Truesee's Daily Wonder

Truesee presents the weird, wild, wacky and world news of the day.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Bank wants thumbprint from man with no hands

Bank wants thumbprint from man with no hands

Mike Deeson

10 Connects

August 31, 2009

6:48 pm

Tampa, Florida -- While most banks require a thumbprint to cash a check from someone who doesn't have an account, a Tampa man says that policy was impossible to comply with.

Steve Valdez says he was shocked when he was told he had to put his thumbprint on a check written on his wife's Bank of America check. Valdez says the check was written to him with the same address he has on his driver's license. Although he had two forms of identification both with pictures, the bank still required Valdez to give a thumbprint before it would cash the check.

But that was impossible, because Valdez was born without arms and wears prosthetic devices.

According to Valdez, when he gave the teller the check, she said "Obviously you can't give a thumbprint." But Valdez says the manager refused to cash the check unless he did.

When Valdez told the manager giving a thumbprint would be impossible, she suggested he either bring in his wife or open an account. Valdez says that's not the way the bank would treat someone without prosthetic arms, and he refused.

Valdez says he asked the bank if it had ever heard of the American with Disabilities Act and he says they told him they were accommodating him by offering the choices. But the ADA says businesses must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment.

A spokesman for Bank of America says while the thumbprint is a requirement for those who don't have accounts, the bank should have made accommodations.



Monday, August 31, 2009


Drunk Lawyer Arrested by Judge

Monday, August 31, 2009


Man Uses GPS to Track Robbers

Victim uses GPS to track robbers

Sunday, August 30, 2009
 Kaitlynn Riely
 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Myron Knox, Jr.

Using a computer to tap into the GPS function of his cell phone, a man directed police to the location of the men he said robbed him early yesterday in Shadyside.

The victim, who was not identified by police, said two men approached him at about 1 a.m. near the intersection of Amberson Avenue and Amberson Place. He told police the men demanded his wallet and asked for his PIN number for his credit cards; one of the men also showed what appeared to be a handgun.

The man told police he turned over his wallet, his PIN number and his iPhone before running away toward Ellsworth Avenue. Officers arrived while he was contacting his bank to cancel his cards.

The man later used his computer to track the location of his iPhone to a Wal-Mart in North Versailles, where police said the suspects purchased items with his stolen credit card before moving on to an Eat'n Park restaurant on Route 30.

North Versailles police detained the suspects, who were in a gray 2004 Dodge van, at a gas station. Police said they recovered a black pellet gun, as well as stolen identification, credit cards and cash.

Police said they will charge Bryant Rather, 22, of West Mifflin, Brent Ray Potter, 22, of Swissvale, and Myron Knox, Jr., 22, of Homewood, with two counts each of access device fraud, conspiracy, receiving stolen property and possessing instruments of crime. Mr. Rather and Mr. Potter will also be charged with robbery.





                        RELATED STORY


Pittsburgh police track down, arrest robbery suspects

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pittsburgh police say they used the GPS service on a stolen cellular telephone to track down and arrest a pair of robbery suspects.

The incident began at about 1 a.m. on Saturday morning when officers from the city's Zone 4 station responded to a report of an armed robbery in the 400 block of Amberson Avenue in Shadyside.

The victim, whose name was not released, told police that he was walking home when two men approached him and demanded his wallet. One of the robbers displayed a gun and asked him for the personal identification number for his bank card while the other robber took his wallet and cell phone out of his pockets.

While police were at the scene, the victim logged onto his computer and was able to identify the location of his stolen telephone.

The man was able to tell police that his credit cards had been used to buy items at the Wal-Mart in North Versailles and then at the Eat n Park restaurant along Lincoln Highway.

North Versailles police were contacted and given a description of the suspects and the weapon that was used in the robbery.

North Versailles police arrested the suspects in a 2004 Dodge Caravan in the parking lot at the BP gas station across from the Eat 'n Park.

Police confiscated a black pellet gun in the van along with the victim's identification and credit cards.

Bryant Rather, 22, of West Mifflin, and Brent Ray Potter, 22, of Swissvale were charged with robbery. Also arrested was Myron Knox Jr., 22, of Homewood, who was charged along with Rather and Potter with two counts each of access device fraud, criminal conspiracy, receiving stolen property and possessing instruments of crime.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Man Shoots Himself During Road Rage

Man accidentally shoots himself in road-rage incident

Gene Warner
The Buffalo News
Updated: August 27, 2009, 9:13 AM


A road-rage incident late Wednesday night in Lancaster led to a scuffle that ended when one of the combatants pulled out a gun and accidentally shot himself in the leg, Lancaster police said today.

The man who was shot was scheduled to undergo surgery in Erie County Medical Center, but police said the wound was not considered life-threatening.

Detectives believe the incident started at about 10:30 p.m., when someone reportedly cut someone else off in traffic on Ransom Road. A chase ensued, involving two individuals on motorcycles and one in another vehicle.

A short distance away on Ransom, at least one of the motorcyclists and the motorist confronted each other, and the motorist pulled out a gun.

"The one male points the gun at the second male," Capt. Timothy R. Murphy said. "The second male punches him in the face. As the first male is falling backwards, he discharges the gun and shoots himself in the left leg."

Police have not identified either of the combatants, both of whom are in their 20s. While no charges have been filed, detectives are considering possible charges, including weapons possession, against the man with the gun.

Capt. Murphy, Lancaster's chief of detectives, used the violent incident as a reminder of what can happen when people try to settle disputes with someone they don't know.

"If you have a problem on the road, call the police," he warned. "Don't confront an individual. You don't know what's going to happen. The individual without the gun is lucky that he didn't get shot."

Monday, August 31, 2009


Man Builds Space Ship In His Backyard

20-year-old dream taking shape in backyard

Tyler Treadway

Sunday, August 30, 2009

GIFFORD — That thing in Dennis Schaller’s back yard off 45th Street looks like:

A. A scaled-down version of Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars.”

B. An Airstream trailer on steroids.

C. A DeLorean sports car from the early ’80s on some really serious steroids.

D. Absolutely nothing else at all.

“Most people think it’s a spaceship,” Schaller said of his silver creation that measures 56 feet long, 20 feet wide and 17 feet tall. “It was originally designed to be a hovercraft. Now it looks like it’s going to end up as a houseboat. I won’t live long enough to get enough money to make it a hovercraft — not unless I went back to work full time; and then I wouldn’t have the time to work on it.”



ERIC HASERT eric.hasert@scripps.comInside the upper level of the 17-foot-tall vessel, craft designer and builder Dennis Schaller clears the floor of the bridge and what will be the captain’s quarters of the hovercraft/houseboat.

Inside the upper level of the 17-foot-tall vessel, craft designer and builder Dennis Schaller clears the floor of the bridge and what will be the captain’s quarters of the hovercraft/houseboat.

ERIC HASERT eric.hasert@scripps.comDennis Schaller, 65, stands on the back door ramp of his steel spaceship-like creation of a boat he has been working on over the past 20 years in Gifford. Built from scratch, the 56-foot long 2-story vessel, designed to be a hovercraft, will wind up serving as a houseboat for the former engineer.

Dennis Schaller, 65, stands on the back door ramp of his steel spaceship-like creation of a boat he has been working on over the past 20 years in Gifford. Built from scratch, the 56-foot long 2-story vessel, designed to be a hovercraft, will wind up serving as a houseboat for the former engineer.

ERIC HASERT eric.hasert@scripps.comDennis Schaller, 65, of Gifford, has been working on building a hovercraft/houseboat from scratch over the past 20 years.

Dennis Schaller, 65, of Gifford, has been working on building a hovercraft/houseboat from scratch over the past 20 years.

ERIC HASERT eric.hasert@scripps.comOne of several insulated grounding and tie-down lines secures the 2-story steel hovercraft/houseboat being build from scratch by Dennis Schaller in Gifford. The project which began in June of 1989 is being built from scrap.

One of several insulated grounding and tie-down lines secures the 2-story steel hovercraft/houseboat being build from scratch by Dennis Schaller in Gifford. The project which began in June of 1989 is being built from scrap.




Given Schaller’s background, the spaceship guess isn’t so far-fetched.

Schaller started building rockets when he was a kid. He made a solid-fuel jet engine in high school shop class and, at age 15, took first place in the engineering division of the 1960 Georgia State Science Fair for a rocket he’d built.

He was a rocket engine mechanic in the Air Force before becoming an electrical engineer with North American Aviation, where he worked on several Apollo missions, including the Apollo 11 craft that landed on the moon, and the early Space Shuttle program. He’s lived in Gifford since 1989.

That’s about the time he started working on his hovercraft/houseboat.

“It’s been a 20-year project,” the 65-year-old Schaller said. “So far.”

At the center of the craft is a travel trailer Schaller found in the woods in Fellsmere and bought for $100.

“I put a deck around the trailer, then a roof on the deck,” he said, “and then, well, it just kind of took off. Unfortunately, my dreams are bigger than my life is long and my pockets are deep.”

The vessel, for lack of a better word, is a mixture of the practical and the fanciful. The front door, for example, opens hydraulically like the alien spacecraft from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

“Not being a rich man, I’ve had to build a lot of it out of junk,” he said, noting the lifeboat is made from a former acid dipping vat from the Piper Aircraft plant in Vero Beach and an old satellite dish.

Schaller said he’d like to float the boat in Lake Okeechobee.

“I’ve got two more years to go if I keep working steady every day,” Schaller said. “Of course, I’ve been saying ‘two more years’ for about 10 years now.”




Sunday, August 30, 2009


Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Struck by ID Theft

Bernanke personal bank account struck by ID theft

(08-27) 17:05 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) --

No one is safe from identity theft, not even the chairman of the Federal Reserve

Ben Bernanke's personal checking account became entangled in an elaborate identity-theft scheme after his wife Anna's purse was stolen last August at a Capitol Hill Starbucks. According to a District of Columbia police report, it contained her Social Security card, checkbook, credit cards and IDs.

It's not been revealed how much money was stolen from the Bernankes' account. But someone started cashing checks on their bank account just days after the purse was stolen from her chair. The thefts helped fuel an ongoing investigation into a sophisticated ring.

Losses from the fraud totaled more than $2.1 million and involved at least 10 financial institutions, court document said. Clyde Austin Gray Jr. of Waldorf, Md., a suspected ringleader in the scheme, pleaded guilty on July 22 in Alexandria, Va., federal court.

The banks bore primary responsibility for the losses and the victims' accounts, including the Bernankes, were most likely made whole.

"Identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year," Bernanke said in a statement. "Our family was but one of 500 separate instances traced to one crime ring. I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who patiently and diligently work to solve and prevent these financial crimes."

Prosecutors wrote that Gray hired pick pockets then made counterfeit IDs for the participants. The coconspirators conducted the bank transactions, and Gray took a cut of the proceeds.

At least one check from the Bernanke account for $900 was deposited Aug. 13, 2008, into the account of another identity theft victim at a Bank of America branch in suburban Maryland, according to an affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court. Authorities alleged that George L. Reid, 41, of Washington, cashed checks that day amounting to at least $9,000 in a string of transactions after the fake deposits inflated the related account balances.

Bank of America spokeswoman Tara Burke said Thursday, "We're looking into it. We're still gathering facts."

Brian Lapidus, an identity theft expert with Kroll Fraud Solutions, said it's not unusual to hear of high-ranking officials caught up by identity theft. His firm has worked with celebrities, senators and others who have been victims.

"To an identity thief, we're all just names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth," Lapidus said. "Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America."

Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearing House in San Diego, agreed, saying some Fortune 500 executives have been targeted because they have considerable financial resources. Still, she said, the Bernanke case sounds unique.

"I find this case interesting because it's a crime ring engaged in activities that have been primarily the purview of petty individual criminals — purse snatching," she said.

Ten defendants, including Reid, have been identified in the investigation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Secret Service and D.C. police. The scheme involved using stolen IDs, bank records, personal checks and other items to impersonate victims at bank branches, according to an affidavit signed by Postal Inspector William J. Aiello.

Victims were targeted in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Illinois and elsewhere. Part of the scheme involved checks stolen from the Combined Federal Campaign for the National Capital Area, an official federal government-sponsored charity.

Court filings show Reid has confessed to depositing checks from an account that belonged to someone named "B.B." He was first charged in D.C. Superior Court for identity theft and had confessed to law enforcement officials, according to the June 8 affidavit filed in Alexandria, Va., federal court where the case was transferred.

An arrest warrant for Reid, though, is outstanding in the current case, according to court records. Sylvester Vaughn pleaded guilty on July 6 and is scheduled for sentencing with Gray in September.

A message to an attorney who represented Reid in the D.C. case was not immediately returned. Court records didn't show an attorney for Reid in the current case.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Aspirin Does More Harm Than Good

Aspirin does more harm than good in healthy people: research

Healthy people who take aspirin to prevent a heart attack are doing themselves more harm than good, researchers have said.

At the same time they found it almost doubles the risk of being admitted to hospital due to internal bleeding.

The findings show that for otherwise healthy people the risks of taking aspirin outweigh the benefits. The doctors stressed that patients who had already suffered a heart attack should continue to take the drug.

It has been suggested that aspirin could be included in a so-called 'polypill' with an anti-cholesterol statin and a blood pressure drug which could be taken by everyone aged over 50.

Experts said substantial numbers of 'worried well' take aspirin as a 'just in case' measure believing that because it has been around for such a long time it is completely safe.

The results of a study carried out in Scotland and presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona has added to the growing evidence that the risks outweigh the benefits for healthy people.

Prof Gerry Fowkes of the Wolfson Unit for Prevention of Peripheral Vascular Disease in Edinburgh, said: “Our research suggests that aspirin should not be prescribed to the general population at this stage.

“Aspirin probably leads to a minor reduction in future events but the problem is that has to be weighed against an increase in bleeding. Some of that bleeding can be quite serious and lead to death.”

Prof Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, said: "A lot of the worried well buy a small dose of aspirin over the counter not understanding that they are increasing their risk substantially of a major bleed."

He said it is known that aspirin does reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems but this must be countered against the increased risk of internal bleeding.

In patients who have already had a heart attack the risk of a second is so much higher that the balance is in favour of taking aspirin.

However, for people who have not had a heart attack the risks do not normally outweigh the benefits.

Prof Weissberg added: "If you have not got clear cut vascular disease that has caused an event while it does reduce the risk (of a heart attack or stroke) that benefit is offset by a worse risk of haemorrhage and potentially fatal haemorrhage."

In the study conducted in Scotland 29,000 men and women aged between 50 and 75 were screened to see if they had furred arteries in the legs, which means they are at high risk of developing heart disease but do not yet have symptoms.

More than 3,000 men were randomly assigned to receive a daily dose of aspirin or a dummy pill and were followed up for an average of eight years.

There was no difference in the rate of heart attacks or stroke between the two groups and deaths from any cause were similar.

However there were 34 major bleeds in people taking aspirin, or two per cent, compared with 20 or 1.2 per cent of those on the placebo.

He said the tablets were only taken 60 per cent of the time during the trial which reflects real life experience in people who have not had a heart attack.

He said in secondary prevention, where people have already had one attack and are trying to prevent a second one, compliance is usually better.

Earlier this year Oxford scientists found that although aspirin could cut the chances of a heart attack in patients who had never suffered one by a fifth, it also increased the risk of stomach bleeding by a third.

Nick Henderson Executive Director of the Aspirin Foundation said: "Aspirin use to prevent primary cardiovascular events is only appropriate where individual patients are considered by their doctor to be at special risk from particular factors such as obesity, lifestyle, stress and a familial history.

"The Aspirin Foundation continues to counsel individuals always to seek medical advice before embarking on a self medication prophylactic regime with Aspirin for whatever reason.

"Medical advocates of prophylactic Aspirin in the absence of previous cardiovascular events accept that potential benefits should be weighed against potential risks such as the bleeding demonstrated in the study by Professor Fowkes."


Rebecca Smith

Daily Telegraph

Medical Editor in Barcelona
10:00PM BST 30 Aug 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Fun facts about Hawaii as 50th star hits 50

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Man gets 15 years for biting police officer's finger

Man gets 15 years for biting off finger

Friday, August 28, 2009

A 30-year-old Staten Island man was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in prison for biting off the finger of an Atlantic City police officer and assaulting two other officers attempting to subdue him at a casino nightclub.

Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury sentenced Rafael Pichardo to seven years in prison for the biting incident and another eight years for the two assaults, Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said.

Pichardo was convicted May 1 on three counts of aggravated assault from the Feb. 11, 2007, altercation at the Casbah nightclub in the Trump Taj Mahal Casino.

During the incident, he bit off nearly half of Officer Dean Dooley's left index finger, which could not be reattached.

The jury also found him guilty of spitting at officer Patrick Yarrow and Lt. Christopher Applegate in addition to resisting arrest, obstruction and terroristic threats.

The officers were summoned to the club around 5 a.m. to subdue an unruly patron. Housel said Pichardo became combative as Dooley and Applegate escorted him from the bar.

Applegate, who spoke on behalf of the other officers who did not attend yesterday's sentencing, said the incident prompted him to retire.

"It is open season on our police officers,'' Applegate said. "There needs to be a deterrent. Respect for officers has gone out the window.''

Before imposing sentence, DeLury told Pichardo he was to blame for his own actions.

"There were plenty of poor choices made that night at

the Casbah, and they were all made by Mr. Pichardo,'' DeLury said.

Pichardo in October attempted to file aggravated assault charges against the officers.

He alleged they attacked him after he made an obscene gesture to them at the nightclub and then beat him after he was taken to the police station.

The claims were dismissed after an investigation by the prosecutor's official corruption unit determined they were unsupported by the facts of the case.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Robbery Gone Wrong

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Chicken Dancing Teacher

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Top 5 Haunted Places In America

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Burglar Hits Home While Police Are Present

Burglar hits home again while police are present

TV left behind, then stolen again as police investigate

Travis Griggs

August 29, 2009

Steve Fluegge was shocked when he walked downstairs in his North Hill home about 6 a.m. Friday and came face to face with a burglar in his living room.

But he was even more shocked when, less than three hours later, the burglar returned and swiped a television he left in the backyard — while a police investigator was still on the scene.

"While they were inside processing the scene, the thieves came back and took it," Fluegge said.

"They were all very embarrassed," said Fluegge, 57.

Fluegge said he discovered the burglar inside his home in the 1400 block of North Spring Street shortly after waking up Friday morning.

"I said, 'What the hell are you doing in my house?' " Fluegge said.

The man ran from the house and fled across the backyard, disappearing into the early morning fog.

"We called the police and they were here within just a minute or so. There were policemen all over the place," Fluegge said.

Pensacola Police Department Capt. Jay Worley said several police units canvassed the neighborhood looking for the suspect, even using a K-9 to track the man's scent. But after looking for more than an hour, they gave up the search.

The burglar made off with several items, including Fluegge's wallet, a watch and a Nintendo 64 video game system. But he left one of the biggest items — the Fluegges' 42-inch plasma television — sitting near a fence in their backyard.

"It's a big, heavy TV. It probably weighed close to 100 pounds. You're not going to carry that thing a mile or two down the road," Fluegge said.

A crime scene technician arrived on the scene about 8 a.m.

Worley said the technician didn't want to move the TV before he dusted it for fingerprints, but he couldn't dust it immediately because it was damp with dew. He covered it with a plastic tarp and left it in the backyard to dry while he worked inside the house.

But when the technician returned about 45 minutes later, the tarp had been tossed aside, and the TV was gone.

"It looks bad and everything, but there's no way it could have been foreseen that someone would come back and do that," Worley said.

"We're doing everything we can to locate the suspect and not mess up the evidence. ... We had no reason to believe the TV would be stolen again," Worley said.

Worley said Friday afternoon that police were still searching for the man, and they hope that crime scene processing from inside the home will link them to a suspect.

Fluegge said the Pensacola Police Department offered to pay for the stolen TV, which cost about $1,000, and overall, he's in fairly good spirits about the ordeal.

He said he and his wife, Bridget, have lived in the home for 15 years, and it never had been broken into before. The couple said they're still shocked at the brazenness of the thief, who came back even though a crime scene van was parked out front.


Bridget Fluegge describes how a robber came back and stole their TV while the police were investigating the break-in at their North Hill Home. The TV was by the fence and part of a crime scene when the thief came back to get the 42-inch flat-screen TV while the police were inside the home.

Bridget Fluegge describes how a robber came back and stole their TV while the police were investigating the break-in at their North Hill Home. The TV was by the fence and part of a crime scene when the thief came back to get the 42-inch flat-screen TV while the police were inside the home.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Blind Man Arrested Over Illegally Parked Cars

Parking row blind man gets arrested

Hampshire Chronicle

3:03am Friday 28th August 2009


A blind man has lodged an official complaint against police after he was arrested for threatening to take direct action over cars parked illegally on paths near his home.

Daniel Duckfield said he was held in a cell for three hours without his guide dog following the incident.

The 55-year-old from Narberth, west Wales, said his frustrations boiled over after five years of having to walk on the road around the cars.

He said, after repeatedly reporting the matter to police without any response, he decided to take the law into his own hands and let down the tyres on one of the offending cars.

After telling the police of his intentions in a phone call on August 17, Mr Duckfield said he was arrested more than 100 yards from the intended target such was the swift response of officers.

"I have been trying so hard to get all this sorted over a five-year period and they go and arrest me," said Mr Duckfield. "They treated me like a common criminal. They took photographs, swabbed my mouth and took my fingerprints.

"They shoved me in the cell for three hours where I had idiots either side of me kicking the doors and shouting. It was frightening.

"I'm totally blind and they wouldn't even let me take my dog with me. I had to leave the dog in the house. I have never been so shocked in my life."

Mr Duckfield said he had no choice but to accept a caution for threatening to cause criminal damage before his ordeal was brought to an end.

He now fears the incident will prevent him from carrying out visits to schools to show pupils his guide dog and attending a course at a blind school in Hereford later this year.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Police Use Fake Stimulus Checks To Trap Fugitives

Fort Lauderdale police lure suspects with fake stimulus cash offer


Miami Herald


They flocked by the dozens to the War Memorial Auditorium, lured by promises of fat stimulus checks. What they got was something else entirely.

In total, more than 100 qualified recipients scheduled appointments last week to see officials with the South Florida Stimulus Coalition in the hopes of a quick buck from a company with the slogan, ``Helping jump start our economy.''

But instead, they found Fort Lauderdale police officers. And instead of a stimulus check, they were handcuffed and led off to jail.

Police announced the results Thursday of the two-day sting targeting Fort Lauderdale residents with outstanding warrants: 76 arrests of fugitives wanted for offenses ranging from grand theft to fraud to attempted murder.

``We're always looking for creative ways to conduct operations and reduce crime,'' said police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa from inside the War Memorial Auditorium, where South Florida Stimulus Coalition banners hung next to company business cards.

Sousa said ``Operation Show Me The Money'' worked like this: Police searched through a Broward Sheriff's Office list of wanted Fort Lauderdale residents and sent out letters offering a sum of money from the fake organization to those who called a phone line and set up an appointment.

Those who arrived Wednesday and Thursday to collect checked in, took a seat and later were led to a second room after their identities were confirmed. Sousa would not describe exactly what happened from there on, but the appointments ended in police custody for those who had outstanding warrants.

Five were released due to medical conditions, and another two dozen or so ``lucky'' recipients didn't show for their appointments, Sousa said. One or two were released and informed of the sting after they were found to be in the clear.

Sousa said the sting saved countless man hours and allowed police to make arrests in an environment they controlled, as opposed to knocking on doors in various neighborhoods.

``The beauty of this is they chose to come here,'' he said. ``They chose the date and time.''

A Fort Lauderdale resident who would only give his first name, Rob, arrived late Thursday for his ``stimulus check'' and was released after police realized he did not have an outstanding warrant.

Afterward, the 21-year-old was fuming that the letter he said claimed he would receive $653 was bogus.

``I knew it was something shaky, but I was like, `What do I have to lose?' '' he said.

Such reverse scams are fairly common, said Joe Pollini, a retired New York City lieutenant commander who is now deputy chairman of the Law and Police Science Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Pollini said police often advertise welfare packages, lottery money, tax dollars -- anything that appears official enough to convince criminals that the scam is legit.

``Sometimes you've got to play their game,'' he said. ``To be a good police officer, sometimes you have to think like a criminal.''

Sousa said Thursday that the department may try something similar in the future.

``I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people here chuckling,'' he said, ``saying this was a great idea.''

Friday, August 28, 2009


Granny used stun gun to rob businesses

Granny get your (stun) gun

Barbara Hijek
Sun Sentinel
August 26, 2009 12:30 PM

Watch out for this granny.

Largo Police have arrested Rosa Tyrka, 59, who they say used a stun gun to rob businesses in Pinellas County.


She told clerks she needed money to feed her starving grandchildren.

She allegedly tried to rob Loretta Rose, an employee of a Subway store in Pinellas Park.

"She grabbed my hand and put the stun gun to my arm and says, 'I don't want to do this. This is so much electricity. I feel bad doing this but I have three starving grandchildren,'" Rose said. "And I ripped my arm away from her and I ran in the back."

Another employee called 911.

Dispatcher: "911. What is your emergency?"
Caller: "Um, we have a lady trying to tase us!"
Dispatcher: "Why is she doing that?"
Caller: "Because she said she has starving grandchildren."

Rose said she armed herself with a butter knife and chased the woman away.

Cops said a few hours before the attempted Subway robbery an older woman armed with a stun gun came into a Shell gas station in Largo and zapped a clerk with a stun gun.

The grandmother didn't get any cash from the Subway -- she didn't even get the sandwich she ordered -- but did get money from the gas station clerk and shocked him anyway.

Photo: Rose Tyrka has been arrested for allegedly using a stun gun to rob businesses.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Man Steals Woman's Car on 1st date

Date goes from bad to worse

Friday, August 28, 2009

Michael P. McConnell
Daily Tribune Staff Writer

Police say man skipped out on restaurant bill, stole woman's car.

FERNDALE — A first date went from bad to worse when police say a man not only skipped out on a restaurant bill but stole his new girlfriend's car while she was still seated at the table.

A Detroit man faces trial on charges he stole his date's car after they ate and he asked her for her keys so he could get his wallet out of her vehicle.

"She gave him her keys and he went out the door," said Ferndale police Detective Sgt. Patrick Jones. "From where she was sitting she saw him get in her car and he drove off at a high rate of speed."

The woman called police from the restaurant.

Terrance Dejuan McCoy, 23, is charged with unlawfully driving away the woman's 2000 Chevrolet Impala, a five-year felony. He waived a preliminary examination Thursday in Ferndale 43rd District Court and was ordered to stand trial on the charge in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Police said McCoy stole the car April 24 shortly after he and the woman, 27, of Southfield ate at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, 280 W. Nine Mile Road.

"It sounds like a bad date to me," Jones said. "She picked him up that night at his apartment, then he stole her car and didn't even settle up the bill for dinner."

The woman told police she also had a backpack with $300 cash inside the car, along with a laptop computer, iPod and a digital camera.

The stolen car turned up May 5 in Detroit with the radio missing.

The woman told police she met McCoy a week before she saw him drive away in her car. They first met at the Greektown Casino and she knew McCoy only as "Chris," police said.

They talked on their cell phones several times and McCoy sent her a picture of himself that she kept on her cell phone, police said.

The woman called Ferndale police immediately from the restaurant, but officers were unable to locate the woman's car, police said.

"We were able to identify him because she had a picture of him and we had his cell phone number," Jones said.

McCoy was later arrested and Ferndale police picked him up at the Wayne County Jail on July 28.

The suspect has two previous convictions for unarmed robbery in 2005 and was wanted for absconding from probation in Farmington Hills, Jones said.

He is jailed on $25,000 cash bond.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Bank Robber Leaves Traffic Ticket Behind

Police: Robber left traffic ticket

 Aug. 27, 2009 at 3:46 PM

IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y., Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Police in upstate New York said they tracked down a bank robbery suspect using a traffic ticket left behind at the scene.

Irondequoit police said Damien Ponder, 27, of Rochester, N.Y., allegedly used the back of the traffic ticket Saturday to write a note demanding money from a teller at the First Niagara Bank, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported Thursday.

Sgt. Barry VanNostrand said Ponder was given an undisclosed amount of cash, which he dropped along with the note while leaving. The suspect allegedly retrieved most of the cash, but left behind the traffic ticket.

Investigators said the ticket bore Ponder's name and address. He was arrested Tuesday in Rochester and charged with felony charges of third-degree robbery and fourth-degree grand larceny.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Wheelchair Bound Man Keyed Car Parked In Handicapped Space

Wheelchair-bound man keyed car because it was parked in handicapped spot

Will Greenlee

TC Palm
Thursday, August 27, 2009


PORT ST. LUCIE — A 71-year-old man with no legs is accused of scratching a Nissan parked in a handicapped space at a Walmart SuperCenter, apparently thinking the Nissan driver was abusing the parking privilege, according to a police spokesman and a report released Thursday.

The 39-year-old victim on Wednesday told an employee at the Walmart on South U.S. 1 that she was picking up her handicapped mother. She was gone for about 30 minutes, and reportedly noticed someone had keyed the driver's side of the 2009 Nissan Altima.

A check of the surveillance system reportedly showed a legless man in a motorized wheel chair come out of a white van.

The man “powered his wheel chair across the parking lot to where (the victim's) car was parked . . . and came from the front to the rear of the driver's side,” a report shows.

Stopped while exiting the store, Keith Brian Berry, 71, apologized for the “most stupidest thing” he's ever done. He said “people always abuse the handicapped parking when they are not handicapped.”

Berry apologized to the victim, saying he didn't think of the possibility her mother could be handicapped. The Nissan had a handicapped decal hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Berry, of the 3400 block of Bromeliad Court, was issued a notice to appear in court Sept. 23 on a criminal mischief charge. Berry was told he could be arrested for trespassing if he returns to Walmart.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Man Steals Car Shows Up At Police Department

Man could be East Peoria's 'dumbest criminal

After allegedly trying to steal car, suspect shows up at police department

Leslie Williams

Journal Star
Aug 27, 2009  07:49 PM
Last update Aug 27, 2009  10:10 PM

Billy J. Robinson might be the worst thief East Peoria police have ever seen.

"I've seen some bizarre and dumb actions on the part of suspects, but this ranks up there as one of the finest examples of a dumb suspect I've encountered," Police Chief Ed Papis, whose law enforcement career spans 34 years, said Thursday.

It all started about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of Lowe's at Riverside Center. Robinson allegedly was trying to steal a car.

He had gotten so far as to peel the Buick Park Avenue's steering wheel column back when the car's owner interrupted him. The victim, an East Peoria woman, confronted Robinson, who, according to police, said he was "trying to start the car."

The woman then gave the would-be thief the bad news: The car was hers, and she had called police. She then told him to get out of the car and follow her, police said.

"Believe it or not, he started to follow her, but had a change of heart," Papis said. "He ran toward the expressway, jumped the fence behind Fashion Bug and was out of sight."

For almost an hour, a swarm of police, including Fondulac Park District officers and an Illinois State Police dog unit, combed East Peoria's riverfront for Robinson. With help from the victim, police knew who to look for: A black man in his 20s, of average height and weight, wearing a red, white and black jersey, black gloves and jeans.

Even with the great physical and clothing descriptions given to police, officers were unsuccessful in finding him.

But it wasn't Robinson's clothes that eventually helped police nab him. It was the large, abnormal growth hanging from his left ear lobe and patch of black hair on his chin.

After the search for Robinson concluded, Papis returned to the police department to finish paperwork. Not long after he sat down, he heard the dispatcher across the radio call several officers to the lobby of the police station.

To Papis' surprise, Robinson showed up at the police station lobby with a story how he needed money for a bus ticket to Bloomington. He had changed out of his clothes and was wearing a white polo shirt and tan shorts.

"The dispatcher recognized from the descriptors that this may be the suspect we were looking for," said Papis, adding the walnut-size mass on his ear was the tip-off. "I went out to the lobby, recognized that this individual was possibly our suspect and invited him into my office."

With him, Robinson carried two bags, clutched in his hands, into the chief's office.

It was after officers arrived, and as they emptied the contents of the bags, that what the dispatcher and Papis had suspected about the man turned out to be true.

"In his bags was the wet jersey, wet tennis shoes, the blue jeans, gloves, two screwdrivers, one needle-nose pliers and pen light," said Papis, noting the clothes were damp from sweat.

Also found were four pieces of computer paper, detailing step-by-step instructions of three different ways to break into and hot-wire a car.

Stated boldly across one of the papers was the recommendation, "Try this at night." It was advice Robinson didn't follow and Papis didn't let him forget.

"I chided him," said the chief. "I told him he didn't follow the instructions correctly. If he had, he might not have been seen and got away. Technically, he did get away, but if he had done it at night we may not have had all these descriptors and a witness."

Robinson, 20, of St. Louis was arrested on charges of attempted vehicle theft, criminal damage to property and criminal trespass to vehicle. He was taken to the Tazewell County Jail, where he was released without bond but ordered to be in court Sept. 17.

While criminals get caught every day, this arrest, Papis said, was one for the record books.

"The dispatchers and the officers had quite a few good laughs over the scenario," Papis said. "This has to rate as a segment (on the TV series) 'America's Dumbest Criminals.'"



Billy Robinson



                                                            Billy Robinson

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Man called 911 for lost keys


Man called 911 for lost keys

Published: Aug. 27, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Police in Florida said a man arrested for misuse of 911 called the emergency line several times to report losing his house key.

Investigators said Lin Xu, 27, called 911 several times early Saturday from a pay phone outside of a Walgreens store in Boynton Beach, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported Thursday.

Xu told responding officers he called the emergency line because he lost his house key. Police said he gave a Texas address and it was not clear whether he recently moved to Florida or was visiting at the time of the incident.

Xu was arrested and charged with misusing 911. He was taken to the Palm Beach County Jail and released after posting $500 bond.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


3,900 Stimulus Checks Went to Prison Inmates

3,900 stimulus checks went to prison inmates

Government sent 3,900 economic stimulus checks to prison inmates -- 2,200 got to keep them

Stephen Ohlemacher

Associated Press Writer

Wednesday August 26, 2009, 9:28 pm EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government sent about 3,900 economic stimulus payments of $250 each this spring to people who were in no position to use the money to help stimulate the economy: prison inmates.

The checks were part of the massive economic recovery package approved by Congress and President Barack Obama in February. About 52 million Social Security recipients, railroad retirees and those receiving Supplemental Security Income were eligible for the one-time checks.

Prison inmates are generally ineligible for federal benefits. However, 2,200 of the inmates who received checks got to keep them because, under the law, they were eligible, said Mark Lassiter, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration. They were eligible because they weren't incarcerated in any one of the three months before the recovery package was enacted.

"The law specified that any beneficiary eligible for a Social Security benefit during one of those months was eligible for the recovery payment," Lassiter said.

The other 1,700 checks? That was a mistake.

Checks were sent to those inmates because government records didn't accurately show they were in prison, Lassiter said. He said most of those checks were returned by the prisons.

"We are currently reviewing each of those cases to determine whether or not the recovery payment was due," Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said in a statement issued Wednesday evening. "Where we determine payment was not due, we will take aggressive action to recover each of these erroneous payments."

The Boston Herald first reported that the checks were sent to inmates.

The inspector general for the Social Security Administration is performing an audit to make sure no checks went to ineligible recipients, spokesman George E. Penn said.

The audit, which had already been planned, will examine whether checks incorrectly went to inmates, dead people, fugitive felons or people living outside the U.S., Penn said.

The $787 billion economic recovery package included $2 million for the inspector general to oversee the provisions handled by the Social Security Administration. The audit is part of those efforts, Penn said. There is no timetable for its conclusion.

The federal government processed $13 billion in stimulus payments. About $425,000 was incorrectly sent to inmates.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Device Lets the Tongue See

Device Lets the Tongue See


Bill Christensen


26 August 2009 02:45 pm ET

The Wicab BrainPort is a device that takes information gathered by a small digital camera in a pair of glasses and sends it to a "lollipop" electrode array that sits on your tongue. The device was designed to help people who are blind or who have extremely low vision.

The camera in the glasses transmits the light information to a small base unit the size of a cell phone, an article at Scientific American explains. The base unit converts the light information into electrical impulses; this replaces the function of the retina. The retina is the surface at the back of the eye that encodes light into nerve impulses and transmits them to the brain.

The base unit then sends that information into a set of 144 microelectrodes arranged on a lollipop-like paddle that you place on your tongue. The microelectrodes stimulate the nerves on the surface of your tongue. Users have likened the sensation to placing Pop Rocks candies on the tongue.

Although it seems incredible, the user's brain actually learns to interpret the tongue sensations as a kind of visual image. After all, your brain cannot "see" - it can only interpret the nerve impulses from your eyes and then create a picture that helps you move through a room, or find nearby objects.

The base unit has features like zoom control, light settings control and intensity. Using these controls, users can successfully use the BrainPort to find doorways and elevator buttons and even read letters and numbers. At table, users can easily see cups and forks; I suppose you'd take it out to eat.

SciFi movie fans find this technology truly tasty, ever since something like it was demonstrated by Doctor Emilio Lizardo (aka actor John Lithgow) in the 1984 cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension.

The BrainPort device seems to work well in practice: patients quickly learn how to find doorways and elevator buttons and even read letters and numbers. At table, users can easily pick out cups and forks; I suppose you'd take it out to eat.

The BrainPort should be approved for market by the end of 2009; it will cost about $10,000 per machine. It has already been tested by the US Navy; learn how the BrainPort can be used by Navy Seals.




Thursday, August 27, 2009


15 Strange Buildings In The World

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I Cheated This Is My Punishment

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Cardboard Box Cost $30,000




NY Post

Last updated: 4:57 pm
August 24, 2009
Posted: 2:40 am
August 24, 2009

It doesn't come filled with $100 bills. So why is this box worth $30,000?

Because it's not just a cardboard box. It's a work of art.

Titled "Brillo 5," the box is the work of London artist Gavin Turk, who -- along with such figures as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin -- is part of the Young British Artists scene that emerged out of Charles Saatchi's famed gallery in the 1990s.

Now, it's expected to fetch the huge sum at Christie's postwar- and contemporary-art sale on Sept. 23.

According to Christie's, the bronze piece "is an ironic and ambiguous work that is essentially a copy of a cardboard box."

Turk was traveling and could not be reached for comment, but his studio manager, Dominic Berning, was not surprised by questions about what made a phony cardboard box such a valuable piece of art.

"It's a question people have been asking forever," he said.

Also on sale is a discarded shutter -- an early work by renowned New York conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner.

He hit upon the idea for the untitled 1961 piece when he found the shutter in the trash on Canal Street.

"It is not quite a found object in that I stripped it and painted it," Weiner, 67, told The Post.

"I just used the shutter as a support structure rather than stretched canvas," he said.

"At the time, it was the highest form of abstraction I could reach."

Now, nearly 50 years later, it is expected to take in between $20,000 and $30,000 at the auction.

"At today's market values, it's a bargain," Weiner insisted.

Average New Yorkers found it hard to believe anyone would spend that much on such "art."

Francesca Baez, 20, of The Bronx, said, "The box must be made out of gold, or a celebrity owned it -- like Angelina Jolie discarded the box, and she kept her underwear in it."

As for the shutter, Jennifer Nazario, 25, also of The Bronx, noted, "People do spend a lot on windows."


REALLY? Gavin Turk's "Brillo 5" (above) and Lawrence Weiner's untitled work will go under the hammer at Christie's.
REALLY? Gavin Turk's "Brillo 5" (above) and Lawrence Weiner's untitled work will go under the hammer at Christie's.




REALLY? Gavin Turk's "Brillo 5" (above) and Lawrence Weiner's untitled work will go under the hammer at Christie's.
REALLY? Gavin Turk's "Brillo 5" and Lawrence Weiner's untitled work (above) will go under the hammer at Christie's.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The Skinniest House In Manhattan For Sale $2,750,000




Last updated: 11:51 am
August 26, 2009
Posted: 3:34 am
August 26, 2009

You have to be pretty skinny to fit into this address.

At 9½ feet wide, it's the narrowest house in Manhattan. But given that it's located in the heart of Greenwich Village and has been home to famous artists and writers, it will take a fat wallet to purchase this sliver of real estate.

PHOTOS: Peek Inside the Bedford St. Townhouse

On the market for the first time since 2000, 75½ Bedford St. was just put up for sale for $2.75 million -- a million dollars more than it was purchased for and nearly 10 times its asking price of two decades ago.

"This is a place for someone who wants a bit of history, charm, and, well, uniqueness," Alex Nicholas, real-estate broker for the Corcoran Group, told The Post. "But when you have the narrowest house in all New York, you'll always be newsworthy."

Indeed, the 1,500-square-foot townhouse made headlines when it was sold in 1943, 1982, and 2000.

It's the kind of real estate that tourists and native New Yorkers cannot help but gawk at as they pass by, Nicholas said.

Owner Stephen Balsamo, who never lived at the house as his primary residence, renovated the 1873 home to maximize its space.

In the kitchen, a custom stove has all four burners in a single row, rather than the usual two-by-two arrangement. The three floors are all open, but the balconies overlooking the garden were extended, adding depth to make up for lack of width.

Among the luminaries who have lived in the tiny town house are Pulitzer Prize winner Edna St. Vin cent Millay. Accord ing to legend, ac tors Cary Grant and John Barry more are also said to have slept be tween its narrow walls.

Visitors to the home expect to find it dark and claustro phobic, but as a result of the sweeping windows in the back, "every floor has amazing light," Nicholas said.

"On the top floor, there's a huge skylight," he said. "This is old-world charm that's very bright."

Nicholas would not say how many buyers have expressed interest in the property since it went on sale this week. But all indications are that the market for skinny homes is not contracting, he said.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Police taking valuables from unlocked cars

Police taking valuables from unlocked cars to drive home anti-theft message

Police in Richmond upon Thames, south west London have been taking valuable items from unlocked cars to encourage motorists to take better care of their property.


David Millward

Daily Telegraph

Transport Editor
2:50PM BST 25 Aug 2009

While forces across the country have been sending warning letters to the owners of cars when they see possessions unattended, this is believed to be the first time that goods have been "stolen" to drive the crime-prevention message home.

When officers remove goods, they leave a note in the car telling the owner that they can retrieve their possessions from Twickenham police station.

The initiative has been launched in an area where theft from cars has been rife.

"We have had a bit problem with thefts from cars, so we decided to be a bit more innovative," said Superintendent Jim Davis, the officer behind the initiative.

If items are needed urgently, police will return the goods immediately.

"We want to stop people from being the victims of crime," he said. "We are not talking about £3 in loose change in the glove compartment, we are talking about cameras, laptops and expensive leather jackets. People would be far more upset if their property really was stolen."

Police are only removing items from unlocked cars. Where they see either an unlocked car or valuables left exposed in a locked vehicle, owners are being sent a letter advising them to take better care or their property.

The initiative was welcomed by the AA. "It would be quite irritating for motorists to come back to their car and find that items have gone missing. But on reflection they may think it is better that the stuff has been taken by the police rather than local thieves.

"I would imagine police patience is wearing thin and there have been other projects where they have set up cars as decoys and caught thieves.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


YouTube to Pay Cash for New Videos

YouTube to allow creators to cash in on their 15 minutes of viral fame

YouTube is giving all amateur video-makers the chance to profit from their 15 minutes of internet fame.


By Rupert Neate
Published: 11:27AM BST 26 Aug 2009

Youtube: YouTube to allow creators to cash in on their 15 minutes of viral fame
Youtube will enable anyone who creates a popular video to collect a share of advertising generated from their clips. Photo: BLOOMBERG

The Google-owned website will enable anyone who creates a popular video, from funny dancing to home movies and stunts like Parkour to collect a share of advertising generated from their clips.

YouTube has extended its Partnership Program, which allows already allows certain "prolific" creators the opportunity to share in advertising revenue, to the maker of any successful "one-off" video.

Shenaz Zack, YouTube's product manager, said: "Now, when you upload a video to YouTube that accumulates lots of views, we may invite you to monetise that video and start earning revenue from it."

Users whose videos YouTube deems eligible will receive an email asking if they want their video to be monetised. If they agree, YouTube will show ads alongside those videos and the creator will receive a share of the revenue every month. YouTube has declined to state how many viewers a video must attract before it qualifies.

Several members of the Partnership Program have collected so much money from their YouTube clips that they have been able to quit their day jobs in order to make videos full-time.

Lauren Luke, a 27-year-old from Newcastle who dropped out school at 15, is on course to become a millionaire thanks to her popularity on YouTube.

Miss Luke who gives tips on make-up and cosmetics is one of the most popular personalities on YouTube. Through her fame on the site Miss Luke has created her own make-up brand and is using her expertise to publish books and video games.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Live Turkeys Used To Smuggle Cocaine


25 August, 2009 [ 08:50 ]

Live turkeys used for drug trafficking in Peru


Living in Peru
Isabel Guerra

The Anti Drugs Police at Tarapoto (San Martín Region, in the Peruvian jungle) was startled when some his officers discovered a new method used by the local thugs to send drugs from one town to another: sewing cocaine into live turkeys.

Tarapoto's anti-drug police stopped a bus, expecting to find a package with drugs; however, they found a crate containing two live turkeys instead.

Otero Gonzalez, the local police chief, said to the press that they detected a handmade seam in the bird's chest area.

Then, a veterinarian was called, and he found 11 plastic capsules containing 1.9 kilograms (4.2 pounds) of cocaine from one turkey and 17 capsules with 2.9 kilograms (6.4 pounds) from the other.

The Anti Drugs Prosecutor Nancy Castillo said that the destination of the birds was the northern city of Trujillo (in Peru's northern coast

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Man used cab as getaway after robbing bank

Police nab Linden man accused of hailing cab to rob Roselle bank

Eliot Caroom

The Star-Ledger

ROSELLE -- Cabbie Derrick Cooper didn't think twice when the man he picked up in Linden asked to stop at a bank in Roselle so he could get some money.

The only problem was the man never said he was planning to rob the place.

Michael Restaino, a 36-year-old unemployed Linden resident, was arrested moments after the Roselle Savings Bank on Chestnut Street was robbed when police officers, their guns drawn, surrounded the taxi.

"I had no idea. I was just shocked," Cooper said today. "I pulled over, and there was just a whole bunch of guns pointing at the cab."

Police said Restaino hailed the cab in Linden shortly before 2 p.m. Monday, telling Cooper he wanted to go to Elizabeth. But first, he asked the driver to stop at the bank, Roselle police Capt. Gary Riccardelli said.

When Restaino entered the bank, he handed the teller a note demanding money, Riccardelli said. As Cooper waited in the cab -- apparently unaware of what was happening inside -- the teller handed over more than $2,000.

Restaino never said a word during the hold-up.

"It was on the note: 'This is a hold-up. Give me the money and no one will get hurt,'" Riccardelli said.

After leaving the bank, Restaino got back in the cab and told Cooper to drive to Elizabeth.

In the meantime, bank employees called police and gave a description of the robber and the cab, which they said was headed north on Chestnut Street.

Moments later, police spotted the vehicle.

"Next thing you know, we got about three blocks from the bank and the officers came from out of nowhere and surrounded my car," Cooper said.

Restaino was found with a $20 bill in his hand and $2,381 stuffed in his pants pocket, Riccardelli said. He was also carrying the hold-up note, the captain said.

Restaino, who did not have a weapon, was charged with second-degree robbery and is being held at the Union County jail in Elizabeth on $100,000 bail.

After interviewing Cooper, police are certain he knew nothing about the crime.

"Usually you don't take a cab to a bank robbery," Riccardelli said.

Cooper, who has been driving a cab for Joan's Transportation in Linden for a year, said he's glad no one was hurt, and that situation seems funny a day later.

"It's something out of the movies," he said. "It's hilarious."

Tuesday August 25, 2009, 7:45 PM

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Free Pizza To All Camaro Owners WEDNESDAY


Pizza chain founder recovers beloved car he sold in 1983 that led to start of Papa John’s;
Celebrates by offering free pizza to all Camaro owners Wednesday, August 26

Photo of John getting into his Camero 
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 25, 2009) – “Papa” John Schnatter conquered roller coasters and the sweltering Texas heat, took the mound at professional ballparks, attempted a record for the world’s highest pizza delivery, taught children how to toss
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 25, 2009) – “Papa” John Schnatter conquered roller coasters and the sweltering Texas heat, took the mound at professional ballparks, attempted a record for the world’s highest pizza delivery, taught children how to toss pizza dough, chatted in football broadcast booths, rang the Closing Bell at NASDAQ, and met countless customers and team members as part of a nationwide Road Trip this summer, all for one purpose: finding the beloved 1971 Z28 Camaro he sold more than 25 years ago to help his dad’s tavern stay afloat and ultimately launch Papa John’s.

Just how beloved? So much so that Schnatter, founder of the world’s third-largest pizza company, initially offered a $25,000 “finder’s fee” to the person who could produce the title to his long-lost Camaro, and later offered $250,000 to whomever could produce the title and transfer the car. The search was chronicled online at, where thousands of people logged on to offer tips on how to find his car.

Today, Papa John’s cherished Z28 Camaro is coming home to Louisville, Ky. And, as a result Jeff Robinson from nearby Flatwoods, Ky. (pop. 7,605) is $250,000 richer. The company has also extended a $25,000 reward offer to the family who originally bought the car from Schnatter in 1983, in appreciation for their help in linking the contest winner with Papa John’s.

“What a complete shock to know that the car in my garage was partly to thank for starting a company like Papa John’s,” said Jeff Robinson who has owned the car since 2004 and modified it slightly for various races and car shows, but retained most of the original body parts including the hood, rims and tires. “When I realized this was Papa John’s Camaro, I immediately wanted to get him his car back.”

Robinson, who had previously heard about the contest from a friend in Cincinnati, learned last week that he in fact might have Schnatter’s car. The family who originally purchased the car heard about the contest while watching an interview with Schnatter during the Washington-Baltimore preseason football game on August 13 and began searching for details online – ultimately directing them to Matt Hardigree, associate editor of, a Web site devoted to daily news and gossip for those obsessed with the cult of cars. Hardigree, who met Schnatter during his Road Trip stop in Houston in May, investigated the details himself then contacted Papa John’s with the lead.

John's Camero then and now!

“Papa John’s story was an immediate hit with our readers, who flooded the site with clues and tips on how to find the Camaro,” said Hardigree. “Everyone on our site loves cars and felt empathy for John, who traded one dream for another.

“Jalopnik is proud to have helped reunite another enthusiast with his prized Camaro. Not only is Papa John’s rewarding the contest winner with $250,000, but has also extended $25,000 to the Jalopnik reader who originated the lead.”

The company spent last week confirming the authenticity of the Camaro, including verifying title with the Kentucky Division of Motor Vehicles, pulling ownership records, and finally tracing the “out of state transfer” back to the state of Indiana where records indicated the car’s previous owner as Robert Schnatter, John’s father. After the final step of traveling to Flatwoods, Ky., to inspect the car and confirm the VIN, Papa John’s arranged for Robinson to deliver the car to Schnatter at Papa John’s headquarters in Louisville, in exchange for the promised $250,000.

“The Camaro represents what I gave up to start Papa John’s,” said Schnatter. “Words cannot capture the emotions I am feeling in getting back that part of my history. I didn’t have much back then, but for my business dreams to come true, I had to part with the one true asset I had to my name, and even then, there were no promises of success. I never gave up hope that someday I would get that car back.

“The foundation of Papa John’s was built on my decision to sell the Camaro, and while it may not appear to be a huge sacrifice to some, it represents my roots in this business. And, perhaps it can serve as proof to others that hard decisions today can pay off for you later, if you’re willing to believe in what you are doing. I’m extremely grateful for the success of Papa John’s, and really wanted this critical piece of our history back.”

The search has been scrambled in the past due to the car originally being described as a 1972 model. In fact, the car is a 1971 ½ model, so technically it’s a ’71. At some point in the company’s history, the year was rounded up to 1972.

In celebration of Schnatter finding his Camaro, Papa John’s will offer a free large, one-topping pizza on Wednesday, August 26, 2009, to Camaro owners. To redeem, Camaro owners must arrive at their nearby Papa John’s restaurant in their Camaro to order and pick up their free pizza. Limit one pizza per Camaro, and one visit per Camaro.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Poodles creatively groomed to look like pandas and camels

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Search Warrant Details Jackson Cause of Death and Events That Day

Monday, August 24, 2009


The Weirdest Animals On Planet Earth

Monday, August 24, 2009


1,000,000 Giraffes: Art Project Taking Over the Web

One million giraffes: the art project that is taking over the web

One man's attempt to collect a million hand-created giraffes to prove the power of the internet is on target – after the project caught the attention of Twitter and Facebook users



Giraffe by Dawndelver, 21, from Southampton
Giraffe by Dawndelver, 21, from Southampton Photo: One Million Giraffes
Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway
Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway Photo: One Million Giraffes
Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada
Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada Photo: One Million Giraffes

More than 130,000 giraffe drawings and models have already been submitted to by people inspired to take up their pencils and paintbrushes in the name of collaborative online art.

What started as an eccentric bet between two friends has grown into a minor web phenomena, with thousands of new giraffes posted on the website everyday.

The entries range from colourful children's scrawls to impressive watercolours, with a few arrangements of fruit and vegetables thrown in to boot.

The 24-year-old web designer who devised the website said that he has been overwhelmed by the response to his project, which grew out of a conversation with his friend Jørgen earlier this year about the creative potential of the web.

"We were just small-talking and discussed the Internet and how amazing it is. I proclaimed that anything is possible nowadays, there are no limits anymore, and said I could easily get one million of anything if I wanted to," Ola Helland, who lives in Stavanger, Norway, explained.

"Jørgen refused to agree with me and said there was no way I could get one million giraffes. So we made a bet.

"Two days later I made the website almost as a joke just to play around with the idea. I posted the link on my Facebook and Twitter account thinking I would get 10-15 giraffes from my friends and then it would just die off.

"I went out for lunch and when I came back I had 60 giraffes. By the end of the day I had 134. I started to realise that I had started something I immediately lost control over."

Under the rules of the bet all giraffes must be created by hand; any submissions drawn on computers or bought from shops are rejected.

Mr Helland says he is now confident of hitting one million by the bet deadline of the end of next year. He has amassed 134,227 in a little over two months, leaving 494 days to collect the remaining 865,773.

But what began as a "silly art project" had grown into something more meaningful, he said, showing how the internet could help spur traditional family activities and old-fashioned fun.

"It's become a way of spreading joy and to get people to turn off their televisions and creating something real," he said.

"I love getting emails from parents and grandparents telling stories of how they sat down with their kids and fooled around with crayons for a few hours.

"Drawing, laughing and sharing something real with the people around them really seems to bound people together."

Mr Helland is now appealing for readers to design their own giraffes to push him nearer the one million target.

As well as the pleasure of winning the bet ("I will mention this to Jørgen every single day for the rest of my life"), Mr Helland hopes that his whimsical project will do some concrete good.

He is trying to attract a corporate sponsor to donate £1 to the World Wildlife Fund for every picture submitted, with the money used to protect giraffes in the wild.



Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway

Giraffe by Anette, 23, from Trondheim, Norway Photo: One Million Giraffes



Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada

Giraffe by Emily Vit, six, from Squamish, Canada Photo: One Million Giraffes




Monday, August 24, 2009


Town's mayor arrested after underwear was stolen

Police investigating missing underwear arrest town's mayor

A town's mayor has been arrested after a number of women reported that their underwear was disappearing from their knicker drawers.


Andy Bloxham
Daily Mail

1:45PM BST 24 Aug 2009

Knicker thefts: police arrest town mayor
Knickers: police have arrested a town's mayor after underwear was stolen.

Ian Stafford, 58, was arrested after women in the area called police to report knickers repeatedly disappearing from their homes.

One woman was so peturbed she installed a hidden camera in her bedroom, which recorded a semi-naked man rifling through her drawers and putting on her underwear before performing a sex act.

Investigations later revealed a collection of knickers, allegedly matching those reported stolen, at the home of the mayor.

He was arrested on suspicion of burglary and bailed.

Mr Stafford, who works as a handyman and gardner, has now resigned from his post in Preesall near Fleetwood,Lancs.

A fellow councillor has taken over the chain of office.

A spokesman for the town council confirmed that as a result of Mr Stafford's arrest he had stood down.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said an investigation into stolen underwear had taken place in Preesall and a suspect was currently on police bail after being questioned.


Ian Stafford, mayor of Preesall,

near Blackpool, has been charged

with stealing womens underwear

Monday, August 24, 2009


10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction

10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction


Rocker Tommy Lee once said we're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time. Amen, Tommy. Many of us follow his lead every day by shunning the most basic principle of Darwinian evolution?trying to survive?with food, toxins and reckless lifestyles. If you'd like to get in on the act, we present our easiest catalysts to self-destruction. Heather Whipps

Monday, August 24, 2009


Girl, 10, handcuffed and locked up for six hours

Girl, 10, handcuffed and locked in a cell for six hours

Sophie Freeman

Daily Mail
Last updated at 11:42 AM on 24th August 2009

The father of a 10-year-old girl who was arrested, handcuffed and locked in a cell for almost six hours has criticised police for being 'heavy-handed'.

Shannon Blake was apprehended by police and taken to a police station in the back of  a van after she slapped a man who shouted at her in a park.

She then went through the ordeal of having a mug shot and finger-prints taken before she was locked in a tiny cell with just a bucket for a toilet.

Shannon Blake with father Michael

Imprisoned: 10 year old Shannon Blake, seen here with her father Michael, was arrested and put in an adult police cell for six hours

Her father, Michael Blake, claims he wasn't even told she had been arrested until two hours later - and was then refused access to see her.

The 55-year-old lorry driver, from Tiverton, Devon, believes his daughter - who was given a formal reprimand for assault - should have been brought home instead.

He said: 'It seems absolutely ridiculous, she was treated like a criminal. I never received any information about it until more than two hours later.

'They locked her in a cell with a bucket if she wanted to use the toilet.

'They took her shoes away and the strings of her trousers.

'They finger-printed her and took her photo and then gave her a sandwich and half a cup of cold tea.

'It's absolutely appalling they can treat a 10-year-old in that way - what they did was really heavy-handed.

'What are they doing putting cuffs on a young girl? They should have just brought her home to me and I would have dealt with it.'

Shannon was arrested at 3pm on Tuesday after she slapped a man following an argument concerning his dog at a park in Tiverton, Devon.

Michael claims Shannon, who has never been in trouble before, attempted to stroke the unnamed man's pet but was shocked when he shouted at her.

Mr Blake said: 'Shannon had been playing in the BMX park when she went to stroke this man's dog.

'He shouted at her so she slapped him and gave him a push. My daughter has never been in trouble before. She's a bit of a tomboy but that's it.'

But police say they received a 999 call from a member of the public claiming that up to 20 youths were attacking a man who had been walking his dog.

Shannon was arrested with two boys aged 16 and 15 and taken to Heavitree Road Police Station in Exeter, Devon.

Mr Blake claims he was not informed his daughter had been arrested until  5.15pm and when he arrived at the station was not allowed to see her.

Shannon was eventually returned home at 8.45pm after spending almost six hours in the hands of police and received a formal reprimand.

A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said officers handcuffed Shannon after an assessment of the situation.

'We had a call from a member of the public that a man who had been walking his dog had been attacked by a gang of up to 20 youths,' said Alan Mobbs.

'An initial report was that one of the youths had a stick in his hands.

'Handcuffing a 10-year-old is never done as a matter of routine. A decision was made by the officer at the scene, based on the girl's demeanour, likelihood of escape and likelihood of injuring someone else.

'The officer that made the decision considered it serious enough to use the handcuffs.

Mr Mobbs said Shannon was detained in an adult cell because there was no other secure accommodation for her.

'If there's the right sort of accommodation available (a young person) would be detained in a cell specifically for juveniles, closer to custody staff. It was busy so she had to go in a cell.

'You put drunks and people making a noise to the back of the custody blocks. You put juveniles near custody staff so they can be supervised closely.'

But Mr Mobbs said that, despite being further away from custody staff, Shannon had 'regular checks'. He added that Mr Blake was not told about his daughter's detention straight away due to the sheer volume of cases the police station was dealing with that day.

'It's not something we delay on but with a busy custody centre, sometimes it takes a while to get hold of the relevant people.'

Following her arrest, Shannon was reprimanded for an assault and a 15-year-old boy was also reprimanded for a public order offence.

A 16-year-old boy was charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, for allegedly using threatening or insulting words or behaviour. He was bailed until September 2.

Read more:

Sunday, August 23, 2009


America's Best Public Restrooms

America's Best Public Restrooms

The 2009 winner of the award for the best public restrooms in America is presented in the photos below. These incredible public potties can be found at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson, MO. Cintas Corporation, which provides restroom hygiene products and services, is the sponsor of the best public restroom award and has been presenting these awards annually for the last eight years.



Sunday, August 23, 2009


Homeless Man Leaves $4,000,000 to NPR

Homeless Man Leaves Behind Surprise: $4 Million


July 27, 2009





Every day on NPR, listeners hear funding credits — or, in other words, very short, simple commercials.

A few weeks ago, a new one made it to air: "Support for NPR comes from the estate of Richard Leroy Walters, whose life was enriched by NPR, and whose bequest seeks to encourage others to discover public radio."

NPR's Robert Siegel wondered who Walters was. So Siegel Googled him.

An article in the online newsletter of a Catholic mission in Phoenix revealed that Walters died two years ago at the age of 76. He left an estate worth about $4 million. Along with the money he left for NPR, Walters also left money for the mission.

But something distinguished Walters from any number of solvent, well-to-do Americans with seven-figure estates: He was homeless.

Walters was a retired engineer from AlliedSignal Corp.; an honors graduate of Purdue with a master's degree; and a Marine. Walters never married, didn't have children and was estranged from his brother. But he wasn't friendless.

Rita Belle, a registered nurse, met Walters at a senior center 13 years ago.

"He always came in with a little backpack on and a cap on," Belle tells Siegel. "And always kind of looked at me, but [was] very reserved. And I'm very outgoing and outspoken. So I said to him, 'Hey, you got a minute can we sit down to visit?' And we'd have coffee there at the senior center."


Belle and Walters became friends. Belle stayed with Walters when he was ill. She became his nurse and ultimately the executor of his estate — as well as one of the beneficiaries — despite fundamental differences between them.

He just gave up all of the material things that we think we have to have. You know, I don't know how we gauge happiness. What's happy for you might not be happy for me. I never heard him complain.

- Rita Belle

"He was an atheist and I'm a very profound practicing Catholic, and I'd never met an atheist," Belle says. "And that just blew my mind that somebody could not believe in the Lord."

Belle volunteers at the mission in Phoenix, which like NPR and several other nonprofits got about $400,000 from Walters.

Belle knew him as a very well-informed man who could fix her air conditioning — someone she just assumed had a place to live. Then he told her that he had no home. She heard that he slept on the grounds of the senior center. He told her he ate at the hospital and used a telephone there or at the center.

"And I'm sure that's when he was making his trades and so on," Belle says. "He was involved in investing; we talked investments a lot." Belle says Walters even did his own income taxes.

When Walters retired, he evidently retired from the world of material comforts. He didn't have a car.

"He just gave up all of the material things that we think we have to have," Belle says. "You know, I don't know how we gauge happiness. What's happy for you might not be happy for me. I never heard him complain."


Evidently, among his few possessions was a radio. Hence those announcements listeners hear now and again on NPR stations.

Richard Walters custom

Richard Walters, a homeless man who lived in Phoenix, died two years ago. 

He left behind a surprise: a $4 million estate.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Wife sells cheating husband's Porsche 911 for $2,000

Cheater's Porsche on the market

It's going cheat ... supercar for £2000

It's going cheat ... supercar for $2000




The Sun

22 Aug 2009

A WIFE who caught her hubby romping with the babysitter in his Porsche is taking revenge by selling the car online at a knockdown price.


She has also put the love rat's prized wine collection in the boot.

The unnamed woman put the car on classified ads site Gumtree yesterday with a furious explanation why the 911, which cost around $70,000 brand new, was going for $2,000. She wrote:

Last week, I caught my husband having it off with our babysitter in our Porsche (actually, MY Porsche as I bloody paid for it). So I'm selling his beloved car. See how the p***k likes that!

I'd been to my mum's but came back early 'cos we had a fallout.

The children were in bed. My husband wasn't. I heard something in the garage.

'I thought it was a rat. It was a blooming rat alright - my husband with our babysitter. She's barely 17! I treated her like my own daughter. He told me it didn't mean anything. It sounds crazy but I would have preferred it if had meant something. Why risk 15 years of marriage for anything less?'

The scorned wife, from Solihull, West Midlands, goes on to explain it wasn't the first time she had caught him cheating.

But she says she took him back each time, thinking he had changed.

The wife added: "Every single time, like the hopeful naive cow that I was, I gave him another chance. Deep down, I knew he wouldn't change.

"But I went along with it for the kids, for the sanctity of a marriage, for 'what will the neighbours think?'

"Well, no more. The penny's finally dropped."

She finishes by promising a "hot surprise" for the "babysitter-turned-slut", revealing: "I rubbed pepper sauce over every condom wrapper I could find in the house. That should give them a night to remember."

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Radiologist turns patients' scans into art

Radiologist turns scans into art

A radiologist has turned scans of his patients' hearts, teeth and other body parts into works of art.


Published: 11:39AM BST 23 Aug 2009

Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Curves in the ear' by Kai-hung Fung
'Curves in the ear' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Eye in the big hole' by Kai-hung Fung
'Eye in the big hole' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Moire Eggs' by Kai-hung Fung
'Moire Eggs' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung
'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung
'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung maps various organs using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans.

After feeding the data into a computer, he adds colour to his works using a method he invented called the 'rainbow technique'. But he makes no other alterations, preferring a pure picture of what body parts really look like.

He said: "The pictures I create are generated directly from the medical 3D workstation, representing what I see on it. I do not use software such as Adobe Photoshop to further change the image.

"My aim is to preserve the direct relationship between the data and the artwork.

"It is a true integration of art, science and technology and can be studied both scientifically and enjoyed as a visual art.

"The imagery is packed with information. Each line or point represents specific anatomical structures in the body in normal or diseased state. It creates an unusual perspective."

Since he started producing his works at Pamela Youde Nethersole Easter Hospital in Hong Kong they have been shown in galleries across the world.

Proceeds from sales of his pieces are donated to charity.


Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Eye in the big hole' by Kai-hung Fung
'Eye in the big hole' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Moire Eggs' by Kai-hung Fung
'Moire Eggs' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung
'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung
'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung


Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Moire Eggs' by Kai-hung Fung
'Moire Eggs' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung
'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung
'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung maps various organs using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans.


Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung
'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung
'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung maps various organs using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans.



Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung
'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung maps various organs using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans.


Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung maps various organs using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans.

'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung maps various organs using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans.


'Nose from the inside' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung
'Teeth' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media
Radiologist turns scans into art: 'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung
'What lies behind our nose' by Kai-hung Fung Photo: Kai-hung Fung/Barcroft Media

Kai-hung Fung maps various organs using 3D computed tomography (CT) scans.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Police caught beating and kicking suspect

Link to story and videos:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Police dog bites thief wearing Speedo

Police: Man Wearing Speedo Burglarized Cars

Man Caught By Police Dog, Officers Say


5:43 pm EDT August 22, 2009
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- A robbery suspect wearing only a Speedo-style swimsuit was arrested in East Hartford after a police dog tracked him down and bit him on the leg.
The Journal Inquirer of Manchester reported that Daimien Tran was being held after his arrest Thursday on $50,000 bail. He was scheduled for arraignment Friday, but the result of that hearing was not immediately available.


Police said Tran tried to steal several vehicles, and also took items from them.  They said they spotted Tran wearing the bathing suit and holding a tool box that had been burglarized from a truck.
Police said Tran ran, but officers using a police dog found him hiding behind a car.


The 18-year-old Tran allegedly told police he'd been drinking heavily and smoking marijuana.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Winkers. Meet the jeans that wink as you walk

Winkers: the jeans that wink at you

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Daily Telegraph


Meet the jeans that wink as you walk.


Winkers jeans
Winkers jeans


The amusingly named Winkers, whose buttock-eyes appear to wink coquettishly at anybody following the wearer, are the invention of William A. Jones, a retired father of five and grandfather of seven who lives in Everett, Washington.

Jones says that the idea came to him when, naturally, he was checking out a woman as she walked past him. Nice.


He says he was sure that her jeans-clad bottom winked at him as she strolled by. A little more thought, and the idea of jeans with eyes in the buttock-folds was born.


Winkers jeans
Winkers jeans


Jones experimented with his daughter's jeans and discovered he could indeed make the jeans wink, and came up with the name Winkers.

His range isn't limited to just eyes, though - the range also features ducks that seem to quack, an owl that blinks, and a lion in a jungle scene.

Note for stalkers: they're not actually winking at you. This is not a sign.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Barber robs store over bad beef jerky

Bad beef jerky led irate customer to rob Cleveland party store, police say

Mark Puente

Plain Dealer Reporter

August 21, 2009 20:38PM

Police say some bad beef jerky upset a Cleveland barber so much that he decided to get revenge by robbing the store where he bought it -- even though it's two doors down from his barbershop.

The barber, who is 6 feet 3 inches, covered his mouth with a small cloth, walked into the party store in the 4700 block of Broadview Road in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood Thursday evening and demanded money, police said.

The store owner feared the robber had a gun.

Then he recognized the barber and told him so. The barber became irate, grabbed the cash register and sprinted outside, police said.

The store owner chased the barber with a baseball bat and caught him at a parked car. The owner called police as the barber got away. The officer who arrived first knew the barber too -- the barber cuts the officer's hair.

Detectives went to the barber's Brunswick house, which is right next to the police station. Police found him at his girlfriend's house a few miles away and arrested him. Police said $98 was taken.

The barber told police he took the money and bought a pizza in Little Italy. They asked the barber why he robbed the party store. His answer puzzled the longtime officers.

"He bought a beef stick, and it got him and his dog sick," Sgt. Tom Shoulders said, laughing. "That's why he robbed the place. He said it with a straight face."

The barber, 28, has not been charged but is in City Jail on suspicion of aggravated robbery. The status of the dog is unknown.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Walmart employee beats boss with bat

Boss beaten with baseball bat

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

William Kaempffer

Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — A Wal-Mart employee who had been reprimanded for poor job performance grabbed an aluminum baseball bat early Tuesday and repeatedly hit an assistant manager, police said.

The attack happened in the store’s toy section at about 12:20 a.m., and George Freibott, the assistant manager, was hit a dozen times with the bat. A female employee also was hit during the fray, police said.

Freibott, 29, of Seymour, suffered “serious injuries” in the assault, police said. He was treated in the emergency room at Yale-New Haven Hospital and was discharged later in the morning.

Police, meanwhile, were searching for the suspect, identified as Barry Griffin, 26, of New Haven, who fled the store before police arrived.

Court records show he had a 2007 conviction for third-degree assault and received a suspended sentence. He has a pending assault case in Superior Court in Meriden, according to a judicial database.

The injured assistant manager told police Griffin had been reprimanded for “poor work.”

Freibott could not be reached for comment.

Michelle Bradford, a corporate spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, referred questions about the incident to authorities.

“We are cooperating with the police, and we hope our assistant manager has a speedy recovery,” she said, declining further comment.

The Wal-Mart is at 315 Foxon Blvd. An employee told police Griffin appeared to be in good spirits earlier during the shift, but his mood turned.

According to police, the incident was captured on the store’s security system. It shows Griffin grabbing a bat from a display rack in the sporting goods section, finding Freibott in the toy area of the store, and then hitting him.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Boy, 6, Lands Job As Museum Controller

The Young Controller: six-year-old boy lands dream rail job at museum

A six-year-old boy has landed a dream job at the National Railway Museum after applying for a post he saw advertised in a newspaper.


By David Barrett
Published: 11:30AM BST 22 Aug 2009


Sam Pointon: Six-year-old boy made
Six-year-old Sam Pointon has been given his dream job as a director of a Railway museum. Photo: KIPPA MATTHEWS

Sam Pointon sent a handwritten letter headed "Application for director" asking for an interview at the centre, in York.

The letter listed his credentials for the role, including his expertise on his train set and the fact that he had been on "lots of trains including Eurostar and some trains in France".

"I am only six but I think I can do this job," wrote Sam.

"I have an electrick (sic) train track. I am good on my train track. I can control two trains at once."

Staff were so impressed they appointed Sam an honorary "Director of Fun" and invited him and his family to a VIP day at the museum, which is home to 280 locomotives including the Mallard and the Flying Scotsman.

Sam, from Leicester, said: "It is the best job in the world. I love it. My favourite is the steam engine, I like it when the wheels go round."

His mother Lorraine said: "Like any little boy of his age he is train-mad.

"He thinks now he has got this job he won't have to go to school. We had to tell him he still has to go to school."

Mrs Pointon said the family were on holiday when husband Robin noticed an advert in a newspaper announcing the retirement of museum director Andrew Scott.

"We started teasing Sam saying it would be his dream job," she said.

"When we got back from holiday he started to write a letter and we ended up posting it. The next thing we know we are invited to the museum and Sam is director of fun.

"We were invited back yesterday and had a great day at the museum. It was Sam's third trip there, but I think we might be going again soon."

The retiring director Andrew Scott said Sam's letter of application was a real delight to read.

"It's always fantastic to see such young children with a real passion for trains, just like I had when I was a boy," he said.




Friday, August 21, 2009


Popcorn Helps Prevent Cancer

Friday, August 21, 2009

Popcorn Helps Prevent Cancer: Study

Ironic, isn't it? While studies have shown popcorn fumes cause lung cancer, a new study shows that popcorn, which has high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols. Polyphenols reduce the risk of  heart, cancer and other diseases.

It's not just popcorn though. Other unlikely candidate foods also are high in polyphenols. According to The University of Scranton

(PA) study by Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry, almost all whole-grain breakfast cereals and many common, grain-basedsnacks contain substantial amounts.

However, while popcorn is good for you, how many of you eat it without added butter, or even caramel or other sugary coatings? Raise your hands, please. Aha, not that many.

While the researchers said that popcorn can be healthy, they also added that consumers need to make sure the positive qualities of popcorn are not diminished by negative qualities of additives.

These were all whole grain foods, however, that showed the high polyphenol amounts. For example, wheat cereals had the most, followed by corn, oats and rice cereals. Fans of chocolate, cocoa or cinnamon can also take heart: researchers also found that cereals with added cinnamon or cocoa also had high rates of antioxidants
due to the polyphenols in cinnamon and cocoa.


Friday, August 21, 2009


Woman awarded $2,000,000 after dentist pulls 16 teeth

Friday, Aug. 21, 2009

Woman awarded $2M after dentist pulls 16 teeth

 The State

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A South Carolina woman has won a $2 million jury verdict against a dental clinic that mistakenly pulled 13 teeth. The State reported that 28-year-old Elizabeth Smith wanted three teeth pulled when she went to the Sexton Dental Clinic in Florence in 2006. Her lawsuit said a dentist at the clinic pulled all 16 of her upper teeth.

State court records in Florence indicate the jury returned the award late last week.

One of Smith's lawyers, Robert Ransom, said the woman plans to have restorative surgery as soon as possible. That's estimated to cost about $80,000.

Clinic attorney Saunders Bridges said he is considering an appeal.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Girl, 9, leads officers on high speed chase

Girl, 9, leads officers on high speed chase

Posted: Aug 21, 2009 9:09 AM EDT Updated: Aug 21, 2009 12:56 PM EDT

SMYRNA, Tenn. - A nine-year-old girl led officers on a two-county high speed car chase early Friday morning.

According to authorities, the girl's grandmother called police shortly before 3:30 a.m. to say her autistic granddaughter was missing and had taken the keys to her car.

Police spotted the girl six minutes later driving with no headlights on Bell Road in Antioch.

They followed her onto Interstate 24 East, where she reached speeds of 90 miles-per-hour.

She then stopped in the middle of the interstate near the Sam Ridley Parkway exit in Smyrna.

Police pulled in front of her but she decided to take off again, crashing into the police cruiser.

The interstate was shutdown for a short period of time after the incident.

Police said they believe the girl would have stopped had she known right from wrong.

"You know it's kind of gut wrenching because we want her to stop," said Metro police Sgt. Kurt Reddick.  "It was kind of one of those, ‘let's get this ended as quickly as possible and nobody get hurt'."

No one was seriously injured, although the girl had a few scratches on her face.

She is now with her family.

The family says they didn't even know the girl knew how to operate a car and were taken by complete surprise.

Police said she will not face any charges.



Friday, August 21, 2009


Mom, 80, shoots at deputies son hides

Sheriff: 80-year-old woman fired at Haywood deputies

Jackson Sun.

August 20, 2009


An 80-year-old woman is behind bars after a Friday night standoff with Haywood County deputies that included her firing several shots at authorities, according to Sheriff Melvin Bond.

Bond on Wednesday said deputies arrested Lorene Harrell and her son, Claude Featherstone, 60, who was found hiding in a closet in her mobile home. No one was hurt in the incident.

Harrell is charged with aggravated assault and is being held on $10,000 bond. Featherstone was charged with evading arrest and is being held on $7,500 bond. The sheriff did not know when they would appear in court.

Bond said authorities received an anonymous tip that Featherstone was at Harrell's mobile home on Daisy Bradford Road.

Featherstone, of Brownsville, had several outstanding warrants from Missouri and Crockett County.

Four deputies went to Harrell's home to serve the warrants because deputies had dealt with Featherstone before, Bond said.

Two deputies knocked on the door of the mobile home after hearing Featherstone talking inside. Harrell came to the door, and deputies told her they were looking for her son.

"She slammed the door in the officers' faces," Bond said.

Deputies started to leave the doorstep but heard Featherstone talking again. They knocked on the door, but Harrell refused to open it, telling them to get off her property, Bond said.

That is when a shot was fired through the front door and deputies took cover in a standoff that lasted more than an hour.

"I advised them to wait this thing out and make sure no one gets hurt," Bond said.

Bond said dispatchers called Harrell on the telephone and that he tried to talk to her, but she hung up on him. Bond said they continued to try to talk to her.

"Deputies could see her inside the door, brandishing a gun," Bond said.

Bond said Harrell fired two more shots through the back door during the standoff.

Dispatchers eventually told Harrell that Bond wanted to see her outside, and she came to the door. Deputies were then able to arrest her, Bond said.

Authorities found a .22-caliber rifle and a .38-caliber revolver in the mobile home, as well as a box of .38-caliber bullets on the coffee table.

Bond said Featherstone was found hiding in a closet in a back room.

Harrell was examined at a local hospital before she was taken to jail, Bond said.

"I'm thankful that no one was hurt and me and my men were able to handle it," Bond said.

Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith praised Bond for how authorities handled the incident.

"It was a situation that could have ended very differently," Smith said. "But Sheriff Bond handled it well, and no one got hurt."





Mother accused of striking bus driver


Staff Reporter

News Star

August 20, 2009


Richwood police accused a Monroe woman of beating her daughter's school bus driver

Sherbert Bradley, 29, 114 Monterey Circle, was charged with battery of a schoolteacher and simple battery of the infirm.

According to an arrest affidavit, a Ouachita Parish School bus driver said Bradley showed up at her house Tuesday evening and struck her in the mouth, causing bleeding, because she thought the bus driver was mean to her daughter.

When a 60-year-old woman tried to intervene, Bradley allegedly pushed her down, causing her head to strike against the floor.

Bradley was arrested and taken to Ouachita Correctional Center. She booked on a bond of $15,000.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Deputies allow woman to pose with AR-15 assault rifle

Incident involving Midland County deputies ruled non-criminal by Williamson County, Round Rock authorities


Staff Reporter

The Midland Reporter-Telegram

Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 4:11 PM CDT
Round Rock police and Williamson County officials have decided five Midland County deputies who were investigated for taking photos of a waitress and one of their weapons at a Round Rock restaurant did not commit any criminal behavior.

In a document issued to the Midland Reporter-Telegram by Round Rock police Wednesday, authorities said the investigation into the incident “did not result in conviction or deferred adjudication” of any of the men.

Authorities were called after the deputies were seen posing with and taking photos of a waitress at Twin Peaks Restaurant and Bar in Round Rock around 9:50 p.m. Monday Aug. 10.

A police officer from Manor who observed the scene alerted Round Rock police and reported he saw subjects take a weapon out of the trunk of a vehicle in full view of the public.

After the Midland County-issued AR-15 assault rifle was removed from the trunk witnesses saw the Midland County deputies photograph a waitress holding the rifle while sitting on the trunk of a squad car, according to the police report.

During officials’ investigation at the scene, Midland County deputies Ronald Eugene Wright, 37, and Daniel Subia, 30, stated they were the ones who removed the weapon from the trunk.

When approached by Round Rock Detective J.D. Rowe about the incident, Wright and deputy Christopher Lee Evans, 34, stated “that they would hope for some form of professional courtesy” in Round Rock police’s response to the situation, according to the police report. Round Rock officials told the deputies their request was inappropriate, according to the report, to which the deputies acknowledged their actions had been unacceptable.

The Midland County deputies at the scene told Round Rock officials the event should never have occurred. They said the waitress had asked to have her photo taken, but that they should not have agreed.

Following the incident, Rowe contacted Midland County Patrol Commander Lt. Earl Stroup who, according to the police report, indicated the deputies’ actions were not in holding with his department’s standards and would be dealt with upon the deputies return to Midland.

When interviewed, the waitress stated the Midland County deputies had asked her to go outside and take pictures of her holding the weapon on their marked unit.

The digital camera used to take the photos was issued by the Midland County Sheriff’s Office. It was seized as evidence, but a search warrant was needed to retrieve the image in question from the camera, according to the police report.

The deputies were in the Round Rock area for training and were off-duty when at the restaurant.

The five men were investigated on a charge of disorderly conduct-displaying a firearm/weapon and the case has now been turned over in full to the Midland County Sheriff’s Department, which has been conducting an internal investigation.

The camera also has been turned over to Midland County since no charges were filed.

A copy of the 9-1-1 call that prompted authorities to respond to the scene at the restaurant will be released in the coming weeks, according to Round Rock officials.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter is holding a press conference in reference to the incident at 3 p.m. today.


In this photo provided by the Midland County, (Texas) Sheriff, ...


In this photo provided by the Midland County, (Texas) Sheriff, an unidentified waitress at Twin Peaks Restaurant and Bar posses for a photo in Round Rock, Texas, Aug. 10, 2009. Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter fired one deputy and suspended three others without pay for the photos of a waitress holding a rifle sitting on a Midland County patrol car. Round Rock officers were dispatched to the restaurant after someone reported the waitress with the weapon, which had been given to her by one of the deputies who had been attending a training session near Austin.

(AP Photo/Midland County Sheriff)  In this photo provided by the Midland County, (Texas) Sheriff, an unidentified waitress at Twin Peaks Restaurant and Bar posses for a photo in Round Rock, Texas, Aug. 10, 2009. Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter fired one deputy and suspended three others without pay for the photos of a waitress holding a rifle sitting on a Midland County patrol car. Round Rock officers were dispatched to the restaurant after someone reported the waitress with the weapon, which had been given to her by one of the deputies who had been attending a training session near Austin.(AP Photo/Midland County Sheriff)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Woman hires 3 to beat man over stolen pot

4 busted in Monroe 'assault for hire'

Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post
Staff writer
Updated: 08/19/2009 11:16:25 PM EDT

MONROE -- In what is being termed by police as an assault for hire, a teenage girl from Redding is accused of hiring a homeless man and two local teenagers to assault a Monroe man she claimed had robbed her of marijuana.

The victim, a 21-year-old man police said was beaten with baseball bats Wednesday, was being treated at Bridgeport Hospital.

Emily Stearns, 18, of Black Rock Turnpike, was charged with first-degree assault. She was being held in lieu of $25,000 bond.

According to police, Stearns hired Spencer Knight, 18, described as being homeless; James Hacker, 19, of Redding; and Emily Taylor, 19, of Redding, for an undetermined sum to assault the man, who she claimed had stolen marijuana from her.

Police said Stearns told the others she wanted the man "especially hurt and humiliated." On Wednesday morning, police said Stearns lured the man to the Last Drop coffee shop on Main Street. Once there however, police said he was met in the parking lot by the others, who were wearing masks and carrying baseball bats.

While Stearns watched, police said, the others began beating the man until he fell to the ground.

Officers arrived on the scene while the beating was going on and arrested Knight, Hacker and Taylor. Police said Stearns was arrested after a short foot chase. Police said Hacker also had pepper spray and a pair of brass knuckles in his pocket.

Hacker, Knight and Taylor were charged with first-degree assault and were being held in lieu of bonds

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Thieves Steal $1,500,000 Of Jewelry from JC Penney

JC Penney caper nets $1.5 million

St. Tammany store among five hit across country by jewelry thieves
Thursday, August 20, 2009
By Jeff Adelson
St. Tammany bureau

Carrying out a heist that could have been scripted in Hollywood, two men scaled the JC Penney store near Covington under the cover of darkness early Sunday.

They cut a hole in the building's roof, descended into the store using ropes and, somewhere along the way, disabled the security system, paving the way for them to browse the darkened store and stuff plastic garbage bags with jewelry, clothing and other goods.

After an hour in the store, the burglars disappeared through a fire door, taking with them more than $1.5 million in goods and pulling off what authorities called the largest burglary in St. Tammany Parish history.

It also was one of the most sophisticated.

The thieves planned their entrance and exit, knew how to shut down the store's security system and shielded their faces from the security cameras that dot the building.

It's expertise that may have come from practice.

Investigators said the thieves may be responsible for at least four other burglaries at JC Penney stores across the South and Midwest, including one in Lafayette on Wednesday morning.

Hours after that burglary and three days after the crime near Covington, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain held a news conference and provided details on what he described as an "incredibly sophisticated" burglary ring.

"The deployment of their plan was flawless," Strain said of the break-in at the store in the Stirling Covington Center at Interstate 12 and Louisiana 21.

The Sheriff's Office released surveillance footage of two men walking through the store shortly after midnight carrying garbage bags, which they later used to haul off their loot, and 2x4s. The men apparently had T-shirts wrapped around their heads as makeshift masks.

Investigators are unsure whether accomplices were waiting outside.

Authorities do not know whether all the burglaries were committed by the same suspects or carried out by different members of a larger organization. But the break-ins bear similarities that have prompted cooperation between agencies in three states and the retail company itself.

JC Penney is offering a $10,000 reward for information on the burglaries, Strain said. The company's security officers are working with law enforcement, he said.

"No stone is being left unturned; we're doing a careful analysis of the evidence that's there," Strain said.

Investigators do not believe the suspects are from St. Tammany Parish but are executing several search warrants in the area. Officials refused to say what the search warrants targeted.

This kind of burglary is one of the most difficult types of cases faced by law enforcement, and the ability of thieves to melt down and dismantle jewelry can impede efforts to recover the stolen goods, Strain said.

Officials did not notify the media or public about the break-in for days, time Strain said was needed to collect evidence and conduct the investigation.

"We don't make decisions on when to release things based on the needs of the media," he said.

It is common for cases involving a particular chain to be traced back to someone with an inside connection, often a former employee. Investigators said they do not have any suspects but have not ruled out the possibility that it is an inside job.

"We're looking at all aspects of it, security, management and sales," Lt. Bobby Juge said.

Strain also noted the burglars seem to have chosen an unlikely target.

"Personally, I would be climbing on the roof of a bank or a gold depository," he said.


Link to Audio:


Thursday, August 20, 2009


Health Care or Prisons?

Op-Ed Columnist

Priority Test: Health Care or Prisons?


Published: August 19, 2009
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

At a time when we Americans may abandon health care reform because it supposedly is “too expensive,” how is it that we can afford to imprison people like Curtis Wilkerson?

Mr. Wilkerson is serving a life sentence in California — for stealing a $2.50 pair of socks. As The Economist noted recently, he already had two offenses on his record (both for abetting robbery at age 19), and so the “three strikes” law resulted in a life sentence.

This is unjust, of course. But considering that California spends almost $49,000 annually per prison inmate, it’s also an extraordinary waste of money.

Astonishingly, many politicians seem to think that we should lead the world in prisons, not in health care or education. The United States is anomalous among industrialized countries in the high proportion of people we incarcerate; likewise, we stand out in the high proportion of people who have no medical care — and partly as a result, our health care outcomes such as life expectancy and infant mortality are unusually poor.

It’s time for a fundamental re-evaluation of the criminal justice system, as legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Webb has called for, so that we’re no longer squandering money that would be far better spent on education or health. Consider a few facts:

¶The United States incarcerates people at nearly five times the world average. Of those sentenced to state prisons, 82 percent were convicted of nonviolent crimes, according to one study.

¶California spends $216,000 annually on each inmate in the juvenile justice system. In contrast, it spends only $8,000 on each child attending the troubled Oakland public school system, according to the Urban Strategies Council.

¶For most of American history, we had incarceration rates similar to those in other countries. Then with the “war on drugs” and the focus on law and order in the 1970s, incarceration rates soared.

¶One in 10 black men ages 25 to 29 were imprisoned last year, partly because possession of crack cocaine (disproportionately used in black communities) draws sentences equivalent to having 100 times as much powder cocaine. Black men in the United States have a 32 percent chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives, according to the Sentencing Project.

Look, there’s no doubt that many people in prison are cold-blooded monsters who deserve to be there. But over all, in a time of limited resources, we’re overinvesting in prisons and underinvesting in schools.

Indeed, education spending may reduce the need for incarceration. The evidence on this isn’t conclusive, but it’s noteworthy that graduates of the Perry Preschool program in Michigan, an intensive effort for disadvantaged children in the 1960s, were some 40 percent less likely to be arrested than those in a control group.

Above all, it’s time for a rethink of our drug policy. The point is not to surrender to narcotics, but to learn from our approach to both tobacco and alcohol. Over time, we have developed public health strategies that have been quite successful in reducing the harm from smoking and drinking.

If we want to try a public health approach to drugs, we could learn from Portugal. In 2001, it decriminalized the possession of all drugs for personal use. Ordinary drug users can still be required to participate in a treatment program, but they are no longer dispatched to jail.

“Decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal,” notes a report this year from the Cato Institute. It notes that drug use appears to be lower in Portugal than in most other European countries, and that Portuguese public opinion is strongly behind this approach.

A new United Nations study, World Drug Report 2009, commends the Portuguese experiment and urges countries to continue to pursue traffickers while largely avoiding imprisoning users. Instead, it suggests that users, particularly addicts, should get treatment.

Senator Webb has introduced legislation that would create a national commission to investigate criminal justice issues — for such a commission may be the best way to depoliticize the issue and give feckless politicians the cover they need to institute changes.

“There are only two possibilities here,” Mr. Webb said in introducing his bill, noting that America imprisons so many more people than other countries. “Either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States, or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice.”

Opponents of universal health care and early childhood education say we can’t afford them. Granted, deficits are a real constraint and we can’t do everything, and prison reform won’t come near to fully financing health care reform. Still, would we rather use scarce resources to educate children and heal the sick, or to imprison people because they used drugs or stole a pair of socks?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Evicted Family Fights To Stay In Foreclosed Home

Despite Eviction, Family Fights To Stay

Family Squats In Foreclosed Home Despite Eviction Notices


POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2009
UPDATED: 8:08 am EDT August 20, 2009


MIAMI -- A Miami family illegally squatting in their own foreclosed home is facing eviction, for a second time. Once again, they're taking a stand to keep their home.

The Trody family was first evicted from their home on 849 NW 137 Street on Feb. 23. The matriarch of the family, Carolyn Conley, claims she lost the home because of a refinanced mortgage that was too complicated to understand.

With the help of Take Back the Land, a vigilante housing advocate group, the family of 12 broke into the same home from which they were evicted and moved back in. At one point, they were living in a van.

On Wednesday, the family was served with another eviction notice. Rather than leave and return to living in the van, they are taking a stand to keep their home.

"Housing is a human right," said Max Rameau of Take Back the Land. "As such, the Trodys have a greater need, and right, to this home than big corporations getting billions of dollars in our money for a bailout."

Members of the family said they would have to be forcefully removed from the home.

Community members and organizations are planning to support the Trodys and defend against the eviction for as long as the family wants to stay.

Police and mortgage companies say the Trodys are trespassing. Anyone caught violating the mandate to leave could be arrested.  The Trody family was first evicted from their home on 849 NW 137 Street on Feb. 23. The matriarch of the family, Carolyn Conley, claims she lost the home because of a refinanced mortgage that was too complicated to understand.


With the help of Take Back the Land, a vigilante housing advocate group, the family of 12 broke into the same home from which they were evicted and moved back in. At one point, they were living in a van.


On Wednesday, the family was served with another eviction notice. Rather than leave and return to living in the van, they are taking a stand to keep their home.


"Housing is a human right," said Max Rameau of Take Back the Land. "As such, the Trodys have a greater need, and right, to this home than big corporations getting billions of dollars in our money for a bailout."


Members of the family said they would have to be forcefully removed from the home.


Community members and organizations are planning to support the Trodys and defend against the eviction for as long as the family wants to stay.


Police and mortgage companies say the Trodys are trespassing. Anyone caught violating the mandate to leave could be arrested.



Thursday, August 20, 2009


Father Wants Public Caning for Daughter Caught Drinking Beer

Father Wants Public Caning for Malay Woman Over Beer 


By Ranjeetha Pakiam

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The caning of a Malaysian mother for drinking a beer should be conducted in public if it is meant to set an example to fellow Muslims, her father said, days before the punishment is set to be carried out in a closed prison.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, faces six strokes of the cane after a Shariah court found the former model guilty of breaking a law that forbids all Muslims, including foreign visitors, from drinking alcohol.  After deciding not to appeal, she may become the first woman to be caned in Malaysia.

The Shariah court in the eastern state of Pahang Kartika fixed Aug. 24 to 30 for the Prisons Department to conduct the sentence, said Mohamad Isa Abd Ralip, president of the Syariah Lawyers Association of Malaysia.  Kartika will be held for a week at the women’s prison in Kajang outside Kuala Lumpur, a decision that has puzzled her father, Shukarno Abdul Muttalib.

“As a Muslim, I agree with her punishment, but I don’t agree that it should be done in jail, she is not a prisoner,” Shukarno, 60, told Bloomberg in an interview. “If the authorities want to use this as an example, then the caning should be done in public in Pahang.”

The businessman said it was embarrassing for his daughter to be brought to prison where criminals are held. If there was no alternative, Shukarno said he would ask the authorities to allow him and the media to attend the caning to ensure transparency.

“Nobody should have to endure corporal punishment, be it a man or woman,” said Ragunath Kesavan, president of the Malaysian Bar Council. He said a public caning would be considered unacceptable to many members of society and would set an unwelcome precedent.

Long Ordeal

Kartika, who is married to a Singaporean, decided not to appeal against the court’s July 20 judgment because she wants to get the ordeal over with and get on with her family life, the New Straits Times reported on July 22.

The mother of two, who also paid a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($1,420) for drinking in a hotel lounge in July last year, wants other people to learn from her experience. Her husband, also a Muslim, wasn’t with her at the time.

“When I received the news, I was relieved,” Kartika said in a telephone interview yesterday. “I want it to be over, rather than leave it hanging. I’m a bit afraid because I don’t know what to expect, but I’m prepared” to be punished.

Kartika and her husband left Singapore Aug. 18 when they heard of the court’s decision and traveled to her father’s house in the northern state of Perak. Shukarno said they hadn’t received any written notification and would wait for the Islamic authorities to pick up Kartika and take her to the prison.

‘Fair Decision’

Malaysia has a dual-track judicial system where Islamic courts operate alongside civil institutions. Three of the Southeast Asian nation’s 13 states permit the caning of convicted women under the Shariah Criminal Offences Code.

“This is a fair decision, because the Shariah laws do not discriminate whether the offender is male or female,” said Mohamad Isa. “The punishment is more geared to teaching a lesson. The caning is not meant to physically hurt.”

Shariah judges have meted out the maximum sentence for drinking alcohol to a woman on one previous occasion. The first offender, waitress Noorazah Baharuddin, 22, was sentenced in January for consuming liquor in a pub in Pahang last year, state news agency Bernama reported. She has appealed and the case is pending, the Star newspaper said.

Three men who were previously convicted for drinking alcohol and were sentenced to be caned are still waiting for their appeals to be heard, Mohamad Isa said.

Caning Rules

According to Islamic principles and the Pahang Shariah rules, caning should be conducted with a small, thin stick and cannot be administered on the head, face, stomach, chest or genitals.

The prison officer wielding the cane is not allowed to use much force, ensuring his or her hand doesn’t rise above head- height, Mohamad Isa said. The offender must be fully clothed and men must stand, whereas women can be seated.

Under the government’s civil criminal system, men can be caned for serious offences such as rape. These punishments are administered using a thicker cane and applied to the bare buttocks of the offender, who is bound to a frame.

Neighboring Singapore’s law also allows for caning for serious offences such as rape and drug trafficking. In 1994, U.S. teenager Michael Fay received four strokes of the cane in a Singapore prison after being convicted of vandalism.

In Indonesia, caning is not part of the criminal legal system though it is used in Aceh province, which has introduced a form of Shariah law since being granted autonomy in 2005.

About 60 percent of Malaysia’s population is Muslim. The rest are mostly Buddhists, Hindus, Christians or Sikhs.

Too Harsh

Many Malaysians feel caning is too harsh a sentence, said Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a Just World, a Malaysian non-governmental organization, adding that there are no studies to suggest caning is a deterrent to drinking alcohol.

“Accepting the fact that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited” in Islam, “the best approach is to counsel,” said Chandra. If he or she persists, “it’s between the person and God.”


Last Updated: August 20, 2009 05:31 EDT





                                   ORIGINAL STORY



Model who drank beer to be first woman caned in Malaysia

Muslim model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno has become the first woman in Malaysia to be sentenced to a caning after being caught drinking beer in a beach resort.

Ian MacKinnon
Daily Telegraph
Published: 5:08PM BST 19 Aug 2009
Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno: Model who drank beer to be first woman caned in Malaysia
Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno: The mother-of-two who lives in Singapore with her husband, paid a fine of £860 Photo: AFP

The 32-year-old will receive six lashes at a woman's prison next week in what is being viewed as an example of the growing influence of Islamic hardliners on the country.

The mother-of-two who lives in Singapore with her husband, paid a fine of £860, but declined to lodge an appeal so she could get the punishment over with and put the episode behind her.

The harsh sentence has provoked anger among women's rights groups who fear it is another sign of the creeping influence of conservative Islam on Malaysian society.

In the northern backwater state of Kalentan ruled by the hardline Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, authorities have decreed that supermarkets must have separate checkout queues for men and women and beaches be segregated.

Young couples caught sitting too close together on park benches in the state capital, Kota Baru, are hunted down by the city's moral enforcers and fined up to £285 in Sharia courts.

The Islamic alcohol prohibition laws in Malaysia's eastern Pahang state date back more than two decades. But Malaysian-born Kartika, who now has Singaporean citizenship, is the first woman to fall foul of them.

She was arrested in July last year in a hotel nightclub in the beach resort of Cherating during a raid by the state's religious department and admitted drinking beer.

An Islamic court fined her and ordered her to be caned at Kajang women's prison next week, but spared her a jail term of up to three years.

She received word of the sentence from her father and said she would be returning to Malaysia from Singapore.

"I accept the punishment," she said. "I am not afraid because I was ready to be punished from day one. [The authorities] hope to use my case as a way to educate Muslims. So go ahead. I want to move on with my life."

Prosecutor Saiful Idham Sahimi said: "This is the first case in Malaysia. It is a good punishment because under Islamic law a person who drinks commits a serious offence."

Muslims make up about 60 per cent of Malaysia's 28 million people and are governed by Sharia courts for all civil and religious matters.

Non-Muslims, mainly Chinese and Indians, are governed by civil courts, which impose caning sentences for serious offences such as rape. The lashes administered to the buttocks, break the skin and leave scars.

But in Kartika's case the rattan cane will be lighter than those used to punish men. Sharia law dictates it be no thicker than the little finger and the cane cannot be lifted so high the arm is away from the armpit. The court ordered the jail's female governor administer the sentence.

Kartika has been ordered to report to the jail next Monday, where she will be given a medical check-up to ensure she is fit to receive the punishment.

She could then be held for seven days, but will be released immediately after the caning.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Burglar targets police station

Burglar targets police station

A suspect has been arrested in the theft of Tasers, a radio and a patrol car in North Bend

Winston Ross

The Register-Guard

Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009

NORTH BEND — Call it bold, call it stupid.

Whatever you want to call Robert Lloyd Finder’s alleged burglary of the North Bend Police Station last week, the town’s police chief said it happened. The burglar allegedly made off with two department-issue Tasers and a radio.

Oh, and a police cruiser.

“I’m so upset about it, I can’t even find any humor in it,” said Police Chief Steve Scibelli. “It’s pretty embarrassing.”

Finder, 26, faces just about every charge the police could think up, including burglary, possession of burglary tools, theft, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, tampering with physical evidence and reckless driving, after he allegedly committed a brazen raid on the police station in downtown North Bend last Wednesday.

All the officers had left a section of the building to respond to an assault call, leaving only police dispatchers in a separate part of the station, Scibelli said. Finder later told the police he was walking near the station and noticed most of the police cars were gone, Scibelli said, so he did some further investigation and decided to try breaking in.

“He just said he thought he’d try it,” Scibelli said. “See if he could pull this off. High risk, low reward.”

The building was remodeled recently, Scibelli said, but the outer doors are difficult to lock properly, so that’s probably how the suspect got inside.

Once through the outer perimeter, the suspect encountered a door that was locked securely, but that didn’t stop him, Scibelli said, he simply kicked it in.

“He said he had to kick it at least 10 times to get it to open,” the chief said.

Inside, the suspect found keys to a Crown Victoria patrol car, Scibelli said. Finder swiped a couple of Tasers and took off in the stolen rig, driving it to Lakeside, where he parked it on some railroad tracks inside a tunnel, according to the chief.

Finder then tried selling the Tasers, which is how the police caught up with him the next day, Scibelli said. He’d passed it off to one person, who tried to sell the stun guns to a source who tipped off the police.

Scibelli said the police have revamped some internal procedures and moved some things around so that the side of the building that was burglarized won’t contain things that can be stolen.

“We were dumbfounded,” Scibelli said. “Absolutely amazed that someone would have the nerve to do this.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Wrong body sent to funeral

  by Cathy Gandolfo & Dann Cuellar

Funeral Fiasco: Wrong body sent to family

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 | 8:16 AM


SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - August 18, 2009 (WPVI) -- It was to have been a time to say farewell to 80-year-old Kenneth Roberts.

As if funerals aren't sad and emotional enough, what happened in South Philadelphia was a nightmare for the family and friends of Mr. Roberts.

The funeral was to be held at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church on South Broad Street Tuesday morning, but the body that was brought there was not that of Kenneth Monroe Roberts, a South Philadelphia resident and army veteran.

"They kept trying to tell us that it was him and I knew it wasn't him," the wife of Kenneth Roberts, Janin Holsey, said.

The body of Kenneth Roberts and that of another man were mistakenly switched.

Family members who viewed the body on Monday say they knew something was wrong and told the funeral director.

"I told them it wasn't my grandpop; all his grandkids came in here and said that's not their grandpop. We know what my grandpop looked like, that wasn't him," granddaughter Kenayah Cerban said.

The funeral home of James Hawkins at 17th and Federal Streets handled the arrangements. Tuesday morning, during the viewing and just before the funeral service began, the error was acknowledged.

"She came in the service and said, 'we made a mistake, that's not your husband.' Everyone went into a rampage," sister-in-law Lois Bundy said.

The family waited an hour and a half and then Roberts' body finally arrived.

However, mourners were still horrified as the body was face down and partially hanging out of the ajar casket.

"This is not right. I never in my life... and that's my dad and I just want it fixed," daughter Rhonda Warring said.

One man suffered a seizure and was taken to the hospital along with a woman suffering an asthma attack. The funeral was cancelled.

A similar scene played out across town at the Francis Funeral Home in Southwest Philadelphia.

Claire Beverly and her sister were laying to rest their father, Charles, when they too realized their father was not in the casket, but rather the body of Kenneth Roberts.

"Id like an apology and make sure this doesn't happen to another person because this is ridiculous," Claire said.

Family members tell Action News both funeral homes are owned by Frankie Francis. Embalming is performed at the Francis Funeral home and the bodies are then transported to the services.

After repeated calls were not returned Action News went looking for answers, but found none as no one would explain what happened.

Family members say they've received the same response.

"I'm lost for words. The words out of my mouth I don't think he wants to hear because this doesn't make sense," relative Melanie Oliver said.

The family of Kenneth Roberts is planning a small private funeral.




                                                   RELATED STORY

Beloved husband & dad is mourned, but it's not his body in the casket

Philadelphia Daily News

Wed, Aug. 19, 2009

The mourners knew it wasn't Tex.

Nearly everyone who passed the silver casket at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church yesterday morning whispered to each other. That's not Tex, they said. But the corpse was wearing his blue suit and black boots.

The late Kenneth "Tex" Roberts, 80, who died Monday of a heart attack, was a jovial, mustached, retired tractor-trailer driver who loved to tell jokes, play cards and help people when they were down.

On Monday night, Roberts' wife, Janie Holsey, and others went to check the body at James L. Hawkins Funeral Home, at 1640 Federal St., and told a female employee: "This is not my husband."

But family members said the woman at the South Philadelphia funeral home insisted: "That's how they look when they die."

She was "so nasty," pushing us out of the funeral home, said Rhonda Wearing, 52, the oldest of Roberts' three daughters.

So yesterday morning, Roberts' wife, eight children and three stepchildren stood for two hours greeting nearly 200 mourners inside Tindley church, at 742 S. Broad St.

"I touched him," Wearing said. "We kissed him. Some of us thought it was him."

About 11 a.m., just after the funeral director gave Holsey an American flag in honor of her husband's Army military service - he was discharged in 1954 - the director asked to speak with the immediate family in a second-floor conference room before the funeral was to start.

The director, whose name was not available, said: " 'I'm sorry, it was a mix-up,' " said Wearing. "That was a hell of a mix-up."

"It wasn't my dad," Wearing said. "It was some other person lying in my dad's suit and clothes. He wasn't dark and short. He was brown-skinned, 5 foot 9, about 180 pounds, and wore glasses.

"The man in the casket looked older than my father," she added. And that man had been killed, she said she was told.

Horrified relatives burst into tears in the conference room. One of Roberts' daughters yelled, "Go get my father!" A grandchild screamed, "Where's Pop Pop?"

"They were crying and running around in circles," said Lois Bundy, 73, a sister-in-law. "It was terrible, it was just chaos, it really was."

Distraught, hysterical mourners poured out of the church onto the sidewalk, while others tried to calm them down.

"It traumatized all of us," Wearing said.

Keith Harris, 19, had a seizure and was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. An unidentified woman had an asthma attack and was also taken to a hospital, Wearing said.

Meantime, the funeral home found Roberts' remains, and rushed them back to the church. When an assistant opened the door of the hearse, mortified relatives screamed at the sight.

"The casket had tilted and his leg was hanging out," said Wearing, who believed they drove so fast, hitting bumps, that the casket opened.

"It was unspeakable," she added.

"How do you not know the person [deceased] had a heart attack? Why did we have to stand in line looking at the casket at a guy who was not my father?" Wearing asked.

WPVI-TV reported last night that Roberts' body had been in a casket for a funeral at the Francis Funeral Home, on Whitby Avenue at 52nd Street, West Philadelphia. Both funeral homes are under the same ownership, the station said.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Man spends 3 months in jail for possession of breath mints

Mints Believed To Be Crack Land Man In Jail

Posted: 5:27 pm EDT August 17, 2009

  Updated: 11:30 am EDT August 19, 2009


KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- A man is suing the Kissimmee Police

Department for an arrest over mints. When officers pulled Donald May over for an expired tag, they thought the mints he was chewing were crack and arrested him.

May told Eyewitness News they wouldn't let him out of jail for three months until tests proved the so-called drugs were candy.

May said he was just minding his business, driving home from work, when a Kissimmee police officer pulled him over near 192.




"I don't know how it occurred," he said.

May was pulled over for an expired tag on his car. When the officer walked up to him, he noticed something white in May's mouth. May said it was breath mints, but the officer thought it was crack cocaine.

"He took them out of my mouth and put them in a baggy and locked me up [for] possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence," May explained.

The officer claimed he field-tested the evidence and it tested positive for drugs. The officer said he saw May buying drugs while he was stopped at an intersection. He also stated in his report May waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily admitted to buying drugs.

May said that never happened.

"My client never admitted he purchased crack cocaine. Why would he say that?" attorney Adam Sudbury said.

May was thrown in jail and was unable to bond out for three months. He didn't get out until he received a letter from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney's Office that test results showed no drugs were found.

"While I was sitting in jail I lost my apartment. I lost everything," he said.

While May was behind bars, the Kissimmee Police Department towed his car and auctioned it off. He lost his job and was evicted. Now May is suing the city for false arrest and false imprisonment. He wants to be compensated for the loss of his car and job.

May's attorney and the city of Kissimmee discussed a possible settlement last year, but failed to reach an agreement.  Department for an arrest over mints. When officers pulled Donald May over for an expired tag, they thought the mints he was chewing were crack and arrested him.

May told Eyewitness News they wouldn't let him out of jail for three months until tests proved the so-called drugs were candy.

May said he was just minding his business, driving home from work, when a Kissimmee police officer pulled him over near 192.

"I don't know how it occurred," he said.

May was pulled over for an expired tag on his car. When the officer walked up to him, he noticed something white in May's mouth. May said it was breath mints, but the officer thought it was crack cocaine.

"He took them out of my mouth and put them in a baggy and locked me up [for] possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence," May explained.

The officer claimed he field-tested the evidence and it tested positive for drugs. The officer said he saw May buying drugs while he was stopped at an intersection. He also stated in his report May waived his Miranda rights and voluntarily admitted to buying drugs.

May said that never happened.

"My client never admitted he purchased crack cocaine. Why would he say that?" attorney Adam Sudbury said.

May was thrown in jail and was unable to bond out for three months. He didn't get out until he received a letter from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney's Office that test results showed no drugs were found.

"While I was sitting in jail I lost my apartment. I lost everything," he said.

While May was behind bars, the Kissimmee Police Department towed his car and auctioned it off. He lost his job and was evicted. Now May is suing the city for false arrest and false imprisonment. He wants to be compensated for the loss of his car and job.

May's attorney and the city of Kissimmee discussed a possible settlement last year, but failed to reach an agreement.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Katrina victims in Oprah homes indicted

Katrina victims in Oprah homes indicted

They are accused of taking FEMA money after moving


Houston Chronicle

Aug. 19, 2009, 1:35PM


Three Hurricane Katrina evacuees who bought houses here with the help of Oprah Winfrey appeared in court today on charges they cheated the Federal Emergency Management Agency by lying to continue to obtain rental assistance for storm victims after they moved into the furnished homes.

The three came to Houston from New Orleans after the storm devastated that city. They received legitimate FEMA help and then were aided by Winfrey's “Oprah's Angel Network,” which provided the financing to allow the storm victims to move into and own new homes.

“Oprah's Angel Network” worked with Habitat for Humanity to build and furnish homes for approximately 65 families, most of whom moved onto Asheburton Springs Drive in southwest Houston, which was subsequently renamed “Angel Lane”

“The response to natural disasters brings out the best and worst in people,” said Houston-based U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson. “Generous acts of charity are tarnished by those who despite the generosity of others, fraudulently make claims for government relief funds. This office will continue its efforts to bring those who make false claims for public funds to justice.”

The trio was charged along with the sister of one of them, who allegedly helped her sibling cheat FEMA.

Darlene McGruder Poole, 30, of Houston, and her sister, Lashona McGruder Victor, 37, of La Place, La., are charged together with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Victor is expected to surrender to law enforcement authorities in Houston by the end of the week, a press release from the U.S. attorney stated.

Kiesha Murphy, 34, of Houston, and Angela Payne, aka Angela McKinnies, 38, of Houston, are each charged in separate indictments with making false statements to FEMA and theft of government property.

After Katrina and Rita hit in 2005, FEMA provided rental assistance payments to displaced individuals. Winfrey visited some of the victims in Houston and through her charitable organization partnered to build and furnish homes.

The indictment against Poole — who had received $23,000 in legitimate assistance after being displaced from her home in New Orleans — continued to submit declarations of need for rental assistance despite her August 2006 purchase of a home on Angel Lane. Poole also claimed to be unemployed though she was working for Harris County.

Her sister, Victor, registered with FEMA as Poole's landlord on Angel Lane and the pair submitted fraudulent lease agreements and fictitious rental receipts to collect $14,000, the government alleges.

Murphy, who received $17,000 in legitimate disaster assistance after being displaced from New Orleans, is also accused of continuing to submit bogus rent receipts after moving onto an Angel Lane home in July 2006. The government alleges she too claimed to be unemployed though she was working for Memorial Hermann. Murphy is accused of wrongfully obtaining more than $12,000 in benefits as a result of fraudulent filings with FEMA.

Payne, also from New Orleans, purchased her home on Angel Lane in July 2006, and is also accused of submitting fraudulent claims for continued rental assistance.

These four charges bring to 94 the number of persons charged in the Southern District of Texas with fraud arising from three hurricanes — Katrina, Rita and Ike.



Wednesday, August 19, 2009


2 Employees Fired for Tackling Shoplifter With Knife

2 fired from Broomfield Best Buy for tackling shoplifter

Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
Posted: 08/18/2009 01:44:37 PM MDT
Updated: 08/18/2009 03:15:12 PM MDT


Two employees at the Best Buy store at FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield have been fired for the way they tried to stop a knife-wielding shoplifter who stole two cellphones at the store on Aug. 1.

"I reacted on instinct," said 20-year-old Jared Bergstreser, who was sitting at the "asset protection desk" near the front door.

"I tackled him (outside the store), and we ended up on the cement," said Bergstreser, who is studying to be a paramedic at Front Range Community College.

Bergstreser and employee Colin Trapp, 23, who came to his aid, were both fired Sunday.

Bergstreser said his firing was decided by corporate officials, not the local store, because he didn't follow company policy in his pursuit of the shoplifter.

"They don't want us to get hurt," said Bergstreser. "I definitely went against company policy. I don't disagree with it (the firing). I put people in danger, and I put myself in danger."

A Best Buy spokeswoman couldn't comment on the specific case but said it was company policy is not to pursue shoplifters out of the store.

Bergstreser, who said he has witnessed more than 20 shoplifting incidents during his nearly three years at the store, said that as he was on the ground with the shoplifter, the situation rapidly deteriorated.

A male accomplice of the shoplifter, who apparently had been waiting outside in a car, began approaching, and the suspected shoplifter produced a knife and started "throwing it around."

Bergstreser said he jumped back, as did Trapp, who had rushed to Bergstreser's assistance.

The knife-brandishing shoplifter cut the hand of a female Best Buy manager who attempted to recover the cellphones.

Her wound, said Bergstreser, bled profusely. An ambulance was called to treat her and Bergstreser, who had a bad case of road rash on one arm.

The 5-foot-6, 170-pound Bergstreser, who played football at Standley Lake High School in Westminster, said the shoplifter was about 5-foot-11 and weighed about 180 pounds.

As they struggled, he said the shoplifter "was yelling to his two friends — a woman in the car and the guy walking toward us."

They suspects got away and are still at large.

Sgt. Scott Swenson, spokesman for the Broomfield Police Department, said no arrests have been made of the shoplifter or his accomplices.

"It is an open, active investigation," he said.

Bergstreser acknowledged that Best Buy has a policy that store employees are not to come into bodily contact with customers or shoplifters, a policy designed for the personal safety of the employees.

He said Trapp, who rushed to his aid, should not have been fired.

"He (Trapp) wasn't the one who reacted," said Bergstreser. "He came out to help."

Trapp, who had worked at the store for about six months in asset protection, said Best Buy officials never gave him a clear reason why he was let go. "I asked several times," he said.

However, it was clear, said Trapp, that local Best Buy officials were very reluctant to fire him and Bergstreser.

It was a decision from corporate headquarters in Minnesota, said Trapp, a business marketing major who transferred from the University of Cincinnati to the University of Colorado, where he will start classes next spring.

Bergstreser said that both the manager and general manager at the Best Buy at FlatIron Crossing did not want to fire either employee and that fellow employees at Best Buy have rallied around them.

"They definitely don't agree with it," said Bergstreser. "It is all corporate."

Kelly Groehler, Best Buy spokesperson, said the company has a long-standing policy not to address issues related to the termination of former employees.

However, she said Best Buy has specific policies when it comes to shoplifters.

"Employees who work in our stores are aware, and trained, on the standard operating procedures for dealing with shoplifting or theft, which includes ceasing pursuit of a shoplifter once they exit the store," she said.

"These procedures are in place first and foremost for the safety of our employees. In circumstances like these, we must cooperate with local authorities," said Groehler.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Internet addiction treatment center opens

Internet addiction treatment center opens in Fall City


KING 5 News

08:23 AM PDT on Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FALL CITY, Wash. - China, South Korea and Japan have several already. Now, the first in-patient treatment center for Internet addiction is launching in Fall City.

And it already has its first patient: a 19-year-old whose parents tried everything before finding this program.

Ben Alexander is a long way from his home in Iowa City. At the reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program, he feels a world away from his gaming addiction.

"My game of choice was 'World of Warcraft,'" said Alexander.

He played so much, it started affecting his schoolwork.

"I'd have all these rationalizations of, well, it's not a big deal to just miss this one class," he said.

One class turned into several and he eventually withdrew from college.


Ben Alexander, 19, of Iowa City is Restart's first patient.

"I would play until I fell asleep on my keyboard," he said.

His parents struggled to find appropriate help.  Initially, he went to a substance and alcohol abuse program, even though he didn't have that kind of addiction.

"It was kind of hard to really relate to the other people there," he said.

His parents finally found reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program, which sprawls over 5-acres.  It's the first of its kind in the U.S., specifically aimed at treating people who are addicted to the Internet.

Co-founder Cosette Rae saw the need in her job as a social worker.

"Concerns like their children would be gaming 16, 17 hours a day; that they stopped bathing; that they would just eat at the computer," said Rae.

Rae launched the  new six-bed facility with Dr. Hilarie Cash, who specializes in Internet addiction. The 45-day program works to launch tech-addicted people back into the real world.

"What are they avoiding?  What are they using the Internet to numb out for?" said Rae.

Alexander was once interested in biology and animals, so now he helps with taking care of the goats, chickens and other animals on the reSTART property.  Cross country running is also something Alexander used to enjoy 'pre-gaming', so it is again part of his daily routine at reSTART.

Alexander knows the internet will likely be a part of life down the road, but he believes he's finally found a balance in Fall City.

"I'm not able to say, oh, I'm never going to be online ever again," he said.  "But at this point I'm not really worried about it."

The reSTART Center offers individualized plans to treat a number of Internet issues.

The program is not covered by insurance and runs about $14,500 for 45 days.  They do have a few scholarships available now, based upon need.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Lawmaker Uses Police Helicopter and Boat To Propose Marriage

Friday, Aug. 14, 2009

Reporters Notebook: Police: There weren't more important things to do

The Maryland Gazette

As word spread of his imaginative marriage proposal last Friday, Jon Cardin has been the toast of the town this week.

With the help of a friend, Cardin concocted a plan to surprise his girlfriend, Megan Homer, but even the hubby-to-be wasn't in on all the details.

The couple was invited to a happy hour cruise on the Inner Harbor aboard the buddy's boat where Cardin was to pop the question. But not without some drama.

Cardin's friend told him not to fret if "some people" boarded the boat during the cruise — that it was all part of the plan. So there they were, enjoying the company of friends, when a boat and helicopter from the Baltimore City Police Department converged on the vessel under the guise that there were reports of contraband aboard.

Understandably, Homer was startled and worried that she would be detained, even though she knew there was nothing illegal on board, Cardin said.

"I knew that we were not going to get in trouble, but I think she thought we were going to get arrested," he said.

After a brief search, an officer pointed to a box on the deck behind Homer and asked her what was inside. She turned back around and responded that she didn't know. The officer then told Homer to turn around as if to slap on handcuffs.

When she did as told, Cardin was on bended knee with ring in hand. Once Homer's heart started beating again, she said "yes."

Cardin, who knew the cops delighted in practical jokes from a high school senior project he did with the city police department's marine unit some 20 years ago, made sure to note that there was no abuse of public resources. The police's involvement was only to take place if they were not on assignment, he said.

The bride and groom have not yet set a wedding date and are "just enjoying the moment" for now, Cardin said Thursday in Ocean City, where he was to hold an evening fundraiser that has some speculating about a possible run for Baltimore County executive next year.

Here's betting the couple will wait until after November 2010 to tie the knot.






Police upset that officers were used in lawmaker's marriage proposal prank

Peter Hermann

Baltimore Sun

6:33 p.m. EDT, August 17, 2009


City police are investigating why on-duty marine and helicopter officers helped a Baltimore County state delegate propose to his girlfriend by pretending to raid a boat the couple were aboard, a department spokesman said Monday.

Officers boarded the boat, owned by a friend of Del. Jon S. Cardin, Aug. 7 in the Inner Harbor. As the helicopter Foxtrot hovered overhead, adding to the sense of tension, one report says officers pretended to search the vessel and even had the woman thinking she was about to be handcuffed before the delegate got on one knee and proposed.

Megan Homer said yes.

Baltimore police did not find the account of the pretend raid amusing or charming.

Police said they are investigating what appears to be a misuse of police resources at a time when the budget-strapped department is begging for private donations to keep its horseback unit running and is immersed in investigating the latest violence at the Inner Harbor -- a double shooting inside the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace over the weekend. Residents and visitors have complained that police presence is thin at best.

"Definitely there was some poor judgment exercised by some officers," said Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman. "The Police Department is not in the business of renting out the helicopter and the boats for bachelor parties and birthdays. We're in the business of upholding public safety in Baltimore."

Del. Curtis S. "Curt" Anderson, D-Baltimore and chairman of the city delegation to Annapolis, said he is appalled by the apparent indiscretion and angry that officers both in the air and on the water diverted from their primary mission of protecting citizens against crime.

"How in the world did he get something like that?" Anderson said of Cardin, also a Democrat. "If I wanted to do this myself, I wouldn't have the first clue as to how to get that accomplished. This is totally astonishing that a state delegate, especially one from Baltimore County, could commandeer the forces of the Baltimore City Police Department like that. It's a big waste of the city's money if that actually happened."

Cardin, an attorney who represents Northwest Baltimore and is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, did not return several calls Monday. The U.S. senator was not aboard the boat; a spokeswoman said he was out of town with his granddaughter.

In a statement, Delegate Cardin gave a toned-down account of the proposal, reported Friday in the Gazette newspapers, which dealt with the news as a whimsical "reporters notebook" item. Cardin described the actions by police as a "5-minute safety check." He did not mention the helicopter, which police confirmed was used.

Cardin's statement says that during the "fuss" of the police involvement, "I surprised her with my proposal and she honored me with her answer of 'yes.'" It continued: "During the evening, I was focused on making my fiancee's night perfect. In retrospect, I should have considered that city resources would be involved and used better judgment to put a stop to it."

The delegate promised to contact Baltimore police and to "reimburse the city for whatever costs they deem appropriate."

The Gazette article says Cardin and a friend dreamed up the idea. It is not clear who made the request to Baltimore police for help with the surprise; Guglielmi said that no one in the command staff was aware that police resources were being used for a party for a state lawmaker.

The police spokesman said that the marine unit -- whose members complained earlier this year that the city was endangering the public by grounding them over the winter and spring because of budget cuts -- was patrolling the water at the time the mock raid was conducted, and that the helicopter was already flying over the harbor area.

"There was no drain on the resources of the department," Guglielmi said, adding that the financial cost to citizens is negligible because the officers were already in the area and on duty. But the spokesman did say the officers should not have allowed themselves to be distracted from their duties for a friend or a politician. A figure for how much it costs per hour to keep the helicopter flying was not available Monday.

"Most officers want to help out and engage with the public," Guglielmi said, though he readily admitted that helping a politician with a surprise party is not the same as letting a civilian pet a horse or allowing a child to sit in a patrol car. "I think there was no malice with this. I think the officers were trying to be good stewards in the department, but I don't think good judgment was used."

The upbeat Gazette article, titled "Police: There weren't more important things to do," makes light of the proposal and says that, "With the help of a friend, Cardin concocted a plan to surprise his girlfriend" and that "even the hubby-to-be wasn't in on all the details."

According to the story, officers pretended to search the boat and found a box that they suspected contained contraband. They ordered the soon-to-be fiancee to turn around as if they were about to handcuff her, according the report, and then she saw Cardin "on bended knee" and holding the ring that had been in the box.

"Once Homer's heart started beating again, she said 'yes,'" the Gazette reported, noting that Cardin was the "toast" of a convention of government leaders in Ocean City this past weekend for his "imaginative marriage proposal."




Del. Cardin apologizes to police chief over marriage proposal stunt


Del. Cardin apologizes to city police chief over marriage proposal stunt

State Del. Jon S. Cardin, shown above in this photo from February, called Baltimore's police commissioner today and apologized for using city police officers from the marine and helicopter units to stage a fake raid during which the lawmaker proposed marriage to his girlfriend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Man leaves daughter locked in room police find marijuana scales 45 glock



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Man accused of leaving girl locked in room

By Heath Hamacher

Gwinnett Daily Post
Staff Writer

LAWRENCEVILLE - An unexplained excursion has landed a Lawrenceville man in jail, accused of leaving his 3-year-old daughter home alone and locked in a bedroom.

Sometime Saturday morning, Gwinnett police arrested 28-year-old Paul Wilson and charged him with first-degree child cruelty, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

According to reports, Wilson's roommate, David Beamer, came home at about 10 p.m. Friday night and, after hearing noises upstairs, sent his dog to investigate about 45 minutes later.

Beamer discovered the child locked in the bedroom watching TV, according to reports.

Wilson and his daughter have separate bedrooms upstairs in the Paden Drive residence, police said.

After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Wilson on his cell phone, reports said, Beamer called police.

Responding officers said they noticed two things upon an upstairs inspection: that the girl's bedroom door had been locked from the outside and that there appeared to be marijuana and paraphernalia in plain view on Wilson's nightstand across the hall.

Around midnight, as police were outside speaking with Beamer and Department of Family and Children Services representatives, police said Wilson called and said he was on his way home.

Upon his arrival, according to police, Wilson said that he had just gone to his girlfriend's house because she had called "hysterical" because her washer was leaking. Wilson said he told his girlfriend, who is not the child's mother, to go over to the house and watch his daughter.

When the girlfriend - identified only as Amy - showed up on scene, reports said, she told police that she had been also been unable to reach Wilson on his cell phone and that her washer had been fixed days earlier.

"Nobody has been there (tonight) except for me and my three cats," she reportedly told police.

Officers searched Wilson's pickup truck and bedroom, reportedly finding marijuana, baggies, scales, smoking devices and a loaded .45-caliber Glock handgun.

Police seized the 2005 Chevrolet Silverado, believing Wilson used it to distribute narcotics.

The child was released to her mother, whom police told there would be an investigation into living arrangements.

Wilson is being held without bond at the Gwinnett County Jail. Records show he is on probation for felony convictions in 2008.




Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Woman pregnant with 12 babies

Octomom plus four: Tunisian woman pregnant with 12 babies, may break Nadya Suleman's record: report

Jacob E. Osterhout

Monday, August 17th 2009, 5:50 PM


That's going to be some pregnant belly: A woman in Tunisia is reportedly pregnant with 12

Move over, "Jon & Kate Plus 8."

Several British media outlets are reporting that a Tunisian teacher is set to give birth to twelve babies this month, breaking the record of "Octomom" Nadya Suleman, who delivered healthy octuplets in January.

The woman, whose name has yet to be released, is in her thirties and lives in a town southwest of the capital Tunis. She underwent fertility treatment after suffering two previous miscarriages and is currently pregnant with six boys and six girls.

The expectant father, a high school Arabic teacher, said that he and his wife of two years initially expected twins, but were overjoyed once they found out about the duodecaplets.

He also claims that his wife desires a natural birth, but medical experts say this is impossible - and also say that the likelihood of all 12 babies surviving is slim.

"When you get to a pregnancy with that many multiples, often some of them spontaneously die," said Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing health editor of Fox News. "Anything more than five babies becomes a very high-risk pregnancy."

"It is certainly possible to carry 12 babies but not for long," Peter Bower-Simpkins of London's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told the Daily Mail. "The problem is the capacity of the uterus. This woman is going to be enormous by 20 weeks. And when the uterus goes into labor there is nothing you can do about it.

"I wouldn't even give her a one in 100 chance of even one surviving. It's frightening," Simpkins added.

The Tunisian government has already vowed to support the future mother and her family, the Daily Mail reports.

'Octomom' Nadya Suleman of California holds the record for most multiples brought to term. Ut/AP

'Octomom' Nadya Suleman of California holds the record for most multiples brought to term

Read more:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Police officers arrested on drug charges

Honolulu Cops Try to Run Away; Arrested on Drug Charges

Jim Mendoza


August 17, 2009 03:27 PM

Authorities say two Honolulu police officers tried to elude park police but were arrested on marijuana charges during a weekend softball tournament in Las Vegas.

Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said Monday that 37-year-old Kevin Fujioka and 47-year-old Shayne Souza were arrested Saturday night near Desert Breeze Park, about six miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.

Welling says 38-year-old Scott Wilson of Honolulu was also arrested.

Welling says park police approached the men in a white van because it was parked sideways across two spots in the park's parking lot.

Welling says that as officers approached, the van drove off. She says that after a short car chase, Fujioka and Souza tried to elude authorities on foot.

Welling says all three men are charged with possession of marijuana.




Monday, August 17, 2009


Gang forced man to steal shoes

Theft suspect claims pressure from 'shoe-stealing gang'
By Elizabeth Dinan
Sea Coast
August 17, 2009 11:50 AM

PORTSMOUTH — Arraigned Monday on charges alleging he pawned stolen gold and was caught stealing sneakers from a mall store, James Morphy told a judge he was “caught up in a gang” that steals shoes and was beaten when he refused to do so.

Morphy, 19, with no permanent address, was arrested by Newington police after a J C Penney employee reported the theft of a $65 pair of Adidas sneakers. Police allege the Saturday theft was committed by Morphy, who led store security on a chase, during which a glass store door was shattered. Following Morphy's arrest, officers learned he was wanted on a warrant for pawning two gold chains that were stolen in Barrington, police allege.

Arraigned by video from the Rockingham County House of Corrections, Morphy was charged with a pair of felonies alleging he pawned two pieces of gold jewelry and collected $650 for each. He was also arraigned on a misdemeanor count of shoplifting.

Police Capt. Brian Newcomer petitioned the court for cash bail noting Morphy has reported four different addresses “depending on the occasion.” The police captain said Morphy's criminal history includes thefts in Maine and burglaries in Florida.

Morphy said he was “running with the wrong crowd,” called the judge's attention to a cut over his right eye and said it was inflicted by someone in the so-called shoe-stealing gang when he refused to steal shoes.

“There's no shoe-stealing gang,” Newcomer said after the hearing.

Judge Sawako Gardner ordered Morphy held on $2,500 cash bail and said if he is able to post it, he must observe a 6 p.m. curfew and obtain employment within two weeks of his release. He was also scheduled to return to the district court for a Sept. 1 probable cause hearing.



Monday, August 17, 2009


World's Oldest Elementary School Student Dies

Curtain falls on world’s oldest pupil, but after fulfilling his dream

Published on 17/08/2009



Susan Anyangu

The Standard

Nairobi Kenya

The world’s oldest pupil, Kimani Maruge, 89, passed on at the weekend after living the proverbial nine lives of a cat.

He burst into fame in his sunset days when he enrolled in primary school and his life as a pupil remain’s well documented.

The move, prompted by the Free Primary Education introduced by the Narc Government in 2003, brought him fame and his life is now the subject of a Hollywood film, The First Grader: A True Story of Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge.

Maruge’s displacement from Eldoret at the height of post-election violence, early last year, highlighted the senseless mayhem. Many innocent Kenyans had their lives shattered, never to be the same again.

Maruge, old as he was, never returned to Eldoret, the epicentre of the skirmishes.



He had made it his home for most of his life, but did not return to his first school, where he had enrolled to learn how to read.

He told the world he wanted to read the Bible for himself and carry out simple arithmetic.

After the displacement he was plagued by ill health that would see him in and out of hospital from which he never really recovered.

"People have been telling me things in the Bible, which I do not know if they are true," Maruge said in 2004. "I want to read the Holy Book for myself and find out."

The Mau Mau veteran also said he had been cheated for a long time about his earnings and he wanted to calculate his money.

With unwavering determination and hunger for knowledge, he strolled into Kapkenduiywo Primary School in Eldoret, and sort admission in Class One.

School administrators at first treated the old man with skepticism.

However, Maruge’s persistence broke their hard stance and in 2004 they enrolled him alongside six and seven-year-olds.

With a straight face full of sheer determination, Maruge braved the giggles of fellow pupils and worked hard to become a straight ‘A’ pupil at the school.

By the time he passed away, Maruge had fulfilled his life long dream of being able to read the Bible. His will demonstrated a rare spirit of resilience and perseverance.

He became a beacon of hope for many and a symbol of the importance of education.

"Maruge was a motivator and there is no doubt his story is worth emulating," former Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Francis Ng’ang’a told The Standard, yesterday.

Images of the wrinkled Maruge bent over a wooden desk, perched in the middle of children young enough to be his great, great-grandchildren became a symbol of the Government’s free education initiative.


It also gave many Kenyans the courage to seek knowledge and ability to read and write. The image touched many hearts across the world and the Guinness Book of World Records declared him the oldest pupil.

His decision to enroll in school was marked by a whirlwind of adventure that saw him travel abroad and receive praise for his contribution to the education sector.

In September 2005, Maruge boarded a plane for the first time in his life and headed to New York, US, to address the United Nations Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education.

His message while in New York, where he met with renowned dignitaries was: "It is my life dream to make sure nobody has to wait as long as I to receive an education. It is a basic human right."

During a meeting with the wife of former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, Maruge told Mrs Nane Annan, "You are never too old to learn. At no time ever say, ‘It is too late. I always wanted to be a veterinary doctor because I love animals. It remains my dream’."

Maruge believed "it would be good if all children of the world could go to school" and told the UN summit as much.

His status as Kenya’s most popular pupil would propel the image of the little known Kapkenduiywo Primary School.

During his tour, Maruge highlighted the plight of the school, which lacked permanent structures, water and electricity.

The school was refurbished soon after, turning him from a mere spectacle to a hero whom the pupils looked up to.

But the post-election upheavals in 2007 and early last year, threatened to cut short Maruge’s dream of pursuing education.

His property was reportedly stolen, forcing him to flee. For a moment he contemplated quitting school overwhelmed by the challenges of living in an IDP camp.

However, his unique resilience saw him walk four kilometres, daily from his makeshift home, to attend class.

In June last year, Maruge was forced to withdraw from the school and relocate to Nairobi in a retirement home.

After settling down at: the home, he enrolled again into school, this time joining Class Six at Marura Primary School in Kariobangi.





As the challenges of age weighed down on him, Maruge persisted with his determination to attain education. For him, the sky was the limit, and the idea of pursuing a university education was not too far-fetched.

But as fate would have it, Maruge’s failing health confined him to a wheelchair.

And on Friday, August 14, this year, Maruge lost life’s battle to stomach cancer. At the time of his death, Maruge was in Class Seven.

Age just a number

Inspired many

Read and write

Monday, August 17, 2009


It's Time to Legalize Drugs Washington Post

It's Time to Legalize Drugs


By Peter Moskos and Stanford "Neill" Franklin
Washington Post

Monday, August 17, 2009

Undercover Baltimore police officer Dante Arthur was doing what he does well, arresting drug dealers, when he approached a group in January. What he didn't know was that one of suspects knew from a previous arrest that Arthur was police. Arthur was shot twice in the face. In the gunfight that ensued, Arthur's partner returned fire and shot one of the suspects, three of whom were later arrested.

In many ways, Dante Arthur was lucky. He lived. Nationwide, a police officer dies on duty nearly every other day. Too often a flag-draped casket is followed by miles of flashing red and blue lights. Even more officers are shot and wounded, too many fighting the war on drugs. The prohibition on drugs leads to unregulated, and often violent, public drug dealing. Perhaps counterintuitively, better police training and bigger guns are not the answer.

When it makes sense to deal drugs in public, a neighborhood becomes home to drug violence. For a low-level drug dealer, working the street means more money and fewer economic risks. If police come, and they will, some young kid will be left holding the bag while the dealer walks around the block. But if the dealer sells inside, one raid, by either police or robbers, can put him out of business for good. Only those virtually immune from arrests (much less imprisonment) -- college students, the wealthy and those who never buy or sell from strangers -- can deal indoors.

Six years ago one of us wrote a column on this page, "Victims of the War on Drugs." It discussed violence, poor community relations, overly aggressive policing and riots. It failed to mention one important harm: the drug war's clear and present danger toward men and women in blue.

Drug users generally aren't violent. Most simply want to be left alone to enjoy their high. It's the corner slinger who terrifies neighbors and invites rivals to attack. Public drug dealing creates an environment where disputes about money or respect are settled with guns.

In high-crime areas, police spend much of their time answering drug-related calls for service, clearing dealers off corners, responding to shootings and homicides, and making lots of drug-related arrests.

One of us (Franklin) was the commanding officer at the police academy when Arthur (and well as Moskos) graduated. We all learned similar lessons. Police officers are taught about the evils of the drug trade and given the knowledge and tools to inflict as much damage as possible upon the people who constitute the drug community. Policymakers tell us to fight this unwinnable war.

Only after years of witnessing the ineffectiveness of drug policies -- and the disproportionate impact the drug war has on young black men -- have we and other police officers begun to question the system.

Cities and states license beer and tobacco sellers to control where, when and to whom drugs are sold. Ending Prohibition saved lives because it took gangsters out of the game. Regulated alcohol doesn't work perfectly, but it works well enough. Prescription drugs are regulated, and while there is a huge problem with abuse, at least a system of distribution involving doctors and pharmacists works without violence and high-volume incarceration. Regulating drugs would work similarly: not a cure-all, but a vast improvement on the status quo.

Legalization would not create a drug free-for-all. In fact, regulation reins in the mess we already have. If prohibition decreased drug use and drug arrests acted as a deterrent, America would not lead the world in illegal drug use and incarceration for drug crimes.

Drug manufacturing and distribution is too dangerous to remain in the hands of unregulated criminals. Drug distribution needs to be the combined responsibility of doctors, the government, and a legal and regulated free market. This simple step would quickly eliminate the greatest threat of violence: street-corner drug dealing.

We simply urge the federal government to retreat. Let cities and states (and, while we're at it, other countries) decide their own drug policies. Many would continue prohibition, but some would try something new. California and its medical marijuana dispensaries provide a good working example, warts and all, that legalized drug distribution does not cause the sky to fall.

Having fought the war on drugs, we know that ending the drug war is the right thing to do -- for all of us, especially taxpayers. While the financial benefits of drug legalization are not our main concern, they are substantial. In a July referendum, Oakland, Calif., voted to tax drug sales by a 4-to-1 margin. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that ending the drug war would save $44 billion annually, with taxes bringing in an additional $33 billion.

Without the drug war, America's most decimated neighborhoods would have a chance to recover. Working people could sit on stoops, misguided youths wouldn't look up to criminals as role models, our overflowing prisons could hold real criminals, and -- most important to us -- more police officers wouldn't have to die.

Peter Moskos is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of "Cop in the Hood." Neill Franklin is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Both served as Baltimore City police officers and are members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Fire Fighters Rescue Girl Stuck Playing Hide and Seek

Girl rescued from cardboard tube


Harrison Daily

Published: Friday, August 14, 2009 6:05 AM
Sometimes a game of hide and seek can be very exciting.

That’s what a 7-year-old girl found out Thursday morning when Harrison firefighters and a friend of the girl’s parents had to rescue her from a large cardboard tube she had tried to hide inside.

James L. White/Staff
Harrison Fire Chief John Neal looks into a large cardboard tube in which a 7-year-old girl got stuck Thursday morning while playing hide and seek at St. John’s Episcopal Day School.
Jackie Buxton, director at St. John’s Episcopal Day School, said the girl and her classmates were playing hide and seek when the girl got in the tube. School workers said other children had hidden and climbed in the tubes in the past.

However, this time the girl got her leg wedged in the tube. Buxton said they took the tube outside and tried to use cooking oil to lubricate the girl’s leg, but it didn’t work.

So, they called the Harrison Fire Department’s rescue squad to come finish the job.

Fire Chief John Neal talked to the girl to keep her calm while firefighters and Brandon Bolander, a friend of the girl’s parent, used bolt cutters, a hacksaw and a cordless sawsall to cut the tube away from the girl’s leg.


Neal explained that the child had gotten her leg wedged in the tube, her knee against the top and the bottom of her foot against the bottom. Due to that position with her heel against her buttock, she couldn’t move forward or backward.

Eventually, Bolander cut the tube as firefighters kept the blade clear of the girl’s leg and peeled away sections of the tube.

The girl was freed and didn’t suffer any real physical injuries. Rescuers packed up there equipment to leave, but the girl made her feelings known.

“Thank you,” she told them as they walked away.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Girl, 10, Given $50 Ticket for selling lemonade




Last updated: 4:13 am
August 16, 2009
Posted: 2:13 am
August 16, 2009

Three sourpuss Parks Department agents put the squeeze on a 10-year-old girl in Riverside Park yesterday, slapping the tyke with a $50 ticket for hawking lemonade without a permit.

Clementine Lee, who lives just blocks from the Upper West Side park, had dreamed of opening a lemonade stand since last year and took advantage of yesterday's beautiful weather to set up shop.

"It was such a hot day I figured people would want a cold drink," the aspiring juvenile juice mogul told The Post.

Business was booming for Clementine and her photographer dad, Richard, 49, for the first 20 minutes at the stand on West 73rd Street and Riverside Drive.

The father-daughter team was able to sell 10 glasses of the ice-cold drink for 50 cents each and the dozen chocolate chip cookies they baked.

But their day turned into the pits at 3 p.m. when the heartless pack of city sticklers iced their operation.

"They approached us nonchalantly but then surrounded us," the peeved papa recalled. "They were very hostile as soon as they approached, saying 'Where's your permit? Where's your permit?' "

When Richard admitted he didn't have the right to sell on Parks property, the agents immediately slapped the dad and daughter with a summons for selling food without a license, which carries a maximum fine of $200.

"You've got to be kidding me, this is outrageous!" he told the agents.

Dozens of onlookers rallied to the pair's defense, shouting that the Parks officers were violating the Lees' civil rights, but the brokenhearted pair packed up and went home.

"Don't these agents have anything better to do?" Richard fumed to The Post. "They could have at least told us to move but they didn't give us a chance.

"There are better ways to raise money for the Parks Department then busting 10 year-olds."

His soccer-enthusiast daughter said the ordeal left a bitter taste in her mouth.

"I was really nervous when these three agents cornered me and my dad," said Clementine, who loves classical music and has been playing violin since she was 4.

"I think they should let people sell lemonade out here. We weren't hurting anyone."

But yesterday, after The Post contacted the department, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced that the ticket would be nixed.

"The agent used extremely poor judgment" and didn't properly enforce the rule, Benepe said.

The bumbling Parks enforcement patrol officer will be re-trained on rules and regulations and will be reassigned, he added.

"We're going to make lemonade out of lemons . . . I look forward to buying lemonade from her if I pass by," said the commissioner.

Clementine said she might take him up on the offer.

"I'm going to wait a little while, but I'd love to [sell lemonade] again," she said.

As for her dad, he was relieved that "justice was served."



JUST FINE! Clementine Lee holds the ticket that agents handed her and her dad. Parks boss Adrian Benepe voided it.
JUST FINE! Clementine Lee holds the ticket that agents handed her and her dad. Parks boss Adrian Benepe voided it.
JUST FINE! Clementine Lee holds the ticket that agents handed her and her dad. Parks boss Adrian Benepe voided it.
JUST FINE! Clementine Lee holds the ticket that agents (above) handed her and her dad. Parks boss Adrian Benepe voided it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Man jumps off ferry to stop his wife from nagging him

Man jumped off a ferry yelling "I need a break" to stop his wife from nagging him

The Daily Telegraph

August 11, 2009 3:59PM


Man throws himself overboard to end wife's nagging

Man throws himself overboard to end wife's constant nagging ... The man after he was found alive said he thought he was going to die but it felt better than hearing his wife's nagging. Source: Getty Images

A MAN jumped into a fast-flowing river because he couldn't take his wife's nagging anymore.

The Chinese lorry driver, known as Zhou, and his wife were on a ferry on the Yangtze River when it all became too much for him, the Chongqing Evening Post reports.

Members of the ship's crew saw the man suddenly run out of his cabin with his hands covering his ears, and shouting: "I can't stand it any longer."

They initially thought he was suffering from an ear injury and went to help him but found he was unhurt.

"While we were still puzzling over the this, his wife ran up and continued nagging him," said a crewmate.

"The husband covered his ears again and said: 'I need a break' before jumping over the side into the rushing river.

"We immediately found lamps to light up the water but found nobody. The possibility of survival can be zero."

However, later that night, police found the man who had managed to swim about 2km across across the broad river.

"I felt I was dying, but even that's better than my wife's nagging," he reportedly told the police.

The couple were reunited the following morning at the local police station where Zhou's wife promised to give up her habit of nagging him

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Burglar Logged Into Victim's Facebook Page and Brags

Cruel Burglar Taunts His Victim On Facebook

5:18am UK, Sunday August 16, 2009

A cruel burglar has logged onto his victim's Facebook page to taunt her about the break-in, boasting: "Listening to music on my new phone - feels so good."


A man types on an instant messaging service whilst sitting in a darkened room

Victoria Richardson has been taunted by the burglar who raided her home


The thief accessed Victoria Richardson's Facebook homepage the day after breaking into the home she shares with her family in Hove, East Sussex.

Mrs Richardson lost an iPhone, a Nintendo DS games console, a handbag containing a purse, cash and debit cards and a black Toshiba laptop in the burglary.

She says the invasion of privacy has made the crime doubly painful.

One message read: "on my new laptop" while another said, "listening to music on my new phone feels so good".

The thief then adds further insult by saying he left the TV in the house as it was "rubbish".


The taunts on Victoria's Facebook page

The taunts on Victoria's Facebook page


He adds that he plans to make a trip to a pawn shop with some of the other goods.

The heartless criminal signs off with the message: "Regards your nighttime burglar".

Mrs Richardson, 42, told the Brighton Argus: "I felt very spooked."

She added: "It felt like they were rubbing my nose in it. They have been in your physical space, and then they are in your online space."

She urged people with computers to protect them with passwords so they did not fall victim to similar invasions of privacy.

Sussex Police confirmed it attended the incident

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Man tries to getaway in police car

Drunk man tries to make getaway in squad car


The Janesville Gazette   

Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009

JANESVILLE — A man whose blood alcohol level was more than five times the legal definition of intoxication apparently tried to make a getaway attempt in a squad car Aug. 7, according to a report from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.

He was one of 10 people cited for underage drinking outside a home in the 9400 block of West Mineral Point Road, Center Township.

Deputies responded at 11:22 p.m. to an anonymous complaint and found 30 to 40 cars parked outside, the report says. Several vehicles were leaving the scene when deputies arrived. The house was dark and no one would come out, the report says.

As a deputy peered inside, a 20-year-old Janesville man walked out of a cornfield, the report says. The man admitted he’d been drinking, and deputies put him in the back seat of a squad car.

A few minutes later, Deputy Matthew Jacobson heard the squad car’s alarm going off and saw the 20-year-old man in the driver’s seat. When asked where he was going, the man said he wanted to go back with his friends. He was cited for obstructing a police officer, handcuffed and put in the back seat.

The man submitted to a breath test and blew a 0.41, more than five times the level considered intoxicated, the report says. Jacobson thought the result might be a mistake, so he had the man take another test with a different breath-testing machine, resulting in a 0.38 reading.

He was issued a citation for underage drinking, second offense, and his mother picked him up from the jail, the report says. Jacobson advised the mother to watch the man and suggested she take him to Mercy Hospital, but the man was not seen at the hospital, a spokeswoman there said.

When contacted Friday, the man said he wasn’t sure how much he drank that night but estimated “a couple of cups” of beer. He said he thinks the breath tests were inaccurate.

He denied making an escape attempt but admitted he didn’t remember everything that happened that night.

Nine other people were cited for underage drinking during the incident, including seven who were discovered in two vehicles driving away from the party, one who was in the driveway and one a deputy discovered passed out in a ditch across the street, the report says.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Victim shoots robber

Victim Kills Would-Be Robber

Robber shoots his partner

Elizabeth Braun

Melanie Stout



MILWAUKEE - A man was being robbed at gunpoint when he pulled out his own gun and shot one of the suspects.

It all happened early Thursday near 1st and Clarke. The 23-year-old Milwaukee man was in the area when two teenagers pulled out a gun and tried to rob him.

That victim also had a gun. He shot and killed one suspect, 17-year-old Kevin Ollie. Ollie's gun also went off, and he accidentally shot the other teen robber.

The robbery victim's family says he had no choice but to fight back.

That robbery victim has never been convicted of a crime and is not in custody.

The 19-year-old surviving robber is behind bars. The DA is deciding whether he will face felony murder charges for his role in the botched robbery.

The robbery victim's family hopes that happens.

The robbery victim was not hurt during the ordeal. Friday detectives brought him to a line up to identify the robbery suspect.

A decision on charges against the 19-year-old surviving robber should come Monday.



Saturday, August 15, 2009


Man stabbed over parking space

Stabbed in the buttocks over car park space

The Sydney Morning Herald 

Georgina Robinson

August 14, 2009

A man was knifed in the buttocks following a fight over a car park space in Sydney's west last night.

Police said the 26-year-old got into an argument with a woman over a car park at a Parramatta shopping centre about 8pm.

The man took the park and went inside to do his shopping, while the woman, still outside, called two friends on her mobile phone.

Police allege two men soon arrived at the shopping centre and went inside to find the 26-year-old, challenging him in the food court.

Police said the two men then assaulted the 26-year-old, stabbing him in the buttocks and bashing him.

The two men fled the shopping centre on foot, while the 26-year-old was treated by paramedics. He was taken to Westmead Hospital and was in a stable condition today.

Police said they reviewed CCTV footage in the centre and later arrested two men.

An 18-year-old Auburn man was charged with malicious wounding or grievous bodily harm in company. 

And an 18-year-old man from Regents Park was charged with affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

They were due to appear in Parramatta Local Court today.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Woman twice taped breaking into house

Woman faces felony burglary charges

By Mike Rose 

Austin Daily Herald

Published Thursday, August 13, 2009

A warrant was issued Tuesday for an Albert Lea woman suspected of burglarizing an Austin home on multiple occasions.

Susan Lynn Johnston, 41, faces three felony counts of second-degree burglary and one felony count of theft.

According to a court complaint, Johnston broke into a home on the 1200 block of 12th Drive Southwest at least three times, the first being in early July, and the last two coming July 12 and 13 — both of which were caught on camera.

The 73-year-old man who lives at the home told police that he set up a motion-sensitive camera in a tree near his front door.

The camera caught a woman wearing what appeared to be a white DirecTV shirt enter the house the last two dates and leave with various items.

The man claimed among his missing possessions were a paint sprayer, valued at $600 to $700, and $1,250 in cash.

He said the burglar broke a window on his front door to gain access the first time. Subsequent entries were made by removing plywood that covered the broken window, the man said. He was not home at these times.

Officer Kevin Sederquest of the Austin Police Department went to Direct Communications in Austin to see if any employees recognized the woman due to her shirt.

One employee was able to identify her as Johnston.

Detective Brian Krueger contacted Johnston’s husband on July 15 and learned she lived in Albert Lea.

The next day Krueger went to the house on 890th Avenue and spoke with Johnston’s daughter, who said her mother had just left.

Krueger left contact information and said it was important he reach Johnston.

That occurred July 20 when Johnston called Krueger and volunteered to come in.

A few days later, Johnston met with the detective. She admitted to entering the house and stealing items, saying what she did was “wrong” and “stupid.”

Johnston said she had canoed near the house on several occasions in the past and thought that it was abandoned, which is why she said she attempted the burglary.

On July 23, Johnston returned a number of household items she had taken, including a vacuum, a wrench set, a few flashlights and a cooler.

She said she had not seen $1,250 in cash while in the home.

She also said she didn’t recall seeing a second cooler that had been reported missing.

The man later said a golden bar and silver bar were gone, though he had not previously indicated them missing.

Johnston said she didn’t know anything about the missing bars.

She did return a box for the paint sprayer but said it was empty when she took it, and she had not seen the item in the house.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Father arrested for hitting daughter with pizza

Man arrested for hitting girl with pizza


Florida Today

August 15, 2009

GAINESVILLE — A Gainesville father has been arrested for hitting his daughter with a pizza slice.

The 38-year-old man was arrested early Friday on a charge of child abuse without great harm, a third-degree felony. The man’s name was being withheld to protect the identity of the victim.

Deputy Nick Vickers says the man used racist and sexist terms when he asked his daughter to turn off her computer, and she fired back with some crude language of her own.

Vickers says the father “intentionally threw a slice of pizza at the victim, striking her in the back of the neck, against her will.”

 The girl, whose age was not available, called 911 and her father was arrested.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Boys, 6 and 9 forced to fight while mother watched

Police: Tarentum Man Forced Boys Into 'Training' Fights

Children Allegedly Threatened With '10,000 Smacks'


POSTED: 12:14 am EDT August 14, 2009
UPDATED: 6:57 pm EDT August 14, 2009






TARENTUM, Pa. -- Police have charged a Tarentum man and his girlfriend after he allegedly forced the woman's two sons to fight.

Steven Meyer is also accused of paddling the boys and faces charges of simple assault and endangering the welfare of children.

Police said the boys -- ages 6 and 9 -- were forced to fight on numerous occasions at their mother's home while she and Meyer watched.

The boys' father contacted police when he discovered bruises on his 9-year-old son after picking him up from his mother's house, police said.

The oldest boy told a child advocacy specialist that Meyer forced he and his brother to fight about 20 times and referred to it as "training," according to police.

The 9-year-old also said his younger brother was threatened with "10,000 smacks" by Meyer if he didn't beat his brother up, adding that Meyer paddled him several times after he accidentally ripped a tarp with a toy truck, police said.

Both boys said their mother -- Joyce Sabotka -- was present when they would fight in Meyer's bedroom, according to police. Sabotka was charged with child endangerment.

Sabotka told Channel 4 Action News reporter Tara Edwards that Meyer is good with her children and that her ex-boyfriend is using these allegations to get custody of the boys. 

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Business offers kit to build your own casket

Local business offers kit to build your own casket


07:34 AM EDT

Friday, August 14, 2009


NewsChannel 36





ROCK HILL, S.C. -- When he saw the $12,900 bill for a relative's funeral last year, Merritt Eggleston saw an opportunity. 

Several months later, he has launched a business building low-cost caskets.

"You ought to see what some of them are going for on the internet, even for animals," Eggleston said of his research on casket prices.

Eggleston, 66, spent decades working in home construction, an industry hit hard by the recession.

He lost his job and was forced to sell the dream home he was building in Chester county.

Working out of a small shed in his backyard, Eggleston cuts and assembles pine boxes large enough for people or pets, offering them for sale at under $500.

John Gullickson, a licensed funeral planner and owner of Insurance Services of the Carolinas, said Eggleston has found a niche business which could prove to be popular, especially in a slow economy.

"I thought it was a great idea because one of the biggest costs of the funeral is the cost of the casket," Gullickson told NewsChannel 36. "You’re looking at saving people two to five thousand dollars" off the cost of a basic casket offered by most funeral homes.

For families who want to save even more money, Eggleston is offering a ready-to-assemble casket for $275.

The kit can be assembled with glue and a screwdriver and can be stored under a bed until needed.

Eggleston said he hopes to market his caskets at a Fort Mill flea market and is setting up a booth in the Trader Marc's building on Saturdays beginning August 22.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Boy, 5, masterminds robbery at kindergarten school

Boy, 5, masterminds robbery at kindergarten school

August 14, 2009 • 2:44 pm

By Diana Fasanella

A 5-year-old boy from Romania has been found to be mastermind behind a robbery at a kindergarten in Braila County. 

This is not the mastermind, silly... just a cute little boy playing with toys

This is not the mastermind… just a cute little boy playing with toys

The caretaker of a Jirlau nursery called police recently after he found a window broken in the rear of a local kindergarten, Ananova reports. Investigating officers found several rooms had been ransacked. They assumed the burglars were looking for cash. 

However, after talking to the staff, police discovered the kindergarten’s collection of toys was missing. When detectives began questioning neighbors, two boys, 5 and 13, who live nearby, admitted to the crime. 

The younger boy convinced his older friend to help him break in and stuff two bags with toys before leaving with the items.

The younger boy told police he “missed his toys and just couldn’t wait until the school term starts in September.” 

Gotta give him an A for effort.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Man Calls Cops Himself After Robbing Restaurant

Police: Man Calls Cops On Himself After Robbing Restaurant

Posted: 12:16 pm EDT August 14, 2009Updated: 2:43 pm EDT August 14, 2009

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. -- Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office deputies said a man robbed a restaurant, then called police and claimed he was robbed in an effort to cover up a lie to his girlfriend.

Deputies were dispatched to an armed robbery at the Dominos Pizza on Cumming Highway near Arbor Hill Road Thursday. Witnesses said a man wearing a black mask and black clothing brandished a knife and demanded money. An employee gave the man an undisclosed amount of cash and he fled on foot.

Early Friday morning, police said Billy Prince, 24, of Chamblee, called Canton police and said he had been robbed at a Wachovia Bank in Canton.

Officials said Prince’s story was “extremely suspicious” and he later admitted he had not been robbed.

Canton police officials contacted Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office officials and they determined Prince was the suspect in the restaurant robbery.

Prince later explained to detectives that he was having financial difficulties and had advised his girlfriend that he was coming to Canton to receive and inheritance from a family member that lived in the area, police said. Police said when Prince returned to his home in Chamblee and only had a fraction of what he claimed his inheritance was going to be, he advised his girlfriend that he had been robbed. The girlfriend then urged Prince to file a police report with Canton authorities.

Prince is currently in custody without bond at the Cherokee Adult Detention Center charged with false report of a crime, armed robbery and aggravated assault.



Friday, August 14, 2009


Car thief calls for help after jamming his arm in the door

Teen car thief is caught after jamming his arm in the door and calling for help

Daily Mail

Last updated at 5:38 PM on 14th August 2009


A suspected teenage car thief was caught red-handed after he attempted to prise open the car door but trapped his arm and had to scream for help.

The 17-year-old managed to wedge his arm so tightly that he was unable to escape.

He had been attempting to steal a Vauxhall Cavalier but after bending back the door to slip his arm through, he slipped, pushed the door shut and found his arm was well and truly stuck.

A teenage car thief

In a tight spot: Police arrive to find the 17-year-old still stuck tight in the car door

The hapless teen had to call for help, and woke residents in Ardsley, Barnsley in the early hours of the morning with his screams of 'let me out'.

Police officers found him still trapped on the car roof with his left hand caught between the driver's door and bodywork.

The car's owner Janet Hooley, 68, said: 'It's an old car and he had managed to get his fingers in the door and prise it open.

'The kid must have been lying on top and got his arm in to pull up the button.

'When we heard a noise I went to the window and then outside. I said to him: "What are you doing with your arm in my car?"

A teenage car thief

It's a fair cop: The teen, from Hull, is handcuffed after officers manage to free him

'He replied: "It wasn't me." He was shouting "let me out" and I said "I am not."

'We called the police and about five police cars came. It was an easy cop for them.'

The teenager, who had raised the alarm at 1.10am on Tuesday morning was later charged with attempted theft and appeared at Barnsley Youth Court.

The 17-year-old was granted conditional bail with a curfew. He will appear again in court at Hull later this month.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Man steals $400,000 from his two fiancees

Davie man accused of stealing from his two fiancees


Jon Burstein

South Florida Sun Sentinel

6:22 p.m. EDT, August 12, 2009




BROWARD COUNTY - A Davie man who got engaged to two women within a matter of weeks not only stole his fiancees' hearts, but their money as well, authorities said.


rancois, 55, used his charm to take more than $387,000 from the two women who believed they were going to spend the rest of their lives with him, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit.

Deputies arrested Francois on Wednesday morning, booking him in the Broward County Jail on two counts of first-degree grand theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud.

The women only learned about each other after he drained their bank accounts and intimidated them when they asked for their money back, court records show.

"He's preying on lonely women — he's preying on their hopes, dreams and desires," said Joe Pappacoda, an attorney who is representing both women.

Rose Marie Anglade, 50, said Francois swept her off her feet in June 2007 when she met him in South Florida while vacationing from New York. Within two months, he persuaded her to sell her home in Queens, quit her job as a dental assistant and come down to Miramar with her 18-year-old daughter, she said.

When she arrived, Francois drove her straight from Miami International Airport to a Boca Raton bank, and got her to withdraw $20,000 that he said would be used to buy them a home in Miramar, according to court documents. At Francois' insistence, they also opened a joint bank account, in which she deposited $228,122, court documents show.

Francois drained that bank account and when she pressed him about it, he hit her and gave her a black eye, according to court records.

Anglade said she is now penniless, jobless and facing imminent foreclosure in the Miramar home.

"He took everything," Anglade said. "He has no heart. He wants to put me out on the street."

The second woman — Sheila Brissault — met Francois in June 2007 through his brother, a New York City cab driver, court records show. Brissault, 43, also a single mother, said Francois sweet-talked her into getting married on their second date.

He persuaded her to take out a $100,000 home equity loan on her house in Elmont, N.Y., and took the money, she said. He then started demanding that she sell the home, but told her that he didn't want her to move to Florida, Brissault said.

When she didn't sell the house, Francois broke up with her, and threatened to kill her and her children when she demanded her money back, she said.

"He broke my heart," she said.

Broward Sheriff's detective John Calabro, who handled the case, said he believes there may be more women who have been victimized by Francois.

"What's amazing about this is the cold-heartedness and the ensuing threats," he said.

Francois, who is also listed in court records as Clement Francois, was arrested at a home on the 13800 block of Chathan Place in Davie. He was being held in lieu of a $125,000 bond.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Liquor store bans handbags

Local liquor store bans purses


August 12, 2009 1:49 PM

If you want to buy booze here, hand over your handbag.

Colorado’s Liquor Outlet issued a “no purse” policy, plastering warning signs in front of the store with the sobering ultimatum: Leave your purse in the car or at the door -- or else.

“If they try to shop, we won’t sell to them,” head cashier Laurae Langello said.

No exceptions, ladies. No sweet talk. Workers at the door are no-nonsense purse enforcers.

This isn’t a shady part of town, this is Briargate, by golly. It’s across the street from Chapel Hills Mall.

The total purse ban was implemented three weeks ago to combat the increase of thefts this year at the store.

Shop owner Wayne Harris said inventory reports were showing a loss of $2,000 a week due to shoplifters. Big purses were a big part of the problem.

“We decided we had to do something to protect what is ours,” Harris said.

Traditional security measures weren’t working in the 18,000 square-foot store.

Cameras are everywhere. A live feed plays on six big flat-screens TVs. At the checkouts, LCD monitors flash images of shoplifters photographically caught in the act who are still at large.

As if the store’s exterior isn’t forboding enough, steel grates cover the windows — the aftermath of an April break-in when thieves made off with liquor haul valued at $17,000. Adding to the fortress effect are the row of concrete barriers to keep cars at bay. A driver smashed into the wine section last year.

“I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I have never seen it like this,” said Harris, who opened the Briargate store 12 years ago.

Harris blames the economy for the rise in thefts, which increased at his wife’s store, Springs Liquor Outlet, 6010 N. Carefree Circle, where purses also are banned.

Harris said he filed a few shoplifting reports last year. “We used to handcuff them until the police showed up,” he said, but he got in trouble for doing that.

Now, he said, he almost never files reports because it takes too long to deal with the process, and cop cars in the parking lot are bad for business.

“It’s not worth the trouble and the effort. If we catch them, we let them go. We get our bottle back and tell them don’t ever come back in the store again.”

The purse ban started out targeting big bags. “It made the women carrying the large purses upset because we were still allowing women with small purses,” Harris said.

So, medium purses were banned. The purse war raged on.

“It made the women carrying medium size and large purses mad at us. We thought, ‘What the hell, if we got 60 percent mad at us we might as well get 100 percent mad at us,” Harris said.

Man purses and backpacks also are not allowed.

So far, the purse ban has paid off for Harris. “I think we probably cut it (shoplifting) in half,” he said.

Customer count is down about 5 percent. Some storm out. Some toss their discount cards in the trash. “One woman threatened to call the state attorney general,” Harris said.

Most shrug and shed their purse after the initial disbelief.

“I didn’t really think they were going to actually not let me take my purse in,” said regular Briargate customer Jaime Hilligrass, a 21-year-old college student buying peach schnapps for her girls’ night book club. “I was kind of like, ‘Um, it’s a purse, it’s personal.’ It was kind of weird they wouldn’t let a woman take her purse in the store.”

The only vessels left for the five-finger discount are coats and baggy pants, but Harris has no plans to ban those.

“We can’t make people leave their pants outside,” he said.





Thursday, August 13, 2009


Man arrested in $65,000,000 jewelry heist

Man arrested in $65 million U.K. jewelry heist

Well-dressed robbers fled in getaway cars after daring daytime robbery

Image: Jewelry store that was robbed
This jeweler on London's New Bond Street was robbed last Thursday by two well-dressed men.
Clive Gee / AP
updated 3:26 p.m. ET, Wed., Aug 12, 2009

LONDON - Police said Wednesday they have arrested a suspect in connection with a daring daytime heist that netted $65 million worth of jewelry from a prominent London diamond merchant last week.

Police said the 50-year-old man, who was subsequently released on bail, is not one of two dapper dressers captured in security camera footage released by Scotland Yard on Tuesday. The footage showed two men in smart suits being let into Graff Diamonds flagship store, where police say they produced guns, briefly took a member of staff hostage and escaped in a series of getaway cars across central London.

Police believe at least two others helped the pair escape. No one was hurt in the robbery, one of the biggest in British history.

British authorities seldom release suspects' names until they are charged.

Amateur video shot outside the store appeared to capture the men's escape and screaming shoppers as a warning shot is fired into the ground.

Expensive loot
Police said the men made off with dozens of high-end rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches with a retail value of 40 million pounds, or $65 million. A full list of the 43 pilfered items was made public Wednesday: Among the jewels was a flowing flower necklace made from 272 separate diamonds and a lavish pair of triple-hoop earrings bearing no fewer than 216 gemstones.

Although the man was arrested Monday, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said police kept news of his capture secret until now for "operational reasons." She spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy. Police declined to say what amount they set as bail. 

  The same store lost jewelry worth 23 million pounds, or $38 million, in 2003 when it was robbed by Nebojsa Denic, a Kosovar Serb and a member of the notorious gang of Balkan robbers known as "the Pink Panthers." Denic was caught and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Britain's Press Association news agency quoted an unnamed police source as saying that the Pink Panthers were unlikely to have been behind the latest raid.

Asked about the matter by the Associated Press, a Scotland Yard spokeswoman said only that police were keeping an open mind.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Teacher fined $23,000 for four minute phone call

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Principal Targeted by 8th Grader with 9MM

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Judge admits deflating tire over parking spot

Judge Deflates Woman's Tire Over Parking Spot

Lindsey Mastis 

August 13, 2009


LA PLATA, Md. (WUSA) -- Judge Robert Nalley says he let the air out of a woman's tire when she parked in his assigned space. The woman says she's upset.

"I was almost in tears," said Jean Washington.

She says that because of construction, she's been parking along the street for a few weeks.

But when she parked there Monday, "One of the security guards said to me, 'Jean, someone from holding called over and said Judge Nalley flattened your tire,'" said Washington.

Washington says she thought the restricted parking signs were meant for visitors. They are not. Those who park there have a permit.

"The only warning that I got was that my tire was flattened," Washington said.

Judge Robert Nalley has not apologized, and he wouldn't go on camera, but he talked with 9 NEWS NOW before walking to his vehicle.

He said when other cars have parked in his spot, he left notes. But decided against it this time.

He said, "Notes are not terribly effective. Letting air out of tires is."

Washington says she wants the judge held responsible for his actions. The La Plata Police Chief says he's still investigating the incident, and does not know whether there will be any charges.


Lindsey Mastis






Thursday, August 13, 2009


Man gives teller ID before robbing bank

Bumbling bank robber shows teller his ID, account number


Anchorage Daily News

Published: August 12th, 2009 06:01 PM
Last Modified: August 12th, 2009 11:03 PM

A man walked into a Midtown bank last week, gave his name and account number to the teller and showed his ID. It was his real name and it was his own account. The ID had his picture.

Then he handed over a piece of paper -- a receipt -- with a note scribbled on the back.

"I have a gun. Give me all the money in your drawer."

The FBI says the man walked out of the Alaska USA Federal Credit Union on Juneau Street with about $600.

It was a less than perfect crime and now the man is in jail, the FBI says. They identified him as Jarell Paul Arnold, 34, and he's being held on a federal bank robbery charge.

According to charges filed in court, the robber walked into the credit union about 1:05 p.m. Friday and inquired about the balance on his account. The teller, Letecia Chroust, asked for his name, account number and photo identification, according to an affidavit filed in court.

After complying, the man slipped Chroust the note, the charges say. He didn't show a gun, but had his hand in his jacket like he had one, the charges say. The robber stuffed the cash in his jacket and took off.

The suspect eluded capture as police and FBI agents closed in following the heist. But FBI Agent Steven Payne's curiosity was aroused when he recalled that he had previously arrested the owner of that same bank account, Arnold, on a charge of bank robbery back in 2004, according to the affidavit.

In that case, Arnold pleaded guilty to the bank robbery charge and was sentenced to 57 months in prison, according to court records.

After confirming through surveillance images that Arnold provided his correct identity to the teller, FBI agents arrested him Monday. He subsequently admitted he was the robber, though denied he actually had a gun, according to the affidavit.

Arnold remains in custody at the Anchorage jail, according to the Department of Corrections.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


TV host ordered murders to boost ratings

Police: TV host ordered murders to boost ratings


Associated Press

Aug. 12, 2009, 7:17AM

 Amazonas State legislator and television show host Wallace Souza, ...

Antonio Menezes AP

The attorney for Wallace Souza (center) says he is being targeted by a disgrunted police officer.

SAO PAULO, Brazil — In one murder after another, the "Canal Livre" crime TV show had an uncanny knack for being first on the scene, gathering graphic footage of the victim.

Too uncanny, say police, who are investigating the show's host, state legislator Wallace Souza, on suspicion of commissioning at least five of the murders to boost his ratings and prove his claim that Brazil's Amazon region is awash in violent crime. Police also have accused Souza of drug trafficking.

"The order to execute always came from the legislator and his son, who then alerted the TV crews to get to the scene before the police," state police intelligence chief Thomaz Vasconcelos charged in an interview with The Associated Press.

The killings of competing drug traffickers, he said, "appear to have been committed to get rid of his rivals and increase the audience of the TV show."

Souza denied all the criminal allegations and called them absurd, insisting that he and his son are being set up by political enemies and drug dealers sick of his two decades of relentless crime coverage on TV and crusading legislative probes.

"I was the one who organized legislative inquiries into organized crime, the prison system, corruption, drug trafficking by police, and pedophilia," Souza said in an interview with the AP.

Souza's lawyer, Francisco Balieiro, said that the only witness is a disgraced police officer hoping for leniency in nine murders he is charged with.

"There is not one piece of material proof in these accusations," Balieiro said.

Vasconcelos said the accusations, which have made headlines in Brazil, stem from the testimony of several former employees and security guards who worked with the Souzas, allegedly as part of a gang of former police officers involved in drug trafficking.

Souza's son, Rafael, has been jailed on charges of homicide, drug trafficking and illegal gun possession.

Police said Wallace Souza faces charges of drug trafficking, gang formation and weapons possession, but has not been charged with any killings.

Souza remains free because of legislative immunity that prevents him from being arrested as long as he is a lawmaker. He is being investigated by a special task force, and state judicial authorities will decide whether the case goes forward.

Vasconcelos said the crimes appear to have served the Souzas in two ways: They eliminated drug-trafficking rivals, and they boosted ratings.

"We believe that they organized a kind of death squad to execute rivals who disputed with them the drug trafficking business," he said. Souza, he charged, "would eliminate his rival and use the killing as a news story for his program."

Souza became a media personality after a career as a police officer that ended in disgrace, according to Vasconcelos, who said the lawmaker was fired for involvement in scams involving fuel theft and pension fraud.

Souza denied those allegations, but said he was forced to leave the force in 1987 after being wrongly accused of involvement in a college entrance exam fraud scheme that he was investigating.

He started "Canal Livre" two years later on a local commercial station in Manaus, the capital of Brazil's largely lawless Amazonas state. It became extremely popular among Manaus' 1.7 million residents before going off the air late last year as police intensified their investigation.

The show featured Souza, in a studio, railing against rampant crime in the state, punctuated with often exclusive footage of arrests, crime scenes and drug seizures.

"When I became a police officer in 1979, bandits weren't raised in this city — no way," he told the audience in one show. Brazil was then a dictatorship, whose police ruthlessly targeted criminals with little concern for civil rights.

One clip showed a reporter approaching a freshly burned corpse, covering his nose with his shirt and breezily remarking that "it smells like barbecue." Police say the victim was one of the five allegedly murdered at Souza's behest.

Souza denied any role in that killing and explained how his reporters manage to get so quickly to crime scenes, using well-placed sources and constantly monitoring scanners for police radio dispatches. The show also posted workers at police stations, and at the Manaus morgue, where word often came first about newly discovered bodies.

"To say that a program that has had a huge audience for so many years had to resort to killing people to increase this audience is absolutely absurd," Souza said.

Souza parlayed his TV fame into a career in the state legislature, getting elected three times — twice with the most votes of any lawmaker in the state. At the same time, he remained a fixture on television.

Souza's biography on the state legislature's Web site says the show, which he ran with his brother, was investigative journalism aimed at fighting crime and social injustice.

"The courageous brothers, as they're known, bring hope to the less fortunate," reads the description, "showing a 'naked and raw reality' to call authorities' attention to social problems."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Shoplifter Arrested for 61st Time

Anti-wrinkle cream among items as ‘career shoplifter,’ 86, arrested for 61st time

Bond set at $10,000, prosecutors recommend she be placed on an electronic monitoring device

August 3, 2009
Staff Reporter

Bond was set at $10,000 Monday for an 86-year-old woman who notched her 61st arrest for shoplifting over the weekend for allegedly taking several items -- including anti-wrinkle cream -- from a North Side grocery.

While setting the bond, Associate Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesel also recommended to the Cook County Sheriff's office that Ella Orko, 86, of an unknown address in Chicago, be placed on an electronic monitoring device, according to Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

Ella Orko, 86, was arrested for the 61st time for shoplifting after she allegedly took several items, including anti-wrinkle cream, from a North Side Dominick's Finer Foods.

Orko was charged with felony shoplifting, according to a Belmont District police lieutenant, who said she was arrested at 3 p.m. Sunday at Dominick's Finer Foods in the 2500 block of North Clyborn Avenue.

Orko allegedly took five packs of salmon, 11 packs of AA batteries, two packs of L’Oreal RevitaLift anti-wrinkle cream, eight boxed jars of Olay face cream and four jars of instant coffee, according to the lieutenant.

She was arrested when someone from the store allegedly saw her take the items, which have a total value of $252.26, and place them in her clothing before attempting to exit the store without paying, according to a police report.

Orko, who has been arrested 61 times including Sunday, was arrested for the first time in 1956 in Chicago for petty larceny and again in 1958 for grand larceny, according to the lieutenant.

“She’s a career shoplifter,’’ the lieutenant said.

Police said she has 13 convictions shoplifting, but Simonton, citing court records, could confirm only five, four in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. She said Okro's last conviction -- for retail theft in 2006 -- resulted in prison time before she was paroled in 2007.

Orko's next scheduled court appearance is Monday, Aug. 10, in North Felony Court (Br. 42) at 2452 W. Belmont Ave.




86-year-old shoplifter: 'She's an actress'

2-day sentence: Some skeptical of wheelchair, judge doubts she has hearing problem


August 11, 2009
Staff Reporter
Sun Times

Ella Orko wore a neck brace as she sat in a wheelchair Monday and clutched her purse -- as though she were afraid someone might pinch it.

The 86-year-old woman could easily have been mistaken for a crime victim waiting to testify, as she sat in court at Belmont and Western.

Ella Orko wore a neck brace and sat in a wheelchair during court on Monday. The presiding judge raised questions if the woman -- who police say has been arrested 61 times -- was really hard of hearing.
(Brian Jackson/Sun-Times)

But there was little sympathy for Orko, who police say has been arrested 61 times, including on Aug. 2, when she was caught trying to shoplift anti-wrinkle cream, packets of salmon, coffee and batteries from the Dominick's store at Fullerton and Clybourn. Police say Orko has used at least 50 aliases during a life of petty crime.

At court Monday, skeptical workers questioned whether she really needed the wheelchair and neck brace -- she was using neither when arrested last week. And the judge even doubted whether she was really hard of hearing.

"I've been doing this for a lot of years," Judge Marvin P. Luckman said after the hearing. "She's an actress."

Orko was originally charged with a felony, but prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor in exchange for her guilty plea. Luckman then sentenced her to two days in jail, time she's already served.

"We felt this was the appropriate disposition, after consulting with the victim . . . and also based on the fact that all of the merchandise was returned," said Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney.

While in Luckman's courtroom, Orko claimed to be too deaf to hear the judge, even though he was shouting.

"I can't hear too good," she mumbled.

Luckman asked a man in the back row if he could hear, and the man replied, "Every word."

"I don't know if she's playing a game or if she's serious," said Luckman, who wears two hearing aids.

All the same, Luckman agreed to step down from his bench and stand directly in front of Orko as he took her guilty plea.

"Do . . . you . . . have . . . any . . . questions?!" Luckman bellowed, enunciating every word.

"No," Orko said, adding, "Very seldom would some judge [step off the bench]. Thank you so much."

As Orko, who lives in the city but was born in Poland, was wheeled away from the courthouse, she waved off a reporter wanting to chat.

"You've done enough damage," she said.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Police puzzled by rise in theft of cucumbers

Australian police baffled by spate of cucumber thefts

A bizarre crime wave has left authorities in the south Australian city of Adelaide baffled.


By Bonnie Malkin in Sydney
Published: 10:32AM BST 12 Aug 2009

Cucumber: Australian police baffled by spate of cucumber thefts
Cucumber: In the latest of the 11 thefts, 50 bags of cucumbers were stolen from a glasshouse on Saturday night. Photo: AFP

In the past three months more than $10,000 (5,000 lbs) worth of cucumbers have gone missing from allotments and gardens.

In the latest of the 11 thefts, 50 bags of cucumbers were stolen from a glasshouse on Saturday night.


Police, who have very few leads, have appealed to the public for help.

Chief Inspector Kym Zander said the crimes were certainly "unique".

"We're having difficulty establishing where they're going," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation "It's obvious or evident that it is somebody in the know to establish which glasshouse is growing cucumbers, tomatoes, et cetera.

"We find that the cucumbers are being picked, they're being either packed in bags or in buckets ready for the market the next morning and when the growers turn up with their vehicles the glasshouse is bare."

Insp Zander admitted that even if police could trace the missing vegetables, it would be hard to determine which ones were stolen.

"The issue with the cucumber is how do you and I tell who owns a different cucumber?"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Burglar arrested while wearing stolen panties

Randall J. Giesbers, 47

Randall J. Giesbers, 47

Marion County Sheriff's Office

August 11, 2009

Salem man arrested while wearing stolen panties

Stacey Barchenger
Statesman Journal

A Salem man found wearing women’s underwear was arrested Monday allegedly in the middle of a burglary, officials said today.

Marion County sheriff’s officials said a woman at the house being broken into identified the underwear as her own.

Just after 10 p.m., deputies were called to the 4500 block of Prince Court Northeast by the report of a burglary in progress, sheriff’s spokeswoman Lt. Sheila Lorance said.

A woman and her boyfriend called emergency dispatchers after they found a man inside their garage nearly naked.

Deputies arrived and found the man being held down by the victim’s boyfriend.

The woman identified the undies on the suspect as her own, which she said had been taken from her garage, Lorance said.

During the continuing investigaiton, deputies went to the suspects home across the street and found several large garbage bags in his garage.

Each was full of women’s clothing, underwear, shoes and accessories, Lorance said.

“There’s the potential for other victims, there was such a large amount of clothing,” Lorance said.

The woman identified some of the clothing as hers and said beginning several months ago, she’d noticed clothes and undergarments missing from her laundry in her garage, Lorance said.

“Over a period of time he was going in and doing this,” Lorance said. “He was taking dirty clothes, too.”

Also found in the suspect’s garage was a large number of illegal fireworks that were handled by Oregon State Police, Lorance said.

Randall Joseph Giesbers, 47, of Salem, was arrested and is being held in Marion County jail on charges of theft, 10 counts of burglary,

10 counts of trespassing and 42 counts of possessing illegal fireworks, Lorance said.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Strong Meteor Shower Expected Tonight

Strong Meteor Shower Expected Tonight
By Robert Roy Britt
Editorial Director
posted: 11 August 2009
08:42 am ET

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to put on a good show this week for those willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning and wait patiently for the shooting stars.

In North America, the best time to watch will be between midnight to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, but late Tuesday night and also Wednesday night could prove fruitful, weather permitting.

The Perseids are always reliable, and sometimes rather spectacular. The only things that puts a damper on the August show are bad weather or bright moonlight. Unfortunately this week, as the Perseids reach their peak Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the moon will be high in the sky, outshining the fainter meteors.

Still, skywatchers around the globe will have a good chance of spotting the brighter meteors. Some already are enjoying the show.

Already underway

The Perseids are bits of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has laid down several streams of debris, each in a slightly different location, over the centuries as it orbits the sun. Every August, Earth passes through these debris streams, which spread out over time.

"They are typically fast, bright and occasionally leave persistent trains," says Joe Rao,'s Skywatching Columnist. "And every once in a while, a Perseid fireball will blaze forth, bright enough to be quite spectacular and more than capable to attract attention even in bright moonlight."

Low numbers of Perseids, including some dazzling fireballs, have already been reported as Earth began entering the stream in late July. Seasoned observers have counted up to 25 per hour already, or nearly one every two minutes.

Most meteors are no bigger than a pea. They vaporize as they enter Earth's atmosphere, creating brilliant streaks across the sky.

The Perseids appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, which rises high in the sky around midnight and is nearly overhead by dawn. Like most meteor showers, the hours between midnight and daybreak are typically the best time to watch, because that's when the side of Earth you are on is rotating into the direction of Earth's travels through space, so meteors are "scooped up" by the atmosphere at higher rates, much like a car's windshield ends the lives of more bugs than does the rear bumper.

Astronomers expect up to 200 meteors per hour in short bursts of up to 15 minutes or so. But many of the fainter meteors will simply not be visible due to moonlight, and rates will go down even more for those in urban areas. More likely a typical observer under reasonably dark skies might hope to see a meteor every couple minutes when the bursts come, and fewer during lulls.

When to watch

The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn Wednesday. Forecasters say the best stretch could come between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET (1-2 a.m. PT), which would be after daybreak in Europe. Some Perseids might be visible late Tuesday night, and Wednesday night into Thursday morning could prove worthwhile, too.

Meteor forecasting is still in its infancy, however, so the best bet for anyone truly hungry to spot shooting stars is to get in as much observing time as possible from around 11 p.m. Tuesday night until dawn Wednesday, and if you miss that show, try the same time frame Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

Meteors should be visible in the pre-dawn hours, weather permitting, all around the Northern Hemisphere.

"Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on Aug. 12," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour."

Viewing tips

The best location is far from city and suburban lights. Ideally, find a structure, mountain or tree to block the moon.  Then scan as much of the sky as possible. The meteors can appear anywhere, heading in any direction. If you trace their paths backward, they'll all point to the constellation Perseus.

People in locations where any chill might occur should dress warmer than they think necessary to allow for prolonged viewing.

Seasoned skywatchers advise using a blanket or lounge chair for comfort, so you can lie back and look up for long periods. Allow at least 15 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. Then expect meteors to be sporadic: You might see two in a row, or several minutes could go by between shooting stars.

Avid meteor watchers might want to try scanning the northeastern horizon from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. local time (your local time, wherever you are) Tuesday and Wednesday for Perseids that graze the horizon.

Cooke points out that these earthgrazers, as they are called, are rare but remarkable.

"Earthgrazers are meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond," Cooke explained. "They are long, slow and colorful – among the most beautiful of meteors."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Family Lives in $1,000,000 house paid by taxpayers

The family of nine travellers living in a $1million home paid for by benefits

Neil Sears
Last updated at 12:30 AM on 12th August 2009
Daily Mail

A family of travellers is living in a $1million house at taxpayers' expense.

John and Serena Connors and their seven children have their rent paid by housing benefit.

Their landlady is trying to evict them because she claims they have caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage.

Luxury: The house lived in by the travellers has five bedrooms and three bedrooms

Luxury: The house the travellers live in has five bedrooms and three bathrooms

Her case is lent weight by a leaflet issued by the Metropolitan Police allegedly about the family, which claims they are suspects in a series of 'distraction' burglaries.

But the parents, who have five girls and two boys aged four to 19, are determined to stay put and are threatening legal action over 'racism against travellers'.

The Connors moved into the home in February with the help of Barnet Council in North London. They are benefiting from the Local Housing Allowance, which was introduced last year to encourage private landlords to take in the homeless because of a shortage of council housing.

The council is under obligation to find them a large enough house, hence the family being placed in one of the most expensive areas.

The property in Totteridge, which has been valued at nearly £1million, has five bedrooms and three bathrooms and lies on a usually peaceful street.

Businesswoman Sapna Bukhari and her IT project manager husband Zulfi, both 38, used to rent it to professionals for $4,000 a month.

But with the market deteriorating they agreed to let it out to the Connors for £2,400 a month through housing benefit, after being assured that they were 'good tenants'.

Mrs Bukhari alleged: 'Within a few weeks of them moving in, a radiator was pulled off the wall and the water from it made the ceiling collapse.

'They failed to tell us about it promptly, they threatened me, my builder and my plumber, they abused me - calling me a "Paki" - and gave anti-Semitic abuse to neighbours.

' They've twice blocked the drains so sewage has flowed on to the pavement, have thrown food, clothes, cat excrement and all manner of rubbish into the gardens, and shout and scream vile obscenities.

Parents: John and Serena Connors

Parents: John and Serena Connors


'They won't even let the builders come in to carry out repairs. I'm worried the damage will cost tens of thousands.'

Mrs Bukhari went on to claim that she had run into problems with paperwork while trying to evict them because the Connors 'seem to know the system'.

'Social services are paying their rent but I'm sure they will not stump up for the damage', she added.

The police leaflet was issued by the Totteridge Safer Neighbourhood Team to all houses in the street except the Connors.

Although the family is not named, officers apparently readily confirm to neighbours that members of it are involved.

Headed 'Warning', the leaflet tells of thieves targeting homes by 'asking to use your toilet and general stories of hard luck'. It says: 'All will end in them trying to enter your house and steal anything they can get their hands on.'

It adds that the suspects are 'from the travelling community', and describes two teenage girls with Irish accents.

Mrs Connors, who is originally from County Wexford in Ireland, agreed that the leaflet was targeted at her family but said: 'I'm making a complaint to the police about this leaflet.

'My kids are cheeky but they aren't thieves. We haven't damaged the house either.

'The landlady doesn't like traveller. It's racism, I'm going to get her done for harassment.'

She added that she didn't even want to live in the house and would prefer to be in a travellers' camp.

'They put people into places you wouldn't put dogs into,' she said.

A spokesman for Barnet Council said anyone evicted for unreasonable behaviour would not be rehoused, and a source said they were not aware of the family ever asking for an alternative home.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force had not received a complaint about the leaflet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Psychic money cleanser steals $140,000 from family

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
So-called 'cleanser' steals nearly $140,000 from victims in Lakewood
Stacey Mulick
The News Tribune
03:00:00 pm

Lakewood police are searching for a woman who promised to cleanse the money of at least seven Hispanic families but stole it instead.

The families were supposed to have their final session with Señora Monica on Sunday night at a small store in the 8600 block of South Tacoma Way, Lakewood police Lt. Heidi Hoffman said. But she never showed and now the families are out nearly $140,000.

Detectives have discovered much of the information on the business license for the store - Botanica Centro de Consultas - is false. They're working to identify the man who got the license and Señora Monica, Hoffman said.

No arrests have been made.

The victims told Lakewood police they met Señora Monica at the nearby swap meet or heard her advertisements on a Spanish-speaking radio station, Hoffman said. She advertised that she could help with "all your problems."

On her business card, Señora Monica listed her services as: Reads cards, reads palms, performs cleansings, interprets dreams, reunites loved ones, sexual deficiencies, cures nervous disorders, employment problems, alcoholism and drug addiction. "Don't suffer anymore. If you can't have children, call me," the card reads. "Performs spells, counterspells and love spells."

Some victims had Taro card readings with Señora Monica and decided to have her cleanse their money. Some of the sessions occurred with the victims at the store on South Tacoma Way.

The victims had set up a final meeting Sunday night during which they would receive their cleansed money and would pay a gratuity - whatever they felt was appropriate - to Señora Monica, Hoffman said.

"Señora Monica never showed up," Hoffman said.

Investigators have learned a man got a business license and paid cash in June to rent out the storefront on South Tacoma Way. The store also sold candles, incense and other items, Hoffman said.

A closed sign now hangs on the door.

"All the information on the business license has proven to be false," Hoffman said.

Detectives don't have a last name for Señora Monica. She's described as Hispanic, 30 to 40 years old, 5 feet tall and 130 pounds. She has long black hair.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Homeless Woman Leaves University $150,000


Homeless woman leaves Hebrew U $150K

Published: Aug. 11, 2009 at 7:52 AM

A 92-year old Holocaust survivor who lived on the streets of New York bequeathed $150,000 to Jerusalem's Hebrew University, the university Web site said.

Yefet Ozery of the university's Development and Public Relations department received a check from the woman's executor last week, the site said. The woman had never visited Israel.

The executor told Ozery he and his wife had looked after the homeless woman for a number of years, had helped her receive public housing and assisted her in applying for compensation from the German government.

In return for their help, the woman moved the couple's car from one parking place to another in Manhattan to help them avoid parking fines, the site said.

Only after the woman died did they discover she had left half her fortune to the university, the site said.

Ozery said the woman's name will be inscribed on the university's Wall of Life. She said the donation would be used for medical research scholarships in accordance with the will's stipulations.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


47 trapped overnight aboard small Continental plane at airport

Crying babies, overflowing toilets

47 trapped in 'nightmare' overnight aboard small Continental plane

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Aug. 10, 2009, 1:13PM


MINNEAPOLIS — When Link Christin boarded a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to the Twin Cities on Friday night, he expected to be on the ground in about three hours and ready for a comfy bed.

Instead, he was among 47 passengers who spent the night trapped inside a small plane, parked at the Rochester, Minn., airport, complete with crying babies and the aroma of over-used toilets.

The ExpressJet Airlines that operated the plane says the flight was diverted to Rochester because of Twin Cities thunderstorms and that airline regulations prevented passengers from getting off the plane.

Christin is incredulous that the airline couldn't figure out an option besides trapping passengers on the plane for nine hours.

“It's not like you're on a (Boeing) 747 and you can walk around,” said Christin, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law.

“This was a sardine can, with a single row of seats on one side of the plane and two rows of seats on the other. And they've got about 50 people inside, including babies, for the whole night. It was a nightmare.”

Continental Airlines, which issued the tickets for Flight 2816, initially referred inquiries to ExpressJet Airlines. ExpressJet spokeswoman Kristy Nicholas said the flight ran into several problems.

Today, Continental apologized.

"We are working closely with ExpressJet to resolve the issues surrounding this extended delay as service provided to customers on this flight was completely unacceptable.

"We are apologizing to our customers and will be offering them a full ticket refund and a certificate good for future travel."

The airline crew on the plane reached their maximum work hours in the air, so another crew had to be flown in. The alternative of chartering a bus didn't work out. And letting the passengers into the Rochester airport was not possible because they would have to go through security screening again, and the screeners had gone home for the day.

What about just letting the passengers sleep in the airport terminal?

“That was not provided as an option by ground services personnel at the airport,“ said Nicholas.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Car Towed After Sign Moved



Last updated: 9:56 am
August 10, 2009
Posted: 2:21 am
August 10, 2009

First, they towed a sign. Then they towed a legally parked car.

A Manhattan man had to pay $280 when a city crew, without warning, uprooted a diplomat-parking-only sign and moved it 15 feet -- suddenly making his Mitsubishi's spot illegal.

Shavit Mekeiten had carefully studied an alternate-side parking sign before pulling into a spot on East 41st Street near Second Avenue at 3:30 a.m. Thursday and determined his car could stay where it was until Friday morning.

But six hours later, a two-man crew from the Department of Transportation, apparently ordered to create an extra spot for the New Zealand Consulate, dug out the diplomats-only sign that had been behind Mekeiten's car and moved it right in front of it.

Prowling tow-truck drivers -- under intense NYPD pressure to hook four cars per shift or get hit with graveyard hours or less overtime -- quickly snagged the car, blowing off protests from four outraged witnesses.

Incredibly, Mekeiten was stuck with the $185 tow fee and a $95 ticket for not having diplomatic plates. "They're heartless. They have no conscience," Mekeiten said.

He said getting the car back from the Manhattan tow pound on 38th Street and 12th Avenue "took up my entire day."

"This is insane!" he said after forking over the money at the pound -- where bureaucrats acting like automatons had no interest in his story.

"They don't care anymore. They just have to tow a certain number of cars per driver, and they do it at any cost," said Mekeiten, who works in real estate. "They didn't put up any signs saying they would change the rules."

Adrienne Hong, who has a dry-cleaning business nearby, saw the oblivious crew move the sign. Hong and three doormen who also saw what happened ran up to the tow truck and begged the driver to show some mercy.

"I know that car! They just moved the sign!" said Nick Perkaj, a doorman. "The tow-truck driver just said, 'I don't give a f- - -,' and they towed the car."

Mekeiten said he planned to launch a legal challenge against the ticket and the tow but noted that it would only take up more of his time and money.

"They treated me like I shot someone. This is really, really unfair. I didn't do anything wrong!" he said.

The city admitted that signs were moved in the area. The NYPD did not return a request for comment.


UNFAIR: Shavit Mekeiten was ticketed (inset) and towed when a road crew moved a no-parking sign near his car.
UNFAIR: Shavit Mekeiten was ticketed (inset) and towed when a road crew moved a no-parking sign near his car.
UNFAIR: Shavit Mekeiten was ticketed (inset) and towed when a road crew moved a no-parking sign near his car.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Man fined $100,000 for boat ramp

Man fined $100,000 for boat ramp

Updated: Thursday, 06 Aug 2009, 10:03 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 06 Aug 2009, 8:17 PM EDT

Tina Detelj

Montville (WTNH) - An illegal boat ramp leads to a hefty fine against its owner in Montville.

Michael Liebig didn't think it a was a big deal when he cleared away sea grass along the river at his Montville home. The problem is he didn't have a permit.

"I didn't think I needed a permit to clean up down here," said Liebig.

He also built an eleven foot wide concrete boat ramp also without a permit.

"There was a launch here already and I made it better," he said.

Now, the Montville man faces one of the state's largest fines for violating tidal wetlands law.

"I can't afford a $100,000 fine," he said. "I mean, it's gonna break me."

Liebig said he removed most of the boat launch after receiving a Cease and Desist Order from the DEP in October 2006.

But the state took action because he didn't finish the job or restore the wetlands which will cost about $75,000.

"I have to hire a scientist to make the mud," said Liebig. "I have to hire someone to grow the grass."

In Liebig's case, the DEP said someone complained about what he was doing.

"I know I did wrong so it has to go back; there's no 'ifs, ands, or buts' about it," he said.

Liebig said he didn't do it right away because he had to finish his house first.

Liebig hopes if he restores the wetlands, the state may give him a break on the fine. With summer almost half over, he wouldn't really be able to begin that restoration until the spring.







Man fined $100,000 for boat ramp

Monday, August 10, 2009


Professional Beggars Earn $73,000 A Year Tax Free

"Professional" Beggars Earning Up to $200 a Night in United Kingdom to Supplement Their Day Job

Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:05 PM on 10th August 2009


Street beggars are earning up to $200 a night - the equivalent of a $73,000-a-year salary tax free, according to police figures.

Officers have discovered a growing number of 'professional' beggars, some of whom even beg on the streets after finishing their office jobs.

They are using the extra cash to supplement their normal day jobs.

Leicestershire police arrested 20 beggars last month - none of whom were homeless.

One woman even admitted she begged at night after her day job so she could pay for a new kitchen in her flat.

Sergeant Adrian Underwood, of Leicestershire police, said: 'On a good Friday or Saturday night, some can pick up to $200.

'We have intelligence that there is a woman who is begging because she wants a new kitchen for her flat.

'A lot of well-intentioned people see someone begging and think they are deserving causes.

'Would they give them money if they knew that person had just come out of a flat, was receiving benefits and had food in the larder?'

Toni Soni, head of hostel services at Leicester City Council, said previous operations by the authority and police had found no beggars to be homeless.

He said: 'There are people who are actually professional beggars who are doing it to make a living.'

Read more:


Gangs of organised beggars from Eastern Europe congregate outside Harrods department store

Begging is becoming a second income for some 'professional' beggars according to police

Monday, August 10, 2009


Yawn leads to jail time

Yawn leads to jail time for Ill. courtroom spectator
Steve Schmadeke

CHICAGO — Clifton Williams arrived at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, Ill., and sat in the fourth-floor courtroom where his cousin was pleading guilty to a felony drug charge.
As Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak handed down the cousin’s sentence — two years’ probation — Williams, 33, stretched and let out a very ill-timed yawn.

Williams’ sentence? Six months in jail — the maximum penalty for criminal contempt without a jury trial. He man was locked up July 23 and will serve at least 21 days.

“I was flabbergasted because I didn’t realize a judge could do that,” said Williams’ father, Clifton Williams Sr. “It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action.”

Chuck Pelkie, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, said the prosecutor in the courtroom that day told him “it was not a simple yawn — it was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings.” Jason Mayfield, the cousin of Williams who was pleading guilty at the time, said it was “not an outrageous yawn.”

A Chicago Tribune review of a decade’s worth of contempt-of-court charges reveals Rozak jails people — typically spectators whose cell phones go off or who scream or shout profanity during sentencing — at a far higher rate than any other judge in the county. There are now 30 judges in the 12th Judicial Circuit, but since 1999, Rozak has brought more than a third of all the contempt charges, records show.

And while it is not uncommon for judges to jail people for ignoring subpoenas or court orders or appearing in court drunk or under the influence of drugs, Rozak’s charges tend to involve behavior that would not otherwise be criminal.

Judges have broad discretion under the law, which defines contempt as acts that embarrass, hinder or obstruct the court in its administration of justice or lessen its authority or dignity. As long as the sentence is not longer than 6 months, there is no review of the case — unless the offender appeals to the judge or a higher court.

“We want judges to be able to manage the courtroom ... but we have some concern that when the contempt is personal, judges might react too harshly,” said University of Chicago law professor Adam Samaha. “Contempt that happens right in the judge’s face is likely to trigger an emotional reaction.” Observers describe Rozak as running the type of strict courtroom that was commonplace a few decades ago. Defense attorneys say Rozak is “tough but fair” and runs particularly well-managed trials. Rozak has been elected twice, in 2000 and 2006, both times with recommendations from the state bar association.

“I think he’s terrific — he understands how the world works,” said Joliet defense attorney David Carlson, who has appeared before Rozak as a prosecutor and defense attorney. “Some of the most serious felonies we have are handled in his courtroom, so I think there should be a level of seriousness and decorum.”

So far this year, five criminal contempt charges have been brought by Will County judges. Four of them were brought by Rozak, including the case of Derrick Lee, a Joliet man who “resisted” sitting where sheriff’s deputies directed him, talked in a “very loud” voice during court and referred to Rozak as “boss,” according to the judge’s contempt order. Lee, who also was wanted on an outstanding warrant, was sentenced to 30 days but was released two days later after apologizing.

Chief Judge Gerald Kinney said he hadn’t heard of Williams’ case and couldn’t comment on its propriety, but said that he would’ve liked a more detailed order from Rozak in imposing the maximum penalty. He was not aware that Rozak brings a high percentage of contempt charges and said he has not received a significant number of complaints about the judge, a former public defender who has been on the bench since 1995.

Rozak could not be reached for comment.

Rozak’s order sentencing Williams to six months in jail found that he “raised his hands while at the same time making a loud yawning sound” that caused the judge to “break from the proceedings.”

“I really can’t believe I’m in jail,” Williams wrote his family in a letter. “I done set (sic) in this (expletive) a week so far for nothing.”

People in other Will County courtrooms have received less severe sentences for seemingly more flagrant offenses. In Judge Richard Schoenstedt’s court last year, a woman was disruptive during closing arguments of a trial, shouted, “This is bull ...” as she was led away, was held to the floor by a deputy and “continued to be disruptive” after later being brought back before the judge. She received a seven-day sentence for contempt, records show.

Rozak has sentenced more spectators to jail for infractions involving cell phones than any other judge in Will County in the last decade. In 2003, a man who called the judge an “ass” after Rozak ordered him to turn over the phone when it rang in court was sentenced to 10 days but did just 24 hours after apologizing to the judge.

Three years later, a man twice refused to turn over his ringing cell phone to a deputy and then, his phone ringing before the bench, refused to hand it to Rozak. He also received a 6-month sentence, but it was reduced to 18 days after the man apologized, court records show.

In the two-story brick home where Williams had been living with his aunt Cheryl Mayfield and caring for his 79-year-old grandmother, family members said they were in shock over the sentence but were unable to afford an attorney to appeal. Mayfield said her nephew was supposed to start a job at a Chicago car wash shortly after his yawning arrest.

“This is ridiculous — you’ve got all these people shooting up kids and here this boy yawns in court (and gets 6 months). It’s crazy,” she said.

“This could happen to any one of us.”

Monday, August 10, 2009


Woman stops attacker with a can of peas


Toledo Ohio




She socked an attacker with a sock loaded with a can of peas. That action was enough to fend off a man who was pistol-whipping her. It all happened inside the Vistula Two Heritage Village at the corner of Erie and Locust.

On the fourth floor of the apartment building a loud knocking brought Latoyia Taylor into the hallway around 6:00 Tuesday morning.

"I looked to my right first. I didn't see anybody. So then I looked to my left and seen a guy standing there with a gun and a ski mask over his face."

Wounds on her face and arm show what happened next. The man in the mask started pistol-whipping Taylor.

"He grabbed me by my hair and just started hitting me, hitting me all in the back of the head and on the side."

So, the 26-year-old brought out her secret weapon a sock with a can of peas inside. Taylor says she used it to fight back until it ripped.

"I heard something drop. I'm thinking it's his gun that dropped. When I looked down, it was the can of peas that I had in the sock."

The scuffle quickly brought out neighbors who called police.

Sharon Preston witnessed the attack. "They attacked her for no apparent reason. I don't know how they got in the building because these doors are locked.

The first attacker ran off but Taylor says her boyfriend caught an apparent accomplice, Gregory Banks.

"Tyrone, my boyfriend, grabbed him by his neck and I just kicked him in his face and I just kept hitting him."

The two hit him so much, Banks ended up at St. Vincent Mercy medical center. Taylor, who also needed medical attention, says she's doing better tonight; in no small part, thanks to her own method of self-defense. Banks is in critical condition. He faces a charge of aggravated robbery. Meantime, Toledo police say they're looking for the main suspect who may go by the nickname "T".

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Inmate sues says jail lost his leg

Inmate: Metro jail won't return prosthetic leg


By Kate Howard 


August 6, 2009

Jerry Ray Brock is looking for some missing property he says he had to leave behind at the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, namely his brand-new prosthetic leg.

Brock wanted to take it with him for the rest of his sentence at the Tennessee Department of Correction. But in a lawsuit filed today in Davidson County Circuit Court, Brock says a jail guard told him the leg was a medical device he wasn't allowed to take with him.

Brock, who has a history in Nashville of burglary offenses, was awaiting a transfer to state prison at the Nashville jail last August. He says the guard that refused to let him take his new prosthetic limb and cane wouldn't give him his name, so the suit is filed against John Doe and the sheriff's office.

When Brock got to state prison, he said a corrections officer showed him a list of banned materials that did not include prosthetics. He wrote to Metro government's claims office asking that they return the leg, according to the lawsuit he filed himself. He says he never heard back.

In the meantime, he was walking on a broken prosthetic that he says the state unsuccessfully tried to get fixed for him, but the foot sometimes still fell off.

He came to jail using the broken leg and says he asked the guard if he could swap them out if he could only take what he was wearing. He said he was denied.

Rick Gentry, spokesman for the sheriff's office, referred question to Metro's legal department. Calls to the Tennessee Department of Correction have not yet been returned. According to the lawsuit, Brock is currently being housed in Charles Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville and is still waiting to get his leg back. He has asked for $18,000 reimbursement for the prosthetic, as well as $500,000 in punitive damages.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Cab driver robbed crashes police find 5 locked in church

Cab crash reveals 5 in locked church


Ken Valenti and Rebecca Baker

The Journal News

August 9, 2009


MOUNT VERNON - The mystery began yesterday morning when a Mount Vernon cabdriver told police that a passenger had tried to rob and choke him, causing him to crash his car into a storefront church on South Fulton Avenue.

And it deepened considerably when police responded to the address and discovered not only the damage, but also four adults and a 3-year-old girl inside the church, whose main doors were locked from the outside.

By last night, the police had gathered more information, but not enough to form a complete picture about why the people were inside.

"We got to figure out why these folks were there," Mount Vernon Police Commissioner David Chong said.

Here's what they do know:

The 32-year-old cabbie picked up several passengers at the Cross County Shopping Center around 3 a.m.

In what appeared to be a robbery attempt, one tried choking the driver, making him lose control of his cab. The driver plowed into River Jordan Holy Tabernacle Church at 238 S. Fulton Ave. Police were notified by a neighbor who called with a noise complaint.

When the police began searching the church for the attacker and other passengers, they discovered the four adults and the toddler inside the locked church.

Chong said it looked as if they had been living there, because the area was covered with makeshift beds and it had a cooking area.

"What scares us about this is that the church was all locked down from the outside, so there was no means of getting out of the church for these four adults and the child," he said.

Had the taxi caught fire after the crash, Chong said, they could have died.

No one answered the phone at the number written on the sign on the front of the church. The pastor was listed only as M. Dorrell.

Everyone inside the church was of Caribbean descent, and they were taken to Mount Vernon Hospital as a precaution, Chong said.

Police continue to investigate how the group got into the building and why they were there. Another group of detectives is investigating the cabbie's report, Chong said.

Westchester County Child Protective Services was notified, and the Buildings Department was going to board up the church.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Locked down: An in-depth look at the county jail

Locked down: An in-depth look at the county jail
Originally published August 09, 2009

Gina Gallucci-White, Pam Rigaux and Nicholas C. Stern

News-Post Staff


Law officers lock roughly 5,000 people into the Frederick County Adult Detention Center each year.

While some are released the same day on a written promise to appear in court, others may be held for a year or longer. On any given day, the average jail population is 477 inmates.

During their stay, inmates will be watched, clothed, fed, counseled and given medical treatment. In fiscal 2009, the bill to taxpayers came to $16.69 million. That's equivalent to a total of about $75 per person living in Frederick County, home to 225,000 residents.

Costs will increase with planned construction projects to add 112 general population beds and 28 medical beds in fiscal 2010, as well as 224 general population beds in fiscal 2016.

The 2010 project is estimated to cost $16.4 million, and the 2016 project is expected to cost about $29.6 million, said Lt. Col. Steven Rau, corrections bureau chief.

Located on Marcie's Choice Lane, the Frederick County Adult Detention Center opened with 128 beds on Oct. 4, 1984. Today, the complex is a maze of 21 cell blocks and includes a gym and recreation yards ringed with concertina-wire fences.

Correctional officers keep physical and electronic eyes on inmates. Surveillance cameras are abundant. From a command post known as "The Bubble," officers monitor inmates in adjoining cell blocks on video screens.

Eight of every 10 inmates come from Frederick County, but the detention center has an international component, too.

The Frederick County Sheriff's Office, which runs the corrections bureau at the detention center, partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July 2007 to house federal immigration detainees.

Through a program known as an Intergovernmental Service Agreement, ICE has paid roughly $2.6 million to the jail to house the detainees.

By the end of 2008, the jail had housed 1,853 immigration detainees.

The steady increase in the inmate population has brought its share of problems. For example:

-- One in every five inmates receives treatment for mental health problems, said Rau, who has been warden since March 2006. He said inmates' mental health needs have doubled since the mid-1990s.

-- The number of inmate disciplinary hearings has gone up each of the last three years: 548 in 2006; 571 in 2007; and 600 in 2008, according to annual jail reports. Likewise, the number of times correctional officers had to use force to bring inmates under control climbed to 73 times in 2008, up from 63 times in 2007 and 42 times in 2006.

-- The number of inmates who tested positive for exposure to tuberculosis increased almost fivefold from 2006 to 2008, from 65 to 310, according to annual jail reports.

This is mostly due to the influx of foreign-born inmates that coincided with a 2007 agreement to house immigration detainees. A positive test for TB does not mean an active case.


Life inside


Inmates are placed in one of 21 housing units known as cell blocks. Their placements depends on gender, behavior and immigration status.

In 2008, inmates stayed an average of 17 days, according to the detention center's annual report.

Nearly half the inmate population at the detention center was white in 2008, with almost 26 percent black and 23 percent Hispanic.

Driving while suspended was the most common offense in 2008, according to the annual report. Second-degree assault, violation of probation, possession of drugs and failing to appear rounded out the top five criminal charges among inmates.

Authorized to have 130 correctional officers, the detention center has 125 uniformed personnel. They are assisted by 38 civil staff members.

From 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., inmates are allowed in the day room of their cell block, where they can play cards or watch color cable television.

Tranquility, however, can be fleeting.

Some inmates have a history of drug or alcohol addiction and violence. Locking them up does not end their quest for drugs and alcohol or curb disorderly conduct.

Inmates try to smuggle in drugs, or distill their own booze from food, said Cpl. Dean Green, a correctional officer.

Gizmo, a 6-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, is a narcotics-sniffing dog used to detect cocaine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy, marijuana, heroin and many oxycodone products that may be harbored by inmates or visitors.

Tensions in the cell blocks can lead to fights, said Dan Wease, a former inmate.

Inmates argue and threaten or push each other over a game of cards or "something stupid," Wease said.--

Officers need to know the difference between yelling because of a fight or cheering over a sporting event on television, Green said.

"You've got to develop an ear with this occupation," Green said.

Officers used force to bring inmates under control 73 times in 2008. Officers used their hands, pepper spray, Tasers, leg irons and a restraint chair to control inmates.

About 63 percent of the inmates who spent time in a restraint chair had mental health issues, according to Use of Force reports. The restraint safety chair has straps that go around the inmate's body.

Correctional officers use the restraint chair to control combative, violent or self-abusing inmates.

In 20 of 32 cases, officers used the restraint chair, the inmate had to be taken to the mental health unit of a hospital, placed on suicide watch or had some other mental health problem, according to the reports.-- --


Privileges and programs


The detention center offers privileges to inmates who behave themselves in jail.

Inmates may see family and friends for one 30-minute visit a week. An inmate is allowed four visitors at a time. They talk on a telephone and can see the inmate through a pane of glass. Collect calls outside of visitation are allowed.

Inmates may buy items from the jail's store, including shampoo, cookies and cups of soup.

They pay for the items with money put into an account set up by family and friends or the inmates themselves. When they are arrested, their money is placed in the account.

Color cable TV is available in almost every cell block and majority rules on what to watch.

Inmates may go outside for recreation for one hour a day, four days a week, weather permitting. They are kept inside on Thursday for commissary, the name for the jail store.

Weekend recreation takes place indoors.

A private contractor, Conmed Healthcare Management, handles most medical treatment at the jail.

Physicians, psychologists, nurses and social workers give physicals, treat chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, and handle psychological conditions inmates may have.

The jail's medical services budget for fiscal 2010 is $1.75 million, about 14 percent of the jail's total adopted budget, according to figures provided by Rau and the online version of the adopted fiscal 2010 budget.

Religious services of a variety of faiths are also offered.

Inmates attended more than 420 Bible classes in 2008 with volunteer support and more than 240 individual counseling sessions.

Classes including anger management, parenting, and re-entry into society are offered. Inmates may also participate in Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous groups and take the General Educational Development exam for their high school diploma.

With privileges also come responsibilities. Inmates who break a rule will have privileges taken away.









Locked down: An in-depth look at the county jail

Photo by Bill Green
Piles of handcuffs sit ready to be used in the transportation area of the center





Sunday, August 9, 2009


10 drugs you shouldn't be on while driving a car. Hysterical.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Star Arrested Over $1.20 in Change

Sunday, August 9, 2009

NHL Star Arrested Over $1.20 in Change

Oh, oh. Is this another example of a celebrity of any type feeling entitled? Patrick Kane, hardly a household name outside of the NHL, was arrested over a taxicab incident.

According to reports, Patrick Kane was arrested for allegedly punching a cabbie in the face and failing to pay his cab fare, all over $1.20 in change. Kane, 20, and his brother James, 21, were in their home town of Buffalo, NY, when the incident occurred.

The issue: the cabbie told the Kanes that he didn't have the change to give them their full $1.20. He apparently did not have twenty cents in coins. This angered the two, who struck the cabbie in the face, breaking his glasses, and took the money back. Their fare was $13.80 and they handed the driver $15.

So, $1.20 led to Patrick Kane being arrested? Hey guys, did you ever hear of a tip!?

Patrick Kane was the top overall pick in the 2007 draft. You'd figure, even though the NHL obviously lags behind other sports in salaries, that a $1.20 tip (which was already lame) nothing to him, and definitely better than being Patrick Kane winding up arrested.

WIVB-TV in Buffalo reported that an attorney for Kane has entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf in a city court. The charges Patrick Kane was arrested for include second-degree robbery (a Class C felony), fourth-degree criminal mischief and theft-of-services charges (both Class A misdemeanors).

Saturday, August 8, 2009


8 Weird Holidays From Around The World

8 Of The Weirdest Holidays From Around The World

Posted on Aug 07, 2009 @ 08:01AM  

Random Things

We don’t think anybody should need an excuse to celebrate but apparently not everyone feels that way. After doing a little digging, the staff at found some of the weirdest, strangest and funniest holidays celebrated around the world. Of course not all of these are mainstream holidays, and some may have only a few devotees, but they all deserve mentioning.

Here are the eight weirdest holidays from around the world:

8. Bean Throwing Day: Called Setsubun in Japan, this holiday occurs on the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar, which is typically February 2 or 3. It involves scattering roasted beans around homes, temples, and shrines to scare away evil spirits. Perhaps beans make them gassy.

7. Lammas Day: On August 1, many English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate this festival, also called 'loaf-mass' day, which is the first wheat harvest of the year. It's a custom to bring a loaf made from the new crop to church, and in some parts of England tenants were required to give freshly harvested wheat to their landlords. Apparently rent alone wasn't considered good enough.

6. Hangul Day: Also called Korean Alphabet Day, this holiday celebrates the creation and the proclamation of the Korean alphabet, or hangul. Naturally, given their contrary natures, the North Koreans celebrate it on January 15, and the South Koreans on October 9.

5. Magpie Festival: Celebrated on the 7 day of the 7 lunar month on the Chinese calendar, it is sometimes called Chinese Valentine's Day. However, in China single young girls actually pray for a good husband and demonstrate their domestic skills, such as melon carving and embroidery.

4. Straw Bear Day: This old English festival occurs on January 7, after Plough Monday (which itself is pretty nutso), the traditional start of the English agricultural year. At this time a man or boy is completely covered in straw and led to all the houses in the area, where he dances in exchange for money, food, or beer. Farmers often save their best straw for the costume. Though an ancient custom, it was revived in 1980.

3. Up-Helly-Aa: In Scotland this holiday is descended from a Viking celebration of the rebirth of the sun, and involves a torch procession of hundreds of people dressed in various costumes, ending with the throwing of the fires into a replica Viking ship. Hey, whatever sinks your boat!
10. Näfelser Fahrt: An annual holiday in Switzerland, taking place on the first Thursday of April and commemorating the 1388 battle of Näfels. It involves processions, marching bands, and political speeches.  Okay, it's not a particularly strange holiday. But dudes: that name!

2. Bonza Bottler Day: This Australian holiday is celebrated once a month when the number of the month coincides with the number of the day (April 4, May 5, June 6, etc.). It was created by Elaine Fremont in 1985 when she noticed there were no special occasions to celebrate one month. 'Bonza' is a word used by Australians to indicate when something is 'great,' and 'Bottler' is slang for 'something excellent.' The mascot is a dancing groundhog throwing confetti.

1. Saudi International Motor Show: The biggest motor show in the Middle East, held from December 6-10,  which features the latest models and equipment, and also includes stunt driving and "off-road experience." Whoa! There's actually a national holiday for gas guzzling in Saudi Arabia?

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Man billed $30,000 for falsely reporting airplane crash

False crash report runs $30,000 tab, officials say

Man says he thought real call to dispatcher was a 'nightmare'

by Garrett Andrews
Herald Staff Writer

Article Last Updated; Saturday, August 08, 2009

Whatever your definition of a bad dream, this surely qualifies

Officials with the La Plata County Sheriff's Office on Friday set the total cost of responding to a false report of a plane crash in the remote southern end of the county at $30,000, and said the department would seek to recover the full amount from the local man who authorities said was drunk when he made the 911 call Thursday night.

The man, Edward Pretzer, 59, was visibly intoxicated when he was arrested for false reporting to authorities, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. His arrest came after 50 emergency workers and numerous volunteers from multiple agencies responded in 18 vehicles to his call. Sheriff's deputies used GPS data from his cell phone to track him down near the scene.

In jail Friday morning, Pretzer told sheriff's office investigator Dan Patterson he had a nightmare overnight.

He told Patterson he believed he was talking on the phone with his friend, when he actually was on the line with an emergency dispatcher at Durango Central Dispatch.

He is being held at La Plata County Jail on $250 bond.

Dave Abercrombie with the Durango Fire & Rescue Authority said Pretzer called 911 at 8:47 p.m. Thursday to report he had just been in a plane crash and was bleeding profusely from a severed arm.

He told the dispatcher he was a government official with a high-level security clearance who had been on a flight originating in Washington, D.C., with an unknown destination. He said the other eight to 12 people aboard the flight were dead, lying somewhere in the low brush off La Posta Road.

After that, the signal was relayed across police scanners and emergency personnel, volunteers, hospital staff and media representatives from across the region scrambled to respond. DFRA's mobile command post and two night vision-equipped helicopters were deployed to the scene.

The sheriff's office, DFRA, La Plata County Search and Rescue, La Plata County Emergency Management, Southern Ute Tribal Police and the Durango Police Department all responded to the incident in some capacity.

Off-duty personnel were called in to replace those at the scene.

As crews raced up and down the dirt roads in High Flume Canyon, just inside the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, Sheriff's Deputy Barrett Pottoff used GPS coordinates provided by dispatch to locate the caller. When Pottoff found Pretzer in a house off Green Shadows Road, Pretzer said he recently had seen a man's body on the ground about one mile away. Pottoff asked Pretzer to accompany him to the site, and the two drove about 100 yards before Pretzer said to stop.

No wreckage was found.

Pretzer was arrested and booked in county jail for false reporting after he told responders the cell phone number central dispatch captured on caller ID was his.

The $30,000 estimate is a total of the cost of resources, personnel hours and fuel.

According to a news release sent out by the sheriff's office, it likely will seek to recover the full amount through civil court



Saturday, August 8, 2009


Purse snatcher caught by his seat belt

Suspect tripped up by his seat belt

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Gordon Wilczynski

Macomb Daily Staff Writer

He was careful to use his turn signal during high-speed chase

A Detroit man wanted by Eastpointe police for stealing a purse from a female shopper was arrested on Thursday evening after a high speed chase in which he tried to flee from his moving car but failed when his foot got stuck in his seat belt.

"This is a first," Eastpointe Detective Lt. Leo Borowsky said. "The suspect was captured by his own seat belt and broke his leg while trying to escape."

Borowsky said Lawrence Neal, 45, of Flanders Street, was kept in a hospital overnight and transferred to jail Friday morning. He was charged with unarmed robbery, fleeing police and resisting a police officer. He is being held in the Macomb County Jail on $200,000 bond set by 38th District Judge Carl Gerds, who scheduled a preliminary examination for 8 a.m. Aug. 19. Neal asked for a court-appointed attorney, police said.

Borowsky said Officer Bob Koenigsmann was on routine patrol at 9:15 p.m. Thursday on Nine Mile near Piper Street when he saw Neal walking between Joe's Keg and Wine party store and the Quarter Car Wash next door. Koenigsmann thought the man looked suspicious so he watched him from his marked scout car a short distance away.

Borowsky said Koenigsmann said he saw the victim drive into the parking lot and walk toward the business. When the woman got out of her car, Neal approached her quickly on foot and Koenigsmann witnessed a struggle. He then saw Neal run to a car that was parked in the Car Wash lot, Borowsky said. Koenigsmann chased Neal, who was driving an Eagle Vision, because he suspected him of robbing the woman.

They fled across Eight Mile into Detroit and Neal drove through several red traffic signals. Neal was on Eastburn approaching Hayes when he opened the driver's door and attempted to jump out.

"His foot got caught in the seat belt and the left side of Neal's body dangled outside of the car," Borowsky said. "He was dragged by his own car for several feet before the car stopped on a front yard."

"Koenigsmann and officers Chris Rhodea and Cpl. Tom Ostrowski arrested Neal after a brief struggle," Borowsky said. "This is a great example where modern-day technology cannot replace good old-fashioned police work."

Police said when Neal fled he put on his seat belt and used his turn signal every time he prepared to turn.

Police said the victim suffered only minor injuries when she was knocked to the ground and her purse taken from around her neck.

Neal has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 1986, Borowsky said

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Luxury resort offers rooms for $19 a night

A luxury resort in San Diego is offering rooms for $19 a night

The Associated Press

4:33 a.m. August 8, 2009

SAN DIEGO — A luxury resort in San Diego is offering rooms for $19 a night – if you don't mind sleeping in a tent.

The Rancho Bernardo Inn boasts three pools, a spa and golf course. It typically charges more than $200 a room.

But business is down. So from Aug. 16 to 31, guests can get a "Survivor Package" that charges them less for each amenity they give up.

For $19, guests give up breakfast, air conditioning, lights, sheets and even the bed. Staff will remove the mattress and headboard and leave a small tent instead.

Oh, and bring your own toilet paper.

General manager John Gates says the hotel hopes people who try the promotion will return at full price.


Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune,

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Trial cost $20,000 to prosecute man for stealing $.25 banana

Taxpayer funds $20,000 court case to prosecute man for stealing $.25 banana... and he is found not guilty


Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:52 PM on 07th August 2009


James Gallagher

Cleared: James Gallagher was found not guilty of stealing a $.25 banana. But his two-day trial cost taxpayers $20,000

A man prosecuted for stealing a $.25 banana has been cleared after a trial which cost the taxpayer $20,000.

James Gallagher, 23, was accused of stealing the fruit from the Del Villagio restaurant in Birmingham's Bullring shopping centre.

But a jury at Birmingham Crown Court jurors took less than half an hour to find him not guilty of burglary and a lesser charge of theft.

Speaking after the verdict was delivered, Mr Gallagher said: 'It's shocking, it's just a waste of taxpayers' money. I cannot understand how they've got away with it.'

Recorder Mr Shamim Qureshi told the jury before they delivered their verdict: 'It is easy sometimes to think "What is this case doing at the crown court?"

'Today is day two - this theoretically has cost $20,000.

'Our criminal legal system in this country is second to none when compared to many other legal systems around the world, it enables the person to come to the crown court and say I want to be tried by my peers.

'The allegation is one which is burglary and that is always a serious allegation no matter what is alleged to have been stolen in the burglary itself.

'It is fairly easy to make lots of jokes, but do remember it is a serious allegation that the defendant faces.'

Mr Gallagher, who lives in Handsworth, Birmingham, said he was relieved and had chosen a crown court trial because he expected magistrates would have found him guilty.

Mr Gallagher was charged with burglary contrary to the Theft Act.

He was accused of entering the Italian restaurant with Christopher Ogelsby, 22, at 8.45am on March 13 when its deli was not due to open until 10am, and stole a banana.

The jury heard that the shutters at Del Villagio were halfway up and after seeing a member of staff in the store, Mr Gallagher and Ogelsby went underneath them into the store and picked up bananas.

They were already being watched by security officers and were apprehended almost immediately before being arrested.

Ogelsby pleaded guilty to burglary at Birmingham Magistrates Court on March 14 and was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

In Mr Gallagher's defence, Mr Niall Skinner told the court he and Ogelsby were tipsy after drinking until the early hours to celebrate Mr Gallagher's birthday two days before.

He said he had not been given the chance to pay for the goods, even though he had money on him, because the security team had acted and accused him so quickly.

Martin Lindop, district crown prosecutor for Birmingham Crown Prosecution Service, said: 'The Crown Prosecution Service recommended that this matter was suitable to be dealt with in the magistrates' court.

'However, Mr James Gallagher elected trial by jury, as is his right, so the case was heard in the crown court.

'It is not the cost of the item that determines whether we proceed with a prosecution, but whether there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest.

'In this case, we felt that there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest for the prosecution to proceed.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Restaurant Threatens To Kick Out 6 Month Old Not Wearing Shoes

Restaurant Threatens To Kick Out 6 Month Old Not Wearing Shoes

Andy Banker

August 4, 2009,0,5070606.story



Burger King Offers An Apology For "No Shoes" Mishap

Andy Banker

August 5, 2009,0,3860883.story

Friday, August 7, 2009


Mouse builds nest egg in ATM with $20 bills


Dick Mason

The Observer

August 07, 2009 02:11 pm

A mouse robbed the Gem Stop Chevron convenience store on Island Avenue Thursday.

A mouse with no larceny in its heart but a taste for $20 bills.

The tiny rodent squeezed into the automated teller machine inside the store and made a nest with $20 bills.

The ATM was operating well and nobody suspected anything. That is, until Millie Taylor, a Gem Stop employee, opened it around 9 a.m. Thursday and received the surprise of her life.

“I saw these beady eyes and a lot of chewed up $20 bills,’’ Taylor said.

She slammed the ATM’s door shut and screamed. Then she composed herself.

“I stayed calm until the customers left.’’

Taylor then carefully opened up the ATM machine and found a nest made from torn up $20 bills.

“It was a pretty spendy nest,’’ Taylor said.

The mouse had completely torn up two $20 bills and damaged 14 others. Fortunately, a bank replaced the 14 bills that were not extensively damaged. But the two other $20 bills were a total loss.

No bills damaged by the mouse were dispensed to customers.

The mouse, unharmed, was taken outside and allowed to run away.

“There was not a trial or anything,’’ Taylor said with a laugh.

Gem Stop employees are still mystified as to how the mouse got in the ATM machine.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Paraplegic fined $25 now owes $7200 for driving wheelchair on his property

After amnesty, paraplegic man still owes Palm Bay a hefty fine




August 6, 2009

PALM BAY -- Harold Westlake will pay $60 a month for the next year to clear a lien on his house, the required amount through a short-term program that forgives 90 percent of what's owed to the city

Westlake had questioned whether he was properly notified of the code-enforcement fines, which had grown since 2005. But the Palm Bay officials didn't make any concession.

"I'm going over my budget this month," Westlake said. "If I can afford it, I will."

Westlake, 46, has been a paraplegic for more than a decade because of a diving accident. He draws $850 a month in Social Security and pays $200 in child support for three of his four children.

FLORIDA TODAY told his story after the Richardson Street resident got a letter from Palm Bay's code compliance department in May, saying he owed almost $7,200 for a citation he received -- and said he fixed -- in 2005.

Under the amnesty program in effect until Sept. 30, he would pay 10 percent, or $722.

Westlake also found out he was ineligible to hook up to city water unless the lien was paid. He had hoped to qualify for a Florida program that would have paid hookup costs.

With the lien payments set, he can get his water, but there's no more money in the state's program this year for help.

"I believe he is financing the water hookup under our existing program for a 20-year period," City Manager Lee Feldman said. "Making monthly payments (it) came out to about $30 a month."

That will make his monthly payment to the city $90.

Westlake received a certified letter in May 2005 alerting him to code violations: one for parking a junked vehicle in his side yard and the other for driving in a shallow swale so he could access his van with his wheelchair on the driveway. It did not detail penalties.

Code enforcement records say two other letters were sent, but not certified. One told him of a code enforcement hearing, which he didn't attend.

A fourth "finding of fact" letter was sent -- and recorded as a lien on the property in October 2005 with the Brevard County Clerk of the Court office. A copy states that "a fine of $25 be imposed for each and every day the violation continues or is repeated."

But Westlake said he never heard from the city after the first letter in 2005. And he stopped driving through the swale -- the only problem he remembers from that letter.

"From my perspective, the matter is closed," Feldman said.

But Westlake said he would like to meet with the city manager as a private citizen and not as a part of the group Faceoff, which is fighting code enforcement fines.

"I just want to get my little situation cleared up."



Harold Westlake discusses the fines accrued with code enforcement at his Palm Bay home in June. In 2005, Westlake received a warning about parking his van in the grass beside his driveway to allow his handicapped ramp to extend onto the driveway. He stopped parking that way, but fines still accrued to more than $7,000. 
Harold Westlake discusses the fines accrued with code enforcement at his Palm Bay home in June. In 2005, Westlake received a warning about parking his van in the grass beside his driveway to allow his handicapped ramp to extend onto the driveway. He stopped parking that way, but fines still accrued to more than $7,000. (Christina Stuart, FLORIDA TODAY)

Friday, August 7, 2009


Bride's Wedding Dress Train Takes 3 Hours To Unroll and Pin 9,999 Roses On It

Chinese bride gets married in 1.4 mile-long wedding dress

A Chinese bride has made a bid for the record books when she turned up for her wedding wearing a 1.4 mile-long gown.


Published: 7:00AM BST 07 Aug 2009

The bride and groom smiling at a wedding held in Jilin, China: Chinese bride gets married in 1.4 mile-long wedding dress
Zhao Peng, the groom, and his family spent over two months stitching together the trail of the dress to break the former Guinness World Record for the longest wedding dress which is 1,579 meters long displayed in Bucharest, Romania earlier this year Photo: BARCROFT
Longest wedding dress veil: Chinese bride gets married in 1.4 mile-long wedding dress
Aerial view of length of the train of a wedding dress Photo: REUTERS
Longest wedding dress veil: Chinese bride gets married in 1.4 mile-long wedding dress
Aerial view of length of the train of a wedding dress Photo: REUTERS

More than 200 guests took over three hours to unroll Lin Rong's wedding train and pin on 9,999 red silk roses for her wedding, Xinhua news agency said.

Groom Zhao Peng said he wanted to challenge the current world record of 1,579 metres.

"Both the length of the dress and the number of silk roses pinned on the wedding dress can make history. But it doesn't matter whether I can successfully register it on Guinness," the 28-year-old railway worker from northeast Jilin province was quoted as saying.

Zhao said he had sent an application to Guinness World Records and would also send a video of his wedding with his 25-year-old school teacher.

"I do not want a cliche wedding parade or banquet," the groom said, "nor can I afford the extravagance of a hot balloon wedding."

But even so, his family was initially not too impressed at the far from frugal 40,000-yuan (nearly $6,000) price tag.

"It is a waste of money in my opinion," his mother said. "Though I understand that he wants to show his love on the big day."

Lin Rong, the bride, laughed and cried at the romantic gesture.

Zhao said he was actually inspired by the world's record of the longest wedding dress made in Romania in April when he planned his wedding.

He bought the materials and asked his relatives for help in making the wedding dress by hand, which has taken three months to finish.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Nurse of the Year charged with not being a nurse

Norwalk woman charged with pretending to be a registered nurse

Woman accused of practicing without license
John Nickerson
The Advocate
Staff Writer
Posted: 08/06/2009 06:16:51 PM EDT
Updated: 08/06/2009 08:49:55 PM EDT



NORWALK -- A city woman who worked for a Norwalk doctor as a registered nurse and allegedly staged a dinner honoring herself as Nurse of the Year was arrested Thursday after investigators determined she was not licensed to practice nursing, state Division of Criminal Justice spokesman Mark Dupuis said in a release.

Betty Lichtenstein, 56, of 24 Reservoir Ave., was arrested by inspectors from the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Chief State's Attorney and charged with illegal use of the registered nurse title, six counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and criminal impersonation. She was released after posting $5,000 bond.

An investigation of Lichtenstein began in March, after a patient of Norwalk neurologist Dr. Gerald Weiss complained that she acted unprofessionally. Investigators found she was never licensed to practice nursing, even though she injected medications and gave medical advice to patients, her arrest warrant affidavit said.

Lichtenstein did not return a call for comment. Weiss declined comment.

Nearly three months ago, police arrested Lichtenstein at a local pharmacy, charging her with second-degree forgery and illegally obtaining prescription painkillers, according to Norwalk Sgt. Andre Velez. That investigation began when an employee of the East Avenue Rite Aid pharmacy called Weiss to check if he wrote a prescription to Lichtenstein for oxycodone, a narcotic.

When Weiss said he had no knowledge of the prescription, police waited for Lichtenstein to show up and fill the prescription.

She was charged with forgery and illegally obtaining prescription medication. That case is pending at state Superior Court in Norwalk.

Lichtenstein, who earlier told The Advocate she began working for Weiss in 2007, went to great lengths to show that she was a competent nurse.

In November 2008, according to the affidavit, she received the 2008 Nurse of the Year award at a dinner supposedly hosted by the Connecticut Nursing Association.

Investigators in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Chief State's Attorney's office determined that no such organization exists and that she paid $2,000 of her own money to stage the event, the affidavit said.

Lichtenstein is to be arraigned on Aug. 26.

Staff Writer John Nickerson can be reached at

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Don't jail pot suspects with small amounts says District Attorney

Posted: Thursday, 06 August 2009 12:50PM

D.A.: Don't jail pot suspects with small amounts

Dave Cohen Reporting
New Orleans' District Attorney says people caught with small amounts of marijuana should not be arrested.

"It would allow for sort of a releases, relieving the crowded conditions in the parish jail, because many of these people could be given essentially a traffic ticket and a summons to show up in court to handle their particular marijuana charge," Leon Cannizzaro said.

Leon Cannizzaro today also called on the City Council to make it so that such pot possession cases don't have to be prosecuted in the state court system.

"Consider a city ordinance which would allow for the prosecution of the simple possession of marijuana cases in the municipal court," Cannizzaro requested of the city council.

Cannizzaro says some 700 simple marijuana possession cases are currently pending in criminal court in New Orleans. He says making it a municipal offense would open make the courts more efficient.

The D.A. wanted to make it clear that he doesn't want this to be misinterpreted. "I am not here advocating the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in any way whatsoever," he told the council.

Cannizzaro pointed out that the maximum penalty for simple marijuana possession would remain six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

The judges currenlty handling the marijuana don't like the idea.  In a statement this afternoon, they said as a group: "For public safety and constitutional reasons, the Criminal District Court Judges oppose first offense marijuana prosecutions being transferred from State Court to Municipal Court."


Thursday, August 6, 2009


600-pound prisoner hid gun in fat layers

Obese Houston inmate found with gun after 5 searches



Houston Chronicle

Aug. 6, 2009, 12:41PM



Harris County Sheriff's Department

George Vera, 25, is charged with possession of

a firearm in a correctional facility.



An obese Harris County jail inmate turned over a pistol that had been hidden in the folds of his skin after he went through at least five searches upon his arrest and was booked into two different local lockups, authorities said.

George Vera, 25, is charged with possession of a firearm in a correctional facility. He also is charged with possessing or selling unlabeled recordings, the original reason for his arrest.

Authorities said he was caught with 439 compact disc recordings which did not have labels noting manufacturers or distributors.

Vera is free on a total of $10,000 bail. The Chronicle was unable to reach him at his home.

The Houston Police Department, which operates the city jail, and the Harris County Sheriff's Office, which operates the county jail, are investigating.

The case comes on the heels of the county jail passing a state inspection last week after the facility corrected problems found during a previous inspection in April.

"It's certainly troubling and that's why we're conducting an investigation to see what happened," said Christina Garza, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

A spokesman for the Houston Police Department, Kese Smith, said that procedures call for a suspect to be searched upon arrest, twice at the city jail and once more upon his transfer. He said there's no special provision regarding obese people, but officers are trained to thoroughly search suspects.

Vera, who is 5-foot-10 and weighs more 500 pounds, was arrested by Houston police and booked into the city jail Sunday on suspicion of bootlegging compact disc recordings, said Donna Hawkins, spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

By Monday, Vera was transferred to the county jail, where he was searched at least once. While he was in the shower that day, he told a guard that he had weapon on him.

Garza said officers found a 9-millimeter handgun beneath folds of his skin. The gun was not loaded and it was unclear whether bullets were found.

The incident comes after the troubled jail at 1200 Baker passed a surprise inspection last week by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The review found that all deficiencies cited during the April inspection had been corrected.

In April, the lockup failed inspection because of malfunctioning intercoms, broken toilets and crowding in holding cells, where inmates are placed before they are formally booked.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Mom who let 7-year-old son drive sentenced

Fairbanks mom who let 7-year-old son drive sentenced

By Chris Freiberg

Daily News Miner 

Originally published Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 1:08 p.m.
Updated Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 12:00 a.m.

FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks woman who let her 7-year-old son drive while she was passed out drunk in the passenger seat has been sentenced to six months in jail with all but 20 days suspended.

A judge ordered Karen Koch, 37, to report to jail by Oct. 1. She will be on probation for three years and have to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times per week for the next six months.

“While life as a single mother is hard, turning to alcohol and making stupid decisions puts the public at risk, puts you at risk and puts your child at risk,” District Court Judge Raymond Funk told Koch.

Koch pleaded guilty to one count of reckless endangerment in exchange for prosecutors dropping the other charge of allowing an unauthorized person to drive. Sentencing was up to the judge at Wednesday morning’s hearing.

A neighbor at the Lakeview Terrace mobile home park called troopers in May after seeing a young boy driving a silver Mazda Protege with a passed out adult passenger.

The neighbor told troopers that the young driver came within a few feet of striking her parked vehicle.

Troopers were able to trace the plates to Koch’s nearby home and arrived just as the boy was exiting the driver’s seat.

Koch, who had leaned back in the front passenger’s seat, woke up a few minutes later and identified the child as her son.

She told the trooper that she let her son drive the car from a nearby stop sign and did not see what the problem was, according to court records.

Koch, who has three previous convictions for drunken driving, did not make a statement during the hearing.

Funk compared the punishment to what a defendant would usually receive for a second DUI conviction. Because two of her convictions are more than 10 years old, if Koch had been charged with drunken driving, it would have been considered a second offense.

Koch’s public defender, Katie Kelliher, contended that Koch was sober as she let the boy drive home, and as the boy was listening to radio in the car, Koch went inside and had two drinks, which is when troopers arrived.

“Ms. Koch has realized she made a mistake,” Kelliher said. “She misunderstood what she could and couldn’t do with allowing her child to drive. ... Alcohol was not a factor in her decision making until after the incident.”

However, Funk said that regardless of whether Koch was sober, it was a poor decision to let such a young child drive.

“I’m worried that if anything I’m being too lenient,” he said. “I want you to understand that it’s appalling to let a 7-year-old drive, and to say you didn’t see the problem is just horrific.”

Koch’s sentence is slightly longer than that of a Fairbanks man who in August 2007 was convicted of letting his 11-year-old son get behind the wheel because he was too drunk to drive. In that case, the man was sentenced to more than three months in jail with all but 15 days suspended.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Men Who Do The Housework Are More Likely To Get The Girl

Men Who Do The Housework Are More Likely To Get The Girl

ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2009)

According to an Oxford economist, marriage and cohabiting rates in developed countries can be linked to attitudes towards the roles of men and women, and views on who is responsible for doing the housework and looking after the children.  Both men and women have shown they are more likely to want a live-in relationship with the opposite sex if they think their partner will do a share of the housework and childcare duties.

An Oxford study suggests that if you want to settle down, your chances of getting married or living with someone are probably highest in Great Britain, the Scandinavian countries and the United States. According to the study, men in those countries are more likely than their Australian counterparts to do the household chores and thereby make marriage a more attractive option to their nation's women.

The study constructs an 'egalitarian index' of 12 developed countries, based on responses to questionnaires about gender, housework and childcare responsibilities. Norway and Sweden top the egalitarian index, with Great Britain in third place, followed by the United States. At the bottom of the index are Japan, Germany, and Austria, with Australia languishing as the least egalitarian. Data about the number of women in partnerships was then compared against the index. Women of similar age and educational background were compared across the participating countries to see if their country's rating on the egalitarian index bore any relation to whether they were living with a man or not. Other controlling factors, such as the female unemployment, were taken account of.

The study found that women living in less egalitarian countries were between 20 and 50 per cent less likely to be living with a man than comparable women living in a more egalitarian country. For instance, the findings would predict that the average British woman was 8.5 percentage points more likely than a similar Australian woman to be in a live-in relationship.*

Study author Dr Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, an ESRC-funded researcher at the Centre for Time Use Research at Oxford University, concludes that women living in countries with the highest proportion of egalitarian men are more likely to marry or live with a man. The study also suggests that a more egalitarian woman in any country is less likely than a less egalitarian woman to set up home with a man because, everything else being equal, most men would choose a woman who they can rely on to do housework and look after the children. While egalitarian men seem to be viewed as a better bet by women, egalitarian women are seen as a less safe bet by men.

Dr Sevilla-Sanz said: 'In egalitarian countries you might, in principle, expect to see women preferring to remain single rather than face the prospect of spending more time doing household chores. However, this study shows that in egalitarian countries there is less social stigma attached to men doing what was traditionally women's work. For instance, if paternity leave is the social norm, more men take it. This leads to men in egalitarian societies taking on more of a domestic role so the likelihood of forming a harmonious household becomes greater, resulting in a higher proportion of couples setting up households in these countries. 'If developed countries want to look at why the birth rate in their country is falling, we need to focus on the drivers for whether couples decide to live together and start a family. It seems to show what couples ask 'Will I be better off?'. Women in less egalitarian countries are saying 'No'. Countries with a low birth rate face the challenge of a shrinking workforce in coming decades with questions about who will pay for public services and social support.

Sample size for index: The representative sample of 13,500 men and women, aged between 20-45 years old from each of the 12 countries, was taken from the same survey carried out in 1994 and 2002 as part of the International Social Survey Program. (ISSP is a program of cross-national collaboration on surveys between several social science institutes.)

Calculation explained: According to the egalitarian index, British women face a more egalitarian society than Australian women. The egalitarian index in Great Britain is 0.08, compared to - 0.16 in Australia, which results in Britain being a more egalitarian society by 0.24. Given the author's estimate that a higher egalitarian index increases the likelihood of a woman to live with a man between 20 and 50 percent, this yields a difference in the likelihood that a British woman lives with a man of 8.5 percentage points higher than her Australian counterpart, ie. 50% X 0.24+20%X 0.24=8.4 percentage points, or 0.08 per cent. The country with the highest egalitarian index is Sweden with a value of the index of 0.43.

The countries in the egalitarian index (in descending order) are: Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, United States, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Austria and Australia.




Thursday, August 6, 2009


Teacher Forces Student to Smoke 42 Cigarettes in 2 Hours

Teacher Forces Student to Smoke 42 Cigarettes in 2 Hours

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia —  A Malaysian teacher forced a student to smoke 42 cigarettes in two hours as punishment after finding the boy had a cigarette and lighter, a news report said Thursday.

A school official confirmed that the English teacher subjected the student to the unusual punishment but said the teenager was made to smoke fewer than 42 cigarettes. He declined to elaborate.

He said the teacher was upset when she found that her model student had a cigarette and a lighter in his locker in the school in the northern island of Langkawi.

The boy also smelled of cigarettes, said a school official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. He said the school apologized to the boy's uncle, who lodged a police report when he found out about the punishment.

"This is not normal. We don't do that often," the official said.

He said it was up to the state's education department to take action against the teacher, but officials there could not be immediately reached Thursday.

Police on Langkawi could not be reached for comment.

The New Straits Times daily quoted the 16-year-old boy as saying he was made to smoke 42 cigarettes — four at a time for more than two hours. The punishment was witnessed by other teachers and students.

In 2007, another Malaysian teacher was reprimanded after she made almost 140 teenage girls squat in a pond at a boarding school as punishment for clogging the toilets.

The punishment caused an outcry, leading to Malaysia's Education Ministry to announce it would issue specific guidelines on how teachers should discipline students.

The government permits boys to be whipped with a rattan cane in schools for such offenses as smoking, vandalism and harming others.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Correctional facilities to charge inmates $90 a day

Do the crime, pay for the time, as in $90 a day
AUGUST 4, 2009

Earlier this year, he announced that inmates would be charged $1.25 per day for meals. His decision followed months of food strikes staged by inmates who complained of being fed green bologna and moldy bread.

In Iowa’s Des Moines County, where officials faced a $1.7 million budget hole this year, politicians considered charging prisoners for toilet paper — at a savings of $2,300 per year. The idea was ultimately dropped, after much derision.

A New Jersey legislator introduced a bill similar to New York’s, this one based on fees charged by the Camden County Correctional Facility, which bills prisoners $5 a day for room and board and $10 per day for infirmary stays — totaling an estimated $300,000 per year.

In Virginia, Richmond’s overcrowded city jail has begun charging $1 per day, hoping to earn as much as $200,000 a year. In Missouri’s Taney County, home to Branson, the sheriff says charging inmates $45 per day will help pay for his new $27 million jail.

Prisons and jails took some of the biggest cuts this summer when legislators took machetes to their state budgets, trying to slash their way out of an economic morass exacerbated by dwindling tax revenues. But to civil rights advocates — and some law enforcement officials — trying to raise money by charging inmates makes no sense.

“The overwhelming number of people who end up in prison are poor,” said Elizabeth Alexander, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project. “The number of times in which these measures actually result in a lot of money coming in is very small.”

Alexander also says such efforts only amount to political window dressing. “They allow someone to look tough on crime instead of being effective,” she said.

Collecting the fees covers a wide spectrum. In Richmond, they are deducted from a prisoner’s personal account — which contains whatever money relatives send and any cash the suspect had when arrested. In Arizona, sheriff Arpaio, who makes inmates wear pink underwear to increase the humiliation factor, also taps prisoner accounts. Inmates who have no money still receive food, the sheriff says.

Other authorities slap the prisoner with a bill upon release from prison. But it’s often hard to collect. In Kansas, Overland Park officials acknowledged collecting only 39 percent of fees. In Missouri’s Jackson County, officials discovered they spent more money trying to collect fees than they actually received from inmates.

In some cases, it’s prisoners’ families who shoulder the financial burden.

“It’s the spouses, children and parents who pay the fees. They are the people who contribute to prisoners’ canteen accounts,” said Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which successfully opposed an effort earlier this year in Georgia to bill prisoners $40 per day.

The money was to be collected by seizing cash in their jail accounts or by filing lawsuits. The proposal also would have denied parole to those who could not make payments after being freed.

“It makes no sense to release people with $25, a bus ticket and $40,000 in reimbursement fees,” she said. “Saddling people with thousands of dollars in debt is contradictory to helping someone become a functioning member of society.”

In recent years, as get-tough sentencing and drug penalties increased, the nation’s prison population skyrocketed. Chain gangs returned to states including Arizona and Alabama. Premium cable was eliminated in federal prisons. New York killed an inmate program that paid tuition for college-degree programs.

But trying to make prisoners pay to serve time is a wasted effort, civil rights advocates say. “This is a dry well,” Alexander said. “They’re not going to solve this (economic) problem by going down it.”

Asked if she had heard about Des Moines County’s proposal to charge inmates for toilet paper, Alexander laughed.

“I did not,” she replied. “That’s a good metaphor for the whole effort.”

This photo released by the Metropolitan Corrections Center shows a jail cell at the facility in New York. GOP Assemblyman James Tedisco introduced a bill that would charge wealthy criminals $90 a day for room and board at state prisons. (AP/HO)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Courthouse Evacuates 3,200 With Image of Gun-Like Lighter

Image of gun-like cigarette lighter on security x-ray screen prompts evacuation at Hillsborough County courthouse


Rebecca Catalanello and Kim Wilmath

St Petersburg Times Staff Writers

Posted: Aug 05, 2009 12:55 PM




TAMPA — Law enforcement forced 3,200 people to evacuate Hillsborough County's George Edgecomb E. Courthouse Wednesday after a security worker discovered that someone had slipped through an X-ray scanning machine with what appeared to be a semiautomatic pistol stuffed in a bag.

After a full day investigation, sheriff's detectives discovered the supposed weapon was a lighter.

But it's still unclear how a Tampa woman was able to walk through security, grab her bag from the conveyor belt and move into the building before a security worker viewing the X-ray monitors recognized a picture of a gun and notified others.

And the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office also wants to know why it took security more than two hours to notify them that there may be a gun in the building.

"We do most of the security inside," said Col. Jim Previtera.

The Sheriff's Office has 130 bailiffs assigned to the county courthouse, but their primary charge is to secure courtrooms. Hillsborough County government supplies unsworn security workers to operate the front-door screenings.

Previtera said at 8:45 a.m., the woman placed the bag on the conveyor and the county security realized pretty quickly that there was an image of a gun on the screen, but for an unknown reason she was gone before anyone could stop her.

Security notified the sheriff's office more than two hours later.

And the noontime evacuation lasted an hour and 45 minutes and caused a measure of chaos outside the downtown building, 800 E Twiggs St., where people chatted curb side and television news cameras struggled to captured the scene.

Sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said word went out over loud speakers ordering everyone to collect their belongings and move out.

Dawn Emigh, 45, was at the courthouse for jury duty when the word went out. As she waited in line to go back in, she admitted she was somewhat nervous. "Hopefully they'll do a better job, right?" she said.

After reviewing surveillance video for two hours, sheriff's detectives identified a woman who stopped and talked to a Tampa detective as the person with the supposed gun.

Previtera refused to release the woman's name, saying she was not being charged with a crime. But he said she is from Tampa, and had come to the building for a family matter in court.

The city detective took them to the woman's house, Previtera said, where she produced the lighter and told them she had taken the toy from her nephew because of how real it looked.

"Right now we are just sending the information to the State Attorney's Office to find out if they want to charge her at all," he said. "But we haven't charged her with anything because it seemed as if she just forgot she had it."

Neither Previtera nor Carl Harness, the county's public safety administrator, would say how many security workers are employed at the courthouse or what, if any action, was being taken concerning the employee or employees who spotted the gun.

The purpose of the evacuation, Previtera said, was to empty the building as quickly as possible, sweep the space for any danger, then thoroughly rescreen everyone as they entered again.

About 25 deputies from Sheriff's Homeland Security Division were called in to assist with clearing the building, while Tampa police sent in another 10 officers to help maintain order.

Previtera said the Sheriff's Office is working along with county administration to conduct an internal review of exactly what took place.

The county government also supplies security personnel to County Center on Kennedy Boulevard, the Plant City courthouse, and government offices at the Floriland Mall, Harness said.

"I made my anger really clear regarding the way this was handled," Previtera said. "County Administrator Pat Bean will be investigating how this happened."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Alligator capture leads to drug arrests

Gator capture leads to drug arrests in north Fla.


Posted on Wednesday, 08.05.09

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- An alligator capture has led to the arrests of some north Florida apartment tenants who forgot to hide their drugs.

According to a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wildlife officers received a tip that two gators were being held captive in an apartment in Tallahassee. The officers went to the apartment and spoke with the tenants, who then allowed for the officers to go inside and retrieve the gators.

The report says the tenants had left drugs and drug paraphernalia in plain view. So the wildlife officers called in the Leon County Sheriff's Office, which took over the narcotics investigation.

The report does not specify how large the gators were, identify the tenants or specify their drug-related charges.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Precious silver heirloom thrown out with recycling

Precious silver heirloom thrown out with recycling

A pensioner, Roger Quilligan, who hid a family heirloom in a box of papers after the family were burgled, has lost it after his wife threw it out with the recycling.

Daily Telegraph

Published: 1:18PM BST 05 Aug 2009

Roger Quilligan and his wife with a picture of the goblet: Precious silver heirloom thrown out with recycling
A pensioner has begun a desperate bid to trace a precious family heirloom - after his wife accidentally threw it out with the recycling Photo: SOLENT

Mr Quilligan, 66, from Hampshire, put the silver goblet, which is worth £500, into what he thought was the perfect place to keep it safe.

However, he returned from holiday to find that his wife Shirley had mistakenly thrown the the box out with the recycling.

The couple are now desperately trying to trace where their recycling, along with the 1922 hallmarked goblet, could have been sent.

Mr Quilligan said: "It is very upsetting because it is irreplaceable.

"It was a treasured family heirloom that has been passed down in my family and I made a point of hiding it because it was so precious to us."

Mr Quilligan, who lives in Chandler's Ford, near Southampton, Hants, received the heirloom from the Bishop of Salford when his uncle, the Reverend Thomas Quilligan, died 20 years ago.

The nine-inch high chalice, which Rev Quilligan used for Mass, had given to him by his mother during the 1930s and carries an inscription remembering his late sister.

Mr Quilligan is hoping somebody may have spotted the treasure.

The local council told him it was probably at a recycling plant in Alresford, Hants.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Man spells out anger at city on his house

Man spells out anger at Cary on house

Town, resident at odds over runoff

The News & Observer
Staff writer

Published: Tue, Aug. 04, 2009 05:03AM

Modified Tue, Aug. 04, 2009 07:47AM

CARY -- Somebody told David Bowden that he needed to put in writing his complaint that water runoff from a town road project is ruining his home.

So Bowden did. In fluorescent orange spray paint. In letters 2 feet tall. On the exterior siding of his two-story white clapboard house.

"I didn't know any other way to get their attention," Bowden said Monday, as traffic slowed so passers-by could make out the message: "Screwed by the town of Cary."

Bowden blames the town for water that pools under his house deep enough to lap at the ductwork. The problem started after Cary elevated Southwest Maynard Road in front of the home.

Town officials, meanwhile, said they have tried to work with Bowden to resolve the issue, to no avail.

The property at 305 Southwest Maynard had water-drainage problems when Bowden moved into it in 1992. The previous owner dealt with it by installing a sump pump. Bowden said he went a step further, paying to excavate around the foundation of the house, waterproof the structure and pour in stone to help with drainage.

That worked pretty well, he said, until the city resurfaced what was then two lanes with a turn lane. The new pavement sloped toward Bowden's home, he said, and when it rained hard, an inch of water would come down his driveway, across his carport and into his utility room.

The problem got exponentially worse, he said, when Cary widened Maynard Road. As part of the project, completed last August, the town built up the roadbed, raising it 6 feet where it passes Bowden's house. His front door is now below the grade of the road. The city had to relocate his driveway entrance because of the steep slope. The widening also took several feet of Bowden's front yard and the trees that stood there.

Mike Bajorek, assistant Cary town manager, said the town paid Bowden $5,300 for the loss of yard and trees. The city also built a retaining wall where the corner of Bowden's driveway meets the steepest shoulder of the road, and it installed drainage pipes. But Bowden said that the pipes open onto the driveway and that the water heads for the house.

"You don't have to be an engineer to know that water runs downhill," said Bowden, who has complained to his town council representative, town engineers and others.

Bajorek said the town has repeatedly offered to build a different drainage system to route the water around the house. But Bowden has refused to allow it.

On Friday, Bowden decided he wouldn't call town hall anymore. He called a sign painter, whom he paid $200 cash to erect a scaffold and emblazon his gripe with the town. It's between the second-floor windows, at street level.

At this point, he said, he doesn't want the town to stop the water. He wants Cary to buy his house, at its $170,000 tax value, plus $80,000 for his trouble. With the money, the retired convenience-store manager wants to buy a motor home and travel the country.

He has received a response from the town, but it wasn't a buyout offer. It was a notice that his message of protest violates the town's sign ordinance and he is subject to fines up to $500 a day.

"Turning your house into a billboard, regardless of the message, isn't consistent with community values," Bajorek said.



 David Bowden, 67, blames town of Cary road projects for sharply increasing rainwater runoff that floods his house. After he had this sign painted, the town notified him that it is illegal. - STAFF PHOTO BY SHAWN ROCCO

David Bowden, 67, blames town of Cary road projects for sharply increasing rainwater runoff that floods his house. After he had this sign painted, the town notified him that it is illegal. - STAFF PHOTO BY SHAWN ROCCO
 Before: Bowden
Before: Bowden's front yard had mature trees and was roughly level with Maynard Road. - COURTESY OF DAVID BOWDEN
 After: The town of Cary
After: The town of Cary's work on Maynard Road, including a new turn lane, removed all the trees in front and left a 6-foot slope from the road down to the yard. Bowden says runoff floods his laundry room, near the carport. He wants the town to buy his house. - STAFF PHOTO BY SHAWN ROCCO

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Carjacker can't drive a stick shift returns keys

Would-be Reno carjacker can't drive a stick shift, returns victim's keys


Jaclyn O'Malley • August 4, 2009


A 23-year-old man remained jailed Tuesday after Reno police said he allegedly returned his car jacking victim’s key’s because he couldn’t drive her manual transmission.


Kent Howard Boedicker was booked Monday afternoon into the Washoe County Jail on suspicion of armed robbery, and remained in lieu of $10,000 bail.


A 57-year-old registered nurse called police at about noon on Monday to report that a man tried to carjack her four-door Hyundai, and ran off after he was unable to drive the stick shift. She had been parked in Borders Books parking lot in the 4900 block of South Virginia Street when he approached her with a gun. Officers found the weapon, which turned out to be a BB gun.


The woman was rolling her window down when she saw Boedicker, whom she said appeared pale, ill and had cuts on his body. Police said the woman asked him if he needed help. He then opened her car door and demanded she give him the keys. She said ‘no” and closed the door.


Again, police said Boedicker opened the door, demanding keys. The woman noticed he had a gun, and complied.


Soon after he got inside the car, he got out and gave the woman her keys.


“I don’t need these anymore,” the woman recalled him saying.


Reno police found Boedicker in the Save-Mart parking lot. He was identified by the woman and arrested. Police believe that Boedicker does not know how to drive a stick, which caused him to abandon his efforts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Pricetag to raise a child in the U.S. -- $291,570

Pricetag to raise a child in the U.S. -- $291,570

August 4, 2009 6:52 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A middle-income family can expect to spend $291,570 (172,210 pounds) including inflation to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood, the government estimated on Tuesday, up slightly from the estimate made a year ago.

The estimate covers food, shelter and other necessities for a child to age 18, said the annual report by the Agriculture Department. The figure does not include the cost of childbirth or college.

Housing accounts for one-third of expenditures on children. Food accounts for 16 percent, the same as child care and education, said the Expenditures on Children by Families report.

Last year, the USDA estimated it would cost $269,040 to raise a child born in 2007 to age 18, including inflation. The USDA has made the estimates since 1960, when the estimated cost was $25,300. The department said it planned to have an updated "Cost of Raising a Child Calculator" on the Internet soon.

Annual spending for child-rearing ranges from $11,610 to $13,480 for a middle-income, two-parent family, the USDA said. Families with lower incomes will spend less and families with higher incomes spend more. Expenses are highest in cities in the U.S. Northeast, followed by urban areas of the West and Midwest. They are lowest in rural America and cities in the South


(Reporting by Charles Abbott; editing by Todd Eastham)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Typo Turns Woman's Life Upside Down

Typo Turns Woman's Life Upside Down

David Quinlan
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Consumer Reporter


Posted: 12:57 pm PDT August 3, 2009Updated: 6:31 pm PDT August 3, 2009

SEATTLE -- A Renton woman is trying to get her life back on track after a simple typo turned everything upside down.

It all started when Brittany Ball was out shopping with her family in April and when she tried to use her credit card; the card was declined. After Ball was assured by the bank that her card being declined was just an error she tried to use another card a week later and the same thing happened.

Ball told KIRO 7 Consumer Investigator David Quinlan that apparently someone mistakenly entered her social security number during a bankruptcy proceeding in Pierce County and her number was switched with a Tacoma woman's number.  This simple clerical mistake however, had a big impact on Ball's life.

"Basically, my life was put on hold," Ball said.

Ball started getting bankruptcy notices in the mail, her credit line dropped to $200 and the bank put a hold on her car loan. For two months, Ball was living on virtually zero credit.

"It makes your name look bad," Ball told Quinlan. "Having to deal with the embarrassment at the store by having your cards turned down."

Ball tried to fix the problem spending hours on the phone and meeting with people at her bank but it took a court order to straighten out the error.

"It's not an easy thing when you're cruising along and you think everything is going okay and the next thing you know your whole life is upside down," Ball said.

The FTC told Quinlan that there is little anyone can do to stop this from happening to them and Bob Schroder with the Federal Trade Commission said that what happened to Ball borders on identity theft.

"All your accounts get frozen because your social security number got misused," Schroder said. "It can happen to anybody."

Quinlan tried contacting the firm representing the Tacoma woman in the bankruptcy case whose number was switched with Ball's but they did not return any calls.

Experts recommend checking your credit report each year to try to avoid something like this from happening. You can check your credit report or find out what else you can do to stop identity theft by clicking on the links below.  This simple clerical mistake however, had a big impact on Ball's life.


"Basically, my life was put on hold," Ball said.


Ball started getting bankruptcy notices in the mail, her credit line dropped to $200 and the bank put a hold on her car loan. For two months, Ball was living on virtually zero credit.


"It makes your name look bad," Ball told Quinlan. "Having to deal with the embarrassment at the store by having your cards turned down."


Ball tried to fix the problem spending hours on the phone and meeting with people at her bank but it took a court order to straighten out the error.


"It's not an easy thing when you're cruising along and you think everything is going okay and the next thing you know your whole life is upside down," Ball said.


The FTC told Quinlan that there is little anyone can do to stop this from happening to them and Bob Schroder with the Federal Trade Commission said that what happened to Ball borders on identity theft.


"All your accounts get frozen because your social security number got misused," Schroder said. "It can happen to anybody."


Quinlan tried contacting the firm representing the Tacoma woman in the bankruptcy case whose number was switched with Ball's but they did not return any calls.


Experts recommend checking your credit report each year to try to avoid something like this from happening. You can check your credit report or find out what else you can do to stop identity theft by clicking on the links below.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Parents videotape 7-year-old son driving SUV

Police probe video of 7-year-old driving

Last Updated: Monday, August 3, 2009 | 10:15 PM ET

CBC News





This photograph of a child driving a vehicle was taken from a YouTube video.Quebec provincial police are investigating and said charges could be laid after viewing a YouTube video showing the parents of a seven-year-old boy cheering their son on as he drives the family SUV on a country road.

"Since seeing this video, we've opened an investigation," Sgt. Chantal Mackels said Monday.

"Once the investigation is over with, we'll give it to the Crown prosecutor who will analyze it and decide if he's issuing a criminal offence."

Mackels wouldn't say what charges the parents could face.

Besides the fact that the child is underage, none of the five people in the Honda CR-V was wearing a seatbelt.

In the video, the boy sits on the edge of the driver's seat, looking relaxed but alert as he grips the steering wheel and drives the vehicle.

His father sits in the passenger seat with the video camera and gives a running commentary, identifying the boy as Samuel from the North Shore.

Dad cheerfully notes as the speed approaches 40 km/h that "it's a little fast."

Observing that his son is calmly chewing gum as he drives, the father tells him to "smile for the camera," although the boy's mother, who sits in the back seat with a little girl on her lap, apparently tells the father not to distract the boy.

An older boy sits in the back seat beside the mother.

She says something unintelligible at one point and gestures but smiles for the camera when it is pointed at her.

The boy's father tells Samuel he loves him several times and when he hits 70 km/h, dad starts to laugh and says, "He's rolling, he's rolling."

There was no apparent time stamp to indicate when the video was taken, although bloggers noticed it on Friday and copied it before it was quickly removed from YouTube. It has since reappeared on the popular site and several other sites.

The video is one of dozens posted on the site showing young children behind the wheel.

Last week, another seven-year-old became a media sensation in the United States when video surfaced of him leading police on a chase in Utah. He took his father's car because he didn't want to go to church.

With files from The Canadian Press

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Student Ordered to Pay $700,000 for Illegally Downloading 30 Songs


Court Orders Graduate Student To Pay Nearly $700,000 For Downloading Just 30 Songs Illegally

August 3, 2009 9:28 a.m. EST


Mayur Pahilajani - AHN News Writer

New York, NY (AHN) - A judge has ordered a graduate student to pay a total of $675,000 after he was found guilty of illegally downloading songs from a shared music Web site.

Joel Tenenbaum, the 25-year-old Boston University student, has pleaded guilty of the charges of downloading and distributing 30 songs.

He will be paying $22,500 per song to four record labels for willfully infringing on the copyright of the songs by bands, including Green Day, Incubus, Nirvana and Aerosmith.

The U.S. District Court jury could have ordered him to pay a maximum of $4.5 million in the case.

"We are grateful for the jury's service and their recognition of the impact of illegal downloading on the music community," a statement from the Recording Industry Association of America said yesterday.

"We appreciate that Tenenbaum finally acknowledged that artists and music companies deserve to be paid for their work. From the beginning, that's what this case has been about. We only wish he had done so sooner rather than lie about his illegal behavior," it added.

The recording companies are entitled for fines of up to $750 to $30,000 per infringement under the U.S. copyright law.

It is the second such case to go to trial in the U.S.

In July, a woman in Minneapolis was ordered to pay $1.92 million. Jammie Thomas-Rasse was fined $80,000 per song for copyright infringement for sharing 24 songs.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Man takes father's remains from cemetery to his home

THETFORD, Vt. -- A Vershire man has been accused of digging up his father's remains and bringing them home with him because he missed his late father.

Vermont Man Charged With Digging Up Dad

Police Say Man Brought Remains Home

POSTED: 9:57 am EDT August 3, 2009
UPDATED: 11:54 am EDT August 3, 2009


Dominik A. Bailey Jr., 43, has been charged with felony removal of human remains after allegedly digging up the cremated man's remains from a Vershire graveyard.


Thetford police said they received a call from Bailey's mother on Friday telling authorities that she believed her son had gone and dug up her husband's cremated remains, taking the remains and the headstone home with him. The mother said she was going to check the grave site and later told police all she saw at the site was a hole in the ground.  THETFORD, Vt. -- A Vershire man has been accused of digging up his father's remains and bringing them home with him because he missed his late father.


Dominik A. Bailey Jr., 43, has been charged with felony removal of human remains after allegedly digging up the cremated man's remains from a Vershire graveyard.


Thetford police said they received a call from Bailey's mother on Friday telling authorities that she believed her son had gone and dug up her husband's cremated remains, taking the remains and the headstone home with him. The mother said she was going to check the grave site and later told police all she saw at the site was a hole in the ground.

According to court papers, Bailey phoned his aunt in Connecticut admitting he took the remains home. The aunt said Bailey had talked about taking his father's remains home for months, but said she did not believe he would actually do it. The aunt also told police Bailey has made several threats to shoot relatives.


The aunt said Bailey left a message on her answering machine Friday saying that he was "going to get his father" and that the family "didn't need to leave flowers there anymore," according to court papers. The aunt also told police Bailey phoned her again later in the day and spoke with her, saying "he's here with me now" and that his father's remains were in his living room, along with the father's headstone.


On Saturday, a man who lives near the cemetery said a man -- who police suspect was Bailey -- asked him to borrow his wheelbarrow, returning the wheelbarrow after taking it to the cemetery.  According to court papers, Bailey phoned his aunt in Connecticut admitting he took the remains home. The aunt said Bailey had talked about taking his father's remains home for months, but said she did not believe he would actually do it. The aunt also told police Bailey has made several threats to shoot relatives.


The aunt said Bailey left a message on her answering machine Friday saying that he was "going to get his father" and that the family "didn't need to leave flowers there anymore," according to court papers. The aunt also told police Bailey phoned her again later in the day and spoke with her, saying "he's here with me now" and that his father's remains were in his living room, along with the father's headstone.


On Saturday, a man who lives near the cemetery said a man -- who police suspect was Bailey -- asked him to borrow his wheelbarrow, returning the wheelbarrow after taking it to the cemetery.

Police searched Bailey's home and recovered the remains and headstone of his late father. Bailey was not home at the time, but was pulled over by police in Thetford and taken into custody. He is being held at the Orange County Sheriff's Office and is scheduled to appear in court Monday.


The charge of felony removal of human remains carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.  Police searched Bailey's home and recovered the remains and headstone of his late father. Bailey was not home at the time, but was pulled over by police in Thetford and taken into custody. He is being held at the Orange County Sheriff's Office and is scheduled to appear in court Monday.


The charge of felony removal of human remains carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Funeral Manager Resells Woman's Casket

Funeral Manager Resells Woman's Casket

Woman Cremated On Cot

Reported By Nancy Amons
POSTED: 10:12 pm CDT July 31, 2009
UPDATED: 10:04 am CDT August 3, 2009






TULLAHOMA, Tenn. -- Madeline Coker of Tullahoma died in May 2007. Her family's wishes were for her to be cremated in a wooden casket, for which they paid more than $2,000.

"To prey on a person in their time of need is just not right," said Amy Palmer, Coker's niece. "You're hurt enough. Why does someone else have to hurt you?"

According to the state Board of Funeral Directors, the manager of the Tullahoma Funeral Home took her body out of the casket and resold the casket to another family..

The state suspended the license of Stephen Rees, the manager they said made the switch. He no longer works for the funeral home.

"I tried to follow what she had asked me to do very specifically," said Palmer.

"It's an unfortunate situation. We take our responsibilities to our families very seriously," said the current manager of the funeral home, Todd R. Howell.

The funeral home was fined $2,000.

"She was the ultimate gentile woman from the South -- just what you would think of the Southern belle," said Palmer.

Channel 4 was unable to reach Rees. A family member said he has moved to St. Louis, Miss.

The funeral home refunded the money to both families involved.

"To prey on a person in their time of need is just not right," said Amy Palmer, Coker's niece. "You're hurt enough. Why does someone else have to hurt you?"


According to the state Board of Funeral Directors, the manager of the Tullahoma Funeral Home took her body out of the casket and resold the casket to another family.

Coker was cremated on a cot.


"You're betrayed. I mean, the man had been so accommodating. You're hurt," said Palmer, who

lives in Ohio.


The state suspended the license of Stephen Rees, the manager they said made the switch. He no longer works for the funeral home.


"I tried to follow what she had asked me to do very specifically," said Palmer.


"It's an unfortunate situation. We take our responsibilities to our families very seriously," said the current manager of the funeral home, Todd R. Howell.


The funeral home was fined $2,000.


"She was the ultimate gentile woman from the South -- just what you would think of the Southern belle," said Palmer.


Channel 4 was unable to reach Rees. A family member said he has moved to St. Louis, Miss.


The funeral home refunded the money to both families involved.

Monday, August 3, 2009


The Top 100 Web Sites of 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009


Jobless College Graduate Sues College for $70,000 Tuition



NY Post

Last updated: 4:20 pm
August 2, 2009
Posted: 3:35 am
August 2, 2009

She has given new meaning to a class-action lawsuit.

Trina Thompson gave it the old college try, but couldn't find work. Now she thinks her sheepskin wasn't worth her time, and is suing her alma mater for her money back.

The Monroe College grad wants the $70,000 she spent on tuition because she hasn't found gainful employment since earning her bachelor's degree in April, according to a suit filed in Bronx Supreme Court on July 24.

The 27-year-old alleges the business-oriented Bronx school hasn't lived up to its end of the bargain, and has not done enough to find her a job.

The information-technology student blames Monroe's Office of Career Advancement for not providing her with the leads and career advice it promised.

"They have not tried hard enough to help me," the frustrated Bronx resident wrote about the school in her lawsuit.

"She's angry," said Thompson's mother, Carol. "She's very angry at her situation. She put all her faith in them, and so did I. They're not making an effort.

"She's finally finished [with school], and I'm so proud of her. She just wants a job."

The mother and daughter live together, but are struggling to get by. Carol, a substitute teacher, has been the only breadwinner.

"This is not the way we want to live our life," the mom said. "This is not what we planned."

As if being unemployed weren't enough, Trina's student loans are coming due, saddling the family with more debt, the mom said.

"We're going to be homeless, and we'll still have a student loan to pay," Carol said.

Monroe insists it helps graduates in their careers.

"The lawsuit is completely without merit," school spokesman Gary Axelbank said. "The college prides itself on the excellent career-development support that we provide to each of our students, and this case does not deserve further consideration."

The college's Office of Career Advancement advertises lifetime free service for graduates, and boasts on the school's Web site: "We have many resources available for students at any stage of their college career, and even after graduation."

Monday, August 3, 2009


Man Opens Taxi Service Pay What You Want

Vermont man opens Recession Taxi


By Joel Banner Baird

Free Press Staff Writer 

August 2, 2009

ESSEX — You read it right the first time: the message on the taxi’s back window really reads, “Pay What You Want!”

Eric Hagen, 46, an Essex resident and the SUV’s owner (and sole proprietor of Recession Ride Taxi) smiles a lot, but he isn’t joking. He’s making a profit.

“Nobody has shortchanged me yet,” he said Saturday. “Nobody’s stiffed me. I’ve decided to empower the customer; they like the fact they can decide.”

Hagen, who still works full time at the American Red Cross in Burlington, hatched his improbable business model in June.

“I hadn’t thought about it before,” he said. “I was watching CNBC — the financial station — and it suddenly hit me: Everybody’s always hearing, ‘This is what your mortgage is going to be; this is what your car payment’s going to be.’ People want to get away from that.”

Low start-up costs and low overhead prompted Hagen to get a cabbie’s license and insurance.

He printed up some business cards with his cell phone number, and waited.

The first half of July, Hagen took far more questions than fares: “People were coming up to me in parking lots and asking, ‘Is this for real?’ I’d tell them, ‘This is for real.’ And I’d give them a card.

“After two weeks, business really started picking up,” he continued. “That’s the way consumers are: they’re curious at first, and then they gain trust. And I’m trusting that the consumer is going to be fair. Maybe that’s what people need right now.”

The New York Stock Exchange, where Hagen worked in the 1990s, shaped Hagen’s take on what he liked — and didn’t like — in the world of finance.

Stints at Putnam Investments and Bombardier Capital (now GE Commercial Finance) sharpened his search for a different way to do business.

“It caused me to be more empathetic: You’d see millions of dollars in losses. You’d see corruption, and then you’d talk to people who’ve lost their entire savings, lost their retirement,” he said. “It made me think there’s got to be a different approach.”

Hagen offers Recession Ride customers an expanding selection of what he terms “the fringe benefits” of his service.

Repeat customers get their business cards punched; every seventh ride is free — as long as it’s within Chittenden County.

He keeps a cooler in the Durango loaded with pay-what-you-can iced bottles of water, Gatorade and soft drinks.

Other benefits of “membership” are still in the development stage.

Hagen’s city of Burlington permit is still in the works, but he’s taking people’s numbers for future rides. He keeps his cell phone on, day and night.

So far, he’s taken no heat from cabbies who follow more traditional codes of commerce — just a few phone calls to satisfy a growing curiosity: Is Recession Ride legit?

He tells them business is good, and growing.

Like other cabbies, Hagen keeps a detailed log. He’s earned about $600 in two weeks, working Thursday nights through Sunday evenings.

Most, but not all of his transactions are in cash. One fare, a musician, gave him a newly minted CD. Another proffered a Hannaford’s Supermarket card.
“It had $10 on it. It was a fair trade,” he said.

“I believed from the start that this would work,” he continued. “I believed that people are going to be generous enough to make it worth my while, and I’m going to be generous enough to let them decide.”

Sunday, August 2, 2009


70,000 Honey Bees Found In Family Home

Last Updated: 10:18 am | Saturday, August 1, 2009


Couple happy to be bee-free


Sharon Coolidge • August 1, 2009

The Cincinnati Enquirer 

 GREEN TOWNSHIP - Susan and Doug Hayes knew they had a problem with bees.

As far back as 2007 the parents of four saw a swarm of bees flying around the third story of their Green Township home. They made informal enquiries about removal, but the bees didn't bother them and they didn't bother the bees.

So, the bees stayed with the hope a harsh winter would kill them off.

Then their 7-year-old son was stung last Monday - by what turns out wasn't even one of "their" bees.

Still, it led the family to seek help removing the bees and to the jaw-dropping discovery that ten of thousands - possibly up to 70,000 - honey bees were living in the walls of their home.

"I love nature, bees are important to our ecosystem" Susan Hayes said. "It breaks my heart that I destroyed their home, but they were destroying mine."

Bill Jones, a beekeeper and owner of Loveland Honey, put her mind at ease.

The bees were honeybees and thus endangered. No killing allowed, Jones told the couple.

"The queen and the comb was everywhere," he said. "If anything was open they filled it."

Jones wasn't daunted by the scope of the job, even though it meant pulling off part of the roof.

Jones sucked them up with a bee-vac, a vacuum-like machine that sucks the bees into a box, outfitted with a cushion so the bees don't get hurt.

"It's not the biggest job we've ever done," said Jones, who has been in the bee business for the last four years. "But, it is the most intense, because they went behind the chimney."

The biggest job, at an apartment complex in Springboro just a couple of weeks ago, had about 80,000 bees, he said.

Jones and his crew took out 22 pounds of honey and comb, which Jones said he'll re-use as much as of as he can.

As for the bees, they're getting new home in rural Ohio.

"Right now there is a shortage of bees all over the world, so we're doing everything we can to help them along," Jones said.

Repairs will last through the first part of this week, Jones said.

The cost of removal, about $2,800.

But the Hayes did get something out of the honeycomb mess: a favorite new recipe.

Jones gave the family some honey and Hayes made honey pork chops.

"The kids ate every bite,'' Hayes said. "They said they want it again."



The Enquirer/ Ernest Coleman 
Rees Hayes, 7, left holds a honey bee cone that was inside the walls of his family home in Green Township. Behind him they are his father and mother Doug and Susan Hayes, and his three sisters Kyle, 11, Devan, 14 and little sister Lilyanna, 5.



The bees had filled the area between the studs on the outer wall of the home.


The Enquirer / Ernest Coleman 
The exterior of the home had to be removed to extract the beehive.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Denture Cream Lawsuits Coming Your Way

Denture cream lawsuits coming together in South Florida

WPTV NewsChannel 5 l Paige Kornblue
Sunday, August 2, 2009


WEST PALM BEACH — NewsChannel 5 has learned how many denture cream lawsuits are coming together in South Florida.

A Suburban Boca Raton woman is one of many people who believes denture cream caused neurological problems due to a high concentration of zinc.

They are suing denture cream manufacturers Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline.

Boca Raton attorney, David Shiner, says 19 cases have been filed in the Southern District of Florida and are being consolidated in the multi-district litigation.

"The federal court looks at certain common issues and can sometimes put those cases together to expedite those cases and allow them to be worked more properly so there's not confusion with different rulings coming out of different states," says Shiner.

Shiner believes there are about 30 total denture cream cases filed throughout the country.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Bank Teller Fired for Chasing and Apprehending Robber

Bank teller foils holdup, nabs suspect — loses job

A Seattle bank teller who knocked a would-be robber to the ground on Tuesday was fired from his job on Thursday.  Jim Nicholson said he knew he was breaking bank policy but wanted to stop the man before he hit other banks.

By Jennifer Sullivan

Seattle Times staff reporter

Originally published Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 12:00 AM



Jim Nicholson says he got "a thrill" from pursuing a bank robber in Lower Queen Anne.

Jim Nicholson knew he should have just handed over the cash.

But when the thin man in a beanie cap, dark clothing and sunglasses pushed a black backpack across the bank counter and demanded money, Nicholson says his instincts took over.

After more than two years working as a teller at the Key Bank branch in Lower Queen Anne, Nicholson clearly understood the bank's strict policy of quickly complying with robbers' demands and avoiding confrontation.

Instead, Nicholson threw the bag to the floor, lunged toward the robber and demanded to see a weapon. Surprised, the would-be bank robber backed up and then bolted for the door, with Nicholson on his heels.

Nicholson, 30, chased the man for several blocks before knocking him to the ground with the help of a passer-by. Nicholson then held him until police arrived.

That was Tuesday.

On Thursday, Nicholson was fired.

In a state that consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally in bank robberies, what Nicholson did was not only ill-advised, according to police and the FBI, it was all but unheard of. Bank tellers are trained to get robbers out the door as quickly as possible and are advised against being a hero over money that's federally insured.

Nicholson says he gets that. To a point.

"They tell us that we're just supposed to comply, but my instincts kicked in and I did what's best to stop the guy," said Nicholson, who says he understands why he was fired. "I thought if I let him go he would rob more banks and cause more problems."

Anne Foster, spokeswoman for Key Bank, declined to comment on Nicholson and his actions.

Seattle police and the FBI, which investigates bank robberies, advise against tellers taking action against robbers.

"We always recommend citizens, including employees of institutions, be good witnesses," said Seattle police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. "When confronted by a violent criminal, it is best to comply unless they feel their personal safety is in jeopardy. It is possible that taking action and confronting the criminal may lead to the injury of the victim or other bystanders."

"You want tellers to be proactive, but you want them to do it safely," added FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt.

Craig Blacklock, whose Oklahoma-based Financial Institution Robbery and Security Training instructs employees in how to deal with robberies, agrees. But he also understands what may have prompted Nicholson to refuse the robber's demands.

"Fight-or-flight kicked in. It's the same response as if somebody stole your wallet," said Blacklock. "But by lunging at the guy he didn't just put himself at risk, but he put everyone else in the bank at risk. There's so many things that could have happened."

When the man came into the bank, at 434 Queen Anne Ave. N., dressed in a knit cap on one of the hottest days of the year, Nicholson says he was immediately uneasy. The suspicious-looking man walked in and out of the bank, then got in the teller line, then stepped out of line.

When he finally approached the counter, he walked toward Nicholson and said, "This is a ransom, fill the bag with money," Nicholson said.

Hearing the word "ransom," Nicholson stopped for a second and asked to see the man's gun.

The man said, "It's a verbal ransom." Nicholson then lunged over the counter at him.

"My intent was to grab his glasses off his face, or him," Nicholson said.

Fortunately for Nicholson, the man wasn't armed.

The would-be robber, a 29-year-old transient, has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for theft and robbery, according to court records. When he was arrested Tuesday he was being supervised by the state Department of Corrections.

The Times is not naming the suspect because he has not been charged in connection with the Key Bank robbery.

Nicholson said he has run after shoplifters while working at retail jobs in New York and California. On Tuesday, as well as in past cases, Nicholson said he felt confident he could catch the person.

"It's something I almost look forward to. It's a thrill and I'm an adrenaline-junkie person. It's the pursuit," he said, adding that when he told Seattle police officers this, one officer suggested he apply to become a cop.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Crocodile wanders around plane in mid-air

Crocodile causes panic as it wanders around plane in mid-air

A baby crocodile caused panic on a Cairo-bound EgyptAir flight when it wriggled out of a passenger's hand luggage and wandered around the aeroplane.


Published: 10:12PM BST 31 Jul 2009

Baby Crocodiles like the one let lose on a plane from Abu Dhabi.
Baby Crocodiles like the one let lose on a plane from Abu Dhabi. Photo: Reuters

Passengers screamed as the wayward foot-long reptile made its way under seats and down the aisle.

Crew members on the flight, which originated in Abu Dhabi, managed to corner and capture the crocodile and handed it over to authorities when the plane landed in Cairo.

An airport security official said the animal, which none of the passengers claimed, would be given to Cairo's Giza zoo.

Transporting exotic animals in and out of the Egypt is illegal.

The airport official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

In August 2007 the authorities seized more than 250 baby crocodiles, snakes and chameleons which a Saudi man tried to smuggle out of Egypt. The menagerie also ended up at Giza zoo.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Police plotted and blamed car accident on woman they hit

Police plotted to blame car accident on woman they hit    

Story By: Jamie Smith
Source: NBC

Published Wed Jul 29, 2009, 10:13 AM MDT
Updated Wed Jul 29, 2009, 10:13 AM MDT

A cop's dashboard camera is supposed to catch criminals in the act. But for four Hollywood, Florida cops, the dash cam may have foiled their plans to frame a motorist.

The four police officers -- three of them longtime veterans of the force -- were caught on one of the cop's dash cameras plotting to place the blame for a February traffic accident on a woman that one of them had hit with their patrol car. The disturbing video shows the woman, Alexandra Torres Villa, handcuffed in the back of the squad car as the officers get their stories straight on what they are going to say happened.

Officer Joel Francisco, 36, an 11-year veteran, crashed into the back of Villa's vehicle at a light on February 17 at midnight. The cop radioed to other officers who converged on the scene and hatched a way to bail Francisco out.

Officer Dewey Pressley, 42, arrives and questions Villa, who tells him that she has been drinking. The 21-year veteran officer seizes the opportunity and arrests her for DUI. But the plot thickens from there.

The cops begin to brainstorm believable excuses for the accident. "As far as I'm concerned. I'm going to put words in his mouth. She went to accelerate and a cat jumped out of the window at which point he thought it could have been a pedestrian, which distracted him," Pressley tells Sgt. Andrew Diaz, another veteran of the force. "I mean what's the chances of hitting a f---in drunk when a cat jumps out of the window?"

Still, the cops run with the half-baked idea and rush to get Villa to do a Breathalyzer test so they can officially say she was drunk. "I nailed her on the video. I already hung her on video. She said she has been doing a beer party," Pressley says. "She's gonna blow."

Then, another cop debates with Pressley on who is going to write up the fabricated report to clear their police comrade. "I know how I'm going to word this with the cat so we can get him off the hook. I'll write the narrative," Pressley says. "We're going to bend this a little bit."

Civilian Community Service Officer Karim Thomas joins the three senior officers and the four cops go so far as to change the angle of pictures of the accident to make it look like Villa swerved in front of the cop car and caused the accident, not Francisco.

Throughout the tape, the cops acknowledged what they are doing is illegal, but when you are the law, there is nothing wrong with bending it for a fellow cop, one says. "I don't lie and make things up ever because it's wrong, but if I need to bend it a little bit to protect a cop, I'll do it," Pressley tells Francisco after reassuring him no one will ever find out. "She's freaking hammered anyway."

The police officers are currently on administrative leave pending a state attorney's office investigation. Villa, who was charged with four counts of DUI and cited for improper lane change, is still fighting the charges in court.


Crooked Cops

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Underpants man holds up gas station

Pants man holds up petrol station

A masked robber used a pair of underpants to disguise his face during a raid at a petrol station.


Published: 7:00AM BST 31 Jul 2009

Pants man holds up petrol station
The crook burst into the BP garage on London Road in Clacton, Essex, with the elastic of the white pants pulled over his face and his eyes peering through the leg hole Photo: ESSEX POLICE

The man, who was armed with a carving knife, robbed the garage in Clacton, Essex, at about 11pm on Tuesday.

The crook burst into the BP garage on London Road in Clacton, Essex, with the elastic of the white pants pulled over his face and his eyes peering through the leg holes.

He grabbed the cashier in a headlock, pointed the serrated knife at his back and forced him to open the till before escaping with a three-figure sum in banknotes.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Cooper of Essex police appealed for any witnesses to the raid at around 10.50pm on Tuesday to come forward.

He said: "This was a nasty incident in which the robber used force and threatened the cashier with a knife. The cashier was unharmed but obviously badly shaken.

"We want to hear from anyone with information about the robber or may have seen him lurking in the area before the attack or saw him running away."

The suspect is described as a white man in his early 20s, six feet tall of medium build, and wearing a black Adidas tracksuit with three white stripes and dark coloured trainers.

"This was a nasty incident in which the robber used force and threatened the cashier with a knife. The cashier was unharmed but obviously badly shaken."

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Pope Benedict XVI Signs New Artist Record Deal

Friday, July 31, 2009

Geffen Records Signs New Artist: Pope Benedict XVI

He'll be home for Christmas. Pope Benedict XVI will, according to reports, release an album in time for the Christmas season.

Pope Benedict XVI will sing a Marian prayer as well as speaking Lauretan Litanies in Italian, Portuguese, French and German, accompanied by eight original pieces of modern classical music.

The album will be named Alma Mater. It will be released in 30 November 30th, during the post-Thanksgiving Christmas rush. According to reports, some of the proceeds from the album sales will be used to provide musical education for underprivileged children worldwide.

The album will be on the Geffen Records label. Hhe new compositions, by three as yet unnamed composers, will be announced by the Vatican in September. All that is really kow so far is that the pieces have been recorded this week by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road studios in London.

Geffen president Colin Barlow noted that the album may surprise people.

"When you are sitting in the basilica listening to it, you suddenly think that you are hearing something that could be incredibly special.

"The Pope has got almost a lullaby tone to the way he sings."
That could be bad, if it puts people to sleep. No word as yet if the album will be available on iTunes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Restaurant manager threatens to shoot employees

Cops say restaurant manager threatened to shoot employees


Asbury Park Press


July 31, 2009



STAFFORD — A Mays Landing man who worked as the manager of an IHOP in Manahawkin was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, making terroristic threats and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose on July 26.

Steven Brooks' bail was set at $50,000 following his arrest by Det. Joseph Mrazek. He has been released from the Ocean County Jail in Toms River.

A police report states that on July 25 Brooks, 49, allegedly confronted three employees about company policy at the IHOP while the employees were on break. During the confrontation Brooks allegedly told the employees to go back into the restaurant or he was going to shoot them. According to the police, when one of the employees made a sarcastic comment, Brooks became agitated and walked to his vehicle, a black Toyota, reached into the rear passenger seat and pulled out a silver handgun.
Brooks then allegedly pointed the gun at the employees and stated to them to step back or he would shoot. He then left the scene in his vehicle.

Further investigation revealed the gun Brooks was in possession of was a pellet/BB gun. He was arrested in the IHOP parking lot the following morning and a search warrant was executed on his Merion Court, Mays Landing residence.

The search revealed two pellet/BB guns which he owned along with a shotgun and two handguns which were legally owned by another occupant of the residence.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Drunk driver wrecked car robbed good Samaritan attacked officer

Posted: Friday, 31 July 2009 5:20PM

Police: Drunk driver wrecked car, robbed good Samaritan, and attacked officer

Jay Vise Reporting



New Orleans, LA

Tangipahoa Parish authorities say alcohol appears to be a factor in the case of an Independence man who allegedly stole items from a man who gave him a ride just after midnight Friday morning.

A police spokeswoman says after a deputy responded to a report of a vehicle in a ditch on River Road, the officer found an abandoned car in the ditch.

The officer said he could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from within the empty car.

As the deputy awaited a tow truck to haul away car, a man drove up and told the deputy that he'd given the driver of the wrecked vehicle a ride from the scene.

The man also told the cop that the suspect had stolen his iPhone and charger while in his car.

As the officer was talking to the victim about the stolen goods, the driver of the wrecked car drove up to the scene in another vehicle, according to investigators.

The deputy said said that the suspect, 22-year-old Stephen Davis, "appeared to be extremely intoxicated" as he walked up to him.   

After the deputy found the stolen cell phone on Davis, the deputy reported that he placed the suspect under arrest, then placed him in the back of the police cruiser.

Investigators say that Davis did not go gentle into the cruiser on that night, but instead chose to rage against the interior of the cruiser.

The deputy's report said that Davis started kicking the door and window of the cop's car. The deputy reported after that he opened the door, the suspect tried to kick him several times in the legs.

The officer said he administered "a 1 second burst of O.C. spray to the facial area in attempt to subdue the suspect."

Davis was later booked into the Tangipahoa Parish lockup on several charges.


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