In 1989, Morrison applied for public assistance through the state Department of Human Resources. The state moved to get Hatley to reimburse the cost of Travon’s support, and Hatley agreed because he believed Travon was his son.
But in 2000, DNA samples from Hatley and Travon showed the two were not related, according to court records.
With the help of a Georgia Legal Services lawyer, Hatley went to court and was relieved of his responsibility to pay future child support. But he still had to deal with being a deadbeat dad when it was assumed that he was really the dad.
Homerville lawyer Charles Reddick, working as a special assistant state attorney general, prepared an order requiring Hatley to pay the $16,398 he still owed the state for child support.
The Aug. 21, 2001, order, signed by Cook County Superior Court Judge Dane Perkins, acknowledges that Hatley was not Travon’s father.
After that, Hatley paid almost $6,000. But last year he was laid off from his job unloading charcoal grills from shipping containers. He became homeless and lived in his car. Still, Hatley made some child support payments using his unemployment benefits.
By May 2008, he apparently had not paid enough. In another order prepared by Reddick and signed by Perkins, Hatley was found in contempt and jailed.
On Wednesday, after being freed, Hatley said he wanted to be relieved from his financial obligations.
“Out of it all, I just feel like justice should be served for me in this case,” he said. “I shouldn’t have to keep being punished for a child that is not mine.”
Court knew man jailed for a year for non-support was not child's father
By BILL RANKIN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Frank Hatley has languished in a South Georgia jail for more than a year.
The reason? He failed to reimburse the state for all the public assistance his “son” received over the past two decades.
The problem? Hatley is not the biological father -- and a special assistant state attorney general and a judge knew it but jailed Hatley anyway.
“I feel bad for the man,” Cook County Sheriff Johnny Daughtrey said Tuesday. “Put yourself in that man’s shoes: If it wasn’t your child, would you want to be paying child support for him?”
Daughtrey said he hopes a hearing Wednesday will resolve the matter. Hatley has been held at the county jail in Adel since June 25, 2008, costing the county an estimated $35 to $40 a day.
Even after learning he was not the father, Hatley paid thousands of dollars the state said he owed for support. After losing his job and becoming homeless, he still made payments out of his unemployment benefits.
Hatley’s lawyer, Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said two independent DNA tests -- one nine years ago and one just a few days ago -- prove he is not the biological father.
“This is a case of excessive zeal to recover money trumping common sense,” she said. “What possible legitimate reason can the state have to pursue Mr. Hatley for child support when he does not have any children?”
It may be difficult for Hatley to get out from under the court order, said Atlanta family lawyer Randall Kessler, who is not associated with the case. “It’s definitely unfair,” Kessler said. “But at the same time, he’s dealing with a valid court order.”
Russ Willard, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said if Hatley can show at the hearing that he is indigent, the state will not oppose his release.
Willard said Hatley could have applied to the state Office of Child Support Services to request that he be relieved of his obligations. He said Hatley has not made such a request.
According to court filings, Hatley was never told that he could have a court-appointed lawyer if he could not afford one. Geraghty said she only recently took on Hatley as a client after the sheriff asked her to talk to Hatley about his predicament.
Geraghty said Hatley had paid a total of $9,524.05 in support since April 1995, but records of payments before that time are not available.
In the 1980s, Hatley had a relationship with Essie Lee Morrison, who became pregnant, had a baby boy and told Hatley the child was his, according to court records. The couple never married and split up shortly after Travon was born in 1987.
In 1989, Morrison applied for public assistance through the state Department of Human Resources. The state then moved to get Hatley to reimburse the cost of Travon’s support, and Hatley agreed because he believed Travon was his son.
But in 2000, DNA samples from Hatley and Travon showed the two were not related, according to a court records.
With the help of a Georgia Legal Services lawyer, Hatley went to court and was relieved of his responsibility to pay future child support. But he still had to deal with being a deadbeat dad when it was assumed that he was really the dad.
Homerville lawyer Charles Reddick, working as a special assistant state attorney general, prepared an order requiring Hatley to pay the $16,398 he still owed the state for child support.
The Aug. 21, 2001 order, signed by Cook County Superior Court Judge Dane Perkins, acknowledges that Hatley was not Travon’s father.
After that, Hatley paid almost $6,000. But last year he was laid off from his job unloading charcoal grills from shipping containers. He became homeless and lived in his car. Still, Hatley made some child support payments using his unemployment benefits.
By May 2008, he apparently had not paid enough. In another order prepared by Reddick and signed by Perkins, Hatley was found in contempt and jailed. When he is released, the order said, Hatley must continue making payments to the state at a rate of $250 a month.
Waynesville man calls 911 before trying to rob bank
July 15, 2009 06:04 PM
Waynesville — A 52-year-old Waynesville man called 911 on Wednesday to tell police that he was about to rob a bank.
Terrence Joseph Germani, who investigators believe walked to the Wachovia on Russ Avenue from his house on Parsley Street, was on the line with a dispatcher as he opened the bank's front door.
He calmly told the dispatcher he was wearing a black shirt and white shoes and was not armed.
“I've got a note, I am going to rob the bank,” he said. “I need to go to prison. I can't live like this anymore.”
Germani, police say, handed a teller a note saying he was there to rob the bank.
Patrol Officer William Benhart arrived shortly after Germani walked in.
The officer, in his report of the incident, said he reached for his gun and considered drawing the weapon and ordering the man to the ground but decided against that because the bank was full of customers.
Instead, he walked up to Germani and asked him what was going on.
“You got me,” the officer recalled Germani saying in his report. “I'm robbing the bank.”
The officer told Germani he wasn't under arrest at that point but he was being detained for questioning.
The man then demanded to be arrested.
“Arrest me,” he said. “I did it. I robbed the bank. I just handed her a note.”
The officer escorted Germani out of the bank, placed him under arrest after consulting with another office and took him to the police station.
Det. Ryan Singleton said Germani, in an interview, noted that times were hard for people with the bad economy but that he did not rob the bank for the money. He said he was a danger to himself and needed to be locked up.
“I want to go to prison,” the detective recalled him saying as his reason for committing the crime.
About an hour before calling 911, Germani had walked out of his job at Whitman's Bakery on Main Street where he was the head sandwich maker. He left a note at his home giving his possessions to his housemate, police said.
Singleton said this is the first time in his 11 years as a police officer that someone has called ahead before breaking the law.
Germani is charged with felony attempted common law robbery. He is in the Haywood County jail under a $15,000 bond.
His criminal record includes charges of felony larceny in Macon County and Florida.
Terrence Joseph Germani
Colorado revenue worker stole for love
Love motivated Michelle Cawthra to steal $11 million from the Colorado Department of Revenue and funnel the tax returns into her ex-boyfriend's bank accounts.
Cawthra testified Wednesday that she falsified documents and created fake businesses so that her former lover, Hysear Randell, could receive millions in tax refunds in order to pay for his business ventures, delinquent child support, land deals, diamond jewelry and expensive cars.
Some of the transactions, which took place over more than two years, were in the thousands of dollars and included money from unclaimed taxpayer refunds.
Cawthra told the jury that she often used her co-workers' computer passwords to adjust tax returns so that the trail did not come back to
"I did things I don't think I otherwise would have done had I not been in love with him," Cawthra testified.
Prosecutor Kandace Gerdes asked Cawthra what Randell needed in exchange for love.
"Money, I guess," Cawthra said, and began to cry.
Cawthra also told Gerdes that except for a few pieces of jewelry and a couple of trips, she did not live a luxurious lifestyle and did not share in the money she stole for Randell.
"I did what I was told," she said.
Randell, 42, is on trial in Denver District Court on multiple criminal charges including violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, theft by receiving, forgery and computer crime.
Randell's defense lawyer, Scott Reisch, said that his client did not know Cawthra, 32, was stealing money from her employer, but thought the money was coming from her family trust fund.
Reisch tried to show the jury that Cawthra was a woman obsessed with making Randell her "Prince Charming" by luring him away from his wife, Trudy Randell, with money. Trudy Randell was also charged in the case and has pleaded guilty to theft but has not yet been sentenced.
Cawthra's testimony is part of a plea deal with prosecutors. She later hopes to reduce the 24-year prison sentence she is serving.
Cawthra testified she did not have a family trust fund and that while she did try to lure Randell away from his wife, he knew the money was coming from the state of Colorado. The two met in 2002 at the Department of Revenue, when Randell briefly worked in the mailroom as a temporary employee.
She told Gerdes that before they were arrested in 2007, Randell again asked her to take money, but this time he wanted her to try and get $13 million to $14 million in one shot.
"As this went on over time there was more and more pressure to get more and more money and it was hard and the pressure was making me crack," Cawthra said.
Ex-Revenue supervisor gets 24 years in theft
A former Colorado Department of Revenue employee was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Friday and ordered to pay $10.8 million in restitution to the state.
Michelle Cawthra, 32, who was a supervisor in the Taxpayer Services Division, apologized during the sentencing hearing held in Denver District Court and said she took responsibility for her actions.
Cawthra's attorney asked Judge Sheila Rappaport to consider a community corrections sentence so she could work to pay back a portion of the money she stole, but the judge said she could not find any reason to be lenient and sent Cawthra to state prison.
Revenue director Roxy Huber appeared at the hearing and asked the judge to send a strong message in sentencing Cawthra.
"We are public servants that must be held to a higher standard," Huber said.
Grand-jury indictments say Cawthra funneled the money to her boyfriend, Hysear Randell, from August 2005 through 2007 to buy cars, jewelry, travel, real estate and to pay living expenses.
There were more than 50 transfers to various companies and entities in Randell's name ranging from $454 to $450,000.
Randell, 41, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in July.
Randell's wife, Trudy, 38, has pleaded guilty to theft and receiving more than $15,000. She will be sentenced Aug. 7.
Trucker Stops For Shower; Thief Nabs Cargo Worth $8.8 Million
Posted: 12:22 pm EDT July 15, 2009
Temple Police Chief Ed Whitt said the stolen 2007 Peterbilt 18-wheel tractor-trailer was valued at $100,000. He said the medication it was hauling included blood thinners and cold and nasal medicine. The theft happened Friday night at the Pilot truck stop off the Interstate 20 exit.
It was the second theft of a tractor-trailer there in recent months. Whitt said in May another driver stopped for a shower and returned to find his rig gone. He was not hauling any cargo.
Bank robber: The economy made me do it
The economy made him do it.
That's the excuse an armed robber reportedly gave tellers at a Houston bank as he demanded they empty their cash drawers. According to an article in today's Houston Chronicle, the thief lamented that he couldn't find a job and needed to steal to put food on the table.
"I'm only doing this to eat," the robber said as he brandished a pistol, according to FBI statements cited by the Chronicle. "They're not letting me work."
Crime typically rises during times of economic stress and high unemployment. As people can't find work and unemployment benefits run out, some folks resort to drastic, harmful measures.
Police say they have already seen a sharp rise in crime. In February, the Police Executive Research Forum, a nationwide association of police chiefs, said crimes associated with recessions have risen 44% across the country. Of the 233 major police departments surveyed by the group, about 39% saw an increase in robberies, 32% saw a rise in burglaries and another 40% saw a jump in vehicle thefts.
The survey was taken in January. By now, things have likely grown worse.
In anticipation of higher crime, municipalities typically increase the police presence in their communities. But not this time. Cities are cutting their law enforcement forces in order to manage sharp declines in tax receipts. On average, about 63% of agencies cut about 6% of their budget, according to PERF. Many of these cuts took effect July 1 because most major police departments operate on a fiscal year that begins this month.
"The fact that most police departments currently are being asked to make cuts is an indication of how badly this recession is affecting local tax bases," said Miami Police Chief John Timoney in a Feb 2 statement accompanying the survey's release.
Cuts were deepest among large cities facing the greatest budget shortfalls. Unfortunately, it is those same cities that typically have larger crime problems.
California's city of Oakland, for example, is eliminating about 140 officers from its 800-man police force. The cuts will take effect in September, according to the Wall Street Journal. Chicago's police department has more than 400 unfilled vacancies.
Theft isn't the only kind of crime that rises during a recession. Police typically see an increase in identity theft, particularly credit card theft, and other types of fraud.
Tuesday, Jul. 14, 2009
Judge closes SC funeral home that cut corpse legs
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A South Carolina judge Tuesday revoked the license of a funeral home where a worker cut the legs off a 6-foot-7 body so it would fit in a casket.
Administrative Law Judge Deborah Durden gave her decision immediately after hearing the appeal of Cave Funeral Home and owner Michael Cave.
The ruling may be the end the family business founded in Allendale 49 years ago. Cave's lawyer said his client would wait for the written ruling before deciding whether to appeal and the family is also considering selling the funeral home.
** FILE - In this April 2, 2009 file photo Ann Hines hold an undated photo of her husband former soul and funk guitarist, James Hines in her home in Allendale, S.C. Employees of a funeral home cut the legs of Hines, a 6- foot-7 man, without the family's permission so the corpse would fit in a casket. A South Carolina judge has ordered the closing of the South Carolina funeral home, Tuesday, July 14, 2009. Judge Deborah Durden ruled after a hearing Tuesday that last month's decision by the state Funeral Board to revoke the license of Cave Funeral Home and owner Michael Cave should stand.
- Mary Ann Chastain, File /AP Photo
The state Funeral Board ordered the home shut down last month after Cave admitted his father, Charles Cave, used an electric saw to sever James Hines' legs at the calf because he wouldn't fit in the casket. The elder Cave does not have the license needed to embalm a body, but helped with tasks around the home like dressing and cleaning bodies, his son told the board.
Michael Cave said he should be allowed to keep his license because he wasn't in the room when the legs were cut and had no idea what his father was about do. He also said there were no other blemishes on his 26-year record in the funeral business.
"It was a terrible act," said Cave's attorney, Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Columbia. "But these aren't terrible people."
But Cave never told Hines' family what had happened. He said he didn't want to compound their grief, later admitting that was a mistake. The body was placed in the casket with only the head and torso on view for the funeral service. Family members said they were so distraught they didn't notice anything was wrong.
Rumors about Hines' suspected truncation started spreading through the town of town of 3,700 people about 75 miles southwest of Columbia not long after his death from skin cancer in October 2004. But confirmation came four years later when a fired employee, who was the only other worker in the room with Charles Cave when Hines' legs were cut, told the family what happened.
The state funeral board exhumed Hines' body and found the severed legs still in the casket. A criminal investigation also has been launched. A spokeswoman for prosecutor Duffie Stone didn't immediately return a message Tuesday.
Hines, 60, was an albino black man who had several modest hits in the 1970s as a soul and funk guitarist with J. Hines and the Boys. He became a preacher later in life. His widow, Ann Hines, wasn't at Tuesday's hearing and didn't return a phone message from The Associated Press.
Harrison thinks Michael Cave could eventually go before the board and ask to be reinstated. In the meantime, the family is trying to figure out if it can complete services for a few bodies left in the home and what it should do with dozens of prepaid funeral plans, Harrison said.
Harrison said he felt the board acted especially harshly. He could find only one other time the board took away someone's license.
But Christa Bell, a lawyer for the agency that oversees the funeral board, said state law gives members discretion to remove someone's license for any reason they see fit.
"If they cannot take the action they took in this case," Bell said, "when can they take it?"
Do odd names make boys go bad?
Sentinel Staff Writer
July 2, 2009
Last updated 7/14/09
Boys growing up with popular names such as Michael, Joshua and Christopher have a good chance of leading law-abiding lives.
But young men named Kareem, Walter or Ivan could run afoul of the law.
That's according to a recent study that claims the more unpopular, uncommon or feminine a boy's first name, the greater the chance he will end up behind bars.
While Shippensburg (Pa.) University professor David Kalist's report in Social Science Quarterly shows that "unpopular names are likely not the cause of crime," he explains that factors often associated with those names can "increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency."
Boys with unpopular, girlish or uncommon names often are ridiculed by peers, come from families of low socioeconomic status and face discrimination in the workforce based on a preconceived bias about their names, according to the study, which analyzed more than 15,000 names.
Jay Corzine, chairman of the University of Central Florida's sociology department, said he finds the study "fascinating." He said family tradition often plays a part in naming a child and that the environment could affect a boy's upbringing.
"Some kids could have a name that leads to teasing and being picked on and, in return, that child could become aggressive with others," he added.
While academics are intrigued, others are skeptical.
"That's ridiculous, but I do remember a kid in high school named Ezekiel, and we would call him 'Zeke the Geek,'" said Cynthia Bezeer of Orlando. "He wasn't so little and would always get in fights with other kids in the hallways. Maybe the teasing over the name really got to him."
10 Strangest Names EVAR!
This Bizarro comic inspired me to look for bad (but real) names on the Web - and boy was I floored with the result that Google returned for the search terms "bad names" (6 million results!) and "worst names" (499,000 results). It seems that some parents are either cruel or mad when they name their kids.
Here are a few that are particularly strange:
• Urhines Kendall Icy Eight Special K. Yes, that's right: a baby named after the illicit drug ketamine. Oh, and that's pronounced "Your Highness," by the way.
Urhiness Kendall was born on Saturday, February 15, 2003, weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces. The baby shared birthdays with another guy with a weird name: Galileo Glilei, who went on to become a famous mathematician and astronomer.
• GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman. In 2005, the Internet casino GoldenPalace.com paid $15,000 to name a baby after itself and got more than it paid for in media attention. Sure most people condemned this sort of outrageous publicity stunt - some even calling it a form of child abuse - but the good news was that GoldenPalaceDotCom Silverman was born healthy at 7 pounds, 10 ounces on May 19, 2005.
Actually, baby Silverman wasn't the only human in the world named after the casino: In the same year, a 33-year-old mother of five named Terri Ilagan auctioned off the right to her name on eBay, which the casino won for a mere $15,199. The re-branded Mrs. GoldenPalace.com said: "To my kids and to my husband, I will always be Terri. My husband is real supportive. He thinks it's funny. As long as they get to call me Mom, they don't care. They are already starting to tease me and call me Goldie."
These two will join a GoldenPalace's branding of a Glaswegian woman's cleavage and their purchase of a decade-old "Virgin Mary" grilled cheese in the annals of the company's publicity stunts
• Joker Arroyo. Don't laugh: Mr. Arroyo is a Senator in the Philippines
His name "Joker" is derived from his father's fondness for playing cards. His brother is named "Jack." No words if there are any other siblings named Queen or King.
Update 5/29/08: Joker has a daughter whose name is also Joker Arroyo! Thanks Gabor Debreczeni!
Unusual names are pretty common in the Philippines: Bing, Bong, Ping, Ting, Led Zeppelin, Mick Jagger, Nirvana, Jejomar (yes, a combination of Jesus, Joseph and Mary) and Hitler Manila, whose sons are named Himmler and Hess. And no, Hitler Manila is a peaceful guy who doesn't share his namesake's Nazi ideology.
• Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116 (Pronounced "albin"). In 1991, Elisabeth Hallin and Lasse Diding wanted to protest the naming law of Sweden, which states that the court can diapprove of names that "for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name." They were fined 5,000 kronor (about $680 at the time).
The parents claimed that the 43-character name as "a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation." The court didn't buy it and upheld the fine. Then the parents tried to resubmit the name as "A" (yes, one letter - also pronounced "albin"). The court didn't buy that either, saying that one letter names are prohibited.
The baby finally went with "Albin Hallin" though in his passport his name was given as "Icke namngivet gossebarn" meaning "unnamed little boy."
• KentuckyFriedCruelty.com. Well, technically, this is not his parents' fault but what Christopher Garnett did was pretty strange so we'll include him on this list.
In 2005, Christopher, a youth outreach worker for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) agreed to change his name legally to KentuckyFriedCruelty.com to protest animal abuse by the food chain KFC. (Yes, and he's got a driver's license to prove it).
He did promise his mom that he'd change his name back when PETA's campaign against KFC was over in 2006. Throughout all this time, his parents continued to call him Chris (how unsupportive!
• Nicholas Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-ed Barbon (1640 - 1698). Nicholas' shall we say "unique" name apparently ran in the family: his father was Praise-God Barbon. No, I'm not kidding - Nicholas was a real guy. He was an English economist, physician and financial speculator. He took part in the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666 and even founded the city's first fire insurance company. By all accounts, he went by Nicholas throughout his life.
• God Shammgod. God plays professional basketball, currently for the Portland Chinooks of the International Basketball League. He played in the NBA for one season (with the Washington Wizards in 1997).
He even invented a streetball move, called The Shammgoduseful for creating space between you and your defender. And yes, God is on MySpace. (Photo: Hoops Addict)
• Batman Bin Suparman. This young Javanese man is blessed with being named after not just one, but two superheroes: Batman and Superman. And he's got an identity card to prove it ...
• Dick Assman. Yes, you read that right. Dick is a gas station owner in Saskatchewan, Canada, whose name made him a minor celebrity when David Letterman found him in 1995. Dick pronounced his German lastname as "uzman," but we all know better...
Photo: Frame enlargement of the short film, "Saskatchewan Part 2 (That's My Wonderful Town) by Brian Stockton
• @. And finally, let's go full circle to "@," pronounced "ai ta" or "love him" by an unidentified Chinese couple:
The unidentified couple and the attempted naming were cited Thursday by a Chinese government official as an example of bizarre names creeping into the Chinese language.
"The father said 'the whole world uses it to write emails and translated into Chinese it means'love him'," Li Yuming, the vice director of the State Language Commission, said at a news conference.
Man's Debit Card Charged $23 Quadrillion, $15 Overdraft Fee
Mysterious Bank Debit Leaves Josh Muszynski Bewildered
POSTED: 12:24 am EDT July 15, 2009
UPDATED: 11:05 am EDT July 15, 2009
"If it were to be true that someone actually compromised that money and got that money, they could do some severe damage with that amount of money," he said.
Muszynski expected to see a couple hundred dollars in his account, but a 17-digit number that rivals even th national debt confronted him instead. The mistake alarmed Muszynski, who has downsized to an apartment in efforts to save money to buy a house.
"I thought my card had been compromised. I thought somebody had bought Europe with my credit card," Muszynski said. "It was very concerning."
What Did He Buy?
"I thought somebody had bought Europe with my credit card."
- Josh Muszynski
Muszynski swiped his debit card at a local Mobil gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes for a few bucks, Instead, his Bank of America account indicated he spent $23,148,855,308,184,500 at the gas station -- an amount for which he probably could have used to buy the entire company.
No One Could Answer Mysterious Charge
Hours later, after checking his account, Muszynski rushed back to the store but it appeared no one knew what to tell him. He wondered whether to call a debt relief company or how he'd pay it all off.
"The cashier says she couldn't help me at all. She didn't know anything about it," Muszynski said. "It's a lot of money in the negative, something I could never ever afford to pay back -- my children couldn't afford, grandchildren, nothing like that."
Muszynski called the bank about the string of numbers on the screen and a $15 overdraft fee the bank tacked on to his mysterious debt. After two hours on the phone, Muszynski said, the representative on the line had no idea what to say.
"She just tried to assure me that everything would be fixed, and I couldn't see something like that being fixed," Muszynski said.
Nearly 24 hours after the hole formed in his bank account, Muszynski checked his statement again. The bank corrected his statement a day later.
"It was back to normal. They reversed the negative balance fee, which was nice," Muszynski said.
WMUR News 9 contacted Bank of America about the statement mishap, but representatives said the card issuer, Visa, could only answer questions. Visa, in turn, recommended that WMUR News 9 contact the bank.
He's not laughing now: Children's doctor found giggling faces being struck off for inhaling anaesthetic
Last updated at 12:29 AM on 15th July 2009
Dr Jonathan Chahal arrives at the hearing where he was found guilty of misconduct
A doctor could be struck off for inhaling laughing gas while on duty in a children's A&E ward.
A General Medical Council disciplinary panel yesterday found Jonathan Chahal guilty of misconduct and said he had potentially put the safety of patients at risk.
The 33-year-old doctor also persuaded nurses to inhale the anaesthetic gas, Entonox, and staged an 'Entonox party', the hearing heard.
Dr Chahal was told his behaviour had been 'unacceptable' and now faces a range of sanctions, including being suspended or struck off the medical register.
He was a senior house officer at Ormskirk District General Hospital in Lancashire when he inhaled the anaesthetic - given in childbirth to alleviate pain - from a canister and was heard giggling in the resuscitation room.
He encouraged colleagues to try the drug, telling them it was 'fun' and 'made you feel floaty'.
Dr Chahal took the drug on four separate occasions in the summer of 2007, the disciplinary panel heard. He even talked seven nurses into joining him and held a party which lasted two hours and had 'elements of pre-planning'.
The Manchester hearing was told that using an intoxicating drug like Entonox while working could put patients at risk, particularly in such a high-pressure unit.
Dr Peter Burdett-Smith, a consultant emergency physician at Royal Liverpool University Hospital, said: 'When you are on duty in the emergency department you never know what is going to turn up next.
'You have to be ready to deal with any emergency, especially if you work in a paediatric emergency department where children become very sick very quickly.
'He not only would be seeing patients as soon as they came in, but he would be supervising the other staff as well and giving advice to their management of children and so on.
'I think it is clear that it is not appropriate for any doctor to be taking drugs which can intoxicate or impair your mental functions while on duty.'
Dr Chahal transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool later in 2007, but was sacked after the allegations came to light.
He told the hearing he had been 'incredibly foolish' and was lucky he did not harm any of his patients.
But while Dr Chahal admitted his conduct had been irresponsible and inappropriate, he denied his fitness to practise had been impaired.
He promised never to do it again, and the panel heard evidence from his GP and a psychiatrist who treated him that they believed there would be no repetition.
Chairman Ralph Bergmann told Dr Chahal: 'The panel is of the view that there was a potential danger to patients under your care, that such behaviour cannot be tolerated and that it must send a message to the profession and to the public that your actions were wholly unacceptable.'
Allegations that Dr Chahal took cocaine and made misleading and dishonest statements in health assessments were dropped.
Prenuptial Cohabiting Can Spoil Marriage
14 July 2009 01:01 pm ET
Couples who shack up before tying the knot are more likely to get divorced than their counterparts who don't move in together until marriage, a new study suggests.
Upwards of 70 percent of U.S. couples are cohabiting these days before marrying, the researchers estimate. The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, indicates that such move-ins might not be wise.
And it's not because you start to get on one another's nerves. Rather, the researchers figure the shared abode could lead to marriage for all the wrong reasons.
"We think that some couples who move in together without a clear commitment to marriage may wind up sliding into marriage partly because they are already cohabiting," said lead researcher Galena Rhoades of the University of Denver.
Couples might also be nudged into nuptials because of a joint lease or shared ownership of Fido — along with other practicalities.
Rhoades and her colleagues did telephone surveys with more than 1,000 married men and women between the ages of 18 and 34, who had been married 10 years or fewer. Survey questions included measures of relationship satisfaction, dedication to one another, level of negative communication and sexual satisfaction. To measure the potential of a couple to divorce, participants were asked "Have you or your spouse ever seriously suggested the idea of divorce?"
Overall, about 40 percent of participants reported they didn't live together before marriage, 43 percent did so before engagement, and about 16 percent cohabited only after getting engaged.
Those who moved in with a mate before engagement or marriage reported significantly lower quality marriages and a greater potential for split-ups than other couples. For instance, about 19 percent of those who cohabited before getting engaged had ever suggested divorce compared with just 12 percent of those who only moved in together after getting engaged and 10 percent of participants who did not cohabit prior to the wedding bells.
"We think there might be a subset of people who live together before they got engaged who might have decided to get married really based on other things in their relationship," Rhoades told LiveScience, "because they were already living together and less because they really wanted and had decided they wanted a future together."
So a joint lease or shared ownership of pets could nudge the nuptials for these folks, more than a life-long commitment to one another.
Why move in?
While this research suggests cohabitation in itself can result in lousier marriages, the initial reasons for moving in together could impact the relationship quality.
In another study led by Rhoades published in the February issue of the Journal of Family Issues, cohabiting couples ranked a list of reasons for cohabitation. More than 60 percent of participants ranked spending more time together as the number-one reason for moving in, followed by nearly 19 percent who put "it made most sense financially" at the top of their list, and 14 percent ranking "I wanted to test out our relationship before marriage" highest.
Those who listed "testing" as the primary move-in reason were more likely than others to score high on measures of negative communication, such as, "My partner criticizes or belittles my opinions, feelings, or desires." Such testers also had lower confidence in the quality and stability of their relationships.
Overall, those who want to test the commitment might want to think again, according to the February study.
"Cohabiting to test a relationship turns out to be associated with the most problems in relationships," Rhoades said. "Perhaps if a person is feeling a need to test the relationship, he or she already knows some important information about how a relationship may go over time."
Kidnapper leaves ID at crime scene
By JEFF GEARINO
Southwest Wyoming bureau
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 1:02 PM MDT
GREEN RIVER -- The alleged kidnapper wasn't too hard to identify -- especially since he left his ATM card at the crime scene.
Local authorities said an alleged break-in July 9 resulted in burglary, kidnapping and battery charges being filed against Martin Joseph Adams, 20, of Rock Springs.
According to court documents, Sweetwater County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a residence in north Rock Springs around 3 a.m. on July 9, where Bradley Chrisman reported he was asleep in bed with girlfriend Emily Trujillo when he was allegedly attacked by Adams.
Authorities said Adams used a plastic ATM card to "shimmy" the door of the home to gain entry and then left the card behind.
Chrisman told deputies he and Adams fought, then Adams picked up a screaming Trujillo, threw her over his shoulder and fled the scene.
Sweetwater County Undersheriff Craig Jackson said in a release that investigators found bloodstains and other evidence, including the ATM card, at the scene.
Jackson said deputies then tracked Adams to his residence in Skyline Village in Rock Springs, where he was arrested.
He said deputies also found Trujillo at the residence. The victim had suffered severe bruising, but appeared to be otherwise unharmed.
Officials said that on June 30, Adams was arrested by the Rock Springs Police Department and charged with domestic battery against Trujillo and two other women, Lydia Cressall and Amy Schnakenburg, both of Rock Springs.
In that incident, Adams allegedly followed the three women to Cressall's home, where he broke into the house on four separate occasions.
Jackson said Adams allegedly punched Cressall twice in the face, punched Schnakenburg at least two times, and choked, slapped, grabbed and threw down Trujillo.
Adams was charged on that occasion with trespassing and driving while his license was canceled, suspended or revoked. Adams was free on a $5,000 bond at the time of his second arrest July 9.
Jackson said Adams made his initial appearance before Circuit Court Judge Dan Forgey in Rock Springs on Friday. The judge set Adams' bond at $75,000 cash or surety.
Kidnapping is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than 20 years to life.
The aggravated burglary, also a felony, carries a maximum penalty of no less than five years nor more than 25 years.
Each misdemeanor count of battery is punishable by imprisonment for not more than six months, a fine of up to $750, or both.
Female officer accused of prison sex
The Cincinnati Enquirer
July 13, 2009
LEBANON - A female corrections officer was indicted Monday for allegedly having sex several times with a male prisoner at the Lebanon Correctional Institute
Authorities said Iona D. Cowan, 51, of Forest Park, had four different sexual encounters with a male prisoner at the Lebanon Correctional Institute.
The encounters happened between May 12 and June 11, according to Matt Nolan, spokesman for the Warren County Prosecutor's Office. During that time, Cowan was employed by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Cowan was caught by the people who monitor the prison surveillance system, Nolan said.
"There were video cameras that showed not the acts themselves but things related to the acts. Precursors to the acts," he said.
Cowan was indicted Monday on one count of sexual battery. Her court date has not been set.
It is unclear if Cowan still works at the Lebanon Correctional Institute.
"Every year we have a couple instances of this occurring," Nolan said. "I wouldn't call it common, but it does happen."
Ever since the murder of Rian Thal two weeks ago in Philadelphia, everyone wants to know how this girl from a wealthy suburb ended up a high-stakes drug trafficker in the city’s hip-hop scene—but it’s not as unusual as you might think.
In the early evening light of Saturday, June 27, four men barely disguised by low-drawn baseball caps casually strolled into a Philadelphia luxury apartment complex, took the elevator to the seventh floor, and shot up-and-coming club promoter, 34-year-old Rian Thal, in the head. Multiple surveillance cameras captured the seeming ease with which the killers performed. On their way out, one shooter nearly walked into a man carrying a piece of furniture, smoothly side-stepped around him, and slid anonymously out the door.
A sign reading “Under Constant Video Surveillance” is prominently displayed at the entrance to the apartment complex where this took place, and on June 27, those cameras paid off: Last week, 25-year-old Katoya Jones, seen in the video letting the killers into the building, was charged with murder and conspiracy. According to police, Jones, who also lived at the Piazza, is the girlfriend of North Philly drug dealer James "Poo" Wilson, 36, who masterminded the plot. Wilson is still at large
Click Link Below to Watch the Surveillance Video of Rian Thal's Alleged Killers
Katoya Jones, now charged with murder, appears to let a man in a white shirt into Rian Thal's building. He, in turn, lets two more men in. The three men then go up to the seventh floor, where they allegedly kill Thal in the stairwell to the left of the elevators.
The Piazza wasn’t meant for cold-blooded drug crimes. An 80,000-square-foot plaza ringed by clothing boutiques, art galleries and trendy restaurants, real-estate heavy-hitter Bart Blatstein dropped $500 million to make it not just an apartment complex, but an ongoing cultural event.
Nor was Thal the type of woman most people think of when they imagine a drug kingpin. A petite, blond, perpetually smiling product of an upscale Philadelphia suburb, her neighbors mainly remembered her as a cat lover whose drug of choice was nothing stronger than chocolate candy. Thal’s Twitter feed featured posts like, "Oh my god I am having a foodgasm, chocolate chip bread pudding!!!!!"
Yet when police arrived at her building, they found four kilos of cocaine in Thal’s penthouse apartment, along with $100,000 in cash. Newspaper reporters scrambled to her MySpace page, and found glamorous pictures of Thal out on the town with the city’s hip-hop and sports stars. She was big enough that the nightclub she promoted, Plush, had advertised a joint birthday party on July 18 for Thal and James "Kamal" Gray, a member of famed Philly hip-hop group The Roots.
Thal’s moneyed high gloss, it turned out, stemmed from her underworld involvement, which went back at least a decade. She was an improbable real-deal, big-time trafficker who had once been convicted of smuggling meth into the U.S., and, in a separate incident, was kidnapped and then released by another drug dealer, possibly as part of a disputed deal.
And now around Philadelphia, even as the details of the case are still unfolding, the question is on everyone’s lips: How did this white girl (in the hip-hop clubs, she was actually known as “white girl”) from the wealthy suburbs get to this level of the drug game in the first place? Having previously been in a similar position myself, let me try to shed some light on how someone like Thal could end up a big shot in that world.
It’s not as surprising as you’d think that someone like Thal, a reported casual coke user, would find herself being asked if she wanted to start participating in deals. I once knew a coke dealer—not a barroom nickel and dimer, but the kind of dude who could get you kilo if you needed it—and there were moments of opportunity when I, too, was asked if I wanted to get in on the game. Did I want to front five grand and go in on a niner? The question came up more than once.
So when I read about Rian Thal’s murder, I wondered how long ago it was that someone put a similar question to her. Did she want to get in on a brick? Would she mind if someone stashed a couple at her crib, along with some cash?
My friend didn’t typically deal in weight as big as Thal did—his usual deals were in the “4½ to 9” range, the two standard ounce measures that midlevel Philly coke dealers trade in. In the apartment above his corner store was the coke, usually right out on a desk next to a digital postal scale, a softball-size chunk we spent endless nights and days chipping pieces off to grind into powder and snort.
This friend ran with a crowd similar to the one Thal mingled with, and in this crowd he did business with a major coke dealer whose street name was “Real Roller.” Real Roller used his drug money to start a business promoting up-and-coming entertainers he knew from the streets in Philly (one of whom went on to tremendous success) until he died of a pancake-and-syrup overdose, which is the drug combination of codeine cough syrup and Xanax, not the breakfast food.
His funeral was an invite-only event for the regional street elite and entertainment-industry figures. My coke dealer friend was invited; he showed me the glossy flier invitation. Celebrities at the funeral (Allen Iverson, Beanie Sigel, Jay Z) purportedly knew Real Roller from his entertainment business. Or did they? It’s hard to say, and by my friend’s report there were a lot more drug dealers than entertainers or athletes at the service.
Point is, the two social ladders—the drug world’s and the entertainment world’s—are inevitably intertwined, and my friend, just another privileged white guy from the suburbs who started out a small-time user, had ascended them. Every now and then, he and I went out for hip-hop nights in Market Street clubs that were part of the same scene Thal worked in. When we walked in the door, heads turned, the shout outs came in waves, big men got up from their seats to throw enthusiastic hand slaps and shoulder bumps at my friend. He had become not only well known, but well respected in this crowd that ran thick with established drug suppliers.
Such, it seems, was Rian Thal. She was an influential figure, a girl who, through circumstances not as unlikely as you might think, became an apparent middleman for the Real Rollers of the drug world. Even though I was further removed from the top of the chain than Thal was, I got the same offer she must have: Did I want in? It’s easy to see how someone who liked moving with power players and climbing social ladders, who craved glamour and excitement, could easily say yes.
But it’s not all glamour and special access, as I learned one morning when I went to my friend’s store to get high. His car, a lightly used Lincoln, was riddled with bullet holes. He feigned nonchalance; just a couple neighborhood kids messing around, he said, nothing to worry about.
It suddenly dawned on me, something self-evident to anyone less drug-addled than I was: The world of high-stakes drug deals is no glamorous fantasy game. Any of those long nights I spent in that room above my friend’s store, the door could have been kicked in and both of us shot in the head for that coke sitting on the table and the money knot in his pocket.
I said no to my dealer’s offer to get in on the game because I understood that there is a certain amount of ruthlessness necessary to rise through the ranks of the drug world. If I had gotten in, I would have been an easy target, someone who obviously wasn’t cut out for the job, and who shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
It’s easy to imagine Rian Thal’s killers felt the same way about her the day they slipped into the Piazza and turned out the lights on her.
Wedding bouquet tradition causes plane crash in Italy
MOSCOW, July 13, (RIA Novosti) - The tradition of the bride throwing the wedding bouquet led to a plane crash in Livorno on Italy's western coast, Corriere della Sera said.
The centuries old tradition of the bride throwing the wedding bouquet to a group of single women turned into a tragedy after the happy couple hired a light plane in an effort to add some novelty to the custom.
The light aircraft was supposed to fly over a line of single women and a passenger on the aircraft, Isidoro Pensieri, was supposed to throw the bouquet out. However it all went horribly wrong when the bouquet was sucked into the plane's engine, which caught fire and exploded.
The aircraft went into a nosedive and hit a nearby hostel where some 50 people were accommodated. Fortunately no one was hurt.
Pensieri received multiple fractures and a head injury, while the plane's 61-year-old pilot, Luciano Nannelli, escaped almost unharmed.
However the incident completely spoiled the wedding party with all the guests leaving following the crash.
The bouquet is supposed to bring luck to the woman who catches it as according to tradition, she is the next to marry.
TYPEWRITE & WRONG
NYPD 'WASTES' $1M ON RELICS
The city is plunking down nearly $1 million on typewriters for its keystroke cops.
That's right -- typewriters.
Despite the adoption of high-tech equipment that can read license plates from the air and detect
By JEREMY OLSHAN
New York Post
Last updated: 9:47 am
July 13, 2009
Posted: 1:18 am
July 13, 2009
radiological events before they happen, manual and electric typewriters continue to be used throughout the NYPD -- and they won't be phased out anytime soon, officials told The Post.
In fact, just last year, the city signed a $982,269 contract with New Jersey-based Swintec for the purchase of thousands of new manual and electric typewriters over the next three years -- some of which retail for as much as $649 apiece.
And last month, the city signed a $99,570 deal with Afax Business Machines in Manhattan for the maintenance of its existing Brother, Panasonic and IBM Selectric typewriters.
In both cases, NYPD expenditures account for the bulk of the contract, sources told The Post.
Although most of the NYPD's arrest-report forms have been computerized, cops still use typewriters to fill out property and evidence vouchers, which are printed on carbon-paper forms.
There are typewriters in every police precinct, including one in every detective squad.
"It just doesn't make sense that we can't enter these [vouchers] on computer," one cop told The Post.
When the typewriter ribbons run out, as they often do, officers say the search for a working machine turns into a scene right of the '70s sitcom "Barney Miller."
"We have to sneak around the rest of the precinct in search of a ribbon to steal," a cop said.
The reliance on typewriters contributes to the slow pace of processing arrests, said Dr. Edith Linn, a retired NYPD cop and professor of criminal justice at Berkeley College in Manhattan.
"The system is hobbled by redundant paperwork, misused personnel, broken equipment, backward technology," Linn says in her 2008 book "Arrest Decisions."
Of the roughly 500 NYPD officers Linn interviewed for a study on arrest behavior, many mentioned the outdated equipment as part of their reason for being averse to making arrests for less serious crimes.
But the few typewriter companies still in existence aren't complaining.
Ed Michaels, sales manager of Swintec, said police departments are among its biggest clients.
"They have a lot of forms to fill out, so we're still here," he said.
The NYPD insists it has made progress over the past five years digitizing many processing forms.
The department also is working on software to eliminate the old machines, a rep said.
Toy gun robber chased off by cricket bat-wielding worker
July 12, 2009 5:57 PM
A man tried to rob a Bay Minette-area store this weekend with a toy gun but was chased off by a worker wielding a cricket bat, Baldwin County investigators said.
"After noticing that the suspect's gun had an orange tip at the end of the barrel, the employee grabbed a cricket bat and the suspect ... fled the store without getting any money," said Cpl. Mike Gaull of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office.
Justin Blake Sims, 22, of Bay Minette, was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery. He was being held tonight in the Baldwin County Corrections Center on $25,000 bail, a jail worker said.
By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News
July 12, 2009
PORT ANGELES -- A 37-year-old woman was arrested after the Clallam County Sheriff's Department said she threatened several people with a handgun in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Peregrin said Teresa Nadine Dumdie of Port Angeles threatened four other customers with a .22 caliber handgun at 4:54 p.m. Friday outside the store at 3500 E. U.S. Highway 101.
No one was injured.
Peregrin said Dumdie had argued with customers in the store after they had asked her to stop cursing and yelling at an employee.
He said she was upset with the employee, saying she had sold her the wrong kind of ammunition.
After she received her refund, she walked out to the parking lot, removed a gun from her car and confronted the customers she had argued with earlier inside the store, Peregrin said.
"The long and the short of it is, she didn't like what was happening at the store . . . and as a result, pulled a weapon and threatened people with it out in the parking lot," he said.
Sheriff's deputies arrested Dumdie at 5:05 p.m. across the highway from Wal-Mart. She was booked into the Clallam County jail on investigation of first-degree assault.
Dumdie had left Wal-Mart in her car as the four deputies arrived.
"Our deputies got there before she was able to leave the scene," he said, "before she was able to threaten anyone else or cause any harm."
Peregrin said the Wal-Mart employees did the right thing by immediately notifying the Sheriff's Department.
"They did everything right in that regard," he said.
Originally published July 11, 2009 at 11:48 AM
Page modified July 11, 2009 at 10:55 PM
Children: Father didn't abuse us: Ex-Vancouver police officer spent nearly 20 years in prison
VANCOUVER, B.C. — The two adult children of former Vancouver police officer Clyde Ray Spencer, who spent nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted of molesting them, testified in court Friday the abuse never happened.
By Stephanie Rice
VANCOUVER, Wash. — The two adult children of former Vancouver police Officer Clyde Ray Spencer, who spent nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted of molesting them, testified in court Friday that the abuse never happened.
A 33-year-old son recalled how, at age 9, he was repeatedly questioned, alone, by now-retired Detective Sharon Krause, of the Clark County Sheriff's Office. He said that after months of questioning, he said he had been abused just to get Krause to leave him alone.
A 30-year-old daughter said she doesn't remember what she told Krause at age 5, but recalled Krause bought her ice cream.
The brother and sister, who live in Sacramento, Calif., said that while growing up in California they were told by their mother, who divorced Spencer before he was charged, that they were blocking out the memory of the abuse.
They said they realized as adults the abuse had never happened.
The fallout from Friday's hearing won't be known for months, after appellate judges weigh in. But the hearing does pave the way for the state Court of Appeals to allow Spencer to withdraw the no-contest pleas he entered in 1985 and have his convictions vacated.
After Matthew Spencer and Kathryn Tetz each took a turn on the witness stand, Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis said their testimony followed the written declarations they filed with the Court of Appeals.
Since the appellate court doesn't take live testimony from witnesses, Lewis was ordered to listen to the siblings testify and see whether they stuck by their written declarations, even under cross-examination by a prosecuting attorney.
They did, Lewis said.
Spencer, 61, who goes by Ray, hugged his son and daughter after the hearing while a dozen supporters cheered.
In 1985, Spencer was also convicted of abusing a 4-year-old stepson, who was not at Friday's hearing.
The Court of Appeals ruled his testimony was not necessary, given his age at the time of the alleged crimes and the fact that his mother had had an affair with Krause's supervisor.
According to Krause, the detective, the children were together when they were abused.
Both Matthew Spencer and Tetz testified their stepbrother was never abused by their father.
In 1985, Spencer entered the no-contest pleas, a type of guilty plea, after learning his court-appointed attorney had not prepared a defense. He felt pleading no contest was his only option, and that he would appeal his convictions.
Former Judge Thomas Lodge sentenced Spencer to two life terms in prison plus 14 years.
For several years, Spencer's appeals failed. He was denied parole five times because he refused to admit guilt and enter a sex-offender treatment program.
He hired Seattle attorney Peter Camiel in the mid-1990s. Camiel and a private investigator uncovered disturbing facts about the investigation — including that prosecutors withheld medical exams that showed no evidence of abuse, despite Krause's claims that the children had been violently, repeatedly raped. Those discoveries led Gov. Gary Locke to commute Spencer's sentence in 2004.
Spencer was ordered to be on supervision for three years.
He's still a convicted sex offender, and Friday's hearing was another step in the long process of clearing his name.
The process has taken its toll on Spencer, who suffered a heart attack in April.
"For so many years, nothing went right," said Spencer. "When things keep going right, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kim Farr grilled Spencer's son and daughter about why they are so certain they weren't abused.
Matthew Spencer said he knew his father had ruined the relationship with his mother.
"He had downfalls. But none of them were molesting children," he said.
Tetz said when she finally read the police reports, she was "absolutely sure" the abuse never happened.
"I would have remembered something that graphic, that violent."
Krause, who declined an interview request from The Columbian in 2005, could not be reached Friday.
If the Court of Appeals vacates Spencer's convictions, the case would return to the Clark County Prosecutor's Office. Charges would either be refiled or dismissed.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Dennis Hunter wasn't ready to wave a white flag on Friday. He said if convictions are tossed, prosecutors could appeal to the state Supreme Court.
After the hearing, Spencer, who has received his doctorate in clinical psychology but cannot get his state license as long as he has a criminal record, said he will just have to wait and see.
But at least he has his children, who didn't talk to him for more than 20 years.
"They were my life, and they were taken away from me. That was the hardest part. I could serve in prison," Spen
LINK TO VIDEO AND PHOTO OF SON AND FATHER:
Ex-cop will seek to clear his name
Friday, July 10 | 11:47 a.m.
COLUMBIAN STAFF WRITER
Clyde Ray Spencer in 2005
An ex-Vancouver police officer who served nearly 20 years in prison for molesting his children before he was freed in light of considerable evidence of a flawed investigation will return to the Clark County Courthouse on Friday.
Clyde Ray Spencer, who has been living in King County since his 2004 release from prison, will be asking to withdraw the no-contest pleas he entered in 1985.
His two grown children will testify, according to written declarations filed with the state Court of Appeals, that they were never abused by their father and felt pressured by a detective to say otherwise.
If Spencer is allowed to withdraw his pleas, which count legally as guilty pleas, prosecutors would have to go to trial to win a new conviction or dismiss the charges.
Spencer, now 61, was convicted of molesting his son and daughter, as well as a 4-year-old stepson. The stepson, as an adult, has been unwilling to cooperate.
The older children, however, say the 4-year-old was never abused. According to the allegations, the children were together when they were supposedly abused.
Spencer was sentenced to two life terms plus 14 years.
When then-Gov. Gary Locke commuted Spencer's sentence on Dec. 23, 2004, he cited several "troubling aspects" with the case.
Among them: A supervising detective from the Clark County Sheriff's Office had an affair with Spencer's wife, the mother of the 4-year-old; detectives withheld medical exams that found no evidence of the supposed repeated, vicious attacks; and Spencer's 9-year-old son denied the molestation for eight months, changing his story only after pressure from a detective.
Spencer was fired from the Vancouver Police Department on Jan. 5, 1985, while charges were pending.
After months of questioning by detectives — who have since retired — two trips to a psychiatric hospital and heavy doses of antidepressants, Spencer started telling investigators he couldn't remember molesting anyone.
Prosecutors said that inability to remember was proof of Spencer's guilt.
In 2005, The Columbian published "Reversal of Fortune," a three-part series detailing how Spencer went from police officer to prisoner.
Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, told the newspaper that Spencer's inability to remember was a natural byproduct of relentless pressure from investigators determined to make a suspect confess.
Spencer had an $8-an-hour job painting cabinets when he spoke with The Columbian in 2005. He said then that since his court-appointed defense attorney had not done much to prepare a defense (another "troubling aspect" cited in the commutation order), he felt he had no choice but to enter no-contest pleas then hire a new attorney and appeal his conviction.
Several appeals failed. The state parole board refused to free him five times because he refused to admit guilt and enter a sex offender treatment program.
Then Spencer hired Seattle attorney Peter Camiel, who will be with him in court Friday, and his appeals started gaining traction.
In 2004, the Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board unanimously recommended to Locke that Spencer's sentence be commuted.
Under the commutation order, Spencer completed three years of post-prison supervision. He still has to register as a convicted sex offender, however.
In April, the Court of Appeals instructed a Clark County Superior Court judge to listen to testimony from Spencer's children.
If Judge Robert Lewis finds them credible, the appellate judges said Spencer will be allowed to withdraw his pleas.
cer said, before his voice trailed off, and his son came up for another hug.
Taller People Earn More Money
Robert Roy Britt
posted: 11 July 2009 10:14 am ET
There's a growing body of research that finds taller people make more money.
The latest study, in Australia, found that being 6-foot tall brings raises annual income nearly $1,000 compared to men two inches shorter.
"Taller people are perceived to be more intelligent and powerful," according to the study, published recently in the Economic Record.
"Our estimates suggest that if the average man of about 178 centimeters [5 feet 10 inches] gains an additional five centimeters [2 inches] in height, he would be able to earn an extra $950 per year - which is approximately equal to the wage gain from one extra year of labor market experience," said study co-author Andrew Leigh, an economist at the Australian National University.
Other studies in the United States and Britain put the extra earnings at nearly that much per inch.
"The truth is, tall people do make more money. They make $789 more per inch per year," says Arianne Cohen, author of "The Tall Book" (Bloomsbury USA, June, 2009).
There's nothing else physically measurable about tall people that explains the salary boost, however, Cohen explained recently on American Public Media's radio program Marketplace. "They're not nicer. They're not prettier. They're not anything else. But they've sort of gotten a halo in society at this point."
Serious money over time
As the inches mount, the salary continues to, too.
Cohen's number is based in part on a 2003 review of four large U.S. and UK studies led by Timothy Judge, a management professor at the University of Florida. Judge and his colleague concluded that someone who is 7 inches taller — for example, 6 feet versus 5 feet 5 inches — would be expected to earn $5,525 more per year.
Height was found to be more important than gender in determining income (though that claim is debatable, depending on how you analyze the gender salary gap) and its significance doesn't decline with age.
"If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it, we're talking about literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage that a tall person enjoys," Judge said then.
Being tall may boost self-confidence, helping to make a person more successful and also prompting people to ascribe more status and respect to the tall person, Judge said.
Of course all such studies generate averages. A shorter person can certainly beat the odds, and not every tall person is raking it in.
Cohen, who is 6 foot 3 inches tall, says the pay advantage is conferred partly because taller people tend to exude leadership.
"Tall people tend to act like a leader from a very young age because other children relate to them like a slightly older peer," she said on the radio program. "In the workplace, when you're automatically acting as a leader, that's really important when it comes time for promotion."
To some extent, then, the advantage of height may date back to youth.
A 2003 study of 2,000 U.S. men found that their height at age 16 had a big effect on their salary as an adult, regardless of how tall they ended up being. "We found that two adults of the same age and height, who were different heights at age 16, were treated differently in the labor market. The taller teen earned more," said study team member Nicola Persico of the University of Pennsylvania.
All is not rosy on high, however.
In her book, Cohen notes that being tall can cost more, from additional food requirements to costlier clothes and the desire for outsized things like high-ceilinged homes. (Interestingly, there's a growing debate about whether obese people should pay for their excess footprint on society and the environment, yet nobody is calling for taxing the tall.)
The average height for American men is about 5 feet 9 inches nearly 5 feet 4 inches for women. In more than a century, no U.S. president has been below average height (the last one was William McKinley, at 5 feet 7 inches, and he was ridiculed in the press as a "little boy," Judge said).
Judge figures the advantages of height today are rooted in our evolutionary decision-making regarding who was most powerful.
"When humans evolved as a species and still lived in the jungles or on the plain, they ascribed leader-like qualities to tall people because they thought they would be better able to protect them," Judge said. "Although that was thousands of years ago, evolutionary psychologists would argue that some of those old patterns still operate in our perceptions today."
Man stole beer in his underwear
He was only wearing underwear when he
Updated: Friday, 10 Jul 2009, 6:29 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 10 Jul 2009, 3:20 PM
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin police arrested two men for stealing beer from a convenience store on South First Street, and one of which was in his underwear.
Police got a call just before midnight on Wednesday about two men arguing with a store clerk over beer. When officers arrived, the store clerk said a man wearing only dark blue underwear and another man in black shorts and a white shirt stole some beer and ran away.
Police located Dayvon Lee, 25, and another man, both of whom matched the description by the store clerk, right down to Lee's skivvies.
Lee was charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon because he threatened the clerk with a knife during the robbery. The other man has not been has not been charged.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Dayvon Lee, accused of stealing beer in his pants
Big Ben celebrates 150th anniversary
Big Ben, the famous bell inside the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, celebrates its 150th anniversary on Saturday.
Published: 9:15AM BST 11 Jul 2009
The Great Bell, which resides inside one of the country's most famous and most photographed landmarks, first struck the hour on July 11 1859.
Although the nickname Big Ben is often used to describe the clock tower, the name was originally given to the bell itself
The origin of the name is thought to come from Sir Benjamin Hall, the First Commissioner of Works and Public Buildings, whose name is inscribed on the bell.
The anniversary will be marked with a night-time projection on the tower reading: "Happy Birthday Big Ben, 150 years, 1859 - 2009."
Mike McCann, Keeper of the Great Clock, said: "After 150 years, Big Ben still holds a special place in the hearts of Londoners and the world as a magnificent example of engineering and building genius."
Architect Charles Barry designed the new Palace of Westminster after a fire destroyed the old Houses of Parliament in 1834.
The clock tower was completed in 1859 and the clock first started on May 31 of that year, with the bell sounding for the first time just over a month later.
The first bell was cast in 1856 but cracked the following year under testing.
The second bell, weighing 13.7 tonnes, was cast on April 10 1858. It took 30 hours to winch into the belfry.
But its success was short-lived and in September 1859 it also cracked.
It was silent for four years until, in 1863, it was turned so the hammer struck a different spot.
A lighter hammer was also put to use and a small square cut in the bell to prevent the crack from spreading.
The clock tower stands 315ft tall, with each of the four dials measuring 23ft in diameter.
The original cast-iron minute hands proved too heavy and were replaced with 14 feet long copper hands which travel a distance equal to 118 miles every year.
The hour hands are 9ft long and are made of gun metal while 312 separate pieces of glass in each clock face.
Over the years the clock has been stopped accidentally on several occasions, by weather, workmen, breakages and birds.
In 1976 the Great Clock was shut down for a total of 26 days over nine months when part of the chiming mechanism disintegrated through metal fatigue.
Big Ben turns 150 years old in London
UPDATE: Alleged bank robber tried getting ride from undercover Saginaw Township detective
by Andy Hoag
The Saginaw News
Out of prison for just over three weeks, Mark E. White chose the wrong car to try to hitch a ride with on Wednesday.
Just two blocks from the Citizens Bank at 2815 E. Genesee in Saginaw that he allegedly robbed five minutes earlier, White, 50, flagged down Saginaw Township Detective Scott Jackson of the auto theft division for a ride.
Jackson slowed his car enough to allow city patrol officer Ian Wegner enough time to provide backup, and a little more than three weeks after he was released from prison on parole, White was back in police custody.
Saginaw County District Judge Terry L. Clark on Friday arraigned White on a charges of bank robbery, making a false bomb threat, attempted carjacking, assault with intent to commit a felony and assault and resisting a police officer.
Clark set bond at $755,000 for White, who was in Saginaw County Jail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 24 before District Judge Kyle Higgs Tarrant.
The officers arrested White, 50, three blocks from the bank shortly after the 2:30 p.m. robbery.
As White saw Wegner getting closer, he tried opening Jackson's passenger door without permission. After Jackson told White he was a police officer, White tried to flee before Wegner apprehended him.
White gained parole from West Shoreline Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights on June 16, where was serving to 15 months to 10 years in prison for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated-third offense and violating a previous parole.
His current address is listed as 402 Lafayette in Bay City.
White was previously on parole for another unarmed robbery case in Oakland County in 1994. That conviction, along with two counts of uttering and publishing, earned him a minimum 10-year sentence that began in 1996.
Saturday July 11, 2009, 2:04 PM
Prisoner escapes after switching identity with twin brother
A man has escaped from police custody after switching identities with his twin brother.
9:30PM BST 11 Jul 2009
Simon Peter Maclellan, 27, from Gosport, Hants, has not been seen since Friday afternoon when he was released by magistrates.
Maclellan, who was on remand at HMP Winchester in connection with a serious assault, escaped when he pretended to be his twin brother, Mark, who is also on remand at the same prison for a less serious offence
The pair are non identical twins.
Hampshire Police said that a 27-year-old man had been arrested in connection with aiding and abetting the escape.
A spokesman, said: "It is believed that Maclellan, who was on remand at HMP Winchester in connection with a serious assault, walked from court when he pretended to be his brother, Mark, who was also on remand at HMP Winchester."
The deceit was discovered on Friday night by prison officials who alerted police shortly after 9pm.
Detectives began an immediate search for Maclellan and have been conducting enquiries over the weekend. The police have advised people not to approach the defendant who has a history of violence.
He is described as a white European with blue eyes, brown hair, of slim build and about 5ft 8".
The defendant, who was wearing blue jeans and a grey shirt when he walked from court, was due to stand trial in August in connection with an offence of GBH in Gosport, in December.
A Prison Service spokesman, said: "A prisoner from HMP Winchester was mistakenly released instead of his brother.
"The prison are treating it as an escape and an internal investigation is under way.
"This is now a matter for the police."
El Nino Is Back!!!
11 July 2009 12:27 pm ET
We told you last month that El Nino was poised to return. Now NOAA scientists this week announced its formal arrival.
The good news: possibly reduced hurricane activity. The bad news: possibly heavier rain in the Southern United States (which is actually good news for drought-stricken areas).
El Nino is the periodic warming of central and eastern tropical Pacific waters. It occurs on average every two to five years and typically lasts about 12 months. Weekly eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures were at least 1.0 degree C above average at the end of June, scientists said. The most recent El Nino occurred in 2006.
What Is El Nino?
El Nino is marked by warmer water in the Pacific off the coast of South America. It alters weather patterns in the United States and around the world.
El Nino was originally recognized by fisherman off the coast of South America. Today, climate experts track it with ocean buoys and satellite data. El Nino means The Little Boy or Christ child in Spanish. This name was used for the tendency of the phenomenon to arrive around Christmas. The cool sister to El Nino is La Nina, which means the Little Girl.
Here's how it works (click on the image to see this visualized):
What happens when El Nino is not present:
In normal, non-El Nino conditions (top panel of schematic diagram), the trade winds blow towards the west across the tropical Pacific, away from South America.
These winds pile up warm surface water in the west Pacific, so that the sea surface is about 1-2 feet (1/2 meter) higher at Indonesia than at Ecuador (in South America).
The sea surface temperature is about 8 degrees Celsius higher in the west, with cool temperatures off South America, due to an upwelling of cold water from deeper levels. This cold water is nutrient-rich, supporting high levels of primary productivity, diverse marine ecosystems, and major fisheries.
When El Nino kicks in:
During El Nino, the trade winds relax in the central and western Pacific. Surface water temperatures off South American warm up, because there is less upwelling of the cold water below to cool the surface. This cuts off the supply of nutrients, resulting in a drastic decline in the food chain, including commercial fisheries in this region.
Among the known effects of El Nino:
Increased rainfall across the southern tier of the United States and in Peru, which has caused destructive flooding.
Throttles hurricane formation in the Atlantic by pumping energy high into the atmosphere and fueling wind currents that cross the Americas and shear the tops off some Atlantic storms before they can fully develop.
In recent years, El Nino has been blamed for just about everything. Mapping yearly changes in rainfall around the globe, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite showed in 2004 that El Nino is the main driving force for rainfall amounts in different locations.
During El Nino, the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South American (brown region at right) is warmer (red) as cool water below (blue) does not upwell effectively. Click to see how it's different during non-El Nino times. Credit:
Americans swap homes for hotels as recession bites
Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:28pm EDT
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Some Americans are swapping homes for motels as the ranks of the homeless swell during the recession, crowding out shelters and forcing cities and states across the country to find new types of housing.
In Massachusetts, a record number of families are being put up in motels due to high unemployment and the rising number of homes going into foreclosure, costing taxpayers $2 million per month but providing a lifeline for desperate families.
"I feel like this has saved my life," said Tarya Seagraves-Quee, a 37-year-old former nurse.
Seagraves-Quee has lived in a cramped one-bedroom suite in a hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with three of her four children for nearly two months. "I'm managing the best way possible. I've learned to make things in the microwave oven."
In Massachusetts, homeless shelters are at capacity. State law requires temporary accommodation for those without shelter, leading authorities to place 830 families, including 1,125 children, in 39 motels -- an unprecedented number.
"This truly is the highest we have ever seen it," said Nancy Paladino, director of the family team for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless.
Other cities are noticing a similar trend. In Indianapolis, Indiana, overcrowded homeless shelters are turning families away, forcing growing numbers to seek vouchers for hotels provided by nonprofit groups such as United Way.
"Anecdotally, it's increased," said Michael Hurst, director of the Coalition for Homeless Intervention and Prevention Indianapolis. The advocacy group started to compile statistics on the number of homeless families living in hotels this year after noticing signs of an increase.
"The hotel owners will tell you it has increased. The homeless service providers and the school officials will say we know there are more people living in hotels and putting their kids in school because that is the address they are giving us."
'JUST A STEPPING STONE'
In the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, the large Wilson family turned to a budget motel as a weeklong transition between a homeless shelter and an apartment.
"Each step we're going it's just a stepping stone," said 42-year-old Frederick Wilson as he sat with his wife, Annette, in a one-bedroom suite they share with four of the six children in their care, including a grandchild.
Called by God, they said, to move from Minnesota to Texas, the family has rapidly made a shift from homeless status to paid employment. Annette has just landed a job as a bus driver, while Frederick said he will work in an office that offers clerical support to Medicaid patients.
They spent two-and-a-half weeks in a homeless shelter in Dallas and were preparing to move into an apartment from the motel. The Urban League, an organization that helps struggling African Americans, is paying the $204 cost of their suite, which does not include sheets, pillows or toilet paper.
In Phoenix, demand for emergency accommodation is swamping available services as the recession and spiraling foreclosures turn even more families out of their homes
One nonprofit bought two former hotels -- a Days Inn and a Super 8 -- in a gritty downtown neighborhood to provide emergency accommodation for homeless and low income families. When the $23 million project is finished in September, it will be able to house 156 families, up from 112 now.
"We've seen a whole new subset of homeless families due to job loss and foreclosures, and our waiting list has doubled in the past year," said Nichole Barnes, chief fund development officer of the UMOM New Day Centers.
"Some were previous homeowners. Due to the housing market out here, they'd got into a mortgage with a flexible interest rate. Some were working full time, but lost their jobs, went through their savings trying to save their home, and then found themselves without a home due to foreclosure," she said.
FORECLOSURES AND FAMILIES
In many cities, foreclosures are a big part of a spike in homeless and rise in families living in hotels or motels.
Nearly 80 percent of homeless services providers and advocacy agencies say at least some clients became homeless as a result of a foreclosure, according to a joint report by four of the largest U.S. homeless advocacy groups.
Staying with family or friends and in emergency shelters were the most common post-foreclosure living conditions, followed by hotels or motels, according to the June report.
"In many areas shelters are now completely full, so the only option to keep their families together is to rent a motel room for $200 a week. That's pretty standard for many who lost their homes to foreclosure," said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Unlike Massachusetts, most states do not pick up the tab. "People are spending 80 percent of their total income on hotels," he said. "And food costs are higher because they can't cook."
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Seagraves-Quee found refuge at a budget hotel after losing her job in Georgia more than a year ago and going without health care for 10 months. She suffers from multiple sclerosis, anemia and lupus, and was recently found to have two cancer spots on her breast. Two of her children, aged 16 and 6, are autistic.
She spent $700 -- almost all her savings -- on plane tickets to Boston, where she had relatives. Soon the family was in a shelter.
Local authorities later moved her to the hotel and Seagraves-Quee was given medical treatment as part of a program carried out by Boston Health Care for the Homeless.
"Right now, I am picking up from where I left off in Georgia 10 months ago. When I got here I was in really bad health," she said. "I've heard some people say 'Oh that is a ghetto shelter.' But to me it's a wonderful place."
(Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Dallas and Tim Gaynor in Phoenix; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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Pregnant By Swimming?
Jul 10th 2009 2:00PM
Did a teenager get pregnant from swimming in a hotel pool?
Surely this lawsuit will be thrown out of court on inconceivable (pun intended) grounds. First off, wouldn't the chlorine kill any random sperm? But even further, did Ms. Kwiatkowska follow every moment of her vacationing daughter to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she spent absolutely no time with anyone of the opposite sex during their Egyptian holiday?
The only reassuring thing about this story, perhaps, is that frivolous lawsuits are not exclusively an American thing.
At 84, Colorado man gets high school diploma
After all, Takeshi Murata is 84.
Murata was 18 and a student at University High School in Greeley, Colorado, in 1944 when he was drafted to fight in World War II, according to the Greeley Daily Tribune newspaper.
Though he was the son of Japanese immigrants, he grew up speaking English. In the Army, he was trained in an intelligence unit and given some studies in Japanese. After the war, he was sent to serve in U.S. military headquarters in Tokyo.
"I really didn't know Japanese that well," Murata told the Tribune. "But I'd learned a little in the intelligence schools, so they sent me."
He met his wife, Chikako, there, he said. They married in Japan and in 1947 returned to northeast Colorado.
Murata approached his old school, thinking his military intelligence classes should suffice for any coursework he missed when he left school at 18.
"The school officials told me I wasn't qualified to graduate," he told the Tribune.
Murata dropped the diploma quest and followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a farmer. He raised five children — each of whom earned college degrees.
But Murata still had no diploma of his own until a teacher at the school, Jeanne Lipman, heard his story last year. She found Murata's report cards, got an original diploma from one of his old classmates and turned them over to University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton. The high school is now called University High; the university ran it when Murata attended.
Norton presented the diploma to Murata on Wednesday night, and his family celebrated with cake and a party. Murata, smiling, joked about the lengthy process.
"I'm 84 years old now," he said. "What am I going to do with a diploma? Look for a job?"
Man lives with bullet in head for 38 years
X-ray ... pellet sits next to Sandor's brain
BRAVE Sandor Cevek has survived for 38 years with a rifle bullet lodged in his head.
Sandor, 57, had been celebrating a wedding when his cousin accidently shot him in 1971.
Doctors refused to remove the bullet because it was too close to his brain.
The retired butcher, from Suza, Croatia, takes four different types of medication to cope with paralysis to his left hand and foot caused by the wounds.
It is tradition for families at Croatian weddings to let fly with a volley of gunfire to mark the ceremony.
Tough Sandor told local newspaper 24 Sata: "I never even asked my cousin Istvan about it. I just wanted to keep the family ties.
"I didn't want there to be any bad feeling."
Going vertical: Brothers live on building's wall
RIO DE JANEIRO — Two brothers in Rio are living over the edge — literally: sleeping, working and eating on the side of a building 33 feet (10 meters) up in the air. Twenty-seven-year-old Tiago Primo and his 20-year-old brother Gabriel spend 12 hours a day in the bed, hammock, chair and dining table they've attached to a bright red-and-yellow wall as part of an art exhibit in Rio's old center.
The brothers are equipped with mountain climbing gear, and if nature calls, can scramble over to the verandah of a neighboring art gallery, where an indoor bathroom awaits.
The brothers have been hanging out wall-side since the end of May. They plan to continue the display until Aug. 20.
July 9, 2009 - 4:57 p.m. EDT
Brazilian artists Gabriel Primo, left, and Tiago Primo sit in their installation art work, exhibited on the wall of a building, in Rio de Janeiro, Thursday, July 9, 2009.(AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes)
Brazilian artist Gabriel Primo, top, hangs in a hammock in his installation art work, exhibited on the wall of a building, in Rio de Janeiro, Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes)
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Woman jailed after man complains about her cooking
NAPLES, Fla. – A southwest Florida woman was arrested after deputies said she assaulted her 71-year-old common-law husband after he complained about her cooking. A arrest report shows 66-year-old Meredith Hart Mulcahy was charged with battery on an elderly person Tuesday night.
said the man got into an argument with her about undercooked potatoes and burnt bread. He went to the bedroom and began eating, and authorities said the woman then threw a phone at him.
Deputies said Mulcahy became belligerent in the back seat of the patrol car and told them that she "burned the bread she was cooking because she was so intoxicated." She was in the Lee County Jail on Wednesday pending a $1,500 bond.
Fleeing woman captured while trying to light crack pipe
Arrest follows Sandy Springs car chase
By MIKE MORRIS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, July 09, 2009
An Alpharetta woman who led Sandy Springs police on a high-speed chase Wednesday night was allegedly trying to light a crack pipe even as officers broke out a window of the vehicle to arrest her.
The chase began in the 7800 block of Roswell Road after a tag check on a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe revealed that the registered driver’s license had been suspended for driving under the influence, Sandy Springs police Lt. Steve Rose said.
When the officer attempted to stop the Santa Fe, Lisa Beth Solanik, 43, made a U-turn and sped northbound on Roswell Road.
Rose said officers deployed “stop sticks” at Dunwoody Place and Roswell Road, deflating two of the suspect’s tires.
“The car then drove onto Verdun Drive off Roberts Drive, where it struck one of the police vehicles,” Rose said. “The suspect’s car was then cornered and pinned to a stop by two Sandy Springs police vehicles.”
Rose said that as officers were breaking the side window of the Santa Fe to take Solanik into custody, she was “in the process of trying to light what appeared to be a crack pipe.”
Solanik was charged with obstruction of a police officer, fleeing and/or attempting to elude a police officer, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence of drugs and eight traffic charges. She is in the Fulton County Jail, awaiting an initial court appearance on Friday.
Rose said one Sandy Springs police officer was treated and released for a minor injury sustained during the chase.
Japanese waste worker finds $10,000 in garbage
The worker found the banknotes, both whole and torn, when he was sorting plastic and paper waste on an automatic conveyor at a plant in the prefecture of Yamanashi, some 100 kms east of the capital, Tokyo.
The worker informed the police about the find. However, the authorities have so far been unable to locate the owner of the money. Waste comes to the plant not only from Yamanashi but also from neighboring regions, which makes the investigation more complicated.
Last year, 14.1 billion yen (some $146 million) in lost cash was handed in to police in Japan. Almost 4 billion yen of this went unclaimed and was handed back to the finders.
New estimate on cemetery bodies: 200 to 300
July 9, 2009 12:21 PM
An arrest warrant was also issued Tuesday for a fifth person, a 45-year-old woman who was a secretary at the cemetery, according to Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Brittney Blair. But the woman was not charged after investigators became convinced that she did not profit from the scheme and was only carrying out orders from Towns, who was the office manager.
"Carolyn Towns was the brains behind the operation, the one calling the shots," Blair said.
The defendants were able to successfully carry out the scheme, prosecutors said, because bereaved relatives often came into the cemetery office to buy grave sites with cash. Towns would take the cash and destroy the deeds and other paperwork for the existing graves, they said. Towns would keep the cash and pay off the other defendants by increasing their overtime pay, which she controlled as cemetery general manager.
Mahoney described the defendants's actions as "cold, calculating and showed a total disregard for human souls."
Detectives discovered a pile of bones decomposed, above ground and uncovered in an overgrown, fenced-off portion of the cemetery, according to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
In addition, bodies apparently were double-buried in already existing plots, Dart told WGN-AM 720 this morning. Dozens of FBI agents are expected in Chicago early next week to help sift through the evidence at the cemetery, Dart said.
The charges against Towns allege that "numerous graves were excavated and the human remains were then buried in a rear vacant lot in Burr Oak cemetery, Alsip ... She then sold the vacant gravesites for her own personal financial gain." Authorities said she earlier had been fired by the cemetery's owners because of theft allegations.
One of the first predominantly African-American cemeteries in the area, Burr Oak is the resting place of many historic figures, including civil rights symbol Emmett Till, blues legend Dinah Washington and heavyweight boxing champion Ezzard Charles.
Dart said he was certain Till's remains were not disturbed, but he could not be sure about the others.
This morning, a large crowd converged on the cemetery, most of them African-American, saying they wanted to find out if their loved ones' remains had been moved. The families expressed outrage, disgust and discouragement.
Dart said this morning that none of the cemetery's workers came to work today, so the sheriff's office was aiding residents walk through the plots.
"This is just heartbreaking. The people I have talked to have made me want to cry," Dart said. "The sense of violation is horrible."
"Some people come back from the grave site and it's not what it's supposed to be and I don't know what to tell them," he said.Sheriff's employees are having concerned families first take a number. When their number comes up, they are taken to the site. But the wait is long so Dart's office has brought out chairs for the elderly as well as water, drinks and chips for relatives.
Some people who know where the location of their loved ones' graves are just heading to them on their own.
Dart said he believes the alleged scheme has been going on for about four years.
"We have evidence...There were also people being double-buried, that they would just sort of pound down the one casket or remains and put another set of remains on top," he told WGN-AM.
The disinterred graves appeared to be older, neglected ones, Dart said. "They specifically looked to older graves, where there might not be someone coming out there every week," he said.
Cemetery workers accused of digging up graves, reselling plots
July 9, 2009
CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- Employees at a historic African-American cemetery near Chicago allegedly dug up more than 100 graves as part of an off-the-books scheme to resell burial plots to unsuspecting customers, authorities said Wednesday.
Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Dart says the discovery was "beyond startling and revolting."
Dozens of graves at Burr Oak Cemetery were desecrated by workers as part of a financial scheme, authorities say.
Cook County authorities began investigating the cemetery about six weeks ago after receiving a call from the owners of Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, located about 20 miles south of Chicago.
The owners had concerns about possible "illegalities going on" regarding finances at the business, said Sheriff Tom Dart.
"What we found was beyond startling and revolting," Dart told reporters at the cemetery.
The workers at Burr Oak, where lynching victim Emmett Till, blues legend Dinah Washington and some Negro League baseball players are buried among others, allegedly resold the plots, disinterred the bodies, dumped the remains and pocketed the cash, Dart said.
Most of the excavations occurred in back lots, where the plots were older and not frequently visited, he said. However, other plots may have been disturbed as well.
At least four people are in custody facing a slew of felony charges, authorities said. The current owners, who could not be reached by CNN for comment Wednesday, have run the place for more than five years, but are not believed to be involved, Dart said.
"We are sensitive to the fact that individuals have loved ones buried here and also the sensitivities as it pertains to this particular cemetery," Dart said. "This is the cemetery where Emmett Till is buried. Numerous other significant members of the African-American community are buried there as well."
He said authorities are "very confident" that the grave of Till, whose lynching at 14 helped spark the Civil Rights Movement, has not been disturbed.
Still, investigators are trying to determine the scope of the scheme and are faced with trying to track down the families of those whose graves were disinterred and those who, unbeknownst to them, purchased occupied plots, Dart said.
He said the workers may have doctored records to cover their tracks.
The FBI, expert forensic scientists and local funeral directors have been called in to help, he said.
"We cannot give people definitive answers at this point," Dart said. "Our biggest challenge right now is the attempt to bring peace of mind."
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PHOTOS FROM CEMETERY:
Mythbuster Tweets His Way Out of $11k Phone Bill
Adam Savage Recruits Twitter Followers to Fight $11,000 AT&T Bill for Web Surfing in Canada
What would you do if you opened up your cell phone bill to face a dizzying five-digit charge?
You might do well to follow Mythbuster Adam Savage's lead.
When the host of the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" learned he had rung up $11,000 in charges from AT&T while in Canada, he headed straight for Twitter. The culprit, he tweeted, was the USB modem plugged into his laptop that was running on a wireless plan suitable for the U.S., but not for Canada.
"AT&T is attempting to charge me 11k for a few hours of web surfing in Canada. Pls RT!," he posted to his Twitter feed Friday. Later, he wrote, "Almost forgot: Hey AT&T! I will fight this bull****."
Still later, he added, "They're claiming I uploaded/downloaded 9 million kilobytes (9 gigs) while in Canada. Frakking impossible."
Before too long, thanks to many of his 50,000 followers, 'AT&T' became a top Twitter trending topic, according to the tech blog TechCrunch.
By later Friday afternoon, the tweeting became too intense for even AT&T to ignore.
"Today the tweeps became twoops. Just got off the phone with AT&T and they've taken care of everything to my great satisfaction.#twitterrules," Savage wrote.
But though Savage's story may be an extreme, he's not the first – nor will he likely be the last – to suffer a cellular bill snafu.
Pastor Stops Baptism To Announce Robbery
2 Men Seen Robbing Church During Service
POSTED: 1:21 pm CDT July 7, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It's the one place you expect to be safe, but one Nashville church was robbed during service.
From the pulpit, he could see two men stealing from the church's multi-purpose building.
"I think we baptized 12 that morning, and so I was actually standing in the water," Warfield said. "It's kind of bold to see individuals coming out and robbing you during worship."
Warfield saw the men using a wheelbarrow owned by the church to carry hundreds of dollars worth of the church's equipment, such as electrical equipment and DVDs.
"It's a warning for all of our churches that are here and servicing this community," said Warfield, who said the two men are already forgiven but that the church plans to prosecute if the men are found and arrested.
"We do want to redeem them and we do want this to be a life-changing experience for them, but they do have to kind of own up to what they have done," he said.
Man calls police about hostage situation, cops find his pot-growing operation
|Photo by Joe M500|
Related pot story
WSAV-TV/Savannah Morning News
Published: July 7, 2009
A late-night fire consumed part of a Savannah man’s home and all of his pot. A call to extinguish the blaze at a home in the 2200 block of Louis Mills Boulevard turned into a drug bust just before 2 a.m. Saturday when firefighters and police discovered nine marijuana plants and a .22-caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol.
Savannah, GA—A late-night fire consumed part of a Savannah man’s home and all of his pot.
A call to extinguish the blaze at a home in the 2200 block of Louis Mills Boulevard turned into a drug bust just before 2 a.m. Saturday when firefighters and police discovered nine marijuana plants and a .22-caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol.
Savannah-Chatham police arrested homeowner Brett Napier, 44, who is being held at the Chatham County jail. Napier was charged with two felonies - possession and manufacturing of marijuana and possession of a firearm in committing a crime.
Several Southside Fire & Emergency Service fire engines, three ambulances, a rescue truck and about 20 firefighters responded to the scene, said Assistant Chief Hugh Futrell.
There were no injuries, and fire damage was limited to the back half of the house. The front portion of the home was not burned, he said.
“The attic was heavily damaged by the fire, and an area in the back of the roof burned off,“ Futrell said. “The downstairs was good - just damage from falling debris and, of course, water. The front part of the house, none of that burned.“
The fire reached the attic through a scuttle hole in a back room, he said.
All nine marijuana plants were found in a rear room. In addition to the live plants, police also found a bag of leafy marijuana, a bag of marijuana stems, a glass vile of marijuana buds, a green glass bong and two heating lamps in the house.
Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team and forensics investigators were called to the scene.
The cause of the fire is unknown, and the incident is still under investigation, Futrell said.
Robber who set fire to getaway car arrested on foot
A bungling robber who set fire to his getaway car before he carried out an armed raid was arrested moments later as he fled on foot.
Published: 7:07AM BST 08 Jul 2009
The hapless offender parked his Ford Scorpio motor next to a Securicor van as it made a delivery to a building society.
But in a bizarre move, he torched the vehicle in an apparent attempt to destroy any forensic evidence before holding up the security guard at gunpoint.
He snatched the cash box and, with his blazing car out of action, ran off. Police arrived and witnesses pointed them towards the offender.
The suspect was arrested minutes later in a nearby park. Officers managed to put the out the fire in the car, which has now been removed for forensic examination.
The incident happened at about 9pm on Monday night outside the Nationwide building society in Bournemouth, Dorset.
Detective Inspector Craig Travers, of Bournemouth CID, said: "There was a car that had been driven to the scene and parked in a normal manner nearby by the offender.
"The car was deliberately set fire to by the offender, rendering out of use. We don't yet know why he has done this.
"Normally when you get a robbery a vehicle is used to make off from the scene in and swapped for an exchange car later on, at which point the first car is set alight.
"At about the same time of the car fire a man pointing what is believed to have been a handgun approached a Group 4 Securicor officer outside the building society.
"The security guard put the cash box on the pavement and it was picked up by the robber who made off on foot with it.
"A 44-year-old man fitting the description of the offender was arrested a short time later at Horseshoe Common, not far from the scene.
"Officers managed to put the car fire out with an extinguisher. There was some damage to it but it has been removed and is being examined by forensic officers."
Witnesses reported hearing a minor explosion from the car fire at the time of robbery.
Drunken tractor driver leads police on slow chase
BERLIN (Reuters) - A drunk German sparked a slow-speed police chase after stealing a tractor to get home from a nightclub after his girlfriend left without him, said police, who used pepper spray to try to stop the vehicle.
"After his girlfriend abandoned him in a night club, the 23-year-old driver, who doesn't own a license, commandeered the vehicle to make his way home," a police spokesman said on Monday.
Six police cars began trailing the tractor, which was chugging along at 20 km (12 miles) an hour, after they were alerted to the theft at about 5 a.m. Saturday.
Officers tried holding up stop signs and directing pepper spray through the open window to bring the driver to a halt.
They then tried unsuccessfully to end his getaway by throwing nail belts on the road, but the tractor's tires proved too thick, said the police spokesman.
The 40-minute chase finally came to an end when officers shot at the tractor's tires after it rammed into a police car and collided with another vehicle.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Sophie Hares)
The Devil arrested for messing with man's world vision, cops say
Last Update: 5:04 pm
PORT ST. LUCIE, FL -- A man's trip to a Cumberland Farms store turned into a chance encounter with a scraggly version of Beelzebub, according to Port St. Lucie cops.
The victim told officers he was leaving the store when he was approached by a man later identified as John Eugene Yale, Jr.
They chatted for a few minutes when Yale suddenly announced, “I am the Devil and I am going to kill you!”
Police said Yale jumped on the victim, hit him on the head and jammed his thumbs in the man's eyes, causing them to bleed.
The victim fought back and managed to escape to his house, where he called 911.
Yale was arrested and hauled off to his own private hell.
He's charged with felony battery.
Rubik's Cube inventor's new 360 puzzle on sale next week
The 360, a new game by Professor Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik's Cube, is set to go on sale next week.
By Chris Irvine
Published: 8:32AM BST 06 Jul 2009
The 64-year-old reclusive Hungarian professor, who has seen his cube achieve 350 million sales since 1980, was heavily involved in creating the new brain-teaser.
The 360 is a clear plastic ball holding six small balls of different colours. Players must get the coloured balls from an inner sphere into matching slots on the outer sphere by shaking them through a middle sphere that has only two holes.
Using the original principles applied to the Rubik's Cub, it will be available next week, costing £18.
David Hedley Jones, senior vice president of the Rubik brand, said: "It doesn't need batteries and looks as though it should be quite easy.
"But it is incredibly complicated. There are some really cunning tricks to it."
Hamleys, the London toy store, has already had thousands of inquiries for the 360. It's head of sales Nigel Wheatley said: "It is our biggest item on the web. I expect thousands to be sold in days."
Invented in 1974, the Rubik's Cube was an instant success when it was first exported from Hungary in 1980, becoming the world's fastest-selling toy.
Still obtaining a cult following, almost 40,000 entries on YouTube feature tutorials and video clips of quick solutions.
Police cadet charged with burglary
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, July 06, 2009
A Gwinnett County police cadet has been offered the option of resigning in lieu of being fired after his arrest on burglary charges over the weekend, police said.
Sean Filyaw, 24, was arrested after a former neighbor discovered the wannabe cop stealing a PlayStation from the neighbor’s home in Auburn. Auburn police called to the scene arrested Filyaw when they found him in his car outside the house on Mount Moriah Road. The suspect was still wearing his cadet uniform.
“The Gwinnett County police does not tolerate the actions of any of its members that may reflect negatively on this department,” Gwinnett spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli said Monday.
Filyaw is currently free on bond.
LINK TO PICTURE AND VIDEO OF SEAN FILYAW:
Man charged with twice failing to appear in court fails to appear in court
PORTSMOUTH — A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a Suzanne Drive resident who failed to appear in court Monday for two counts of failing to appear in court.
Gary Isabelle, 44, of 2 Suzanne Drive, was scheduled to appear in the district court July 6 on charges alleging he previously failed to appear for a criminal loitering charge and a civil complaint alleging he failed to pay rent to his former landlord.
For failing to appear for the criminal charge, Judge Sawako Gardner forfeited $200 cash Isabelle posted as bail following his arrest on a prior warrant. She also ordered a new warrant for his arrest and set additional bail at $500 cash. That charge alleges Isabelle sat in a parked van after dark causing public alarm.
Isabelle was also scheduled to appear in the court Monday for a small claims complaint alleging he failed to pay a former landlord $4,081.68 in rent. When Isabelle’s absence was noted, the landlord told the court he had not heard from Isabelle with the exception of two threatening emails, one of which said the landlord “should spend (his) time making sure (his) daughter is safe.”
The landlord alleges Isabelle violated his lease agreement for a Benson Street apartment by not paying rent, then “in retaliation to a demand for payment, attempted to blackmail” the landlord in an effort to get “huge deductions.”
For Isabelle’s failure to appear in the court for that hearing, Judge Gardner set additional bail at $1,000 cash.
New rollercoaster crowned the world's steepest
Thrill-seekers are set to be scared senseless by a new record-breaking rollercoaster ride which is the steepest ever.
Published: 7:00AM BST 06 Jul 2009
The "Mumbo Jumbo" coaster at the Flamingo Land Park, near Malton, North Yorks, plunges passengers down 112 degrees and puts them through similar forces to those experienced by jet pilots.
The £4 million ride, which lasts for 38 seconds, has been confirmed as the world's steepest by Guinness World of Records.
As well as the drop, the ride boasts another 30-foot plunge and the ability to throw riders round thrilling corners.
Gordon Gibb, Chief Executive of the park, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for Flamingo Land. We are extremely proud of our new ride. It's a world beater, and it definitely puts us in the theme park premier league.
"There's nothing like it anywhere in the UK or Europe. In fact, you'd have to travel to Indiana Beach in the USA to come anywhere close and even then, our 'coaster is steeper by one degree.
"It is exciting for a relatively small family business like Flamingo Land to be punching well above its weight. Mumbo Jumbo looks set to become a National icon, we are all very excited.
Mr Gibb's family have owned the park, which attracts nearly 1.5 million visitors a year, for 32 years, with the 33-year-old taking the reins as a teenager.
"The name is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek description of the way other theme parks boast about their new rides and attractions. We're not talking mumbo jumbo - our new rollercoaster is definitely the real deal."
Carl Saville from Guinness World of Records said: "Now it has successfully completed ten rides it has definitely claimed the world record.
"We have confirmed that the angle of descent in a particular part of the ride is 112 degrees which constitutes a new world record."
85,000 pounds of debris removed from Mastic Beach property
BY PATRICK WHITTLE
1:03 PM EDT, July 6, 2009
A Mastic Beach father and son face nearly $20,000 in fines after officials had to use 10 garbage trucks to remove 42 tons of tires, car parts, hoses and other trash from their home. (Handout / July 6, 2009)
A Mastic Beach father and son face nearly $20,000 in fines after code enforcement officials removed about 85,000 pounds of debris from the dad's property, officials said.
John W. Mallgren, owner of 57 Daisy Dr., and his son, John R. Mallgren, a tenant there, allowed 42 tons of tires, car parts, hoses and other trash to pile up on the residential lot, which is also the site of a single-family home, Brookhaven Town officials said.
The elder Mallgren must pay $8,742 for the removal of the rubbish - which required 10 garbage trucks - and his son likely will face more than $10,000 in fines, officials said.
The building was condemned on June 24, and the younger Mallgren's case is winding its way through the court system, officials said.
PHOTOS OF GARBAGE:
British family have rainbow children
A mixed race couple have nicknamed their kids the Rainbow Children after a genetic quirk left them with a remarkable spectrum of skin colours
Published: 6:48PM BST 06 Jul 2009
White mum Carla Nurse, 27, and her black husband Cornel, 31, were not surprised when their first child Jermaine was born with a mixed race complexion.
But they were amazed when daughter Tanisha arrived with an Afro-Caribbean appearance -and their second son Jayden was born with white skin and blonde hair.
"Where I live it is a predominantly white town and I admit it looks pretty strange when I walk around with my brood of rainbow children," said Mrs Nurse.
"I am at a complete loss to explain why they are all different colours - I can only think that it is some type of freaky genetic thing.
"After Jayden was born and he looked Aryan my friends nicknamed us the United Nations."
Mrs Nurse , a part-time model from Lowestoft, Suffolk, said her only concern is that many people assume the children have different fathers.
She said: "I remember giving birth to each one of them at the hospital and all the doctors were looking at me thinking I had all these children to different men.
"When people think I've cheated it makes me so angry. "I would never stray from Cornel and never have - I'm totally devoted to him and always will be."
Mr Nurse ,whose Afro-Caribbean father came from Barbados and white mother came from London, grew up in the Suffolk village of Halesworth just 30 miles away.
Their eldest son Jermaine, now six, has brown eyes with golden brown skin while daughter Tanisha, four, takes after her father with Afro-Caribbean skin, dark eyes and tight black curls.
Youngest son Jayden, now two, has white skin, blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
All three siblings have their mother's nose and big eyes while Tanisha has full lips similar to Mr Nurse.
Mr Nurse said: "They are definitely all mine and the whole thing is just a freak of nature. Tanisha was dark from the start but as the boys got older one has gone darker and one has got whiter.
"All of the kids were planned - Jermaine was conceived on holiday in Florida and Tanisha and Jayden were conceived at home.
"They all have our facial features it's just the colour of their skin which is different - it's hard to believe."
Dr Jess Buxton, of the British Society for Human Genetics, said it was rare for three children with totally different skin colour to be born to the same parents.
She said: "I have never heard of this before and I'm sure it can't happen often. But several different genes control skin colour in a similar way to eye and hair colour.
"This is a random process, so it is certainly possible for the same parents to have children with different skin colours, although because we don't know all of the genes involved it isn't possible to predict when this will happen."
Tiny New Battery Is Printable
02 July 2009 01:00 pm ET
Updated 6:05 p.m. ET
A new battery, small and thin, weighs almost nothing and can be printed in a process similar to silk-screening shirts.
The printable battery is expected to be cheap and easy to mass produce and could be used in disposable receipts or cards, engineers in Germany announced today.
"Our goal is to be able to mass produce the batteries at a price of single digit cent range each," said Andreas Willert, of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS, where Reinhard Baumann led the battery's development.
The battery weighs less than 1 gram and is less than 1 millimeter thick. It runs at 1.5 volts. Placing several in a row can produce up to 6 volts.
A standard AAA battery weighs about 11.5 grams and also runs at 1.5 volts.
The newly developed battery has a life span more limited than traditional batteries, however. Here are the technical details:
The battery is composed of different layers: a zinc anode and a manganese cathode, among others. Zinc and manganese react with one another and produce electricity. However, the anode and the cathode layer dissipate gradually during this chemical process. Therefore, the battery is suitable for applications which have a limited life span or a limited power requirement.
The battery new contains no mercury and so is said to be more environmentally friendly than some.
Actual products with the battery could be ready by the end of the year, the engineers said.
The small, thin battery comes out of the printer and can be applied to flexible substrates. Credit: Fraunhofer ENAS
The Strange Ingredients in Fireworks
By LiveScience Staff
posted: 02 July 2009 04:41 pm ET
Fireworks for the 4th of July are all about light, color and sound. But inside, there are some bizarre ingredients, from aluminum to Vaseline and even the stuff of rat poison.
An ancient mix of black powder, essentially gunpowder little changed from its invention in China a millennia ago, gets each rocket in the air by creating pressure in gas trapped in a tube, or mortar.
Two fuses are lit at once: one to ignite the black powder, and another that burns slower, creating a well-timed explosion high in the sky.
The shells of commercial fireworks contain a powdery concoction of chemicals that produce the bangs and the whistles, as well as the pretty effects. Tubes, hollow spheres, and paper wrappings work as barriers to compartmentalize the effects. More complicated shells are divided into even more sections to control the timing of secondary explosions.
Big booms and whistles come from flash powder. Once used for flashes in photography, it is a combination of fuel-like metal and a chemical that feeds oxygen to fire up the fuel.
Different combinations of metals and oxides produce a whole array of sounds.
While ancient Greeks and Romans used bismuth in their beauty care products and coins, chemists add bismuth trioxide to the flash powder to get that crackling sound, dubbed "dragon eggs." Ear-splitting whistles take four ingredients, including a food preservative and Vaseline.
The variety of color in a fireworks show depends on the mix of metals.
In recent years, chemists have worked to develop more environmentally friendly fireworks, in part because one ingredient, perchlorate, was found in higher than normal concentrations in a lake where fireworks were shot off, and the chemical is known to cause thyroid problems in humans.
Meanwhile, to light up a red, white, and blue flag, chemists can lay out the emblem's design on wax paper. The pattern you see up in the air, whether it's a smiley face or a bow tie, mirrors the arrangement of the metals in the shell.
Because the flag, or any other pattern, shoots out from the shell as a two-dimensional image, people watching the show from different angles can't always tell what they're looking at. To make sure everyone has a good view, pyrotechnists tend to send duplicates into the sky at the same time.
You can see fireworks before you hear them because light travels faster than sound.
|World's smallest car enters Ripley's Believe it or Not museum|
Saturday, 04 July 2009
|The Peel P50, a single door, three wheel microcar went on display at New York's Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum on Monday.
The Peel Engineering Company manufactured 50 to 100 of the one-seater vehicles which weighed 130 lb (59 kg), and are 52.8 in (134 cm) in length, 47 in (120 cm) in height and 39 in (99 cm) in width.
Information from: Wikinews, http://www.wikinews.org
Image: Philip (flip) Kromer.
Link to Video:
Altoona officer forced to quit over MySpace photos
Des Moines Register
July 5, 2009
An Altoona reserve police officer who allegedly posted suggestive photos of herself on a social networking site was forced to resign earlier this year.
Abigail L. Keller, 27, is the latest in a string of Iowans who have been fired over questionable material on Internet message boards, Facebook pages or MySpace profiles.
Keller, of Pleasant Hill, resigned in February after a local businessman gave a city police officer print-outs of pages from Keller's MySpace page.
Keller was in her fifth month of service as a full-time reserve officer for the department. She had previously spent three years as a volunteer reserve officer.
Police Chief John Gray, at a recent state hearing that dealt with Keller's request for unemployment benefits, said photographs on Keller's Web site "depicted Officer Keller in a bar surrounded by male and female patrons. ... In one photograph, she is displaying her naked buttocks or mooning the person who is taking the picture. In another, she is performing simulated sex acts on both males and females."
Keller testified that one photograph showed her "making kissy faces" with a friend, and in another she and a few female friends faced each other in a circle with their tongues out.
She said she did not post a photo to her site in which she exposed her buttocks. Gray disputed that, and said he had the photo in question.
"You're pulling your pants down," he testified. "Your naked buttocks are showing."
Administrative Law Judge Debra L. Wise asked Keller whether she had posted such a photo to her site.
"No, I didn't, "Keller replied. "I took that down way before I was hired with Altoona."
Keller said she posted the bar photos in 2005, months before she was appointed as a volunteer reserve officer, and forgot about them. She said she believed access to the site was restricted.
Gray testified that he was particularly concerned about the site because it included a photo of Keller in her police uniform.
"What I found to be inappropriate was that she was associating her conduct with the police department," he testified.
Wise ruled that although Keller might have been justifiably fired, she did not intentionally disregard the police department's interests and was entitled to unemployment benefits.
"In this technology age, she used poor judgment when she posted these pictures in albums on her social-network pages and naively believed no one but close personal friends could access these pictures," Wise wrote in her ruling.
In real estate, the first rule is always location, location, location. For one alleged South Florida bank robber, he might want to remember that old axiom.
Fort Lauderdale police say David Lotridge faces felony charges for allegedly robbing a local Citibank.
According to police, Lotridge walked into a Citibank at 899 Cypress Creek Rd. in Fort Lauderdale on Friday. He showed a teller a note implying he had a weapon and walked out with an undisclosed amount of cash, according to CBS station WFOR-TV news partner the Miami Herald.
Bank employees were shown a photo lineup by police and quickly recognized Lotridge as the alleged robber. Employees said Lotridge was a previous customer of the same bank that was robbed.
11 arrested in theft of blue jeans
A tipster alerted Atlanta Police; suspects were removing clothes’ tags.
By Mike Morris
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Saturday, July 04, 2009
A tip led Atlanta Police on Friday to an arrest of 11 people suspected of being blue jean bandits, and about $10,000 in stolen jeans, a spokeswoman said.
The tipster alerted police of suspicious activity in the backyard of a house in the 900 block of Farrington Road, Sgt. Lisa Keyes said.
Officers arrived to find 11 people removing tags from shirts and hundreds of high-end jeans, Keyes said.
Six of the suspects tried to hide in a crawl space over the home’s ceiling, but all were arrested, police said.
Much of the merchandise still had labels and security tags on it, Keyes said. Police also found two stolen cars —- one apparently taken in an armed robbery, she said.
Earlier Friday, police linked two Atlanta men arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase Thursday afternoon to a gang of burglars targeting high-end clothing boutiques, Keyes said.
Dominique Copeland, 21, and Quantavious Guffie, 18, waived their initial court appearance at the Fulton County Jail Friday morning.
The men are being held without bond, awaiting a preliminary hearing before a Fulton County Superior Court judge at a later date.
Keyes said Friday that investigators have linked the pair to Thursday morning’s attempted break-in at eModa, a Midtown clothing boutique that was hit twice last month by smash-and-grab burglars.
In each of the May burglaries, thieves made off with thousands of dollars in high-end blue jeans and other clothing. After the second burglary, the owners of eModa reinforced a metal gate inside the back door of the store. Early Thursday, would-be thieves smashed the glass door, but were unable to get past the metal grating.
Investigators are still trying to determine if Copeland and Guffie are involved in other smash-and-grab burglaries, Keyes said.
She said both are “known affiliates” of 30 Deep, a street gang that has been connected to at least one of the previous burglaries at eModa.
Copeland has been charged with felony obstruction, reckless conduct, auto theft by receiving, entering an auto and six counts of criminal damage to property in the second degree.
Guffie is facing charges of theft by receiving, felony obstruction, entering an auto and giving false information.
Contest Offers $1 Million In Prizes To Fastest Keyboard Typists
July 3, 2009 2:16 p.m. EST
Windsor Genova - AHN News Writer
Mountain View, CA (AHN) - A company that supplies color-coded keyboards has launched a nationwide speed typing contest offering $1 million worth of prizes to the fastest typists in the U.S.
KeyRight USA said its America's Fastest Typist contest aims to improve the nation's keyboard literacy by offering cash prizes and educational scholarships to participating individuals, students, school teams and corporate teams.
"It (contest) will have local, regional, state and national 'on-line' qualifying heats culminating in national fame for individuals and school and corporate teams in a televised final to be staged in Las Vegas in June, next year," Keyright said in a press release.
Aside from fame and prizes, contestants will have an opportunity to improve their keyboard typing skills through the use of Keyright's Look & Learn Keyboard. The keyboard's colored keys guide users on learning touch typing.
Jerome Whitcroft, inventor of the Look & Learn keyboard, said over 130 million PC users in the U.S., including scores of millions of children, can't type properly or have no basic typing skill.
"Over 85% of all PC users have deficient keyboard skills, resulting in learning difficulties, reduced productivity and keyboard-related injuries," Whitcroft said.
The problem can be solved through the use of the Look & Learn Keyboard, which is gaining wide acceptance from school teachers, individuals and business owners and corporations right across America, he said
Woman, 85, lay dead in her flat for FIVE YEARS before anyone noticed
Last updated at 6:05 PM on 03rd July 2009
Forgotten: Isabella Purves' body lay undiscovered for five years
The badly decomposed remains of an 89-year-old woman were discovered in her flat five years after she died, police revealed today.
Isabella Purves' body was only found after a downstairs neighbour noticed water dripping through the ceiling of her tenement flat and reported it to the local council.
Officers forced their way into her flat, fighting through the piles of unopened mail which had gathered behind her front door, before making the gruesome discovery.
It is thought nobody noticed Miss Purves was missing as her pension was paid directly into a bank account and bills were paid by direct debit.
Today, as detectives tried to trace the elderly woman's relatives, neighbours, pensioners' charities and politicians spoke of their horror over the tragic case, which one described as a glaring example of the country's fractured society.
Tragedy: Isabella Purves is believed to have lain dead in her flat - the top bay window - in Edinburgh since 2004
The last reminder was sent out in 2004. His wife, Dorothy, who co-owns the business, said the discovery was 'an indictment' of society.
She said: 'Nobody cares any more, that's pretty sad. It's down to basic neighbourly behaviour. I would hope people would be looking out for others.'
Giovanni Cilia, who owns the Fioritalia florist below Miss Purves's traditional tenement flat, said he was shocked at how long it took to find her. He said: 'How did no one notice the smell, or wonder where she was?
'I heard there was a big pile of letters and bills behind the door. I used to see her walk past the shop maybe four times a week. She would often go across the street and pick up litter to clean the place up.'
Mr Cilia, who has run the shop for 20 years, added: 'It's shocked everyone here. When I saw her she looked quite fit and healthy for her age. 'She used to wear boots and would often carry a rucksack like she enjoyed going for walks.'
Isabella's neighbour Lucy Balloch, 28, added: 'It's very saddening and a real shock. There are a lot of people moving in and out all the time in here and it's not easy to get to know the neighbours that well.
'That's maybe why nobody suspected anyone was in there.'
Little is known about Miss Purves, although it is thought she never married.
The windows of her top-floor flat were left open today in the tenement building, which occupies a block on the busy junction with Broughton Road, above a pub and row of shops.
Douglas McLellan, of Age Concern and Help the Aged in Scotland, said it was a 'tragic case'.
He said: 'If she was not receiving care treatment from anyone and not receiving social care, then the likelihood of being found quickly is minimal.
'The question is not just about public services finding people and neighbours checking up, it's about how elderly people themselves are living their lives. If they're leading private lives, then how are people going to find them?'
Mr McLellan urged people to take more notice of their neighbours and 'knock on doors' if there is any concern.
'Society has fractured. We're not in the same units as we used to be. People might not phone their own gran more than once a month,' he added.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Iain Gray, MSP, said he was 'shocked and troubled' by the case. 'These sad circumstances are a reminder to us all to make an effort to speak to our neighbours whenever we get the chance, especially those who are elderly and on their own,' he added.
Malcolm Chisholm, Labour MSP for Ms Purves' constituency of Edinburgh North and Leith, said: 'It is deeply disturbing that the body of an elderly person can lie undiscovered for five years.
'In the city of Edinburgh there is a great sense of community but with such a bustling sometimes transient population it is worthwhile and really important that young and old reach out and build those bridges.'
Edinburgh City Council confirmed it was contacted about a leak from the tenement but said Miss Purves was not a council tenant.
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: 'Police were called to an address in Rodney Street in Edinburgh on June 30, after concerns were raised over an elderly resident.
'On entering the premises, officers discovered the body of a 90-year-old woman. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, and a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.'
Police nab teen who put himself on cell
July 2, 2009, 9:39AM
SUFFOLK, Va. — Suffolk police say they now have a suspect to go with an image of a person who snapped a photo of himself with a cell phone belonging to the owner of the home he burglarized.
Police say a 17-year-old Suffolk resident faces charges of burglary and larceny. They're not identifying him because he's underage.
The burglary happened in early June. Detectives think the person unsuccessfully tried to make a phone call using the phone, then used the camera function to photograph himself. People who saw the photo in news stories helped detectives identify the suspect.
Burglary suspect leaves photo of himself on homeowner's cell phone
The man suspected of the early-June burglary of a Suffolk home left this photo on the victim's cell phone. (Courtesy of Suffolk police / June 4, 2009)
11:40 AM EDT, June 29, 2009
SUFFOLK — Police investigators are seeking the public's help in identifying a suspect in an early June home burglary after getting a little help from the suspect himself.
In the first week of June, police were called to the burglary of a house in the 200 block of Holbrook Arch in Suffolk. During the burglary, the suspect tried to use the homeowner's cell phone but was unable to make a call, city spokeswoman Debbie George said in a statement Sunday evening.
What the suspect was able to do was snap a genial-looking photo of himself with the phone's built-in camera while committing the crime. He then left the phone and ran off, George said.
Would you pledge your soul as loan collateral?
RIGA (Reuters) – Ready to give your soul for a loan in these difficult economic times? In Latvia, where the crisis has raged more than in the rest of the European Union, you can.
Such a deal is being offered by the Kontora loan company, whose public face is Viktor Mirosiichenko, 34.
Clients have to sign a contract, with the words "Agreement" in bold letters at the top. The client agrees to the collateral, "that is, my immortal soul."
Mirosiichenko said his company would not employ debt collectors to get its money back if people refused to repay, and promised no physical violence. Signatories only have to give their first name and do not show any documents.
"If they don't give it back, what can you do? They won't have a soul, that's all," he told Reuters in a basement office, with one desk, a computer and three chairs.
Wearing sunglasses, a black suit and a white shirt with the words "Kontora" (office) emblazoned on it, he reaches into his pocket and lays out a sheaf of notes on the table to show that the business is serious and not a joke.
Latvia has been the EU nation worst hit by economic crisis.
Unemployment is soaring and banks have sharply reduced their lending, meaning that small companies offering easy loans in small amounts have become more popular.
Mirosiichenko said his company was basically trusting people to repay the small amounts they borrowed, which has so far been up to 250 lats ($500) for between 1 and 90 days at a hefty interest rate.
He said about 200 people had taken out loans over the two months the business was in operation.
(Reporting by Patrick Lannin; Editing by Steve Addison
I was blind, bite now I can see...
Miracle ... tooth op gives Martin sight
July 3, 2009
BLIND Martin Jones has seen his wife for the first time after surgeons restored his sight using one of his TEETH.
Martin, 42, was blinded when a tub of molten aluminium exploded in his face while he was working in a scrapyard 12 years ago.
He married care worker Gill, 50, eight years later so he has never seen her - until surgeons performed the incredible op.
Overjoyed Martin said: "I met my wife when I was blind and when I found out there was a chance I would get my sight back the first person I wanted to see was her.
"The doctors took the bandages off and it was like looking through water and then I saw this figure and it was her. It was unbelievable.
"She looked so beautiful. If felt fantastic getting my sight back. I can't describe it, it is beyond words."
Martin suffered 37 per cent burns when he was covered in the 600C liquid. He had to wear a body stocking for 23 hours a day as doctors treated his horrific burns.
His left eye was so badly damaged it had to be removed.
His right was saved but he couldn't see out of it.
Martin thought he would be blind for ever - until it was decided he was suitable for the revolutionary surgery.
One of his canine teeth was removed and a tiny hole was drilled into it to hold a special optical lens.
The tooth was then inserted into Martin's cheek for three months to enable it to grow new tissue and blood vessels.
The lens was then fitted into the hole and the tooth was inserted into his right eyeball.
Within two weeks stunned Martin could see for the first time in 12 years.
The implant works by the lens allowing light into the eye which restores his vision.
Martin said: "When I first heard about the technique I couldn't believe it. I don't think many people can.
"My friends just don't believe me. They think I'm pulling their leg or have just made it up.
"But when I take my glasses off they say 'oh my God' because my eye looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. They're just amazed at it.
"I was blind for 12 years and when my sight came back everything changed.
"The first car I saw when my sight was restored was a Smart car and I couldn't stop laughing. I thought someone had chopped the car in half.
"Getting my sight back has changed my life. I used to walk with a white stick but now I find pleasure in being able to see what is going on in the world."
The operation was done by Brighton surgeon Christopher Lui, the only person in the UK who carries out the procedure.
Game show looks to convert atheists
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - What happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.
The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion -- Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.
But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show.
"Doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions. Religion should not be a subject for entertainment programs," High Board of Religious Affairs Chairman Hamza Aktan told state news agency Anatolian after news of the planned program emerged.
The makers of "Penitents Compete" are unrepentant and reject claims that the show, scheduled to begin broadcasting in September, will cheapen religion.
"We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God," Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters.
"We don't approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn't matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe," Soylu said.
The project focuses attention on the issue of religious identity in European Union-candidate Turkey, where rights groups have raised concerns over freedom of religion for non-Muslim minorities.
Detractors of the ruling AK Party government, which is rooted in political Islam but officially secular, accuse it of having a hidden Islamist agenda, a charge it denies.
Some 200 people have so far applied to take part in the show and the 10 contestants will be chosen next month.
A team of theologians will ensure that the atheists are truly non-believers and are not just seeking fame or a free holiday.
Elgin cabbie fends off attacker with deodorant
Daily Herald Staff
Published: 7/2/2009 4:13 PM
"He was fine (afterward)," Elgin Deputy Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said of the cabbie. "He had a small laceration on his left thumb and a small abrasion on his neck."
The 51-year-old cabbie's brush with a man armed with a knife that was at least 10 inches long began when he picked up a man in his 20s outside the Grand Victoria Casino, 250 S. Grove Ave., at about 2 a.m. Thursday.
The man gave the cabbie, who was driving a minivan instead of a sedan, several sets of directions and destinations.
The cabbie got suspicious, so he put a small can of spray deodorant that he kept in the vehicle between his legs, the police report said.
At about 2:20 p.m., at the intersection of Wellington and Bent streets, the man leaned forward in the minivan, put the knife to the cabbie's throat and demanded money.
In response, the cabbie sprayed the man in the face and eyes, disorienting him and causing him to drop his knife, which eventually was left in the cab.
"The doors were locked so he punched the cabdriver a few times" until the cabbie unlocked the doors, Swoboda said.
The attacker ran toward the apartments behind the ClockTower Plaza shopping center. He is described as black, about 6 feet tall and 160 pounds.
No arrests have been made as of Thursday afternoon.
House wrecked as man kills weeds with flame thrower
BERLIN (AFP) – A German gardener's house was left a smouldering wreck on Friday after he set it on fire while trying to get rid of the weeds with the help of a flame-thrower, police said.
After accidentally setting his hedge alight, the 54-year-old's garden shed was soon also engulfed in flames and despite efforts to extinguish the fire with a, the blaze spread to the roof of the house.
Seven firemen were needed to put out the blaze in Tangstedt near Hamburg in , which occurred on Thursday. Police said the house was now uninhabitable.
Flame-throwers are used widely in agriculture and also in gardening, but generally only for removing weeds from between cracks in paving in driveways and patios.
DVD sent home with Elk Grove elementary students included sexual content
Lambert and Stan Oklobdzija
Elk Grove Unified officials have rescinded a request for parents to return DVDs that included "inappropriate images" they say were inadvertently sent home with students at Isabelle Jackson Elementary.
Now, the district doesn't want the DVDs back.
"Just destroy them," said district spokeswoman Torrey Johnson.
A teacher apparently sent the DVD retrospective of class activity home with her 24 students on the last day of school Friday.
Although the district would not say what sort of images the DVD contained, a copy obtained by The Bee from a parent showed six seconds of sexual content.
Johnson said the teacher learned of the mistake when a parent called her over the weekend. The teacher then called all the parents of her students and asked them to destroy the DVD.
The district followed up with a letter to parents in which they initially requested that the DVDs be returned to the school.
Johnson said a district investigation of the incident will consider whether anything criminal took place, among other things.
Though children saw the video, no parents filed a complaint with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, said Sgt. Tim Curran, sheriff's spokesman.
Even if someone were to file a report, Curran said, distributing the DVD "may not be prosecutable" because law enforcement would have to establish the teacher had both intent to distribute the material and intent to arouse in order to have broken the law.
Calif. students get X-rated version of class DVD
Fri Jul 3, 1:02 am ET
ELK GROVE, Calif. – A Northern California elementary school teacher sent her students home for the summer with a video of class memories, only the DVD included six seconds of her having sex on a couch.
Officials at the Elk Grove Unified School District asked families of the teacher's 24 students to get rid of the DVD after the unintended clip was found spliced in a scene where children were sharing stories in class.
"Just destroy them," said spokeswoman Torrey Johnson.
Johnson said the teacher, whose name isn't being released, sent the DVD home with her students from Isabelle Jackson Elementary on the last day of class Friday. She learned of the mistake after a parent called her. She then called all the parents to ask them to destroy the DVD.
The school district, located just south of Sacramento, initially sent a letter home to parents asking them to return the DVDs, but then asked parents to simply destroy them.
Heiress believed lost in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside
Lori Culbert, Vancouver SunPublished: Thursday, July 02, 2009
VANCOUVER - The search is on for a Vancouver woman living in the city's notoriously impoverished Downtown Eastside who may be the only heir to a small fortune sitting in a German bank.
Toronto lawyer Robert Price was hired by a German bank to help locate a woman named Lucia Leiser, who is the rightful owner of an estate worth an estimated $360,000 Cdn that was bequeathed by a relative of her father. Since her father died about a decade ago, the money now belongs to Leiser.
But the challenge is finding her to let her know.
Price contacted The Vancouver Sun this week after reading a 2007 story in which the newspaper quoted Lucia Leiser-Maika, a resident of the Downtown Eastside hotel Bourbon.
"I believe that Lucia Leiser-Maika may be one and the same person as Lucia Leiser and I would like to be able to contact this woman," Price said in an e-mail to the newspaper.
In an interview, Price said Lucia's father left Germany in 1952, married a woman in Fiji and settled in Vancouver where he raised two children - a son, and a daughter named Lucia.
A Vancouver Sun reporter and photographer spent two days in the Downtown Eastside showing Leiser's picture - taken by the newspaper in 2007 - to residents and service providers.
Many people said they recognized her in the photo. Several said they had not seen Leiser for a year or more, while a few believed they had spotted her in recent days or weeks. A handful thought she was of Polynesian descent.
A shelter worker said Leiser was well known for her attire, often wearing brightly coloured leis around her neck.
Fellow Downtown Eastside resident Yolanda Dyck said she last saw Leiser in 2007, when the two spent a handful of months together in a drum group run through the Aboriginal Front Door. Dyck thought she had a connection to Hawaii or some similar place because she often spoke about how the native Canadian culture was different from her own background.
"She was outgoing," said Dyck, a Crown witness during serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton's trial. "She had a big heart."
She believes Leiser was living on the street at that time.
In a February 2007 interview about welfare shelter-allowance rates being increased by $50, Leiser said she was being kicked out of the Bourbon Hotel on Vancouver's Cordova Street. She said she had survived her first three years in the Downtown Eastside without social assistance and spent much of her time helping other women at the Aboriginal Front Door and the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.
She dismissed the $50 welfare increase as a "Band-Aid" that wouldn't heal the larger problems festering in the Downtown Eastside.
"You think $50 is going to help? That's one trick for the women who live down here," Leiser said at the time. "That place where I live is not a home. It's full of mice and bedbugs and the ceiling leaks."
Glen Miller, longtime manager of the Bourbon, said this week his hotel is in good shape and that Leiser was evicted in 2007 after scribbling on the walls and exhibiting other unstable behaviour.
Lucia Leiser-Maika could inherit $360,000 Cdn, but she's believed to be lost in the bowels of Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside.
Man with no arms or legs can play football, swim and surf
Nick Vujicic was born with no arms or legs, but has learnt to play football, swim and even surf.
Published: 7:00AM BST 02 Jul 2009
The 26-year old is mainly torso but has a small foot on his left hip which helps him balance and enables him to kick.
Mr Vujicic uses his single foot to type, write with a pen and pick things up between his toes.
He claims that his lack of limbs is something of a benefit in the water because it means he has more flotation and can use his foot as a "propeller".
And during a trip to Hawaii in 2008, he learnt to surf with help from professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, who had her arm bitten off by a shark when she was 12.
His ability to pull off 360 degree spins on his board got him on the front cover of Surfer magazine.
Mr Vujicic also enjoys the occasional round of golf, having mastered striking the ball using a club nestled under his chin.
His disability came at birth without any medical explanation – a rare condition called Phocomelia.
However, he has learnt to use his foot and a wheelchair to overcome every hurdle life has thrown at him.
"I call it my chicken drumstick," joked Nick, who was born in Melbourne, Australia, but now lives in Los Angeles, USA.
"I'd be lost without it. When I get in the water I float because 80 per cent of my body is lungs and my drumstick acts as a propeller."
From a young age his parents helped him become independent, teaching him to swim at the age of 18 months and creating gadgets to allow him to write and type.
Mr Vujicic added: "My dad put me in the water at 18 months and gave the courage to learn how to swim.
"I also got really into football and skateboarding. I totally love the English Premier League."
His parents also insisted that he attend a mainstream school in Australia, where he was teased and bullied.
"It was the best decision they could have made for me," Mr Vujicic added, who later achieved a degree in Financial Planning and Real Estate.
"It was very hard but it gave me independence."
Mr Vujicic is now a motivational speaker and has travelled to over 24 countries speaking to groups of up to 110,000 people.
In 1990 he won the Australian Young Citizen of the Year award for his bravery and perseverance.
Describing his surf tuition with Miss Hamilton, he said: "She was amazing. I was terrified at first, but once I got up there it felt absolutely fantastic and I caught some waves pretty well."
"I have a very low centre of gravity so I've got pretty good balance."
Man heads to jail after 15th DWI
By PEGGY WRIGHT
July 1, 2009
An East Rutherford man whose driver's license has been suspended 78 times admitted Tuesday to his 15th drunken-driving offense, saying he was plastered on beer in April when he crashed head-on in Morris Township into a vehicle carrying a father and his young daughter.
Shaun P. Campbell, a 40-year-old carpenter, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court, Morristown, to one count of assault by auto on April 23 and to the motor vehicle offenses of drunken driving and driving while on the revoked list. That day, he crashed the SUV he was driving into a Ford pickup driven by Harold A. Bivins Jr., 48, of Chatham Township. His 4-year-old daughter, Hannah Bivins, was a passenger.
Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Brian DiGiacomo has recommended that Campbell receive the maximum sentence of 18 months in prison for the assault by auto, and consecutive 180-day terms on the drunken-driving and revoked license charges. He also recommended to Judge Salem Vincent Ahto that Campbell receive an extra 90-day term as an enhanced penalty on the license revocation offense.
Campbell, who politely answered questions posed by the judge and defense lawyer John Paul Velez, acknowledged his blood-alcohol level on April 23 was .288 percent, or more than triple the .08 percent level at which a driver is deemed intoxicated in New Jersey. Ahto asked Campbell what he drank.
"Beer. Quite a bit. Enough to not know what was going on," Campbell replied.
Though his lack of a valid license hasn't deterred him, he also will lose his driving privileges for at least another 10 years. Velez said that, with the revocations Campbell has banked, he won't be driving "for a very long time." He also faces about $3,000 in penalties. Velez said he would argue at sentencing for a shorter prison sentence.
Authorities said Campbell's license has been suspended 78 times over the past 22 years, including 14 previous times for DWI. Some of the revocations were for failure to appear in court or pay fines. He still has outstanding DWI charges in Pequannock and Wayne, which the judge said he would like to see resolved by the time Campbell is sentenced in August.
DiGiacomo said the state would like to see consecutive terms behind bars for the outstanding DWIs.
"We won't agree to any free DWIs, so to speak," he said.
Injuries not severe
Bivins suffered an injured finger and his daughter sustained an abrasion on her chest from her seat belt after the crash. Campbell fled afterward, running into Loantaka Park. Authorities quickly apprehended him.
Campbell said he is willing to pay for any damage to the Bivins' pickup that insurance didn't cover. "I'm not trying to hide if I caused damage," he said.
He was not able to post $50,000 bail after his arrest to be freed from the Morris County jail. The judge revoked his bail after his plea so he will remain in jail until sentencing.
The number of times Campbell flouted motor vehicle laws recently prompted state Senate President Richard J. Codey to propose criminalizing some repeat drunken-driving offenses. He has filed a package of bills in the Legislature, including one that would make it a fourth-degree crime to drive under the influence while already on the suspended list for a DWI conviction. Codey's proposals also call for increased penalties for repeat DWI offenders who have a blood-alcohol content of .20 percent and higher and for those who lend cars to anyone whose license was suspended for a DWI.
Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said his office was adamant that it would seek the maximum penalties for Campbell.
A handcuffed Shaun P. Campbell is escorted into a Morristown courtroom Tuesday; he pleaded guilty to assault by auto, drunken driving and driving while on the revoked list because of 14 previous DWI convictions and numerous other motor vehicle violations.
(STAFF PHOTO: DAWN BENKO)
"This defendant has pled guilty to the maximum time allowed under the law. We need to ensure that these cases are handled sternly to ensure, as best as possible, the safety of the community from the dangers of drinking and driving," Bianchi said.
Flight diverted after passenger undresses in seat
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A passenger stripped naked during aand resisted a 's efforts to cover him with a blanket before two off-duty on board subdued and handcuffed him, authorities said Wednesday.
Keith Wright, 50, of the Bronx in New York, was taken into custody after he disrobed while sitting in his seat in the back of Flight 705 on Tuesday evening, authorities said. The plane was carrying about 148 passengers from Charlotte to Los Angeles, the airline said.
Wright was unresponsive when a flight attendant asked him to put his clothes back on, said Dan Jiron, a spokesman for the Albuquerque airport. "She asked him on more than one occasion to put on his clothes. She covered him with a blanket and he took that off," Jiron said.
Wright punched and kicked the flight attendant, who asked two off-duty law officers for help, according to a criminal complaint. A Los Angeles police officer and sheriff's deputy helped the flight attendant subdue and handcuff Wright before the flight landed, Jiron said.
The flight attendants also were dealing with an unrelated onboard at the same time, which exacerbated the situation, the said. The aircraft was diverted because of the medical emergency, and Wright's actions were a secondary reason for the unplanned landing, the complaint said.
Roger Finzel, an assistant federal public defender representing Wright, said he has not yet met with his client and had no information about the case other than what was in the complaint.
Wright told the FBI he is suffering from a bipolar disorder and had not taken his prescribed medication before leaving New York that morning, the criminal complaint said. Wright told the FBI he recalled nothing about the flight or his behavior, it said.
Wright had been seen dancing in a crowded boarding area before the flight, but when approached by Flight Service Supervisor Claudia Kearney, he told her he had drunk one beer. Kearney told the FBI she did not smell alcohol on him and determined he was well enough to travel, the complaint said.
US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder could not confirm that Kearney worked for the airline.
Passenger Ginny Keegan of Detroit was sitting in the front of the plane, when there was commotion coming from the back. The people on the flight were notified of a violent passenger as the plane began to approach Albuquerque, but Keegan said no one was fearful.
"No one was really panicking. The flight attendants seemed to handle it very well," she said. Keegan said the man was "completely naked" as he was taken in handcuffs off the plane.
As the plane took off again, Keegan said the usual announcement to please fasten your seat belts came over the loudspeakers with a twist. The message included "a reminder to everybody to please keep your clothing on. It got a couple chuckles," Keegan said.
Wright is in federal custody on a federal charge of interfering with flight crew members and attendants. He is expected to appear in federal court in Albuquerque on Thursday.
Michigan college student tries to steal from jail
|6/30/2009, 5:56 a.m. EDT The Associated Press|
(AP) — KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Western Michigan University student William K. Bradley has been sentenced for larceny in a building.
He stole a computer.
From the Kalamazoo County jail.
Where he already was serving a sentence in a different case.
Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Gary Giguere Jr. sentenced Bradley on Monday, telling the Kalamazoo resident his jailhouse theft was "the dumbest crime I've heard today" and "may be in the top half-dozen in my career."
Bradley, who has racked up six felonies and four misdemeanors by the age of 25, agreed with the judge, saying, "I'm not the best criminal."
Bradley asked for home arrest, but Giguere instead ordered him back to jail for six months.
Western spokeswoman Cheryl Roland tells the Kalamazoo Gazette Bradley is a sophomore at the university.
Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette
Robbers Run Out of Gas
By WBNG News
Story Created: Jun 30, 2009 at 5:51 PM EDT
Story Updated: Jun 30, 2009 at 5:51 PM EDT
State Police say a getaway car ran out of gas after a robbery at a gas station.
Troopers caught up with the suspects here, on Route 11 last night.
State Police responded to a panic alarm at the Quickway in Kirkwood around 9:30 pm.
The clerk told troopers a man displayed a knife, demanded cash, cut phone lines and fled.
About an hour later, State Police located the suspects, 30 year old Lonnie Meckwood of Carbondale and 51 year old Phillip Weeks of Tunkhannock.
Troopers say they're vehicle had run out of gas, which aided in their capture.
Both are charged with 1st degree robbery.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Boy charged with stealing from ambulance
By John Thompson
Elizabethton Bureau Chief
Johnson City Press
July 1, 2009
ELIZABETHTON – A boy was arrested by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department over the weekend on charges he stole medical supplies valued at $5,000 from the back of a Carter County Rescue Squad ambulance while paramedics were treating the boy’s mother.
The boy was also accused of stealing a purse from one of the rescue workers and breaking into a car several hours earlier and stole several credit cards, a BlackBerry phone and a PlayStation portable video game.
The thefts were discovered when the medical team was preparing to leave the John Alfred Loop residence and noticed their medical bags and oxygen tank were missing. The purse of one member of the team was also missing.
Lt. Mike Fraley of the sheriff’s department responded to the residence and received permission to search the house. Nothing was found, but upon leaving the home he noticed a boy coming out of a camper on the property. He received permission to search the camper and found several medical bags and an oxygen tank that belonged to the paramedics. More medical supplies and an oxygen sensor machine were found under a recliner.
The mother of the boy later found some of the items reportedly stolen in the earlier car burglary lying in a ditch beside the road.
The youth was charged with theft over $1,000 and taken to the Juvenile Detention Center in Johnson City.
Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2009
BANTAM — A city man who reportedly grew marijuana at his apartment and packaged his illegal drugs in McDonald‘s Chicken McNugget boxes is facing criminal charges.
Frank V. Gentile III, 17, 164 North Elm St., and three alleged buyers, Glenn M. Brandner, 19, 167 French St., Torrington, Brittany Alfano, 22, 1899 Mountain Road, Torrington, and Garrett Neumann, 19, 143 West Pearl Road, Torrington, were arrested at 10:46 p.m. Sunday by Torrington police.
Judge Corinne Klatt set Gentile’s bond at $5,000 and ordered him to appear in court again July 22.
Neumann posted a $500 bond and Brandner and Alfano were released on a $2,500 non-surety bond. The three defendants were scheduled to appear in court July 6.
Alfano, Neumann and another man were waiting in a car near North Elm Street and Norwood Street for Brandner, to come out of Gentile’s home, when Torrington police officer Quinn Sullivan saw their Hyundai Elantra, according to police. Sullivan was in the process of checking the passengers’ identification when Brandner came out of the apartment. The officer looked inside a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget box Brandner was carrying and found the marijuana, Brandner reportedly just bought from Gentile. A search of Gentile’s home yielded a seizure of 4.8 ounces of marijuana found in a plastic bag under Gentile’s couch, a large plastic bag containing marijuana plant stems, packaging material, a glass pipe containing burnt marijuana, a digital scale, a purple grinder, a pot containing marijuana plants, two cell phones, rolling papers and $89 in cash, according to court records.
During the search police said Gentile’s cell phone rang numerous times. Police recorded several text messages including the following: “yo you want 8 big weed plants” and another “that s-- you gave me has mold on it my ma ia allergic (misspelled message) to it and she got rushed to the hospital”, according to police.
Gentile, an unemployed store clerk, pleaded not guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of over four ounces of marijuana, sale of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana in a school zone and cultivation of marijuana.
Brandner was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana in a school zone.
Neumann was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal attempt to possess marijuana. Alfano was charged with criminal attempt to possess marijuana and possession of marijuana
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