York City woman pins burglar until police arrive
Tina Graham, shown Tuesday in the yard of her York City home, found an intruder in the home early Sunday morning. She jumped on the man and pinned him against the chain-link fence after he dragged her outside. She hung on until police arrived to make an arrest. (Doug Bauman photo)
Tina Graham doesn't understand why people are so fascinated that she dove on a burglar and hung onto him until police arrived.
"To me, it was just what I had to do," the 40-year-old York City woman said. "Everyone's making such a big deal about it. I didn't know it would be this big."
Graham said she was sleeping in her North Hartman Street home about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when a noise awakened her. Normally, her boyfriend Daniel Arnold and their Pomeranian would have been with her, but they'd gone to visit a friend in Gettysburg, she said.
"I'd taken the phone to bed with me," Graham said. "I snuck downstairs and noticed a light coming from the kitchen -- like a flashlight. I looked around the corner, saw the (back) door open and called
Kornbau ... faces several charges related to the break-in. 911."
That's when she walked around the corner and told the intruder, "You're going to jail."
"He tried to go out the door he came in," Graham said. "But I just jumped on him. I didn't even think about it. I've never done anything like that, never been put in a situation where you almost feel like you're fighting for your life."
Failed break-ins: Graham said someone had tried to break into her home twice in the past three months, on July 5 and again on Aug. 23. Both times, York City Police collected fingerprints but were unable to match them to a suspect, she said.
"I was just fed up," Graham said. "All I could think about was, if he gets away, police still won't be able to find him. The adrenaline takes over, and the fear takes over."
Graham said she grabbed Brian Jay Kornbau around the waist and he dragged her outside into her yard.
She held on, though, and used her 140 pounds of body weight to pin the 5-foot-11, 160-pound man against her chain-link fence.
"He kept begging me to let him go, but I said, 'You're not getting away this time,'" Graham said. "He beat on me the whole time. He was punching and kicking me. ... He bit me in the shoulder and he elbowed me in the mouth."
Graham said she was left with three loose teeth as a result. Thankfully, she said, his bite did not pierce her skin.
"I just did the best I could and prayed to God to give me strength," she said. "Somehow, I held onto him. I was really scared, but it was either him or me."
Locked up: Arriving York City officers arrested Kornbau, 39, of 1394 Lancaster Ave. in Spring Garden Township. He remains in York County Prison on $25,000 bail, charged with burglary, simple assault, criminal trespass, attempted burglary and possessing instruments of crime.
Officers seemed surprised by Graham's actions, she said.
"They were like, 'We're so proud of you. You did a great job,'" she said.
Charging documents state the officers found two screwdrivers and a pocketknife on Kornbau when they searched him.
"I didn't know that until the police told me," Graham said.
The documents also state that Kornbau admitted he tried to break into Graham's home on July 5 and Aug. 23.
Sore, but proud: Graham had never seen Kornbau before and said she has no idea why he targeted her home. He graduated from York Suburban Senior High School in 1988 with her boyfriend, who said Kornbau was "always weird," she said.
Graham said she's sore and "pretty banged up from the scuffle," and that her screams for help left her hoarse. But she feels good about what she did.
"It's still hard for me to believe I did it," she said.
Graham feels sorry for Kornbau's children and parents.
"He's embarrassed his whole family," she said. "I'd like to know how he'd feel if it was his daughter or his mother in my position."
Cops: 'Desperate' man suspected of robbery turns himself in
Tony Max Olea, Jr. (Port Orange Police / September 29, 2009)
Kevin P. Connolly
Sentinel Staff Writer
3:11 p.m. EDT, September 29, 2009
A "desperate" man suspected of robbing a bank in Volusia County today turned himself in 18 minutes later by calling 911 on himself, police said.
Tony Max Olea, Jr. called 911 at about 10:48 a.m., identified himself and told the operator he had just robbed a bank and he wanted to turn himself in, Port Orange police said.
Olea, 42, was on the phone with the operator when authorities arrived a short time later at the Chevron gas station at State Road 44 and Interstate 95 in New Smyrna Beach, police said.
A Port Orange detective and the Volusia County Sheriff's Department found money stolen from the Colonial Bank inside Olea's vehicle, a black 2006 Volkswagen Jetta, police said.
A teller who was brought to the gas station also "positively identified" Olea as the bank-robbery suspect, police said.
Olea, of 3009 Lime Tree Drive, Edgewater, was arrested on a robbery charge and taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he is being held on a $20,000 bond, police said.
At about 10:30 a.m., a man entered the bank at 900 Village Trail in Port Orange and handed the bank teller a note that implied that he had a firearm.
"He demanded that the bank teller put all of the money in a bag, and he relayed to the bank teller that he was "desperate," a police statement said.
"The bank teller handed an undisclosed amount of money to the unidentified white male along with a dye pack. The unidentified white male was last observed driving from the area in a black in color vehicle,'' the statement said.
It's unclear if the dye pack went off.
UM researcher faces drug charges after death of girlfriend
Doctor who studied effects of narcotics died after using 'bupe'
Baltimore Sun reporter
9:53 p.m. EDT, September 29, 2009
Clinton McCracken, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Maryland medical school, is facing drug charges after his live-in girlfriend, also a researcher at the university, died of an apparent overdose. (Photo courtesy of Baltimore City police)
Clinton McCracken and Carrie John knew all about addictions and obsessive behavior.
Both worked as postdoctoral research fellows at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and earlier this year published their conclusions from a study of "compulsions and habit formation."
But their research might have taken too personal a turn.
John, 29, a Wake Forest University graduate with a doctorate in physiology and pharmacology, died Sunday after apparently injecting herself with what McCracken called a "bad" batch of buprenorphine, a narcotic known on the street as "bupe" and commonly used to treat heroin addiction.
McCracken, 32, was arrested after police searched the couple's unkempt rowhouse on Dover Street in Baltimore and found a large quantity of drugs, including pills, "huge gardens" of marijuana with an elaborate lighting system and "more than 20 bongs in all shapes, sizes and configurations strewn about the home," a police report said.
In an interview with detectives, McCracken -- a fellow Wake Forest graduate charged with six counts, including manufacturing drugs and possession with intent to distribute -- said that for the past two or three years he had used the New Mikee Online Pharmacy, a Web site based in the Philippines, to buy "various narcotics for recreational use." He mentioned not only buprenorphine but morphine, OxyContin and marijuana. The firm did not respond to an e-mail message from The Baltimore Sun seeking comment.
McCracken said he and his girlfriend had purchased 20 buprenorphine pills at $2 each and had dissolved a 2-milligram pill in water, placing half the solution in each of two syringes, the report said. John "began to have trouble breathing" immediately after injecting herself, McCracken told police.
He called paramedics and "never got to inject himself with his own 1 mg. dose due to the deceased's medical crisis," the police report said. "The defendant stated that he thought they could control the morphine and buprenorphine."
John was pronounced dead shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday in the University of Maryland Medical Center's emergency room, a few blocks from her home.
John and McCracken conducted scientific research in the labs of the university's department of anatomy and neurobiology and did not see patients, said Karen A. Buckelew, a spokeswoman for the medical school. John had worked there since 2006 and McCracken for the past three months.
"Dr. McCracken is still employed here, and no administrative action has been taken yet to affect his employment status," Buckelew said.
Police seized the drugs and paraphernalia from the couple's home, and McCracken was released Monday night on $100,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing Oct. 9.
"He probably didn't kill her," said Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the Baltimore police, noting that there were no signs of foul play. But he said he found it ironic that "two pharmacy Ph.Ds were ordering drugs from an online pharmacy" overseas.
Such long-distance purchases are an increasingly common way of obtaining drugs that in the United States are either illegal, considered too expensive or available only by prescription. McCracken and John arranged to have their imports hidden in stuffed toys or disguised alongside toys and trinkets, Guglielmi said.
"We will be conferring with federal authorities" such as the Drug Enforcement Administration as to the legal ramifications of having drugs sent from abroad, Guglielmi said. "I think they'll be interested in talking to Mr. McCracken."
Guglielmi, who worked previously at the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., said that online pharmacies present a grave risk to public safety.
"These potent drugs are regulated for a reason," he said, "and people shouldn't shortcut the medical process and self-?smedicate."
Introduced in 2003, buprenorphine -- prescribed as Suboxone for treatment of addiction -- is often misused, according to a series of articles in The Baltimore Sun in December 2007. Health officials said addicts were injecting or snorting the narcotic to mute cravings for heroin and opiate-based pain pills such as OxyContin.
Experts said bupe is safer than methadone -- the traditional heroin treatment, normally given out under close supervision -- and more likely to appeal to addicts because they can get bupe from their doctors. Some patients sell the pills on the street for up to $50 each, said Michael Gimbel, former director of Baltimore County's Bureau of Substance Abuse.
"Because [the pills] are expensive, many people have turned to the Internet to purchase bupe from other countries and getting them much cheaper," Gimbel said. "Obviously, quality is not guaranteed, and that may be what killed the doctor."
On the street, bupe pills are known as "subbies" or "stop signs," an allusion to their hexagon-like shape. Fatalities have been reported in India, Pakistan and other countries as a result of black-market bupe, which is usually mixed with some kind of tranquilizer and injected.
In the 600 block of Dover, a tree-lined cobblestone street near the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, the sight of a police canine unit outside John and McCracken's rented two-story rowhouse Sunday night took some neighbors by surprise.
"There's never been any problem like this," said Kofi Kyei-Asare, a 13-year resident who owns four houses on the block. "This is always a very quiet street and extremely safe," he said, describing it as populated mainly by young professionals.
There was no sign of activity Tuesday evening at the house in which the couple lived, and no one answered the door. The couple's dog, a black Labrador mix, was taken to an animal shelter after McCracken's arrest.
"To me, they were just normal, regular people," said landlord Kevin Jarrell, who lives elsewhere. Jarrell rented the house to John a couple of years ago, he said, and McCracken moved in recently.
Asked if he had known what was going on inside the house, Jarrell said, "Of course not."
In their online biographies, McCracken and John emerge as accomplished scientists. McCracken's area of expertise is addiction and compulsive behaviors, according to the Neuroscience Academic Family Tree.
John's available record is more extensive. In 2004, while at Wake Forest, she wrote a paper on the effect of cocaine on serotonin levels in mice, and, that same year, another paper on the "acute and neurotoxic effects of psychostimulants."
Last year, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, John led medical students in a neuroscience discussion titled "This is your brain on drugs."
Baltimore Sun reporter Jonathan Pitts contributed to this article.
RELATED STORY PHOTO OF CARRIE JOHN:
Stuart woman arrested on marijuana possession charge at St. Lucie County courthouse
September 22, 2009 at 5:32 p.m.
FORT PIERCE — A word to the wise: If you’re planning to bring marijuana into the St. Lucie County Courthouse, don’t put it in the same satchel as a pocket knife, a razor, a pair of scissors and a padlock.
According to a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office report, Chantel Marissa Johnson, 21, of the 800 block of southeast 16th Street in Stuart, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday when a small bag containing the drug was found in her purse at the entrance of the courthouse.
W.R. “Randy” Stringham, one of a team of private security officers who check people entering the courthouse, said he saw the razor, knife, scissors and padlock as Johnson’s purse went through a scanning device, so he decided to check the rest of its contents.
“I dumped out the purse, and it fell out,” Stringham said, referring to a small plastic bag with what he called in his report “green leafy material.”
Stringham said he knew it was marijuana because of his experience as a former Florida Highway Patrol trooper and New York correctional officer; a field test later confirmed he was correct, according to the Sheriff’s Office report.
Johnson remained “cool and calm” when he found the marijuana, Stringham said, telling a woman with her, “I forgot that was there.”
Two sheriff’s deputies in the courthouse arrested Johnson, who was released from the St. Lucie County Jail after posting $500 bond.
Burglar must repay victim for time in court
Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
(09-28) 16:36 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- In a broad interpretation of a law requiring criminals to make restitution to their victims, a state appeals court has ordered a Northern California burglar to repay a homeowner for the wages he gave up by attending every court hearing in the case.
The court, observing that burglary can make people feel they are unsafe in their own homes, said Jason Lee Moore owes something to the victim who attempted to heal his psyche by attending all 50 hours of court proceedings.
To be exact, Moore owes the man $6,250.
Moore was sentenced to 10 years, eight months in prison for breaking into a doctor's home in Redding and stealing items in February 2008. The doctor wasn't a witness to the burglary and attended Moore's pretrial hearings and two-day trial on his own.
The Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento said the doctor's lost pay, calculated at $125 an hour, was covered by a state law that requires criminals to compensate their victims for all economic losses caused by the crime.
"A victim's attendance at trial cannot be characterized as a paid vacation," Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland said in the 3-0 ruling, issued Wednesday. In this case, he said, "the victim felt that his children's sense of sanctuary and safety were stolen" and that going to court would help him heal.
Scotland noted a ruling last year that upheld restitution to a murder victim's parents for the time they lost at work while attending the trial of their son's killer. That principle isn't limited to murder cases, he said, but applies to crimes in which the victims are psychologically harmed.
Moore's lawyer, Richard Fitzer, said Monday that he would appeal.
It's reasonable to order compensation to crime victims for the cost of attending a trial, Fitzer said, but the court should exclude the cost of attending routine hearings.
"I can see why a victim of a burglary would want to come to the actual trial and sentencing, but why would you want to come to pretrial motions?" Fitzer said. "There's nothing to limit the amount of money they seek to get."
Moore is broke, he said, and will have a hard time paying restitution after his release.
The state has a compensation fund, supported by criminals' fines, that partially reimburses victims of violent crimes for their financial losses.
Deputy Attorney General Paul O'Connor said the ruling was a helpful precedent. Even though no one was physically injured in the burglary, he said, "it shows there were victims."
LINK TO RULING:
Parents Lie to Children Surprisingly Often
29 September 2009 08:09 am ET
Parents might say "honesty is the best policy," but when it comes to interacting with their own kids, mom and dad stretch the truth with the best of them, finds a new study.
From claiming the existence of magical creatures to odd consequences of kids' actions, parents often come up with creative tales to shape a child's behaviors and emotions.
"We are surprised by how often parenting by lying takes place," said study researcher Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, Canada. "Our findings showed that even the parents who most strongly promoted the importance of honesty with their children engaged in parenting by lying."
Lee and colleagues acknowledge that their work is preliminary, bringing to the forefront an issue that is rarely studied. They are not sure the implications of parental lying, but suggest such tall tales could give kids mixed messages at a time when they are trying to figure out how to navigate the social world.
Lies could also harm parent-child bonds, said study researcher Gail Heyman of the University of California, San Diego.
It could even keep children from learning certain rules. "If I am always lying to the child in order to get the child to do X, Y, or Z, then they have never learned why they should do X, Y, or Z," said Victoria Talwar of McGill University in Montreal, who was not involved in the current study. "If it's constantly being used, [lying] may be preventing learning opportunities for the child."
The scientists also acknowledge that it's sometimes okay to be less than truthful with a child, say, telling a fib about how beautiful a scribbled drawing looks. But Heyman urges parents to think through the issues and consider alternatives before resorting to the expedient prevarication.
The research is published in the September issue of the Journal of Moral Education and was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Creating Buttons and Badges in Adobe Photoshop is easy. There are different kinds of tutorials related in making buttons and badges on the web that can help enhance your photoshop skills. We collected some of the best sources so you can bookmark them.
South African man marries 4 women at same ceremony
A South African man married four women at the same time on Saturday.
Published: 7:30AM BST 28 Sep 2009
South African law recognises traditional polygamous marriages Photo: AP
Milton Mbhele showed up for his wedding in Weenen, near Ladysmith, in a white limousine - with four brides.
The women in white gowns each received rings and a kiss from the groom at a ceremony attended by hundreds of people. On Sunday, the families gathered for a second traditional Zulu wedding and planned to exchange gifts on Monday.
South African law recognises traditional polygamous marriages - even President Jacob Zuma has three wives. Yet while polygamy remains common among several tribes including the Zulus and Swazis, simultaneous weddings are rare.
Mr Mbhele, 44, a municipal manager in Indaka, said the joint celebration saved money by combining the festivities.
He has already been married to Thobile Vilakazi for 12 years and has 11 children, but did not specify who their mothers are.
"I want her to be happy," he said of Ms Vilakazi, who was given a golden wristwatch at Saturday's ceremony. "I think getting married to her for the second time would make her happy since I will be taking in three other wives so this will relieve her in some way."
His "middle wives" - as he described them - are Zanele Langa and Happiness Mdlolo, both 24.
The youngest wife, 23-year-old Smangele Cele, said she was looking forward to marrying Mr Mbhele, even though it means she'll have to share him. She said the wives planned to live separately, with their husband rotating between them.
"It is because of the way in which he shows his love for me. He loves me in all ways," she said, adding: "We will not be living in the same house and we take each other as friends."
Wrong Roof Accidentally Removed from Florida Home
WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- David Fischer's vacation was cut short this summer with a phone call from a roofing company, "that 'oops, we accidentally ripped off your roof,'" he says.
Fischer came back to his home in Breakers West to find, sure enough, his roof was gone.
The company, Bossler Roofing, Inc. says it was simply a mistake.
Instead of doing work on Fischer's two story home, the company was supposed to replace the roof on his neighbor's one story home two doors down.
It's a mistake Fischer doesn't understand.
Fischer asks, "Its a big difference in size, so how you mixing these two houses?"
The 76-year old admits he did get an estimate from Bossler Roofing but never signed a contract.
The company's attorney, Joseph Rodowicz says it's unclear how this mistake happened.
He tells NewsChannel 5, "You know, quite frankly, I don't know. I don't know what took place on that day...but in the end we simply acknowledge that there was a mistake."
It is not only the mix-up that burns Fischer up, it's that two months later his roof still has no tiles.
Now, his insurance company is threatening to cancel his policy Monday if the roof isn't replaced and he claims Bossler refuses to do the work.
Fischer says, "My feeling is they just playing games they trying to take advantage because I'm an old person."
Rodowicz explains that Bossler is happy to give Fischer a new roof at a discount.
All he'll have to pay is his insurance deductible.
"So, he's coming out ahead even with what stands on the table," Rodowicz says.
But Fischer says Bossler is at fault for this eyesore and he is standing his ground.
"Finish it! Put the tile on and finish it," he demands.
Bossler has an "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Rodowicz calls this an isolated incident, saying Bossler is still a trustworthy company.
Fischer is considering filing a lawsuit.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Police Cite Dog Walkers Along Kapiolani Park
Authorities Say Recent Complaints Sparked Crackdown
POSTED: 9:04 pm HST September 25, 2009
UPDATED: 9:07 pm HST September 25, 2009
KITV ABC 4
HONOLULU -- Police cited people walking their dogs on leashes Friday on a sidewalk beside Waikiki Beach with a criminal offense that carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail or a $500 fine or both.
Dan Falardeau walks his dog, Joey, seven days a week. On Friday, two police officers stopped Falardeau.
"The officers told me that I was being ticketed for having my dog in a city park, and I tried to explain to them that I am on the sidewalk because I walk through here every single day, and couldn't I get a warning and they said, 'This was on the order of the mayor's office,'" Falardeau said.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann's office said there was no directive from it to ticket dog owners.
Waikiki police said they are ticketing because of many complaints about dogs in Kapiolani Park. They said they warned some dog owners on Thursday.
The pathway where Falardeau was walking his dog is actually part of Kapiolani Park and different from a regular sidewalk. There are signs warning no animals allowed. Police ticketed three other women walking their dogs on leashes on the same sidewalk along the park Friday.
The citation is for a criminal offense, a petty misdemeanor prohibiting animals in parks. It requires a court appearance.
"I keep him on a leash. I pick up his poop. He's got a license and I don't quite understand this and now he's a criminal," Falardeau said.
Regular beachgoer Patrice Scott said she was surprised by the crackdown on leashed dogs.
I just think it is crazy. How could you get a ticket for walking your dog? I don't understand," she said. "Seems like there are a lot of better things to be writing people up for like speeding."
Other dog walkers KITV spoke with called the ticketing "ridiculous."
Bull runs free in Paterson
Monday, September 28, 2009
Monday September 28, 2009, 1:44 PM
PATERSON — A 1,400-pound bull took a several-block run down city streets this morning after escaping from a slaughter house, but he wasn’t able to elude his fate even after sending police on a half-hour chase.
The bull was being unloaded from a truck into ENA Meat Packing Inc. on East Fifth Street when he broke loose just before 8:30 a.m., said Paterson’s Chief Animal Control Officer John DeCando.
“Instead of him going into his cage, he went down East Seventh,” he said. “He was running rampant and was just exhausted.”
The driver of a cattle truck opened a side door to the truck to push the bull out the back of the vehicle, but the beast instead pushed back and was able to run out the door. He trotted from the slaughter house toward River Street with a crowd of meat packing workers chasing behind him.
“We were just trying to scare him back,” said Steve Moneusse who works at the plant.
The bull turned back toward the slaughter house at first, but then changed course and headed toward River Street. That’s when the workers grabbed a rope and police showed up.
The animal made it to Seventh Street where crowds of people in the Bunker Hill industrial area came out from a scrap yard and nearby factories to take pictures of the bizarre chase.
“Oh my god, I was scared,” said Steve Fostok who had dropped off metal at the scrap yard. “He was coming this way. He was running back and forth. It was very confusing for the cops. It could have killed me.”
At one point, the bull ran into a loading dock next to East Seventh Street Promotions factory, knocking over a garbage bin and running into cars.
“We walked to the window and saw the employees of the slaughter house trying to corral the bull, waving flags at it, waving their arms at it,” said Jeffrey Klein, the promotional company’s owner. “It was like the running of the bulls around here for an hour … He was probably scared he was going to be ground chuck.”
Slaughter house workers and police then tried to corral the beast cowboy-style, using a rope to lasso around the bull’s neck, but the animal dragged more than five officers and workers behind him like an extra large dog on a walk. Officers then tried to use their vehicles to block his path and corral him, but the beast kept maneuvering around cars.
Finally, police were able to wrap the rope around a light post in another area and DeCando was able to inject him with a sedative, which took about three or four minutes to kick in and knock out the animal.
“Police did a fantastic job corralling him,” DeCando said. “The adrenaline in that bull is unbelievable.”
Police were able to keep the bull in the industrial area, away from residential areas and schools; traffic was also light at the time.
“The main thing is nobody got hurt,” he said, adding that the bull was scared but not injured during his flight.
This was the third time in 34 years a bull has escaped in Paterson, DeCando said. One made it all the way into Hawthorne.
Goats, bears and many other types of unusual critters have run through the streets of Paterson, mostly escaped livestock from slaughter houses. Usually, DeCando is able to donate smaller livestock to a sanctuary run by Paterson fire Capt. Glen Vetrano in Sussex County.
However, yesterday’s bull was not as lucky. After he fell from the tranquilizer dose, workers put him on a wooden palette and drove him back to the meat packing company on a forklift.
Because the FDA requires all animals to be healthy and walk into a slaughter area — and because the beast was drugged — he was killed and thrown out, his body unable to be used for meat, workers said.
“That’s sad,” Klein said. “It’s watching something like that that makes you consider being a vegetarian.”
Bank robber caught out by personalised BMW number plate
Bank robber James Snell has been caught by police because of the personalised number plate on his BMW car that he used to stake out his target in Cardiff.
7:55AM BST 28 Sep 2009
Snell drove his car with the registration "J4MES" to set up the £100,000 raid on a Halifax branch.
His gang of four robbers was caught when a witness remembered admiring the distinctive plate on the blue BMW - and gave details to police.
Snell, 26, and his brother Wayne, 34, were traced to their hideaway and found red-handed with more than £30,000 of the cash in bank-notes.
The number plate blunder was revealed when Wayne was jailed for eight years for robbery. James will be sentenced later.
The gang decided to use heavy metal drain covers to smash their way into a Halifax branch in Roath, Cardiff.
They set off in James Snell's BMW to plan the bank heist - including watching the branch and planning their getaway.
But Cardiff Crown Court heard they were spotted by a passer-by who remembered the J4MES number plate because it stood out.
"A witness saw a passenger lean out, lift a drain cover from the road and the car drove off," Prosecutor Tim Evans said.
"Lee Norville, who works for the council's highways department, later identified one of the two covers used to smash the windows at a branch of Halifax as coming from that drain. It is clear their arrogance contributed to their undoing."
Cash was being delivered to the Halifax branch by the security guards just before midnight when the gang struck.
Two Group 4 Securicor workers were refilling the bank's cash machine ready for business the next morning when they were confronted by men dressed in dark clothing and balaclavas.
Two used the drain covers to smash through the glass while a third armed with a bat shouted threats.
The gang took a total of £104,910 - all in £10 and £20 notes. The empty cash boxes were later found dumped in woods.
The car, with its distinctive number plate, was spotted outside a rented home in Whitchurch, Cardiff.
Fellow gang member Carl Campion, 44, of Birmingham, denied robbery but was found guilty and was jailed for 12 years.
The Snell brothers admitted robbery along with accomplice Adam Abbot, 38, of Hyde, Manchester. Abbot and James Snell will be sentenced at a later date.
Judge Gareth Jones said it was a "professional, sophisticated, pre-planned robbery on commercial premises" - and that £70,000 is still missing.
After the case, Detective Inspector Paul Andrews, of South Wales Police, said: "I would like to thank people who contacted us with information including the details of the car number plate."
AK-47 giveaway aims to win votes for Dean Allen
Food, ammo and rifle kick off candidate's campaign for adjutant general
E. Richard Walton
September 27, 2009
Dean Allen talks with supporters during a barbecue and gun giveaway that kicked off his campaign for adjutant general on Saturday. (CINDY HOSEA/Staff)
They crowded into a shooting range on Poinsett Highway on a day when heavy rains might have kept them home, itching for a shot at winning an AK-47 rifle or at least shoot something that spit out a lot of lead.
Approximately 500 people showed up Saturday, some paying $25 for barbecue and ammo to take target practice with the weapon of their choice. The sweepstakes for the assault rifle, the type used against U.S. troops in Vietnam, was included at no charge.
The event marked the kickoff of Dean Allen’s candidacy for state adjutant general. Allen, 58, of Greenville, said the “machine gun social” was his way of celebrating the second amendment and showing solidarity against gun-rights opponents.
And he’s hoping it might win him a few votes.
“In politics, you have to stand out,” he said. “If you stand out in something, you’re going to get a little more attention.”
Many came up to Allen to express their support. Allen, dressed in a blue blazer, gray slacks and red, white and blue tie, said he is an Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam.
Lisa Flaugher of Pickens said she came to the event at the Allen Arms Indoor Shooting Range to support Allen and try to win the AK-47.
“I want the gun for target practice,” she said.
The shooting range is owned by Frank Allen, who is not related to the candidate.
South Carolina is the only state that elects its adjutant general, who administers the Army and Air National Guard, the State Guard and the Emergency Management Division. Incumbent Adjutant General Stan Spears, a Republican, hasn’t said whether he will seek another term.
Allen said he served six years in the State Guard, but resigned in April in case Spears does run. Allen didn’t like the idea of running against his top commander, he said.
Allen said he wants the job so he can gather more support for the State Guard. He said he would try to get an updated radio system and other equipment so that the State Guard can work with greater efficiency.
The winner of the AK-47 will receive a gift certificate, Allen said. To take possession of the rifle, he or she will have to pass an FBI background check, show identification and fill out federal paperwork.
Allen, 58, said his consulting agency, Dark Horse Strategy Group of Spartanburg, came up with the idea for the AK-47 giveaway. Dark Horse spokeswoman Nicole Cobb said her company likes to be original and work with candidates “who are true conservatives.”
“I like to tell people I’m not the country club conservative, Allen said. “I’m the machine gun one.”
Wilmore couple find marriage paperwork not filed
September 26, 2009 11:39 pm
WILMORE — In a few weeks, Frank and Betty Skrout should be celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary.
Instead, they are in search of documentation to prove they ever tied the knot on a warm autumn day when Dwight Eisenhower was president and the Pirates were closing in on a dramatic World Series win over the New York Yankees.
“All these years we’ve been living in sin,” the good-natured Frank Skrout said jokingly in an interview on the front porch of the their longtime Wilmore
“I thought I was married, and I was a single guy all this time,” he said.
The couple declared their love for one another in front of God and the late Rev. James Feehley at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Wilmore on Oct. 6, 1960. In attendance at that ceremony were Betty’s 5-year-old daughter and two witnesses.
Frank and Betty settled into a contented life, with Frank working for Bethlehem Steel and Betty at sewing factories in Johnstown, Windber and Portage.
All was well.
A son, Scott, came along, and the couple helped raise a grandson.
Now – well into retirement with five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren – the Skrouts have learned that the ceremony they based their life on was never registered at the Cambria County Courthouse as required by Pennsylvania law.
“I guess we’re not married, I don’t know,” said Betty Skrout.
“We went through everything. We did the whole thing.”
Frank interjected: “I might as well play the field. What the heck.”
‘We were married’
The problem surfaced recently when Betty learned of pension benefits she was eligible to receive from her days in the needle industry through the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
But she needed documents to reflect her status change and her married name.
The certified license for the Skrouts does not exist at the office of the Cambria County Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans Court.
What the Skrouts learned was that the “return of marriage” document completed by the priest performing the wedding ceremony was never returned to the courthouse as required by law.
Word of the couple’s situation spread quickly through the community and the joking followed.
“We’ve had a lot of fun with this,” Betty said. “But it’s like the priest told us: We were married. The records are there – somewhere.”
The Skrouts wonder how many other couples married at St. Bartholomew’s during that era may be in the same boat.
Meanwhile, they have discussed going through the process again with a small private ceremony at the church.
‘A big problem’
Patty Sharbaugh, the elected Cambria County official in charge of the records, said that while similar problems have arisen in her 33 years in the office, this is the first one she has heard of from the Wilmore church.
“Boy, that’s bad. That does cause a big problem,” Sharbaugh said.
She requires the return of marriage certificate be back to her office within 10 days of the ceremony. But if the Skrouts can locate the information from the church, she will record it, back-dating the marriage to Oct. 6, 1960.
“If the priest is still around or if they can locate those church records, we’ll complete them,” she said.
Sharbaugh said she will do the same for any other couples married at the Wilmore church and in the same situation.
But as for now, Frank and Betty as the Skrouts do not exist as a married couple in the public record.
“Not according to us, not according to our records,” Sharbaugh said. “They’re not married.”
‘Property of the parish’
During the past several years, Sharbaugh has instituted a procedure reminding people to get the certificates returned.
“Now if we don’t get a return, we call the people and write them letters. We bug them,” she said.
“If they called off the marriage, then we attach a letter to show we tried.”
The procedure is too late to help the Skrouts, but Tony DeGol, secretary for communications of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese, said the marriage certificate should be available.
“Those records are the property of the parish and they can be found,” he said late last week.
Meanwhile, the Skrouts continue to be good natured about their strange situation.
“I guess I still don’t have my freedom,” Frank Skrout said.
Joshua Paul Calhoun likes to take things...BIG things
September 22, 2009 at 12:15pm
It's strange to jump-start an airplane off the battery in a pickup truck, but that's exactly what Joshua Paul Calhoun attempted to do on March 4 of this year when he couldn't start the engine on a plane he was trying to steal.
LINK TO PHOTOS OF SUPERTHIEF AND FULL STORY:
Hours earlier, just after sunrise, 28-year-old Calhoun had driven out to the tiny municipal airport in Athens, basically a runway and a couple hangars on the outskirts of town. The plane, a single-prop Beechcraft Bonanza, was tied down with three ropes on a slab of asphalt not far from the barbed-wire fence around the airport. Calhoun got into the pit, but the battery was dead. He left the airport for about 30 minutes and returned, parking his truck next to the plane and hooking up the jumper cables. The engine still wouldn't crank.
Carroll Dyson, a 65-year-old retired pilot, watched the whole thing unfold from the opposite end of the runway, through the window of his shop where he runs a small repair, flight training and charter service. Dyson, a large, white-haired man, had never seen Calhoun before but thought he looked young and athletic, and even though Dyson didn't know the plane's owner well, he knew it was Todd Pearah, the son of a former professional football player. Calhoun could've been Pearah's nephew or son, Dyson thought, but he decided to drive out to the plane and check it out.
"Hello," Dyson said as he approached the plane. "Do you know the Pearah family?"
"Yes sir," Calhoun said, smiling. "Good friends. Mr. Pearah needs me to go down to South Texas and check out a ranch for him."
With that, Dyson showed Calhoun how to jump-start an airplane.
Dyson realized something was wrong driving back to his shop when he saw the Bonanza scream past him along the runway, taking off with the pit door still swinging open. He called Pearah, realized he'd been had and called the police.
Meanwhile, Calhoun flew the plane about two miles east, according to Dyson, then reversed course west for another three miles before crashing into a strand of trees. Uninjured, Calhoun could've simply escaped like he'd done for years, except his truck was still at the airport.
The police were at the far end of the runway talking to Dyson when Calhoun showed up to retrieve his truck. Dyson says that all of a sudden, they looked down the runway and saw Calhoun's truck moving real slow. The police sped down the runway, and according to an account in the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Calhoun "saw the officers, stepped out of the truck, which was still in gear, and kept going, and walked toward the officers. The officers had to run after the truck to stop it."
The arrest of a rural plane thief made headlines at newspapers across the state, including the Tyler paper — the New York Times of East Texas — and as far west as Lubbock. A reporter from the Athens Review got a jailhouse interview and Calhoun told him, "I've always been fascinated with flying."
"When I found out who it was, that he had stole the airplane and supposedly didn't know how to fly it, me knowing Josh, it didn't surprise me one bit," says Dan Parker, the chief deputy at the Henderson County Sheriff's Department.
Calhoun was already known to law enforcement in rural counties all over East Texas for stealing trucks, horse trailers, tractors and cattle, but the local cops never could keep Calhoun behind bars for long.
But now he's in federal custody. His court-appointed attorney, Norman McGinnis, wouldn't allow Calhoun to speak with the Houston Press for this story, but through police records, court documents and interviews, the Press has pieced together Calhoun's tale, including the five months that followed the arrest, in which Calhoun escaped to Mexico, eluded federal agents at the border re-entering the country, dragged a border agent 40 feet down the road when the agent tried to stop him, stole a drilling rig from a commercial construction company, and delivered meth to an undercover cop at a liquor store but escaped again by going off-road in a 4x4 truck.
"Country boys are ballsy," laughed Ray Nutt, the Henderson County sheriff who had been chasing Calhoun for years.
This is the story of a transformation, as Parker puts it, from "just an average teenager" to an East Texas Superthief.
Hunt still on for brazen 'Grandma Bandit'
Sept. 25, 2009, 9:23PM
FBI via KHOU-Channel 11
FBI via KHOU-Channel 11
Image from a surveillance camera shows a bank robber authorities have dubbed the "Grandma Bandit." She struck two Compass Bank branches in Houston on Friday.
Image from a surveillance camera shows a bank robber authorities have dubbed the "Grandma Bandit." She struck two Compass Bank branches in Houston on Friday.
She does not fit the profile of the typical bank robber.
But whoever she is, she is every bit as bold and brazen as the men who carry out such crimes — perhaps even more so. She struck two Houston banks less than 4 miles apart in an hour's time Friday and was brazen enough not to cover her face.
FBI agents have nicknamed her the “Grandma Bandit.” From high-quality surveillance camera photos, she appears to be between 55 and 65. She had shoulder-length gray hair and wore eyeglasses.
Her forays into two different Compass Bank buildings Friday afternoon proved fruitful. After accosting tellers in both banks, she walked out with an undisclosed amount of cash. No one was injured.
While some bank robbers in the past have made excuses for their actions, saying they had medical bills or were out of work while parenting young children, this woman gave no explanation for her actions. She was seen driving a white sport utility vehicle.
“We are seeing more women engage in this type of criminal activity across the country, but it's still a very small percentage,” said FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap with the agency's Houston office. “Obviously, from her picture, she is an older woman — that's very unusual.
“No matter what your situation is or how old you are or how young you are, it doesn't give you the right to break the law.”
Her first robbery occurred at 12:40 p.m. Friday when she walked into the Compass Bank at 1217 West 43rd. She claimed to have a gun and demanded money.
She is believed to have struck again an hour later at another Compass Bank at 204 West 19th. Repeating her earlier strategy, she again walked away with money.
She is about 5 feet 2 to 5 feet 7 inches tall with a large build. She wore a camouflage cap, a bright purple shirt decorated with purple feathers on the front and blue jean shorts.
Million to one apple is half red, half green
Fruit grower Ken Morrish was left stunned when he found a golden delicious apple on his tree split exactly half green, half red down the middle.
Published: 7:00AM BST 25 Sep 2009
Ken Morrish, 72, of Colaton Raleigh, Devon, did a double take when he grew a Golden Delicious apple split down the middle - one half was green and the other red Photo: ARCHANT
The fruit's striking colouring is thought to be caused by a random genetic mutation at odds of more than a million to one.
The apple has caused such a stir in the village of Colaton Raleigh, Devon, that Mr Morrish is inundated with neighbours queuing up to take pictures of it.
Mr Morrish, 72, who has been harvesting the apples from trees in his garden for 45 years, said: "It's truly amazing.
"It looks as if a green apple and a red apple has been cut in half and stuck together."
He said that he was out picking a few apples for his sister-in-law when he spotted the fruit hanging from a bough.
Mr Morrish, a retired painter and decorator, added: "I couldn't believe my eyes. The red and green split through the stem is totally perfect – as if I've painted it.
"It's a genuine one-off and none of us have ever seen an apple like it before."
Experts believe that the odds of finding an apple with such a perfect line between the green and the red are more than a million to one.
In such cases, the red side usually tastes sweeter than the green side – because it has seen more sunshine during its growth.
John Breach, chairman of the British Independent Fruit Growers Association, told the Daily Mail: "I've never seen this happen before to a golden delicious. It is extremely rare. It is an extreme mutation.
"There has been the occasional case of this type reported. If there was a whole branch of apples with the same colouring then fruit experts would get even more excited."
Jim Arbury, fruit superintendent at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, said it was probably the "result of a random genetic mutation".
"This is known as a chimera where one of the first two cells has developed differently giving rise to one half of the apple being different," he said.
"It is unlikely to be a stable mutation but it is worth checking next year to see if it recurs. There are instances of some striped apples and pears where the mutation remains stable including one striped pear in the collection at Wisley called Pysanka."
Woman, 106, fights eviction
A 106-year-old woman is fighting moves to evict her from her care home which is due to close under a cuts package drawn up by her local council.
The Sunday Telegraph
Published: 9:01PM BST 26 Sep 2009
Louise Watts' plight personifies that of thousands of elderly people across
the UK facing forced removal from care homes by local authorities looking
to save money. Photo: ANDREW FOX
Louisa Watts, a great great grandmother, has been threatened with removal from the facility.
Her family argues that such a move would kill the widow, who is believed to be Britain's fifth oldest woman.
Mrs Watts' plight personifies that of thousands of elderly people across the UK facing forced removal from care homes by local authorities looking to save money.
Her case has been taken up by Yvonne Hossack, the campaigning solicitor who has prevented the closure of more than 80 care homes.
This week she will argue at the Court of Appeal that the health of Mrs Watts will be put at risk if she and other residents of Underhill House, in Bushbury, in Wolverhampton, are moved into new accommodation against their will.
Mrs Watts, who turned 106 earlier this month, said she was desperate not to be moved out of the home she has grown to love, since moving in four years ago, after her daughter died.
The former hospital cleaner said: "I love it here and I don't want to move – this is my home, the people here are like my family. It upsets me so much what the council is trying to do."
Her son Derek, 76, has organised a petition signed by more than 1,000 people pleading for the home to stay open.
He said: "My mum has worked hard all her life, to provide a home for her family. She has lived through two world wars. All we want is for her to be left to live her last years in piece. She is 106 years old. I'm afraid that if they move her, it will kill her."
Wolverhampton council says the home does not meet modern standards and that it would cost £2 million to make the necessary improvements, which it is not willing to pay for.
It wants to move the home's 10 remaining residents into accommodation in the area, and has offered residents a choice of alternative homes.
But Mrs Watts and fellow residents say there is nothing wrong with the conditions in which they live, and that they do not want to move, and risk being split up.
On Tuesday, the local authority will go to the Court of Appeal to attempt to lift an injunction won by Miss Hossack, blocking plans to move the residents out.
Miss Hossack's campaigning has made her a heroine for many pensioners but has made her enemies along the way.
Critics have accused her of operating as a political campaigner, not as a lawyer. Earlier this month, she faced being struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, accused of breaching rules on conduct.
Councils taken on by the solicitor had accused her of six breaches, including providing confidential information to third parties.
Ten days ago, she was told she was free to practice, after being found guilty on one charge, at the lowest level.
Miss Hossack has argued that closures of care homes housing vulnerable elderly people can threaten their health, and ultimately lives, citing evidence from one clinical psychiatrist who said length of remaining life could be reduced by one quarter.
She told The Sunday Telegraph: "The evidence is there that trauma of moving elderly people out of their homes can really damage their health, and lead to premature death. Saving money is not a good enough reason to do that."
Her bid to keep Mrs Watts' care home open was thrown out by a Birmingham judge earlier this month, but the solicitor won a last-ditch reprieve from the Court of Appeal, days later. This week the council will seek to have that injunction overturned.
Sarah Norman, Wolverhampton council director for adults and community, said: "We are confident that the case for the closure of Underhill House residential home has been proven."
She said demand for residential accommodation across Wolverhampton was falling since the council had increased investment in sheltered housing schemes, which allow those with some independence to receive support from wardens, while others were given help to live in their own homes. As a result, not all residential homes could be kept open, she said.
Miss Hossack and the pensioners argue such initiatives are worsening the plight of the most frail elderly, who still need care home places, but are being shunted around as homes close.
Miss Hossack, 53, whose campaigning work contributed to the end of her marriage, and brought her to the brink of bankruptcy, says she is determined to keep fighting for the rights of the vulnerable.
In a separate move, she has lodged papers in a test case to protect pensioners living in sheltered housing whose wardens are being removed in attempts to cut council spending.
Miss Hossack has served papers on Barnet council, in North London, which wants to remove live-in wardens from some complexes as part of its plans to develop an "easyJet" model of services, which strips free services down to a minimum, and cuts taxes.
The test case is also expected to consider plans by Bradford, Hackney, and Devon councils, who are among 20 local authorities whose plans to replace live-in staff with "floating" wardens – covering several homes at once – are being fought by residents, represented by Miss Hossack.
The solicitor argues that it is unfair for councils to alter the terms of tenancy agreements signed by residents who moved into sheltered housing, expecting that they would always have a warden on hand to keep them safe.
She said: "Thousands of people have given up their own homes that they lived in for years to move into sheltered housing in the expectation that there is someone there who will have a cup of tea with them and who will keep an eye on them as they become more frail.
"In some of these cases the councils are talking about replacing an onsite warden with a person who covers five developments at one time, with weekly visits, and a chord for people to pull in emergencies. I think that is wrong, and that it is a breach of contract. You cannot replace a person with an alarm cord."
The priest, the stripper, and their baby
She was an exotic dancer at a Miami strip club called Porky's. He showed up wearing a Hawaiian shirt, eager to share a night in the VIP lounge.
They began a torrid, on-and-off love affair that ended for good in January, after she gave birth to a daughter she says is his. Now, she wants child support and has filed a restraining order against him.
It might be a routine, if tawdry, court case if not for respondent David Dueppen's job: Catholic priest with the Miami Archdiocese.
The sordid story line inflicts another black eye on an Archdiocese already embarassed in May, when popular Miami television priest Alberto Cutié admitted to an affair with a woman, whom he quickly married.
Dueppen, 42, who once served at the same Miami Beach parish as Cutié, is now on leave from his associate priest position at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Pembroke Pines.
Former stripper Beatrice Hernandez filed the restraining order last week, claiming that an argument over paternity and child support escalated when Dueppen began ``grabbing her by the throat and choking her.''
``He is the devil,'' said Hernandez, 42, of Miami, who provided DNA test results naming Dueppen as the father. ``He is the devil dressed as an angel.''
The couple's past relationship was well-known to the church. Three years ago, the archdiocese paid Hernandez a settlement stemming from their long-running affair, which started seven years ago.
Within the last year, Hernandez says, Dueppen -- still a priest -- unexpectantly showed up to rekindle their romance.
The result, she says: Her baby, Marilyn Epiphany Hernandez.
Dueppen, a former Miami-Dade middle-school teacher who became a priest 10 years ago, says his lawyer advised him not to comment.
``I can't talk with you,'' Dueppen told a Miami Herald reporter Friday, adding that Hernandez's version is ``going to have a lot of inaccuracies.''
Dueppen, at his own request, is on indefinite administrative leave, said Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta, meaning he cannot perform church services or appear in priest garb.
Dueppen requested the leave for ``personal reasons'' during a meeting with Archbishop John C. Favalora in mid-August, she said.
Agosta could not say if Dueppen had revealed the baby's existence to the church, but she was unaware of the allegation. ``This information, if it's accurate, is very disappointing,'' she said.
Dueppen, looking to fulfill a spiritual void, turned to the cloth in 1999. He told The Herald at the time he had wrestled with giving up women and his dream of a large family.
``I sit down and ask Him that He give me the strength and the gifts to be able to serve His people,'' he said in an interview then. ``I am following what I believe is the will of God for me.''
A decade earlier, as a student at the University of Miami, Dueppen criticized the school's decision to install condom vending machines on campus.
``It will increase pressure for students to have sex, especially among freshmen. The only safe sex is abstinence,'' he told The Herald in a story on the controversy.
But abstinence was not in the cards when he met Hernandez, according to her account.
Hernandez says she met Dueppen while stripping near Miami International Airport. Her stage name: Lisa.
She spent a Sunday night with Dueppen -- who had shed his priest collar -- drinking wine in the VIP room. Soon, Hernandez says, Dueppen was visiting the club twice a month, and she began visiting him in the Keys, where he started out as a priest at St. Mary's Star of the Sea.
LINK TO STORY AND PHOTO:
Pictures that make you say 'wow': Photographers get up close and personal with wildlife
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:02 AM on 24th September 2009
Clearwater woman bitten but escapes alligator
St. Petersburg Times
Times Staff Writer
Sep 25, 2009 04:18 PM
A Clearwater woman walking her dog by Sawgrass Lake Park was bitten by an 8-foot alligator before she fought back and escaped.
Diane Blackwood was walking her Vizsla about 4:30 p.m. Monday when she noticed a swirl in the lake, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Gary Morse.
Suddenly, the alligator surfaced and bit Blackwood, who was about three feet from the water's edge. The gator began to drag her toward the lake. Her dog took off running.
Blackwood's calf was in the gator's jaws when she reached back and stuck her thumb in its eye, Morse said. The gator released its grip and bit at her thumb, allowing her to run away.
She was taken to Morton Plant Mease for treatment of a large bite wound on her left calf, a puncture wound on her thumb and a scratch on her right hand, Morse said. She can still walk and was released from the hospital soon after.
The gator, which Morse estimated was a male and about 10 to 12 years old, was caught by a trapper late Tuesday night and killed. It was found by matching its bite size to the mark on Blackwood's leg. The gator's meat and hide will be sold, Morse said, and the profit will go toward the state's nuisance alligator program.
"These gators that tend to not be afraid of people tend to be the ones who come running when you throw the bait," Morse said. "They came to you, and this one did that without any hesitation."
Blackwood, who has a PhD in marine sciences, grew up in Clearwater and is familiar with the alligators, Morse said. Her response to the bite was a good defense, he said.
"Most gators you're not going to have a problem with," Morse said. "But when you're walking a dog, which is a four-legged animal, somewhat similar to natural prey items — we tell people to avoid walking their dogs by the edge of the lake for that very reason."
JIM DAMASKE | Times ]Diane Blackwood was walking her Vizsla, Ritka, and her dachshund, Beka, at Sawgrass Lake Park on Monday when an eight-foot alligator clamped down on her calf. She gouged it in the eye with her thumb and it let go.
Man sues Bank of America for "1,784 billion, trillion dollars"
Joe Rauch Joe Rauch Fri Sep 25, 1:21 pm ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) Dalton Chiscolm is unhappy about Bank of America's customer service -- really, really unhappy.
Chiscolm in August sued the largest U.S. bank and its board, demanding that "1,784 billion, trillion dollars" be deposited into his account the next day. He also demanded an additional $200,164,000, court papers show.
Attempts to reach Chiscolm were unsuccessful. A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment.
"Incomprehensible," U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said in a brief order released Thursday in Manhattan federal court.
"He seems to be complaining that he placed a series of calls to the bank in New York and received inconsistent information from a 'Spanish womn,'" the judge wrote. "He apparently alleges that checks have been rejected because of incomplete routing numbers."
Chin has experience with big numbers. He's the judge who sentenced Bernard Madoff to a 150-year prison sentence for what the government called a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
Bank of America Corp faces real legal problems, including New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's threat to sue its chief executive and a judge's embarrassing rejection of a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Yet the money Chiscolm wants could dwarf all the bank's other problems.
It's larger than a sextillion dollars, or a 1 followed by 21 zeros. Chiscolm's request is equivalent 1 followed by 22 digits.
The sum also dwarfs the world's 2008 gross domestic product of $60 trillion, as estimated by the World Bank.
"These are the kind of numbers you deal with only on a cosmic scale," said Sylvain Cappell, New York University's Silver Professor at the Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences. "If he thinks Bank of America has branches on every planet in the cosmos, then it might start to make some sense."
Judge Chin gave Chiscolm until October 23 to better explain the basis for his claims, or else see his complaint dismissed.
(Reporting by Joe Rauch; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
Reuters – People walk past a Bankof America branch in New YorkAugust 13, 2009.
Children Who Get Spanked Have Lower IQs
24 September 2009 09:12 pm ET
Spanking can get kids to behave in a hurry, but new research suggests it can do more harm than good to their noggins. The study, involving hundreds of U.S. children, showed the more a child was spanked the lower his or her IQ compared with others.
"All parents want smart children," said study researcher Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire. "This research shows that avoiding spanking and correcting misbehavior in other ways can help that happen."
One might ask, however, whether children who are spanked tend to come from backgrounds in which education opportunities are less or inherited intelligence lower.
But while the results only show an association between spanking and intelligence, Straus says his methodology and the fact that he took into account other factors that could be at play (such as parents' socioeconomic status) make a good case for a causal link.
"You can't say it proves it, but I think it rules out so many other alternatives; I am convinced that spanking does cause a slowdown in a child's development of mental abilities," Straus told LiveScience.
Straus and his colleague Mallie Paschall of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland studied nationally representative samples of two age groups: 806 children ages 2 to 4, and 704 ages 5 to 9. The researchers tested the kids' IQ initially and then four years later.
Both groups of kids got smarter after four years. But the 2- to 4-year-olds who were spanked scored 5 points lower on the IQ test than those not spanked. For children ages 5 to 9, the spanked ones scored on average 2.8 points lower than their unspanked counterparts.
The results, he said, were statistically significant. And they held even after accounting for parental education, income, cognitive stimulation by parents and other factors that could affect children's mental abilities.
Straus will present the study results, along with research on the relationship between average national IQ and prevalence of spanking around the world, Friday at the 14th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, in San Diego, Calif.
Whether or not spanking equates with dumber kids is not known, and may never be known. That's because the only way to truly show cause and effect would be to follow over time two groups of kids, one randomly assigned to get spanked and another who would not get spanked. Barring that method, which is unfeasible, Straus considers his study the next best thing, as he looked back at a nationally representative set of kids who were followed over time.
Jennifer Lansford of Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy and Social Science Research Institute called the study "interesting," and agrees the method is a strong one. Lansford, who was not involved with the study, said following kids over time as this study did rules out the possibility that children with lower IQs somehow elicit more physical discipline.
However, unlike research showing the link between spanking and a kid's aggressive behavior, in which kids model parents' actions, this link is less clear to her. She added that a question still left unanswered is "what are some of the other mechanisms that could be responsible for this link between physical discipline and lower IQ?"
How spanking harms
If spanking does send IQ scores down, Straus and others offer some explanations for what might be going on.
"Contrary to what everyone believes, being hit by parents is a traumatic experience," Straus said. "We know from lots of research that traumatic stresses affect the brain adversely." Also, the trauma could cause kids to have more stressful responses in difficult situations, and so may not perform as well cognitively.
By using hitting rather than words or other means of discipline, parents could be depriving kids of learning opportunities. "With spanking, a parent is delivering a punishment to get the child's attention and to get them to behave in a certain way," said Elizabeth Gershoff who studies childhood development at the University of Texas, Austin. "It's not fostering children's independent thinking."
So when a child gets in a bind, he or she might do the right thing to keep from a spanking rather than figuring out the best decision independently, added Gershoff, who was not involved in Straus's current study.
And then there are genes, as some kids are just born smarter than others.
Even though spanking has been shown to cause negative consequences, Gershoff said many parents still fall back on the behavior-shaping tool. As for why, she says it's a quick fix, though its seeming success is short-lived and the negative consequences often outweigh the positives. Parents also might have been spanked themselves and so continue the tradition.
FHP: Man drove car into deputy's home
Test showed Rodney Troy Whitley had a blood alcohol level of 0.140
Rodney Troy Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.
A Gilchrist County man accused of driving his car through a fence and into a deputy's concrete block home was charged with DUI.
Rodney Troy Whitley, 40, was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol after the 1:26 a.m. incident north of Bell in northern Gilchrist County.
According to FHP, the white minivan Whitley had been driving wound up embedded on the north side of a home built with concrete blocks and owned by a Gilchrist County deputy and her husband.
The deputy told FHP that they heard a loud noise and then saw that the minivan had come through their bedroom wall. The couple went outside and found Whitley behind the wheel of the minivan, according to Gilchrist County Sheriff's Major Tony Smith. The deputy was not injured, but her husband required stitches due to cuts from flying debris, Smith said.
Whitley reportedly told an FHP trooper that he lost control of the minivan while answering a text message on his cell phone.
After a breath test determined Whitley's blood alcohol level was 0.140, above the legal limit of 0.08, he was arrested on the DUI charge and booked into the Gilchrist County jail.
THIS LINK INCLUDES ACTUAL FOOTAGE OF HIS PLANE FLYING OVER EX-GIRLFRIEND'S HOUSE
September 24, 2009
Teen held at gunpoint until police arrive
Monday, September 21, 2009 11:55 pm
A Billings man driving home from work around 5 p.m. Monday spotted his car that had been stolen from him that morning. He chased the car until it stopped on the 2600 block of Fourth Avenue South and managed to hold one of the passengers at gunpoint until police arrived.
"He was actually going home from work at the time of the call," Billings Police Sgt. Scott Conrad said. "It was a red Suburban. He chases it down and there's four occupants in the vehicle. Three run. He catches one of the passengers, with one hand at gunpoint and one hand on the phone calling police dispatch."
Billings police arrived minutes later and ordered the man to the ground. They took the teen into custody and released the man once they realized what had happened. Conrad said the boy helped police identify those who had allegedly stolen the car, and the boy was later released.
"He actually helped in the case," Conrad said. "We do know who we're looking for."
Don’t Look Down: 10 Peculiarly Precarious Modern Buildings
Mike in Architecture & Design
Thief swipes wedding cash
What was supposed to be the happiest day of Aaron “Bo” and Margaret Thompson Brown’s lives turned heart-wrenching Saturday night.
During the local couple’s wedding reception at the American Legion in Seymour, an uninvited guest made away with a large wire bird cage that held stacks of congratulatory cards filled with cash, checks and gift cards.
Margaret’s mother, Joyce Thompson, estimated the thief got away with around $5,000.
“What a low-life thing to do to a bride and groom just starting out in life,” Joyce said.
Seymour Police Department was called to the reception at 10:48 p.m. to investigate.
Assistant Chief Craig Hayes said after conducting a search, officers were unable to locate the suspect, whom witnesses described as a skinny white male wearing a dark T-shirt and a ball cap. Anyone with information should call the police at 522-1234.
“No one knows who he was,” Hayes said, reading from a police report.
For Margaret, the whole situation seems surreal, but she’s not letting it get her down.
“It wasn’t even the money, I was upset that someone could come in and do something like that on somebody’s wedding day,” she said. “But I don’t want to remember that, I want to remember that we all had a good time.”
Although many tears were shed, Joyce said friends and family who attended the event did their best to console the bride and groom, even starting a collection to replace some of the stolen money.
“They were able to get about $500, I think,” Joyce said.
Derek Fields, a friend of the couple, was responsible for rallying the guests to give more money.
“He jumped up and took the mic from the DJ and said it was a terrible thing that had happened and suggested that people gift the same amount,” she said. “Then they passed around a box.”
Margaret said that part of the evening was “straight out of a movie.”
“I was in the corner and my bridesmaids were trying to console me, and the DJ played ‘Lean on Me’ and we all started dancing again,” she said. “I decided I could let it ruin everything or I could just forget it and have fun.”
She said she and her husband had planned to use a lot of the money to pay for a honeymoon, which she says they now plan to take in the spring.
“We’ll be OK,” Margaret said.
Joyce is advising guests who gave the couple checks or gift cards to have them canceled immediately and reissued if they choose. If a check has been cashed, she said to check with the bank and call the police.
She also has a message to the thief.
“You put a really sad damper on what was a beautiful day,” she said. “Hope you can sleep at night.”
Several of these clips contain strong language, so please be careful if you are easily shocked.
Former postal worker Myles Weathers admits to stealing more than $30,000 in Netflix DVDs mailed through Springfield branch
September 21, 2009, 8:45PM
SPRINGFIELD – A former U.S. Postal Service employee pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $30,000 in DVDs mailed to the Springfield branch.
Myles Weathers, a former Springfield resident now living in New York, admitted taking more than 30,000 DVDs sent out by Netflix to customers in Greater Springfield during a one-year period beginning in January, 2007.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Dineen Jerrett said the movie rental company alerted the post office officials that a suspiciously high number of DVDs were disappearing from the Springfield area.
Between 50 and 100 DVDs were vanishing each week at one point, Jerrett said.
An investigation by the Office of Inspector General zeroed in on the night shift at the Springfield branch, and eventually targeted Weathers, Jerrett told U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor.
He was arrested on Feb. 22, 2008 after agents filmed him taking DVDs from packages and slipping them into his backpack, the prosecutor said.
Ponsor said the maximum penalty for mail theft by a federal employee was 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. By pleading guilty, Weathers faces significantly less time, between 10 and 16 months, under federal sentencing guidelines, the judge said.
Restitution would be about $38,000, with $36,000 worth of DVDs and another $2,000 incurred by Netflix in extra mailing costs, the prosecutor said.
Sentencing was set for Dec. 23.
Springfield defense lawyer Edward B. Fogarty represented Weathers, who pleaded guilty to a so-called information – a charge drawn up by prosecutors – rather than an indictment handed down by a grand jury.
Why Fall Begins Tuesday
Robert Roy Britt
21 September 2009 08:38 pm ET
Well, sort of.
The first day of autumn arrives on varying dates in different years for two reasons: Our year is not exactly an even number of days; and Earth's slightly noncircular orbit, plus the gravitational tug of the other planets, constantly changes our planet's orientation to the sun from year to year.
And weather-wise, Earth's seasons have shifted in the past 150 years or so, according to a study that came out earlier this year. The hottest and coldest days of the years now are occurring almost two days earlier.
This year, fall starts Tuesday, because that is when the so-called autumnal equinox occurs (at 5:18 p.m. EDT). Equinoxes (which mark the onset of spring and autumn) and solstices (which mark when summer and winter begin) are points in time and space that mark a transition in our planet's annual trip around the sun.
At each equinox, the sun crosses the Earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length on most of the planet (from the Latin, equinox means "equal night"). At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon on either equinox.
How it works
Earth's multiple motions — spinning on its axis and orbiting the sun — are behind everything from day and night to the changing seasons.
The sun comes up each day because Earth rotates once on its axis every 24 hours or so. Seasons are a result of Earth being tilted 23.5 degrees on its spin axis coupled with the planet's 365-day orbit around the sun.
(At the North Pole, the sun rises only once a year — at the start of spring. It gets higher in the sky each day until the summer solstice, then sinks but does not truly set until late September, at the autumn equinox.)
Imagine Earth as an apple sitting on one side of a table, with the stem being the North Pole. Tilt the apple 23.5 degrees so the stem points toward a candle (the sun) at the center of the table. That's summer for the top half of the apple.
Keep the stem pointing in the same direction but move the apple to the other side of the table: Now the stem points away from the candle, and it's winter on the top half of the fruit. The very top of the apple, representing the north polar region, is in total darkness 24 hours a day, during that season.
At winter solstice, the sun arcs low across the Northern Hemisphere sky for those of us below the Arctic Circle, and the stretch of daylight is at its shortest. By the time of the spring equinox, days have grown noticeably longer. At the summer solstice, the sun gets as high in our sky as it can go, yielding the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. And another quarter of the way around, at the autumnal equinox, the planet's axis is again pointing neither toward or away from the sun.
As long ago as the fourth century B.C., ancient peoples in the Americas understood enough of this that they could create giant calendars to interact with the cycle of sunlight. They built observatories of stone to mark the solstices and other times important for planting or harvesting crops. Shrines and even tombs were also designed with the sun in mind.
More seasonal facts
As we orbit the sun, the part of the night sky that's in our view changes. A given star sets about 4 minutes earlier each night. Over a month, this amounts to two hours. In winter, this means that we're looking at stars that during the summer were in our daytime sky, overwhelmed of course by the glare of the sun. Since we complete a circle around the sun every year, the stars of summer, such as those in the Big Dipper, are always the stars of summer.
During summer on the top half of Earth, our planet is actually farther from the sun than during winter, a fact owing to our non-circular orbit around the sun. The difference is about 3 million miles (5 million kilometers), and it makes a difference in radiant heat received by the entire Earth of nearly 7 percent. But the difference is more than made up for by the longer days in the Northern Hemisphere summer with the sun higher in the sky.
Which brings up a common question: If the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, why are the dog days of August typically hotter? It takes a while for the oceans to warm up, and a lot of weather on land is driven by the heat of the oceans.
Monday, Sep. 21, 2009
Legless man in wheelchair says police Tased him
By Victor A. Patton
MERCED — The Merced Police Department's Internal Affairs Division is investigating whether an officer twice used a Taser on an unarmed, wheelchair-bound man with no legs.
Gregory Williams, 40, a double-leg amputee, spent six days in jail on suspicion of domestic violence and resisting arrest. He was released from jail Friday after the Merced County district attorney's office decided not to file charges against him.
"How much resisting am I going to do with no legs? No feet?" Williams said. "It's ridiculous what they did to me. How far am I gonna run? Where am I gonna go?"
Police took Williams' wife into custody during the incident on an outstanding $10,000 misdemeanor warrant for domestic violence.
Williams is black, and the two main arresting officers are white, but it's unknown whether race played a role in the incident.
Williams said officers never used racial epithets toward him. Although he said he does believe race and class played a role in his arrest, he said he believes the police just wanted to be "downright nasty" to him.
Williams said he was manhandled and Tased by police, even though he said he was never physically aggressive toward the officers and didn't resist arrest.
Williams said he was humiliated after his pants fell down during the incident. The officers allegedly left him outdoors in broad daylight, handcuffed on the pavement, with his pants down. Williams said the Sept. 11 arrest also left him with an injured shoulder, limiting his mobility in his wheelchair.
A handful of residents in Williams' apartment complex said they witnessed the incident and supported Williams' charges. A short video clip, shot by a neighbor, shows Williams sitting on the pavement with his pants down, his hands cuffed behind his back.
A Merced police report, written by the responding officers, says police tried to reason with Williams before the arrest, to no avail. The officers wrote that Williams was uncooperative and refused to turn his 2-year-old daughter over to Merced County Child Protective Services, among other allegations.
In the report, police also say a hostile crowd gathered as the officers tried to perform their duties.
The Merced Police Department spokesman declined to comment, saying he can't discuss it because the investigation is internal. Both of the officers remain on duty.
Although the officers remain on duty, Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said, the department is taking the internal investigation and the allegations seriously.
"We want to get to the bottom of it," he said. "We want to make sure we're doing the right thing for the right reasons."
Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sept. 11, Williams said, he and his wife, 28-year-old Demetrice Shaunte Phifer, were arguing when a Merced Police Department patrol car arrived at the couple's studio apartment.
While one officer spoke with his wife, Williams said, another officer arrived and ordered him, "Go back to your house!" Williams, who had his 2-year-old daughter, Ginni, in his lap, said he rolled his wheelchair back to his apartment.
The officer, who is identified in the police report as John Pinnegar, approached him in the doorway of his apartment. Pinnegar said his wife had accused him of striking her, which Williams denied.
Shortly afterward, police Sgt. Rodney Court and a worker with Merced County Child Protective Services entered the room, Williams said. "I'm trying to tell him nothing happened. We were just having an argument," he said.
Pinnegar grabbed Williams' 2-year-old daughter from his lap, handing her to the CPS worker. "I said, 'What are you doing? I haven't done anything!' " Williams said.
Williams said Pinnegar unholstered his Taser, jammed it into his rib cage and shocked him twice. A police report says Williams was Tased once in the shoulder.
Williams said he fell from his chair onto his stomach on the ground outside his doorway.
While he was down, Williams said, Court put his knee on his neck, and one of the officers then cuffed his wrists. At some point after he fell out of his chair, Williams said, his shorts slid down his legs.
With his hands cuffed behind his back, Williams said, he was unable to pull his pants up. He said police left him for five to 10 minutes in that position on the pavement, with his private parts showing as neighbors and onlookers watched.
Williams, a lifelong Merced resident with three children, said both his legs were amputated in 2004 after he was diagnosed with deep-vein thrombosis that led to gangrene in his legs.
Doctors amputated his legs below the knees when he was 34. He lost his job as a truck driver and supports himself and his family from a Social Security disability allotment of $1,004 a month.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY LISA JAMES Greg Williams, a disabled double amputee who was Tasered by Merced Police Officers on Sept. 11th, recounts the incident to a Merced Sun-Star reporter last Friday at Williams' K Street apartment where the incident occured. Sept. 18, 2009
Child swallows cocaine after Newark dad allegedly tells son that drugs were "candy"
September 18, 2009, 11:50PM
The dangerous miscue occurred because the child's father, Shaheed Wright, 25 of East Orange, told his son the drugs were candy after he hid several bags of cocaine in his son's jacket following an alleged run-in with Newark police, according to city police spokesman Detective Todd McClendon.
Wright was arrested at his South Munn Avenue residence this afternoon and charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
The children, identified as one girl and three boys, were all four years of age. A teacher at the daycare center had the children taken to Beth Israel around 9:30 a.m. when they noticed the girl had a foreign object in her mouth, which was later identified as a small plastic bag filled with cocaine, McClendon said.
Wright's son later told police that his father gave him the cocaine and told him the bags were actually "packets of candy," according to McClendon. Friday morning, when classmates asked the young boy for candy, he unknowingly distributed the cocaine to his friends.
Hospital tests indicated that only one of the children actually swallowed the cocaine, according to McClendon. That child was treated and released on Friday.
McClendon said the Division of Youth and Family Services is expected to conduct a separate investigation into the incident.
Newark 4 year old passes out cocaine at daycare thinking it was candy
September 19, 2009, 9:21PM
photo courtesy of Newark PoliceShaheed Wright, 25, of East Orange, was arrested Friday after allegedly putting cocaine in his 4-year-old son's pocket after a brush with police. One classmate of the child ingested the cocaine.
NEWARK -- Shaheed Wright feared police were closing in on him, authorities say, so he hid his bags of cocaine in his son’s jacket pockets, telling the child that it was candy.
And when the boy arrived at his daycare center in Newark on Friday morning, he did what any other 4 year old might: The boy handed the white powder out to his friends.
One girl ate it.
She was rushed to Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark along with Wright’s son and two other boys from the day care suspected of eating cocaine. They all turned out to be fine and were released to their parents, according to Todd McClendon, a spokesman for Newark Police.
Wright, meanwhile, was arrested Friday afternoon in the hallway of his apartment building on South Munn Avenue in East Orange. The 25-year-old man is accused of endangering the welfare of a child, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and other charges, including employing a juvenile in a narcotics scheme.
He emerged shackled yesterday from Newark Police Headquarters, his hair in long dreadlocks, his face downcast. When asked if he wanted to say anything to the parents of the other children, he looked up for a moment.
"I apologize deeply," Wright said.
He is being held on $400,000 bail and scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning in Superior Court in Essex County.
The children were identified only as a girl and three boys, all 4-years old.
A teacher at Clinton Avenue Daycare Center first noticed the girl had something odd in her mouth at about 9:30 a.m. Friday, police said. The teacher looked closer and noticed a small plastic bag filled with the white powder.
Then, she called an ambulance.
It turned out only the girl actually swallowed the cocaine, McClendon said.
The center, a three-story townhouse near Lincoln Park, was closed yesterday. Attempts to reach the owner were unsuccessful.
Authorities suspect Wright shoved the cocaine into his son’s pockets following a "near brush" with police. McClendon said he was unable to elaborate on when or where the encounter occurred.
But when they searched the boys’ pockets, police found multiple bags of cocaine, McClendon said.
The Division of Youth and Family Services plans to conduct a separate investigation into the incident, McClendon said. A spokeswoman for the agency said state law did not allow her to comment on the status of the investigation.
Co-workers at Waldoboro store discover they are brothers
WALDOBORO, Maine — For weeks, Randy Joubert and Gary Nisbet laughed off customers’ comments that the two furniture deliverymen looked similar enough to be brothers.
It wouldn’t be long before fate would prove the old adage, the customer is always right.
Joubert said something in him clicked after yet another customer asked the same question during a routine delivery in late August.
Prefacing his line of questioning with the statement, “Don’t think I’m weird,” Joubert asked his co-worker a few pointed questions based on names and dates gleaned from his own adoption records.
Seconds later, Joubert realized that the man who had been on the other end of countless couches, mattresses and recliners since July wasn’t just a co-worker. Nisbet was the long-lost brother for whom he had been searching.
“I said, ‘Gary, do you understand what I am telling you? We are brothers,’” Joubert, 36, recalled Friday. “I think I kept saying that. We had a few more deliveries and it was just the Twilight Zone.”
“I went home and I just dropped,” said Nisbet, 35. “I thought, ‘I think I have a brother.’”
It’s a story that seems too perfect even for a movie: Two brothers, born a year apart, grow up in adoptive families in neighboring towns and attending rival schools. As adults, each lives in Waldoboro but spends 35 years not knowing about the other’s existence.
Then they end up not only working for the same small business, in this case Dow Furniture in Waldoboro, but also riding together in the same delivery truck day after day.
Yet somehow, their amazing story doesn’t end there.
On Thursday, a teary-eyed woman from nearby Warren showed up at the furniture gallery claiming to be their half-sister — and she had the birth certificate and other paperwork to prove it.
Joubert said there is only one explanation: fate.
“It has to be,” he said Friday. “All of these things had to happen” to bring the group together.
“I’m really awestruck,” said Joanne Campbell, who was born to the same mother five and six years before the two men. “After all of these years, here I am 41 and now I finally found my brothers.”
This undeniably happy story had a tragic beginning, however.
All three siblings — as well as a fourth sister, according to Campbell — ended up in foster care and eventually adoptive families after being taken by the state from their mother.
Joubert said he learned from state records that one of his grandfathers had rushed him at age 2 months to a doctor after finding him severely malnourished. Campbell said that, unlike Joubert and Nisbet, she actually knew her mother, who died in the mid-1990s, but that she never developed a relationship with her because of the past problems.
Joubert was able to gain access to his adoption records through a fairly new state law, one that coincidentally was supported by his boss at the furniture store, former state Sen. Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro.
It was in those records that he found the names of his biological mother and father, Wilfred and Joan Pomroy. But it wasn’t until he asked state officials for more information that he learned he had a younger brother from the same parents, both of whom are now deceased.
“I thought, how in the world am I going to search for this guy? He is going to have a different [last] name, like me,” he said.
Little did Joubert know, his little brother was also going by a different first name. Nisbet’s given name on his birth certificate is Gaylord.
Nisbet, meanwhile, previously had learned the names of his birth parents after petitioning the court for his records but didn’t know about a brother.
The two men began working together in July when Joubert was hired at the place where Nisbet has worked for seven years.
In retrospect, both men acknowledge that the thought of their being related crossed their minds at least once. Joubert said he even mentioned it to his girlfriend after his first day on the job.
As the siblings sat together on a showroom couch, it’s easy to see why customers thought they were related. Both men are stocky and on the shorter side with eerily similar faces. On Friday, they were also both sporting hats, similar styles of eyeglasses and goatees.
Joubert is undoubtedly the more talkative of the pair. When asked for his initial reaction to the news that he had a brother, Nisbet simply replied, “Blown away.” But both men said the realization has dramatically changed their lives.
It has also garnered them significant attention. In addition to local media coverage, the two men are scheduled to fly to New York City this weekend to be featured on NBC’s “Today” show on Monday.
Several of their co-workers at Dow Furniture said it couldn’t happen to two nicer guys. There were plenty of tears of joy shed the other day when they broke the astounding news to their colleagues, and emotions are still running high.
“It’s improved the work environment to have such a wonderful thing happening,” said co-worker Sonia Bates.
LINK TO PHOTO OF BROTHERS:
Gambler wants casino to return his losses
The Detroit News
Detroit -- Italo Mario Parise has sworn off gambling for good.
The 61-year-old professional engineer indulged his appetite for cards, slots and game tables at MotorCity Casino in Detroit for a decade, losing $673,854 of his own money.
Looking back, Parise says he believes he was brainwashed by the casino to keep coming back to gamble more.
And now that he says his head is clear, Parise -- who says he hasn't set foot in a gambling hall since March -- wants his money back from the casino he blames for his losses.
In what appears to be the first lawsuit of its kind in Michigan, Parise is suing MotorCity Casino to recover his money, claiming the gambling house had a duty -- under an obscure Michigan law -- to stop him when he was down.
The statute -- called "gaming: action by loser" -- has been on the books since 1961 and remained there after the passage of Proposal E, which established non-Indian casinos in Michigan in 1996.
In the suit, to be heard Friday in Wayne Circuit Court, Parise alleges the casino "knew or should have known of his enormous financial losses" and did not make any attempt "to aid" him in stopping them.
In an interview with The Detroit News, Parise said the casinos market themselves as places of entertainment when they are in, in his opinion, illegal operations that deceive the public.
"These places, they suck people in. It's not gambling, it's brainwashing. They take money from you until it is gone," he said.
MotorCity's lawyers say the lawsuit is "frivolous" and are seeking to have the case dismissed and sanctions filed against Parise's attorney.
Rick Kalm, head of the Michigan Control Gaming Board, called the lawsuit "unusual" and said he is not familiar with the 1961 law. A spokesman with the Attorney General's office declined to comment on the case or the statute.
In preparation for the case, Parise's lawyer, Frank A. Cusumano, said he searched for other lawsuits using the statute to recover losses and could find none, suggesting this case is the first of its kind in Michigan.
Lawyers for MotorCity said no Michigan statute exists that allows a casino patron to sue a casino for gambling losses. Attorney Patricia Nemeth said Detroit Entertainment, which operates MotorCity, says the company does not comment on pending litigation.
But in a court filing on behalf of Detroit Entertainment, attorney Deborah Brouwer says nothing in the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, which governs casinos, states that a person who loses money at a Detroit casino may sue for recovery of those losses.
Such a provision "would be the death knell for the Detroit casinos, none of which would be able to remain in business if forced to return gambling losses to disgruntled gamblers," the brief says.
Robert Stocker II, a Lansing attorney and gaming law expert with Dickinson Wright, said the law allows a person to pursue a cause of action only in cases of illegal gaming in Michigan. The Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act specifically authorizes casino gambling in Michigan and says any other law inconsistent with that is nullified.
"Attempts periodically are made throughout the United States by an individual to recoup gaming losses. I'm not aware of any specific cases with success. Lots of very creative attempts have been made but generally this stuff is not successful," Stocker said.
Lawyers for MotorCity said compulsive gamblers get help from the state already via a $2 million compulsive gaming prevention fund to assist problem gamblers, a toll-free compulsive gaming helpline number and the ability to be placed on a "disassociated persons list." A person on such a list is barred from three Detroit casino halls for life.
As of Aug. 19, the list contained the names of 2,221 people.
Cusumano maintains he has a viable case against the casino and has set up a Web site with a page on how to sue casinos to recover gambling losses. He says the law actually dates back to 1827 when Michigan was a territory and has remained on the books since statehood in 1837.
Parise, who filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy in Detroit in 1996 and had his case discharged or cleared in 2000, gambled from 2000 through March 22 of this year, losing $577,549 at the slots and $96,305 at table games such as blackjack.
During the time period cited in the lawsuit, Parise says he won $5,450.
Parise says he has lost opportunities for business contracts because of his gambling losses. He says he went to MotorCity officials and placed himself on a house ban until the end of the year. He has no plans to place himself on a disassociated person's list because he maintains he is not addicted to gambling and has no plan to gamble again.
"I have no desire to gamble. I swear on my father's grave. You can't win. It will ruin your life," he says.
Eight Spelling Mistakes Even Smart People Make
DivineCarolineEnglish is a screwy language. There’s just no logic to it. Why is daughter pronounced daw-ter, but laughter not law-ter? How can though, through, and tough look so similar and yet sound so different? Why does I come before E except after C? What’s so effing SPECIAL about C?
Two three-year-old boys investigated for vandalism become youngest criminal suspects in British history
Two boys aged three have become the youngest suspects in British criminal history.
They were questioned by police, in separate cases, after complaints of vandalism.
The two are among ten children under six who have been subject to investigations for crimes including sexual offences and criminal damage.
The figures, from officials in Scotland, include a five-year-old boy cautioned for lewd behaviour.
It has emerged two three-year-olds have been investigated by police for vandalism in Scotland (picture posed by models)
There were allegations against two five-year-old girls while a four-year-old boy was also accused of vandalism.
Dr Cynthia McVeigh, head of psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, said their actions could be a result of learned behaviour.
'Sometimes it is a case that they themselves have been abused or have witnessed crimes being committed,' she said.
Scottish Labour spokesman Richard Baker said: 'Questions have to be asked about the family situations of those children.'
In Glasgow, an 11-year-old migrant from Eastern Europe has been accused of raping and robbing a 14-year-old girl earlier this month.
The youngest offender in England and Wales was a six-year-old arrested in Bedfordshire on suspicion of robbery in June.
The children are below the age of criminal responsibility and cannot be prosecuted or held in custody.
In Scotland the age is 8, which is the lowest in Europe and in England and Wales it is 10.
Richard Baker, Scottish Labour's justice spokesman said: 'Questions have to be asked about the family situations of those children.'
And Bill Aitken, Scottish Conservatives justice spokesman added: 'It is deeply depressing that children of these tender years are committing serious offences. These children may be at risk.'
Dr Cynthia McVeigh, head of psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University said the children's actions could be as a result of learned behaviour.
'When you get children acting like this sometimes it is a case that they themselves have been abused or have witnessed crimes being committed,' she said.
'Children who commit crimes have learned or witnessed it and it can sometimes mean they are not being monitored by their parents.'
Disclosures under Freedom of Information laws have brought attention to the thousands of children committing offences every year.
Figures obtained by the Sunday Times this month revealed more than 6,000 offences have been committed by children under 10 over the past three years, including nine-year-olds accused of rape and eight year-olds believed to have caused grevious bodliy harm.
Other alleged crimes include possession of knives, assaults, burglaries and theft.
'Cheater' wants to reunite with boyfriend
Sunday, September 20, 2009 1:30 AM EDT
Register photo/ANNIE ZELM Jess Duttry, 19, holds a sign saying "I cheated. Honk if I deserve a second chance," along Perkins Avenue in front of the Kroger parking lot on Wednesday evening. Duttry held the sign out for every passer-by to read as a way to admit her mistake and show her regret about having cheated on her fiance earlier this summer.
It's the modern-day equivalent of the scarlet letter -- a young woman standing on the street corner with her mistake scrawled in black permanent marker.
"I cheated," her sign said in bold letters. "Honk if I deserve a second chance."
On the back, it read, "I honestly love him."
The woman stood on the curb of Perkins Avenue, in front of the Kroger parking lot, on a Wednesday evening with her plea.
Passing drivers beeped their support.
"I've gotten 57 honks in the last hour and a half," said Jess Duttry, 19, as her long black ponytail fluttered in the wind. "I've had people come out of their cars and hug me, tell me 'Good luck.'"
The Sandusky High School graduate said Wednesday was her one-year anniversary with her fiance, and he took back the ring that same day after she confessed to having cheated earlier this summer. She said she got the idea for her act of repentance online.
"I just want a chance to redeem myself," she said. "I honestly feel bad. If I have to stand out here in the rain for him to take me back, I will."
Naked 91-year-old Lake Worth man holds drunken burglar at gunpoint until deputies arrive
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 19, 2009
LAKE WORTH — A burglar early this morning clambered over a backyard fence on a quiet block on the city's west side. He picked the wrong house.
He made it maybe a couple of steps before Rettt the dog, a mixture of Rottweiler and Doberman pinscher, charged, tearing the intruder's shirt from his back in a growling, ferocious attack.
This gave homeowner Robert E. Thompson, 91, time to jump out of bed, grab his gun, a .38-caliber revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets, and to phone the police.
Then he went out back to let the guy know how he felt about home invaders. He raised the gun and shouted out in the darkness. He thought there might be three or four of them. He didn't care.
"The funny part was I didn't have any clothes on," said Thompson, a World War II veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart during combat tours in Europe. "I was standing out there with a .38 in my hand, and I was stark naked."
Already terrified of the dog, the burglar, who looked to be no older than 20, took a step toward the nude 91-year-old, and that was it for Thompson.
"I fired a warning shot," he said, and the burglar froze. "I wasn't going to let the guy get within six or eight feet of me. He spoke only Spanish, and I couldn't understand anything he was saying. I think he was more scared than I was, really."
And so they stayed that way, the hapless young burglar, who appeared, authorities said later, to be very drunk, and the naked old homeowner, his head cool, his revolver leveled, until Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies showed up.
Thompson would've made it out of the whole ordeal completely unscathed if, when the deputies told him to drop the gun, it hadn't accidentally gone off, sending a tiny bullet fragment ricocheting off the concrete pool deck and into Thompson's right shin.
He barely felt it, but the deputies called paramedics and insisted he get checked out at Delray Medical Center. He was back home by midday, recounting the incident.
The burglar, who identified himself as Jose Pasqual, 26, of no fixed address was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on a burglary charge.
"I have a real bad feeling about these guys. I don't tolerate them. I would've shot him if he kept coming," Thompson said. "You've got to protect yourself."
Top 10 Break-Up Foods
The Foxy Life
Thu Sep 10, 2009 3:39pm PDT
Last Updated Sep 16, 2009 4:12pm PDT
If You’re Sad About The Breakup...
In between the raging tears, reminiscing through old photographs, and therapeutic phone calls to friends, it's time for some serious comfort food. This is not the time to worry about calories, bloating, or weight gain. Give yourself a few days of indulgent eating. Then, do your best to ditch the blues and get back on track with some healthy eats (see our suggestions below) so you can look and feel your best.
- Ice Cream The gooier the better. Our favorite breakup flavors include Breyer's Smooth and Dreamy Mint Chocolate Chip (half the fat and still tasty and addictive) and Starbucks Java Chip. A cold, creamy treat helps get rid of the headache your idiot ex-significant-other may have caused. And our favorite trick - eat it out of a martini glass and you’ll feel sexy, seductively single, and invincible! (Once you get back on track, replace it with: low-fat maple yogurt.)
- Popcorn Something about this crunchy treat gets our aggression out. Pop up a big bowl, smother on the melted butter and nestle in front of the telly with a good movie. Perfect lift-your-spirits flicks include Mamma Mia! and Bridget Jones' Diary for the gals -- Old School or Ocean's Eleven for the dudes. (Once you go back to healthy noshing, skip the butter and salt and sprinkle it with a little paprika and parmesan cheese.)
- Pizza The ultimate comfort food -- melted cheese, crispy bread, pepperoni, and toppings galore. What better way to heal a broken heart? Just don’t let misery drive you over the edge -- limit yourself to three slices. Otherwise, you may wake up in the morning feeling like a beached whale. (Then get back to your "dating weight" by replacing the pizza with whole wheat tortillas sprinkled with diced tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese.)
- Melted Brie & Baguette Forget those wimpy part-skim, low-fat cheeses. When you break up, you need the full-fat triple-crème Brie — the decadent king of all fromage. Melt it in a baking dish in the oven and dig in with thin slices of bread. Along with a glass of red wine, this will make you feel so indulged, so loved, you’ll totally forget about what’s-his-name. (When your mourning period ends, ditch the B&B for a more figure-flattering Triscuits topped with low-fat cottage cheese).
- Tortilla Chips & Guac Salt, salt, and more salt, combined with garlic and a little spice equals pure bliss. Anything crunchy is good for a breakup because it helps work out that frustration -- and somehow tortilla chips feel less fattening and zit-inducing than potato chips. Plus, aren’t avocados loaded with the “good” kind of fat anyways? Sign us up! (Mini carrots dipped in hummus are a yummy replacement when you're ready to come out of your food coma.)
- Chocolate Let’s face it, this stuff works for every occasion, good or bad, happy or sad. Nibbling a bit of dark chocolate, or in some cases a whole bar, will put you in the mood for new love. (And yes, you can continue to sneak some sweets once you phase into a healthier lifestyle -- Rolos are 20 calories a piece so allow yourself four or five a day.)
If You’re Happy About The Breakup...
If parting with your ex leaves you feeling free and easy (although still a tad awkward and sentimental), nosh on something that makes you feel lighthearted and nostalgic, like a kid again. Nothing fussy, nothing fancy. Enjoy and give your spirit an extra lift.
- Gummy Candy Coke Bottles, Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, Hot Tamales, and the list goes on. They're fun to look at and popping them in your mouth makes you feel like a kid again -- wild and carefree -- how apropos for the occasion. Sure, gummies are loaded with sugar but they're still fat-free, so chomp away and you could always do a quick brushing afterwards.
- Pasta Pasta is the food of love, so put yourself back in the right frame of mind by slurping down a big helping of garlic linguini, penne with marinara, or spaghetti primavera. We like to serve it up bistro-style, with some candlelight, warm bread, and a glass of Cab on the side.
- Burger 'n Fries The ultimate carefree (if slightly grease-laden) meal. Go for it!
- Cupcakes These are festive, celebratory, and best of all, they're fun to eat. So munching on a red velvet cupcake slathered with cream cheese, or a chocolate bundle topped with frosted flowers is an fitting way to lighten up the mood and usher in the next stage of your romantic life.
Hotel Made Out of 200,000 Plastic Key Cards
The Holiday Inn Key Card Hotel was built by card-stacking master Bryan Berg, from 200,000 discarded hotel key cards.
To mark the relaunch of their hotel chain, numbering 1,200 establishments, Holiday Inn inaugurated the world’s first key card hotel, in Manhattan, New York. It’s made up of a guestroom, bathroom and lobby, featuring life size furniture made-out of key cards.
Bryan Berg, who built his first record-breaking house of cards when he was only 17, back in 1992, said this was his toughest challenge yet, because he has never created human scale structures before. The Key Card Hotel was opened on September 17 and will be in business until September 21. During the five day event, Bryan Berg will build a replica of the Empire State Building, inside the lobby of the strange hotel.
via Daily Mail and Xinhu
Photo source Xinhua/Gu Xinrong
Photo source Xinhua/Gu Xinrong
Photo source Xinhua/Gu Xinrong
Photo source Xinhua/Gu Xinrong
Photo source Xinhua/Gu Xinrong
Photo source Xinhua/Gu Xinrong
How you write 'shows if you're a liar', scientists discover
How you write can indicate whether you’re a liar, scientists in Haifa, Israel, have discovered.
11:17AM BST 18 Sep 2009
Instead of analysing body language or eye movement, to catch out people telling fibs, people’s handwriting can instead give them away.
While stressing the research was in the early stages, scientists say it could one day help validate loan application or even insurance claims.
Psychologists have suggested that handwriting changes when someone is lying because the brain has to work harder to invent facts, which then in turn interfere with the normal writing process.
Researchers at the University of Haifa, Israel, asked 34 volunteers to write two short paragraphs, where in one they recalled a real memory while in the other a fictitious event.
The volunteers used a wireless electronic pen with a tip that was pressure-sensitive in order to write their memories and lies, the study published in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology reported.
The paper was then placed on a computer tablet, which monitored and analysed their writing style.
The scientists then found those who wrote lies pressed harder on the paper, had longer pen strokes and produced taller letters than those telling the truth.
“In the false writing condition, the average pressure, stroke length and height were significantly higher than in the true writing condition,” the researchers said.
Professor Richard Wiseman, psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, told the Daily Mail the technique was promising, but needed testing on a much bigger scale.
“We know that people hesitate more when they lie and some companies already use this fact to see how long it takes people to tick boxes when filling in surveys online,” he said.
They're the modern Stone Age family... so is this the REAL home of the Flintstones?
Last updated at 1:28 AM on 19th September 2009
It's charmed a generation. The modern Stone Age family with a new-age American twang and 21st century concerns.
And this fascinating stone house, pictured in Nas montanhas de Fafe in Portugal, looks like the perfect place for the Flintstones to live.
Like most contemporary homes, it has a front door, roof, and selection of windows - while the huge spherical boulder on the uphill side of the house and scoop-shaped end give it that prehistoric feel.
The bizarre stone house in Nas montanhas de Fafe, Portugal, looks surprisingly similar to the home of Fred and Wilma in the 1960s cartoon - the Flintstones
The house, with windows, an apparently rusty roof and a chimney, is sandwiched between two bulbous rocks
Fred and Wilma, the lovable stars of the cartoon, which first ran from 1960 to 1966 on American TV, could easily be envisioned walking around the boulder - with pet dinosaur Dino bounding along behind.
With the popular show set in the fictional town of Bedrock, this rare house could be seen as a their real-life hideaway or as a perfect holiday home.
Firm foundations: The prehistoric house could be the perfect holiday home for fans of the Flintstones
A Google Maps image reveals the location of the unusual stone house
Perhaps Fred wanted a break from his best-mate Barney Rubble and his wife Betty, or his daughter Pebbles had a rocky ride with Barney's son Bamm-Bamm.
The Flintstones was the first prime-time animated TV series aimed at adults.
Its loveable characters were adapted for a live film, starring John Goodman as Fred Flintstone, in 1994.
Prehistoric pad: The house in Portugal resembles Fred and Wilma's home
Postman steals sex toys, lingerie from mail
Citigroup CEO says $100 million annual pay is too much
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup (C.N) Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said on Thursday that $100 million is too much for an employee to earn given the bank's circumstances.
In an interview before an audience in New York, when asked if $100 million was too much money for a Citigroup employee to earn given the government support the bank has received, Pandit said, "Yes."
Andrew Hall, a trader at a Citigroup unit, is contractually entitled to a 2009 pay package that could be worth $100 million. Prior Citigroup management signed the agreement that compels the bank to pay Hall so much, Pandit said.
Hall's massive pay package is a serious challenge for Kenneth Feinberg, the man U.S. President Barack Obama appointed to review executive pay at banks that accepted government bailouts. If the "pay czar" is seen as soft on Hall's pay, the public outcry could be strong. Hall's potential $100 million payday is equal to about 2,000 times median household income in the United States in 2008.
But it is not clear if Feinberg has authority to limit Hall's pay, given that the trader's contract was put in place well before February 11, 2009, the cut-off date for the pay czar's authority over compensation agreements.
Hall works at Citigroup energy trading unit Phibro, a business that Pandit said he is working to turn into an asset manager that invests money from outside investors, instead of a unit that trades Citigroup's money.
Citigroup has received more government support than other major U.S. banks after suffering big losses from bad assets linked to consumer debt. It has collected more than $45 billion of government capital in two separate transactions last year.
A third deal that closed this month converted about $25 billion of that capital into common stock, with the rest being turned into securities known as trust preferred shares. That transaction stabilized a measure of the bank's capital strength.
But the bank is still offering hefty multi-million dollar guaranteed bonuses to some new employees, sources told Reuters earlier this year.
The government now owns about 34 percent of Citigroup, but according to Pandit, is not involved in the bank's daily affairs. News reports have said that some regulators have pushed for Pandit's ouster, but the CEO said on Thursday that as long as the company still executes on its strategy, "all the noise will disappear."
Citigroup, like other major banks, submitted information on its top employees' pay packages to Kenneth Feinberg over the summer. Feinberg is reviewing those contracts now.
Citigroup has suffered during the credit crisis, but some investors are increasingly optimistic about its outlook. The assets widely perceived as being likely to suffer next, such as commercial real estate loans, are not a large part of the bank's balance sheet.
Pandit noted that the bank's shares trade at about their tangible book value, or accounting value, while most banks' shares trade above their book value. On that basis, "We feel there's some upside" to the bank's shares, Pandit added.
Written by Dan Wilchins
(Editing by Gary Hill and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
Illnesses blamed on bit of plastic in lung
John Manley's suffering was a mystery.
For more than a year, the 50-year-old Wilmington home remodeler was wracked with coughing spells. He had no energy. He battled frequent bouts of pneumonia.
His wife bought him two dogs because she hoped the animals might cheer him up and compel him to get out of the house.
“I thought he was depressed,” Karen Manley says. “He was in bed all the time.”
Finally, last week, Manley got a diagnosis.
Deep in his left lung was lodged a jagged, inch-long piece of a plastic eating utensil from a Wendy's restaurant. Manley speculates he sucked in the piece with a drink.
“I'm a gulper,” he says. “I gulp stuff. I always have.”
He has no recollection of inhaling the plastic. But soon after eating at Wendy's about 18 months ago, his health took a downward spiral. Wilmington doctors figured he was suffering complications from an earlier heart attack or was battling a bad bug. He took round after round of antibiotics.
“I was coughing up a lung,” he says. “That's an exact statement.”
Finally, after gagging on blood and spending a week in the hospital, Manley asked doctors to run a scope into his lungs. Sure enough, something was there, in the left lung stem. It even had some writing on it. The doctor could see an “S.”
After several failed attempts to extract the item, Manley was referred to another doctor, who suggested removing the entire left lung.
“I said, no, I wouldn't be doing that,” Manley says.
That's when he decided to seek a second opinion at Duke University Medical Center.
Dr. Momen Wahidi, director of interventional pulmonology, said Manley's case presented challenges because so much scar tissue had formed.
But he was soon able to uncover more of the mystery item. He called out letters — an A, a B, a U, an R.
“We figured out… it was saying hamburger,” Wahidi says. “But why would something that says hamburger be in this patient's body?”
That's a question Manley is still pondering. Last week, after awaking from surgery for the removal of the object and immediately feeling better, Manley says this much he knows: He will now and forever drink through a straw.
After months of mysterious sickness, John Manley had this fragment of a plastic Wendy's utensil removed from his lung.
FBI outlines retooled scams to avoid
St Petersburg Times Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
TAMPA — The FBI has generated a list of the latest scams and ways people can protect against becoming victims.
Special Agent Dave Couvertier, a spokesman for the FBI Tampa Field Division, said there are "literally thousands" of scams making their way through cyberspace.
"Some old. Some that have evolved or been retooled," Couvertier said. "People have to understand that scams nowadays are nothing more than tricks that are devised to steal money from individuals or companies, which result in a profit for the scam artist."
Here's the latest Top 5 scams identified by the FBI:
• Extortion scam targeting ethnic business owners.
Minority business owners receive a phone call involving threats if the owner doesn't meet the scammer's financial demands. Often times, Couvertier said, the business owner is threatened with a violation or hefty fine that the caller claims to be able to eliminate for a fee. Threats can also come via e-mail. Most of the calls involving this scam appear to originate from foreign countries, Couvertier said.
• Fraudulent U.S. Customs and Border Protection e-mail.
This scam alleges that border patrol agents have stopped a diplomat carrying a consignment for the e-mail recipient, which contains millions of dollars. Couvertier said it's a phishing attempt to get a reply from the recipient and obtain personal information.
• Fraudulent Oprah Winfrey Show e-mail.
This e-mail tells recipients they've been nominated for "Oprah's Millionaire Contest Show." It requests that basic information be sent through mail to the show, but no mailing address is provided. Without thinking, people who fall for this scam reply to the message with their personal data, Couvertier said. A second e-mail is then sent verifying the individual is a contestant and must now complete a contest form filled with personal questions.
• Internet vehicle sales scam.
Ads for this scam are typically found on classified advertising sites for vehicles. They alert consumers to a third-party vehicle protection program for purchasing a vehicle. It requests partial or full payment, but no car is ever delivered.
• Work from home scam.
The unemployed are the most vulnerable targets here, Couvertier said. The scheme offers to hire people to process payments, transfer funds or reship products. Victims receive and cash fraudulent checks, which are eventually flagged by that person's bank. The employee has good faith in the scammer and turns over personal information so he can be paid. Once the scammer is done, the victim's identity has been stolen and he or she is left to face consequences of fraudulent bank transactions.
The FBI recommends that consumers educate themselves about an offer before turning over personal information, clicking on links in e-mails from unknown recipients or downloading attachments.
St. Petersburg Times
The newest and weirdest entries in the Guinness Book of World Records 2010
Man impersonated governor to steal info
A Summers County man was jailed for impersonating both Gov. Joe Manchin and a state Division of Natural Resources officer when sending fake state job applications to people he met on the Internet, State Police said.
Matthew Don Reed, 32, of Grace Street, Hinton, was charged with impersonating a public official (to wit: Manchin), impersonating a state DNR officer and forgery of a public document, Sgt. T.L. Bragg said. Reed was being held Wednesday at Southern Regional Jail on $10,000 bond. He was arrested Monday.
Related documents date back to March 31, Bragg said.
Apparently, Reed met multiple people on the Internet and told them he was a DNR law enforcement officer.
He hired a Chicago man, who he also met online, to send target letters to people interested in DNR employment. Reed had apparently gathered their mailing addresses online.
In the mailed material, the people seeking DNR employment were instructed to come to the rural, sparsely populated Esquire Cemetery Road in Hinton, Bragg said.
The specific address Reed gave does not exist.
People were told to bring job applications, along with their birth certificates, Social Security numbers and some other form of identification.
Some “applicants” were from Virginia and possibly as far away as California.
Later, the same Chicago man received another letter Reed wanted sent out, Bragg said. Manchin was its purported author.
Besides the letter not having the governor’s seal, its wording and spelling had some serious red flags. One section of it read (sic): “It’s nice to have you as an employee of West Virginia. Your super (boss) Matt talk a lot of thangs about you. I hope you stay with us a long time. If you got ? please ask Matt.”
The letter concluded with Manchin’s forged signature above his name, Bragg said.
The Chicago man checked with the DNR office in Charleston to see if Reed worked there, Bragg said.
That sparked an investigation from R.L. Miller — a real DNR law enforcement officer.
Miller received documents from the Chicago man. When he discovered Reed’s activities also involved the governor, Miller contacted State Police.
The governor’s office and State Police Col. Timothy Pack were also notified.
Officers executed a search warrant at Reed’s home last Friday, Bragg said.
There, they found documents that backed up the Chicago man’s story.
Bragg noted Reed could also be behind similar activity involving State Police. During the search warrant execution, officers found state trooper job applications with other people’s information on them.
People who were preparing to relocate to West Virginia for state trooper jobs have contacted State Police.
That remains under investigation — as well as several other aspects.
Bragg said Reed had given troopers a statement admitting to some of the allegations.
Burglar leaves his Facebook page on victim’s computer
The Journal Staff Writer
MARTINSBURG - The popular online social networking site Facebook helped lead to an alleged burglar's arrest after he stopped check his account on the victim's computer, but forgot to log out before leaving the home with two diamond rings.
Jonathan G. Parker, 19, of Fort Loudoun, Pa., was arraigned Tuesday one count of felony daytime burglary.
According to court records, Deputy P.D. Ware of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department responded on Aug. 28 to the victim's home after she reported the burglary.
She told police that someone had broken into her home through a bedroom window.
There were open cabinets in her garage, and other signs of a burglar.
The victim later noticed that the intruder also used her computer to check his Facebook status, and his account was still open when she checked the computer.
The victim later noticed that she was missing two diamond rings from her dresser in the same room as her computer.
The two rings were worth more than $3,500, reports indicate.
During the investigation, a friend of the victim told her that he knew where Parker was staying, in the same area as the victim's house.
Police then went to the home and spoke with a friend of Parker's.
The man said Parker had stopped by his home occasionally, but he said the man didn't live there.
He also said that the night before the burglary, Parker asked him if he wanted to help break into the victim's home but he refused.
As of Tuesday evening, Parker remained in custody at the Eastern Regional Jail on $10,000 bail.
If convicted he faces one to 10 years in prison.
Man to 911: bar won't serve me
St Petesburg Staff Writer
In Print: Thursday, September 17, 2009
CLEARWATER — If the bartender won't serve you anymore, it may be time to call a friend for a ride, or maybe a taxi.
Calling 911 is probably not the best idea.
But that's what a Clearwater man did Tuesday night, police said.
Vincent Smith, 54, who is homeless, was arrested by Clearwater police on a misdemeanor charge of misusing the 911 system around 9 p.m. in the 1300 block of Cleveland Street.
Smith called "numerous times" and was still on the phone with 911 when police arrived, an arrest report said. He also complained that a local soup kitchen wouldn't feed him, the report said.
Clark Hubbard, who owns the Idle Spur Saloon, said his bartender cut Smith off because he was intoxicated.
"We called him a cab," said Hubbard. "Then he got out front and got in an argument with the cab driver and it kind of escalated from there."
Smith had two "Jack (Daniels) and Cokes," at the bar, said Hubbard, "But you don't know what they've been drinking before they get here."
Hubbard said his bartender asked police to issue a trespass warning to Smith, who on Wednesday afternoon remained in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $150 bail.
Notre Dame sues former catering employee for accepting $29,000 gratuity
Tribune Staff Writer
Story Created: Sep 15, 2009 at 5:58 PM EDT
Story Updated: Sep 15, 2009 at 5:58 PM EDT
SOUTH BEND — Talk about a big tip.
Earlier this year, a former catering employee at the University of Notre Dame mistakenly was paid more than her share of a gratuity — about $29,000 more.
Instead of returning the money, a recent lawsuit filed by the university alleges that Sara Gaspar spent the extra cash on bills and a new car. Now, the college wants its money back.
Gaspar, meanwhile, says she tried to alert the university about the large sum that showed up in her bank account, but that when her messages weren’t returned, she decided it was meant to be.
"I guess because it was there and I was in a bad situation, I went out and spent it," Gaspar said when reached by phone.
A spokesman for Notre Dame on Tuesday said officials could not comment on the case because it was a pending legal matter.
Gaspar, 47, started working for the university’s catering department, Catering By Design, in January, according to court documents.
On April 17, the employee was to be paid a gratuity of $29.87, but because of a "mistake," court documents say a total of $29,387 was deposited into her account.
Although, the lawsuit claims Gaspar never notified the university about the inappropriate gratuity, Gaspar insists she did.
The woman says she called the university at least three times, saying, "I think there’s a problem."
But Gaspar says catering officials told her there was no mistake and that supervisors told her only that they would pass the message on to the human resources department.
When she didn’t hear back, Gaspar said she assumed the gratuity was intentional. After years of medical problems and hard times, she believed she was finally catching a break.
"I was so excited," Gaspar said. "I thought, I could pay some of these bills."
The former employee has also since contacted an attorney and says she was told that because the money was under "gratuity" and not "wages" that she was in the clear.
The enormous tip indeed went toward medical bills and a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta, Gaspar said.
It wasn’t until May that university officials discovered the mistake and contacted Gaspar, according to court documents. Notre Dame is now seeking repayment of the $29,387 plus attorney fees and other court expenses.
However, Gaspar says there is no money to be collected. It’s all gone.
"I don’t have anything," she says.
Gaspar was fired from her job with the catering department after the university found the tip blunder. She now works part time at a local restaurant, while living with her mother in Granger.
The thrill of the big tip has now turned to fear.
"How am I ever going to win against them?" she says. "Nobody wants to take this case."
Staff writer Alicia Gallegos:
Suburban Teacher Accused Of Giving Kids Booze, Pot
Kym Krocza Taught In Fox Lake
Kym Krocza, an algebra teacher at Grant Community High School in Fox Lake, has been charged with giving alcohol and marijuana to students at her home.
Lake County Sheriff's Office
WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STNG) ? A 41-year-old far north suburban high school teacher has been chargedwith two counts of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a juvenile after a police investigation found she had supplied students with marijuana and alcohol at her home.
The investigation began when a concerned parent reported to the Lake County Sheriff's office that her child had been to Kym Krocza's home recently, and the child was supplied with alcohol and marijuana by Krocza, according to a release from Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran's office.
Further investigation revealed that other students had also been to Krocza's home, 36300 N. Wilson Rd. in Ingleside, and they were supplied with Zoloft, marijuana and alcohol. The incidents are believed to have taken place between January and August of this year, the release said.
Krocza, who works as an algebra and calculus teacher at Grant Community High School in Fox Lake, has been charged with two counts of contributing to the criminal delinquency of a juvenile, a Class 4 felony, the release said.
Further charges are possible in the future.
Krocza was taken before the Lake County Judge Raymond Collins late Tuesday afternoon where her bond was set at $50,000. Krocza posted 10 percent of her bond and was released Tuesday evening. Her next scheduled court date is September 18 for a status hearing. If convicted, Krocza could face up to six years in prison.
Investigators are continuing the investigation and looking for more instances of occasions where Krocza may have supplied students with alcohol or drugs.
Police: Fox Lake teacher paid students with drugs, alcohol
A teacher at a Fox Lake high school recruited two teenage girls to do chores around her home — then paid the 14-year-olds for their work with marijuana, alcohol and prescription Zoloft, Lake County authorities said today.
Kym Krocza, 41, faces felony charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly providing the teens with the drugs and alcohol between January and August, officials said.
Since her Tuesday arrest, Krocza has been suspended from her job as a calculus and algebra teacher at Grant Community High in Fox Lake — the school the two teens began attending last month. Krocza teaches both the girls, authorities said.
But Krocza allegedly knew the teens before they started attending the school because they live near her home in unincorporated Ingleside, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said.
“She befriended the victims prior to them becoming her students,’’ Curran said.
She asked the girls in January to do work around her home, including helping with laundry and cleaning the house, then allegedly gave them marijuana, alcohol and Zoloft — an anti-depressant drug — as payment, Curran said.
Investigators are trying to determine if other teens who went to Krocza’s home also might have been supplied with illegal substances, Curran said, who expressed disappointment at the allegations against Krocza.
“We would have hoped that a teacher is someone who could have been trusted with teens,’’ Curran said.
Krocza, who is free after posting 10 percent of her $50,000 bail, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Shoplifter claims to be governor's wife
Savannah Morning News
A woman who stole fuel and a bag of Cheetos from a Pooler convenience store claimed she was the wife of Gov. Sonny Perdue when confronted by a clerk, according to police.
The female suspect pumped a little more than 15 gallons of gas, worth $37, into a white Ford Explorer at the Clyde's Market on U.S. 80 near Pooler Parkway shortly after noon Friday, according to a report of the incident.
She then went inside, picked up the Cheetos bag and offered a check and debit card, but both payment modes were declined, police reported.
The clerk asked how the customer would pay, to which the woman "said she was the governor's wife," and "then started to whisper into her phone, stating she was talking to the FBI," according to the incident report.
The woman then collected her purse from the counter and the Cheetos - valued at $1.29 - before driving off, police reported.
Based on a description given by the clerk, officers later tracked a possible suspect to a residence not far from the gas station, but it was not immediately clear if an arrest had been made.
Lewis Levine and Michael Atkins
Boynton Beach robber pedals away with more than 1,500 pills
South Florida Sun Sentinel
6:49 p.m. EDT, September 14, 2009
James Lachenauer, 19 (Boynton Beach Police Department)
BOYNTON BEACH - A 19-year-old man robbed a pharmacy of more than 1,500 pills at gunpoint and fled on a bicycle Monday morning, Boynton Beach police said.
Police caught up with James Lachenauer Jr., of Boynton Beach, while his mother was driving him to a store and charged him with armed robbery and trafficking in oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Police said Lachenauer was armed with a silver revolver and entered the Medication Station Pharmacy on Woolbright Road around 10:30 a.m. He ordered the six people inside the business to the ground and pointed the revolver at a clerk and demanded oxycodone and morphine.
Lachenauer handed a backpack to the pharmacist, who filled it with 18 bottles of morphine sulfate, Oxycontin and oxycodone.
Lachenauer ran out of the pharmacy and onto a bicycle. He then dumped the bicycle and ran to his house in the 2300 block of Southeast Fourth Street, where he asked his mother for a ride to the store.
Meanwhile, officers combed the area for the suspect. Detective Jason Llopis observed a small green SUV on South Federal Highway driven by a woman and occupied by a man who matched the suspect's description. The car was stopped and the passenger was identified as Lachenauer.
Detectives recovered the backpack, which contained the 1,524 pills, in the car. Police found the revolver at Lachenauer's house.
He is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail.
San Marcos Couple In Big Trouble from Dr. Phil Appearance
San Diego 6
|Last Update: 9/14 6:20 pm|
SAN DIEGO - A San Marcos couple who said on the "Dr. Phil" show last year that they were professional shoplifters pleaded not guilty Monday to conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines.
Matthew Allen Eaton, 34, and Laura Renee Eaton, 26, told Dr. Phil McGraw on his nationally syndicated show that they made about $100,000 per year by shoplifting.
They were arrested Friday at their home on Leslie Court.
A federal indictment unsealed Monday alleges the Eatons stole merchandise, primarily toys, and then transported the shoplifted merchandise to their residence in San Marcos.
The Eatons then allegedly sold the stolen merchandise via the Internet to customers in and out of California, with Matthew Eaton falsely stating that the goods had been obtained from legitimate sources.
According to the indictment, as of March 26, the Eatons were storing more than 500 boxes of stolen toys at their residence.
The couple appeared on the Dr. Phil show last November, and a federal search warrant was served at their home four months later.
U.S. Magistrate Ruben Brooks set bail today for Matthew Eaton at $35,000 and $25,000 for his wife.
A status conference was set for Sept. 17 and a motions hearing for Oct. 19.
LINK TO DR. PHIL SHOW:
Hopkins student kills intruder with samurai sword, police say
Off-campus house was burglarized Monday; suspect recently freed from county jail
Liz F. Kay and Brent Jones
Baltimore Sun reporters
2:45 p.m. EDT, September 15, 2009
A Johns Hopkins University student armed with a samurai sword killed a man who broke into the garage of his off-campus residence early Tuesday, a Baltimore police spokesman said.
According to preliminary reports, a resident of the 300 block of E. University Parkway called police about a suspicious person, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. An off-duty officer responded about 1:20 a.m. to the area with university security, according to Guglielmi. They heard shouts and screams from a neighboring house and found the suspected burglar suffering from a nearly severed hand and laceration to his upper body, he said.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. Based on the initial investigation, the student killed the man with only one strike of the sword, according to Guglielmi. The medical examiner will make the final determination, he said.
The student told police that he heard a commotion in the house and went downstairs armed with the sword, Guglielmi said. He saw the side door to the garage had been pried open and found a man inside, who lunged at the student. There was no indication that the suspected burglar was armed, however, according to Guglielmi.
Burglars had already stolen two laptops and a Sony PlayStation from the student's home Monday, Guglielmi said.
Dennis O'Shea, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins, said all four residents of the house are undergraduate students at the university. Police had released three of the roommates by Tuesday afternoon. The student who wielded the sword remained in custody while investigators worked to corroborate his story with evidence and witness statements. Police have not released the name of the residents, but department sources identified the detained student as John Pontolillo, 20, of Wall, N.J.
The city state's attorney's office will determine whether to press charges, Guglielmi said.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Police have also not formally released the name of the suspected burglar, but a department source identified the man as Donald D. Rice, 49, of the 600 block of E. 27th St. in Baltimore. Guglielmi said the suspect had 29 prior convictions for crimes such as breaking and entering, and had been released Saturday from the Baltimore County Detention Center after he was arrested by county police in August 2008 for stealing a car in Baltimore. Rice was found guilty in December on one count of unauthorized removal of property, and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Michael Hughes of the 3400 block of University Place, about a block away from the scene, said he was working at his home when he heard screams shortly after 1 a.m.
"I could hear the fear in the voice, and I could tell someone was scared," said Hughes, 43, who works for Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Hughes said he called police and could hear sirens as he was on the phone. He walked over to the crime scene shortly after.
"The body was near the garage. And I watched them carry the sword out. The whole thing was surreal and totally bizarre," Hughes said.
By Tuesday afternoon, two pools of blood remained on the ground a few feet away from the door to the garage, which is not connected to the home. A door to a wooden fence surrounding the back yard was broken, allowing the scene to be viewed from the sidewalk.
The three-story house has five bedrooms and two bathrooms, according to Diego Ardila, a junior at Hopkins. Ardila said he lived in the house during the summer and was a roommate of two of the people that currently live there.
Ardila, 19, said one of the roommates owned a samurai sword and generally kept it in his room. Ardila described the student as somewhat outgoing, although they did not speak frequently.
"He kept the sword on top of his cabinet," Ardila said.
Five people lived at the house during the summer, according to Ardila, who now lives a few blocks away.
"You don't expect to hear that someone you know killed a guy with a samurai sword. From what little I know of him, he wasn't some guy going out to kill," Ardila said.
Guglielmi said it is legal to possess a sword in Baltimore, and "individuals have a right to defend their person and their property." But the police spokesman said he was not in a position to comment on whether it was appropriate to use a sword, baseball bat or other means of defense.
Rice was arrested Sept. 25, 2006, for operating a stolen vehicle. Inside the vehicle, police found a camera bag with video tapes that had been taken from a home in the 200 block of E. University Parkway, which was ransacked a month before when someone broke in through a back window, according to court records. The intruder stole luggage, a laptop computer, a video camera, two digital cameras, and the black camera bag.
Rice was charged in both incidents, and received five months in jail -- or time served -- for the theft, court records show.
On Dec. 14, 2007, police on patrol in the 400 block of E. 27th St. saw Rice, who the officers wrote looked suspicious and was fumbling with something in his jacket pocket, court records show. When an officer approached, Rice pulled a loaded Rohm .22-caliber handgun, which the officer was able to grab.
Rice was charged with several weapons charges, but prosecutors dropped the case in Circuit Court in July 2008 after one of the officers -- who was deployed overseas with the military -- could not attend a court hearing, according to the state's attorney's office.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.
Baltimore City police officers talking near the yard where a Johns Hopkins University student armed with a samurai sword reportedly killed a man who broke into the garage of his off-campus residence early Tuesday. (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / September 15, 2009)
Woman, 107, looking for 23rd husband
Malaysian woman, 107, fears hubby No. 22 will leave her
(CNN) -- Afraid that her husband will leave her for a younger woman, a 107-year-old Malaysian woman is looking to marry again -- for the 23rd time.
Wok Kundor has been happily married for four years to her husband, a man 70 years her junior.
But since he left their village in northern Terengganu state for a drug rehabilitation program in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, Wok has had a gnawing feeling.
"She said that she has been feeling insecure lately and she needs to find out whether he still loves her or not," said R.S.N. Murali, a reporter for The Star. The English-language Malaysian daily was among several local media outlets reporting on the lifelong romantic.
"She is worried he might not come back after his program and find himself a younger wife," Murali said.
If so, Wok has her eyes set on a 50-year-old man, but hopes it does not come to that.
"I realize that I am an aged woman. I don't have the body nor am I a young woman who can attract anyone," she told the newspaper.
"My intention to remarry is to fill my forlornness," particularly during the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, she said.
Malaysian media, which has previously reported on the woman, said Wok has been married 22 times. That would make her marriages last an average of four years.
Wok would not discuss past relationships, Murali said.
"Some of her better halves have passed away or have divorced, but she doesn't want to talk about them or her children," he said.
Wok and her current husband, Mohammed Boor Che Musa, hail from the same village and met there.
Muhammad, 37, was quoted in an earlier report as saying the couple fell for each other because it was "God's will."
On Monday, he told The Star that he is still very much in love with his wife and cannot dream of life with someone else.
But Wok wants to hear him say it, Murali said.
Soon, the centenarian plans to make the journey to Kuala Lumpur -- if she can find a neighbor to drive her there.
Fake Cop Arrested After Pulling Over Mayor
A motorist with a flashing red light -- but no police authority -- was arrested after allegedly pulling over the wrong fellow driver: Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover.
Police say they believe the suspect was using the in-dash red light to maneuver through traffic Monday night. Glover says he pulled over when the man came up behind him. He says the man sped away after seeing who he had stopped.
Glover says he followed the car and called police, who later booked 21-year-old Daniel Niederhelman of Shreveport with "false impersonation of a peace officer."
Police seized the emergency light and a handgun from Niederhelman's holster. Sgt. Dan Houghton said the man works for a private security company, but wasn't authorized to use the emergency light.
Boy left in car while stepdad hunts for drugs, police charge
Donald Vicente II of Coopersburg allegedly forgot where he parked in Philly
THE MORNING CALL
September 15, 2009
31-year-old Coopersburg man went in search of drugs in North Philadelphia and left his 6-year-old stepson waiting in his vehicle for about two hours Sunday because he could not remember where he parked, according to police.
Donald Vicente II of 7300 Main St. remained in custody Monday under $4,000 bail on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment, according to court records.
Vicente went to Philadelphia to buy drugs and brought the boy with him, police said. Police said he parked the vehicle around 4:30 a.m. in the 200 block of E. Clearfield Street, and they discovered the boy about two hours later.
When they located Vicente he appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance, and he told officers he could not remember where he parked his vehicle, police said. The boy was taken to a hospital for evaluation and released to the custody of his mother.
According to court records, Vicente has pleaded guilty to charges in five separate cases involving illegal drugs or alcohol in Chester, Bucks and Lehigh counties since 2001. Three of the cases stemmed from charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the remaining two included assault charges.
Off-duty city officer shoots man in attempted home invasion
Suspect critically injured after being struck 'multiple times,' police say
3:24 p.m. EDT, September 14, 2009
A man was shot and critically wounded by an off-duty police officer after an attempted home invasion Monday afternoon in Northeast Baltimore, police said.
Following a policy implemented earlier this year, police did not identify the officer other than disclosing that he is assigned to the Southwest District.
About 1 p.m., the officer was attempting to enter his home in the 3600 block of Glenarm Road in the leafy Glenham-Belford neighborhood when the suspect, a 19-year-old man, stuck a gun in his back and forced him inside the home, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
The suspect forced the officer to lie down, and the officer was able to grab his service weapon. The officer chased the suspect two blocks before opening fire, striking the suspect "multiple times," Guglielmi said.
The suspect's weapon was recovered from the scene, according to Guglielmi. He was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital in critical condition, and police declined to identify him until he was charged.
Several neighbors reported hearing two sets of four to nine gunshots but did not see the officer or the suspect. They said the shooting was rare for the neighborhood of single-family homes with well-kept yards.
"This is a very unusual situation," said Sylvester Macis, 63.
September 12, 2009
Area schools may soon sell naming rights
By LINDA TRIMBLE
DELAND -- Football uniforms with a manufacturer's logo just like the Nike insignia Florida Gator star quarterback Tim Tebow wears.
A computer lab named for a bank that forks over big money to pay for upgraded equipment.
A high school theater named for a patron of the arts.
Any of those -- and more -- could be coming to Volusia County schools under an advertising and naming rights agreement the School Board will consider Tuesday.
It would give School Partnerships, a company founded last spring by longtime Volusia school supporter Nancy Holman, exclusive rights to sell naming rights for school facilities and advertising to appear on district property, uniforms, Web sites or printed materials.
"The idea is for a person to go out and solicit those opportunities that would bring in some significant dollars to the general fund for student activities and educational programs," said Superintendent Margaret Smith, who is recommending the board approve the agreement Tuesday.
"Everything would still be under our control. We could say no to a company, firm or vendor we thought would be inappropriate for an educational setting," she said.
The Volusia proposal is part of a growing trend around the nation as school districts struggle financially in the weak economy. Orange County schools, for example, hired a sales and marketing manager in July who will do much the same job as Holman would under the local contract.
"There was a wake-up call during the last budget cycle that we should look for supplemental sources of income wherever possible," said Dylan Thomas, public relations director for that Orlando-based school district. "It's a new field to plow."
But not everyone is a fan of allowing advertising in schools.
"Children are exposed to so much advertising these days. . . . They need a space where they can learn without exposure to this stuff," said Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston.
"Parents are getting increasingly concerned about advertising," he said in a telephone interview. "When you have it in schools, you can't turn the channel. It's compulsory. That's why advertisers like to be in schools so much because they get a captive audience."
Volusia County School Board members, who still are studying details of the proposal, said they understand concerns about advertising on campus but most are leaning toward giving it a try.
"We do have to look at alternatives about how we're going to fund programs in our district," Chairwoman Diane Smith said.
"I'm hoping we can use this as a stepping stone to get sports back in middle schools and keep sports going," board member Al Williams said. "Advertisement is all around us. If you don't misuse it or abuse it, it's not a bad thing."
Holman, an Ormond Beach mother of two and former General Electric engineer and marketing manager, said it's too early to know how much money the proposed agreement could generate for the district. The school system would get 60 percent of the gross advertising revenue in the first year and 75 percent in the second and third years of the agreement.
Holman headed a political action committee that spearheaded the 2001 successful campaign for a half-penny sales tax to pay for school construction. She led a committee last spring that raised $100,000 to save junior varsity sports and academic competitions from elimination.
Holman floated the idea of launching an advertising and naming rights program to the superintendent in mid-2008. "This is really my forte. You combine it with my passion for the schools and it's the perfect thing for me," she said.
School Board member Stan Schmidt suggested the district may want to invite other interested parties to make proposals. "If we're going to have exclusive rights, should we not open it to other people?" he asked. "Maybe we can get a better deal."
But a majority of board members said Holman has proven her ability to deliver for the school system.
"I feel extremely comfortable this is in Nancy's hands," Diane Smith said. "Nancy is a strong advocate for education and our children."
Millions in stolen goods found at Houston home
Sept. 9, 2009, 11:19PM
Pasadena police said they recovered more than $2 million in stolen goods this week when they arrested a man suspected of hitting J.C. Penney stores in three states.
Pasadena police said they believe Ricky Orlando Garcia, 38, broke into a J.C. Penney store July 2 at 5120 Fairmont Parkway by cutting a hole through the roof.
One of the detectives said the case resembled another burglary in 2002.
Store officials also told detectives it was similar to another burglary a few days earlier at a J.C. Penney in Indianapolis. On July 26, another store in Rosenberg was burglarized in the same manner, Pasadena police said.
In August, burglars also struck two J.C. Penney stores in Louisiana. Detectives learned that some of the stolen items taken from the store in Covington, La., were later sold at a pawnshop.
After an investigation lasting about two months, detectives tracked Garcia down to a home in Houston, where he was taken into custody on Tuesday, police said.
Charges also are pending against Garcia for the burglaries in Rosenberg and Louisiana. Police in Dallas County and Hays County also issued warrants against him for burglaries in 2008.
38-year-old Ricky Orlando Garcia
Fast Food Marijuana Mix Up
WPRI CBS 12 Providence
Sep. 12, 2009. 07:26 AM EST
Two McDonalds Customers Receive a Gun and a bag of Marijuana in their order. The package was meant for the next people in the drive-thru line.
LINK TO VIDEO:
Driver delivered crystal meth
CHICAGO, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Chicago police said they arrested a restaurant delivery driver who allegedly used his work vehicle to transport crystal meth.
Police said they followed Daniel Serafini, 35, a delivery driver for North Side Swedish restaurant Ann Sather, in his work vehicle Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.
Investigators said they saw Serafini bring a package containing nearly 2 pounds of the drug to the apartment of Alfred Mortensen. An additional five pounds of crystal meth was found inside the apartment, police said.
Serafini and Mortensen, 63, were both arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine.
Police: Well-dressed elderly man robs Calif. bank
LA JOLLA — Authorities say a well-dressed elderly man carrying an oxygen tank has robbed a bank in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla.
San Diego police Sgt. Ray Battrick says the suspect on Saturday presented a note demanding money to a teller at the San Diego National Bank. He fled with an unknown amount of cash.
Battrick says it's unclear whether the suspect had a weapon.
The robber is described as a tall man in his 70s with white hair, a gray mustache and glasses. He was wearing a white beret, argyle sweater and brown sports jacket.
Battrick says the oxygen tank was in a black bag and connected to the man's nose with plastic tubing.
Men lie six times a day and twice as often as women, study finds
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:59 PM on 13th September 2009
Men tell twice as many lies as women, it emerged yesterday.
Researchers found they tell six fibs a day on average to their partner, boss and work colleagues, but women come out with just three.
The study of 2,000 Britons also revealed that the most common lie told by both sexes was: ' Nothing's wrong, I'm fine.'
Fibbing: A study has found men tell 42 lies a week - twice as many as women
While men are likely to fib about having their last pint and claiming their partner's behind doesn't look too big, women avoid telling the truth about their latest shopping purchases.
Eighty-three per cent of adults of both sexes said they could easily tell if their partner was lying.
But body language expert Richard Newman said: 'Most people can't read the signals.
'They assume that if someone is hiding the truth, they would hide their face and avoid eye contact. In fact, the opposite is true.
'Liars usually do everything they can to convince you of the truth, sitting still and looking at you to watch your reaction.
'People simply overestimate their skills in this area.'
The findings emerged in a poll by 20th Century Fox to mark the DVD launch of TV series Lie To Me, starring Tim Roth as a deception expert who helps to solve crimes.
Top ten lies men tell:
1. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine
2. This will be my last pint
3. No, your bum doesn't look big in that
4. I had no signal
5. My battery died
6. Sorry, I missed your call
7. I didn't have that much to drink
8. I'm on my way
9. It wasn't that expensive
10. I'm stuck in traffic
Top ten lies women tell:
1. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine
2. Oh, this isn't new, I've had it ages
3. It wasn't that expensive
4. It was in the sale
5. I'm on my way
6. I don't know where it is, I haven't touched it
7. I didn't have that much to drink
8. I've got a headache
9. No, I didn't throw it away
10. Sorry, I missed your call
SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Sunday News Staff
September 12, 2009
A Westmoreland woman is now believed to be the oldest person in the United States -- and second-oldest in the entire world.
Mary Josephine Ray, who lives at Maplewood Nursing Home, turned 114 years old on May 17.
Ray, who was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, became the oldest U.S. resident after the death Friday of a 115-year-old California woman who was considered the oldest person in the world.
Gertrude Baines' death also means Ray is now the second-oldest person in the world, behind a woman in Japan who is just one week older, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies claims of extreme old age.
Ray's granddaughter, Katherine Ray of Westmoreland, said her "Gram" is nothing short of "amazing."
Aug. 4, 2009: NH woman thought to be world's third-oldest
"She's just spry for her age. Even though she's in a wheelchair, she's strong."
"She's very smart and sharp still," she said.
Ray said she stopped by to tell her grandmother the news Friday, but she was sleeping and Ray chose not to wake her up. But she said she doesn't expect her to get too excited.
"It doesn't faze her that she's that old," she said.
As for Kathy Ray, she finds the whole idea "sort of mind boggling."
Among her grandmother's favorite pleasures are the Boston Red Sox, Hershey's Kisses and ice cream, Ray said. And she plays cards on Thursdays with a friend who visits her at the nursing home.
Kathy Ray said her grandmother underwent medical testing that found something "very, very rare" in her DNA. "She'll never have cancer or heart problems," she said.
"She'll just die of old age."
Identity-theft victim meets her identity thief
Five Seattle-area people, including a mother and daughter, have been indicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle with a litany of fraud charges. Three of them have already pleaded guilty and are facing prison sentences. The federal agents and the prosecutor on the case say none of it would have been possible without one victim's presence of mind.
Seattle Times staff reporter
September 7, 2009 at 12:15 AM Updated September 8, 2009 at 1:58 PM
Back in January, Michelle McCambridge found herself staring into the face of the woman who stole her identity.
Only a week earlier, she learned that someone had taken out credit cards in her name and racked up thousands in charges. A federal agent had shown her a surveillance photo. But the image didn't ring a bell.
Now the woman in thick-rimmed glasses was standing there at McCambridge's women's-casual counter at J.C. Penney at Southcenter, asking to open a credit account.
McCambridge's heart lept. She excused herself and secretly got the store's security crew to train their cameras on the woman.
And in those few minutes, the 23-year-old retail clerk and college student set in motion a federal investigation that has brought down what authorities say is a prolific ring of ID thieves responsible for victimizing at least 39 people.
"Out of how many customer-service desks, out of how many registers she could have gone to, and she had to come to me?" McCambridge wondered this week.
"It was fate."
Now five Seattle-area people, including a mother and daughter, have been indicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle with a litany of fraud charges. Three of them have already pleaded guilty and are facing prison sentences.
The federal agents and the prosecutor on the case say none of it would have been possible without McCambridge's presence of mind.
"I'm very proud of her," said Joseph Velling, a special agent for the Social Security Administration. "It was heroic."
The 23-count indictment charged Jeania Dyson, 36; Gordon Burrage, 44; Stephanie Locke, 29; Valorie Dade, 58; and her daughter, Lakaia Dade, 36, with bank fraud, aggravated ID theft and misuse of Social Security numbers.
Burrage, Locke and Lakaia Dade have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and face sentencing this fall before Judge Robert Lasnik.
Velling and his partner, Special Agent Matthew Lavelle, said the investigation required complicated detective work to find patterns and connections in otherwise-ordinary, scattered complaints of credit-card fraud.
But it really began one day in January when McCambridge got her mail and discovered several bills for department-store cards she had never asked for.
She had just become one of about 9 million people whose identification is stolen and misused every year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
"I was kinda furious," McCambridge said.
Turns out, McCambridge's father went to high school with Velling. So he called him. Velling said he'd look into it, and he got store surveillance footage showing the woman opening a card in McCambridge's name around Christmas time.
The woman later turned out to be Locke, but they didn't know that then. All they could tell was that it was a black woman with distinctive glasses.
Then she came into McCambridge's store.
"I was a little panicked; I was a little shaky," McCambridge said.
"But I was angry."
McCambridge made a lame excuse to step away. She ducked over to the fragrance counter and found her manager. They got the store security cameras to zoom in and capture an image of a fake ID Locke was presenting with another woman's name, Velling said. But police couldn't arrest Locke right then, so she left when the credit application was refused.
Now they had more images of the suspected thief, but still no name to attach to the face.
Then, a break.
In February, local police arrested Burrage at a Kohl's store as he tried to open a fraudulent credit-card account. The security video had also gotten an image of a woman with him.
Lavelle said he recognized her as Dyson, who has previously gone to prison for bank fraud.
By checking old police reports, the agents were able to connect Dyson with Locke in previous cases, they said. Eventually, they tied all five suspects to a black Cadillac Escalade that had been used in credit thefts from Lacey to Lynnwood.
By April, the agents had rounded them all up.
Victims take action
Looking back, agent Velling says what made this case special was that McCambridge and other victims had gotten involved and contacted stores to save their security tapes.
That doesn't happen very often, he said. Usually, people just file a police report, cancel their accounts, and the cases languish for lack of evidence and resources.
"Identity-theft crimes are some of the most difficult criminal cases to investigate," Velling said.
"It is not that law enforcement does not know what crime was committed. Rather, it is a simpler question — who did it? Store surveillance video and photos can be the difference in making the identification of the criminals and a successful prosecution of the crime."
As for McCambridge, she's getting ready to go back to college and move on with her life. But the sense that someone took her Social Security number — something you can't simply cancel — means she feels a sense of permanent vulnerability.
"Yes, no violence was done to me, but that's my identity," she said. "It's a violation of your space and who you are."
McCambridge says she is actually looking forward to seeing Locke again later this month — when Locke will be standing before the judge for sentencing.
"I want to ask her if she remembers me," McCambridge said.
"It's nice to know it's one of the biggest crimes out there and we can get someone behind bars for it. I'm glad there's going to be some justice served."
Joy ride in police car leads to arrest
Matthew Anderson, of Phoenix, was arrested and charged with the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, a fourth-degree felony, and resisting or obstructing a police officer, a misdemeanor, the Sheriff's Office said.
He is accused of stealing a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria in the area of milepost 6 on NM 173 early Monday morning.
Two San Juan County Sheriff's deputies were in the area investigating reports of an outdoor party attended by juveniles, the Sheriff's Office said.
Two vehicles filled with juveniles previously were stopped and admitted to drinking alcohol at the party before they were released to their parents, the Sheriff's Office said.
The deputies parked their vehicles at the site of the party. Although they did not immediately locate any party-goers, they discovered several abandoned vehicles, a smoldering campfire and numerous empty alcohol containers.
Anderson allegedly was attending the party, the Sheriff's Office said.
The deputy was returning to the vehicle and unlocked it using the keyless entry. He was about 15 to 20 yards away when Anderson allegedly jumped in.
The car was left running, which is procedure for the Sheriff's Office, Undersheriff Mark McCloskey said. Equipment inside can drain the battery quickly when the car is off.
"It was instantaneous from when he hit the
remote to the car door opening and the deputies think he was hiding in the bushes next to the car," McCloskey said of Anderson.
Other agencies follow the same procedure for leaving their car.
"A lot of times when officers respond to calls, it's not unusual to secure a car and leave it running," Farmington Police Lt. Vince Mitchell said.
There is a way to lock it and leave it running, which ensures the in-car camera is recording, he said. If the car is off, the camera won't work.
The deputy heard the door open and the vehicle began backing up rapidly.
The deputy pursued on foot after the police vehicle backed away, the Sheriff's Office said. The second deputy also chased after the stolen vehicle, but lost sight of it.
The in-car camera showed the suspect drive away at a high rate of speed down dirt roads for approximately two minutes before abandoning the car and leaving on foot. The stolen vehicle was found 30 minutes later near a well site about one mile from where it was taken.
No equipment was missing and the vehicle sustained minor scratches after being driven through sagebrush.
A distinct set of footprints led away from the vehicle, the Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies eventually located several people hiding in the bushes near the party site and they identified a possible suspect.
About three hours later, deputies located a male walking down New Mexico 173 who matched the description of the suspect, the Sheriff's Office said.
Stealing a police car is a rarity, especially when there is another officer sitting right there, McCloskey said.
Anderson was advised of his rights and admitted to taking the police vehicle because he thought it would be fun, the Sheriff's Office said.
Insult lands man in jail
Judge's sentencing in out-of-court incident is questioned.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
This summer, incensed by a ruling in a child-custody case involving his granddaughter, 69-year-old Don Bandelman followed the judge into a public courthouse restroom and berated him as "a fool," court records show.
District Judge Jack Robison, Bandelman said, angrily told him to leave.
Then Robison did something more problematic, raising questions about whether he abused his power as a judge. Robison directed bailiffs to arrest Bandelman and then sentenced the man to 30 days in jail for contempt of court.
There was no hearing, no notice of charges and no lawyer present for Bandelman, who was handcuffed and taken to the Caldwell County Jail to serve his term in a cell with 12 bunk beds and 23 far younger inmates. After the first two nights of near-constant noise and never-extinguished lights, the grandfather said, he was physically wrecked and doubted he could survive another 28 days in captivity.
Two days later, shaken but otherwise healthy,
he returned to his home about 10 miles northeast of Lockhart after Robison, facing inquiries from an Austin appeals court, amended his contempt order to time already served.
Robison, a district judge for 15 years, declined to comment through his court coordinator for this article.
Said Bandelman: "I don't guess I regret telling him what I did. It probably wasn't the smartest thing, but it was a (gut) reaction. I guess you have no freedom of speech with a judge."
On the contrary, though judges enjoy greater protection from ridicule than most Americans, that privilege rarely extends beyond the courtroom. And because the power to jail people on the spot, known as a finding of "direct contempt," is contrary to the constitutional guarantee of due process, it is strictly limited to avoid abuses.
"What ought to scare people is the ability to jail a citizen for 30 days when a judge just doesn't like his behavior," said Bill Allison, law professor and director of the University of Texas Criminal Defense Clinic. "The courts have kept, and continue to keep, this type of contempt very closely watched, very narrowly defined."
Bandelman's jailing was unusual because a finding of direct contempt is generally reserved for acts that:
• Take place during court proceedings, usually in the courtroom or jury room.
• Are witnessed by the judge.
• Disrupt court, impede the administration of justice or challenge the judge's authority.
In cases that meet the three criteria, swift and harsh punishment behind bars is often essential to protect the court's integrity, appellate courts have said.
But those accused of contempt for acts outside of the courtroom should be given notice of charges and be allowed to defend themselves at a future hearing, a standard that the U.S. Supreme Court set 84 years ago.
'Get me out of here' On June 23, Bandelman was waiting in the hallway of the Caldwell County Courthouse for news about who would get temporary custody of his 13-year-old granddaughter. Bandelman — who has two grown children, a daughter in California and a son in Lockhart — hoped it would be his son, but Robison chose the ex-wife.
Court was adjourned, and minutes later, Bandelman noticed Robison entering a public restroom down the hall.
When Bandelman barged in, Robison reacted forcefully and a bailiff quickly intervened. Family law, particularly divorce and child-custody cases, often produces volatile court proceedings, and across the nation, security officers and judges are trained to beware of confrontations.
Bandelman was escorted from the courthouse and was standing on the sidewalk when two bailiffs handcuffed him and returned him to Robison's courtroom. (Robison's home courtroom is in New Braunfels, but several days a month, he hears cases in Lockhart and San Marcos.)
The judge sent out documents on the contempt of court charge but did not appear in court, said Bandelman, who had no previous criminal record.
Later that afternoon, he was photographed, fingerprinted and booked into the Caldwell jail, said Bandelman, a retired electrical safety instructor for Texas A&M University.
"I couldn't understand why all this was happening," he said recently. "I was upset about what was happening about my granddaughter, more upset about that than what they were doing to me at the time."
Bandelman figures it was about midnight on his second night in jail when his body — worn down by stress, lack of sleep and arthritic aches — began shaking uncontrollably. He carefully climbed down from the top bunk, the last available bed in the cell.
"I started banging on the glass window, yelling, 'You gotta get me out of here. I have to get out.' The guard yelled, 'Get back!' " Bandelman said. "The (other inmates) were yelling, 'What's the matter, old man? Can't you take it?' They were all laughing and hollering."
Bandelman said he was eventually placed in solitary confinement, where he stayed in relative peace until he left the jail.
'Can be problematic' Bandelman was jailed on a Tuesday afternoon.
The next morning, his wife, Pat, hired Lockhart lawyer John Bennett, who that day filed a habeas corpus petition asking the state district court to free his client. But when Bennett, who declined to discuss the case, couldn't get a hearing scheduled, he filed a new petition at the 3rd Court of Appeals late Thursday.
The Austin appeals court asked Robison to respond to the appeal by noon Friday. Before that deadline, the judge amended his contempt order, freeing Bandelman.
Bandelman's habeas petition alleging illegal restraint remained pending at the appeals court until Aug. 7, when justices issued a ruling raising questions about Robison's contempt finding.
"Jailing individuals for contempt under circumstances such as those presented here without the court being in session and without notice and hearing can be problematic," the opinion by Justice Alan Waldrop said.
Even so, the appeals court said, Bandelman could not be granted relief because his appeal was moot.
Bandelmansaid he intends to file a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, an independent agency that investigates allegations of wrongdoing against Texas judges.
Since 2000, the commission has privately sanctioned seven judges for abusing direct contempt powers, among the agency's lightest punishments because offending judges' names are not made public.
Bandelman also worries that his arrest and jailing will remain on his record — a valid concern, according to the Department of Public Safety. Contempt charges reported to DPS with fingerprints are posted to the state's computerized criminal history system, a DPS spokeswoman said.
'Thicker skin' needed In 1991, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a pair of rulings stating that insults and offenses to a judge's sensibilities are not enough for a contempt finding. In addition, offensive comments — even if spoken in court — do not constitute contempt unless they are disruptive or boisterous, the court said.
"Court opinions over and over imply that judges need to have a little thicker skin than your average citizen," said Allison of the UT Law School. "When it gets to the point of disrupting the (legal) process, then they may take the gloves off and put a stop to it."
Though judges are given wide discretion to determine what is contempt, they have less leeway on how they can respond, Allison said.
Court rulings have been clear that direct contempt is reserved for disruptions to "the business of the court," he said. Similar disruptions in the hallway, stairway or restroom do not apply, he said.
Jim Harrington, head of the Texas Civil Rights Project, agreed. "The law is very clear," he said. "Once you're outside the courtroom, the judge loses a lot of power. You can cite someone for contempt, but that has to be heard by another judge."
Because of the clearly defined limits on direct contempt, misuse of the power is rare, said Harrington, who called Robison's action outrageous.
Robison "is out of sync, not only with the Constitution but with contemporary judicial practice," he said.
Fired cop had prior issues
The rookie New Orleans police officer who was arrested last week after allegations he stole an expensive watch from a citizen while on a service call has been cited for crimes two other times during his more than two years on the police force.
Desmond Shorty, 24, who resigned after his arrest last week, was issued a municipal summons for domestic battery last September, and for public intoxication, public intimidation and resisting an officer last March, according to court records.
Despite the criminal charges, Shorty was allowed to stay on as a police recruit and was slated to be promoted to the rank of officer. The case raises questions about the NOPD's hiring practices and an internal monitoring system that is supposed to flag potential problem officers.
Police spokesman Bob Young confirmed Thursday night that Shorty had been in the NOPD's recently reformed Professional Performance Enhancement Program (PPEP), designed to closely monitor officers with a high number of complaints or history of discipline issues.
Officers in the six-month program are supposed to be accompanied by a supervisor on all service calls and attend additional training classes.
Young said he couldn't comment on why Shorty was kept on the force, in a probationary capacity, for 2 1/2 years and why Shorty was able to weather such alleged offenses without being terminated.
--- Letter of reprimand ---
Young said Shorty was issued a letter of reprimand in the public intoxication, intimidation and resisting arrest incident, and pointed out that prosecutors dropped the case. As for the domestic battery case, Young said he considered the case open because Shorty is attending a domestic violence intervention program.
Young was unable to immediately produce records on the officer's complaint history, but said such documents, if found, would be released today.
Shorty, assigned to the 7th District, allegedly lifted a $3,500 watch from a woman's purse late last month while investigating a disturbance in eastern New Orleans. He was in the apartment without a search warrant, according to a police report.
The owner of the watch complained to police. A week after the alleged heist, the owner and his girlfriend spotted Shorty in Harrah's Casino and supposedly took a cell-phone photo of him wearing the wristwatch, records show. Internal investigators later found the watch, with unique markings, inside Shorty's vehicle. He resigned from the NOPD while under investigation and was booked into jail on one count of theft and one count of possession of stolen things.
Shorty couldn't be reached for comment Thursday evening.
--- On force since 2007 ---
He joined the NOPD in January 2007 and has been a recruit since then. All recruits are considered to be on probationary status. They are not afforded civil-service protection and can be fired for any reason.
The complaints made against Shorty before the alleged watch theft should have been red flags, said Rafael Goyeneche, president of a watchdog group, the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
"When you look at the history of troubled officers, there are almost always early warning signs," he said. "Here, apparently the signs were ignored. And now you have another black eye, and more public embarassment for the NOPD."
--- Quality vs. quantity ---
With New Orleans routinely ranking among the nation's most dangerous cities, Police Superintendent Warren Riley has made a huge push to hire more police officers. But some, including officers within the department, worry that the need for greater numbers comes with a risk.
"Yes, numbers of police officers are important," Goyeneche said. "But you can never compromise quality for quantity."
In March, the NOPD arrested Darrius Clipps, a cop with one year on the job, in connection with a string of burglaries and sexual assaults. Clipps allegedly used his badge and uniform to conduct false investigations in which the alleged victims allowed him into their homes.
Last summer, officer Ashley Terry, with 15 months on the force, was fired after she waved a handgun and yelled profanities at a woman in the car pool lane of a day care center.
The NOPD's PPEP program, also called the "early-warning system," was instituted in the mid-'90s and drew praise from criminal justice reform groups. It was suspended in the years before the 2005 storm. Young, the police spokesman, said the program was reopened this year.
--- Trouble at nightclub ---
As an officer, Shorty's first brush with the law took place on March 2, 2008, outside a nightclub in the French Quarter.
Shorty was asked to leave the club by authorities several times. But he told Orleans Parish criminal sheriff's deputies that "I'm a 26 (police officer) and I'm not f -- -ing leaving and I don't give a f -- - who you are, but b -- -- I don't care and get the f -- - out of my face," according to a Municipal Court filing.
Shorty then allegedly approached the deputies in an aggressive manner. He was booked into Orleans Parish jail with public intoxication, public intimidation, and resisting an officer. He was released on his own recognizance, according to court records.
The case was dropped by the city attorney's office, which prosecutes municipal cases, when Shorty appeared in court a month later.
Last fall, Shorty was accused of domestic battery. At the time, police had discretion to decide whether such cases warranted state or local charges. That policy changed in February, and now all domestic battery cases are sent to state court and carry potential felony charges.
--- Complaint by girlfriend ---
Shorty's girlfriend at the time called police to report that weeks earlier Shorty had battered her and "poked" her in the eye, according to a police report.
The girlfriend also told police that on at least one other occasion, Shorty had "grabbed her around the neck and pushed and pulled her about the house," and she had had to escape.
Shorty had asked her not to call police, she said. The report says she told police that her delay in reporting the incident owed in part to her evacuation for the approaching Hurricane Gustav.
The responding officer referred her to the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau, which investigates complaints against officers. Later, a PIB officer gave her a "new citizen complaint procedure" pamphlet, along with the address where she could mail it, the report states.
Several ranking officers were notified of the girlfriend's complaint. In turn, they notified Shorty and advised him to have no contact with her, according to the report.
Weeks later, Shorty was issued a municipal summons for domestic battery by ranking members of the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau. He pleaded not guilty, according to court records.
Shorty appeared again in court in January and "all parties agreed" that he would attend 26 domestic-violence group sessions, records show.
In addition to the recent cases, Shorty was arrested and booked in 2002 on a municipal charge for disturbing the peace and fighting at Rabouin High School. That case was later dropped by the city attorney's office, records show.
The city attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Thursday
Man in anti-drug ad charged in pot bust
September 10, 2009
HUNTINGTON -- A labor organization's voice for a drug-free work force found himself behind bars this week charged with cultivating a massive marijuana grow.
Wendell Aaron Searls, 56, was accused Wednesday, Sept. 9, of cultivating marijuana and possessing the drug with an intent to deliver, both felonies. He was jailed about 10 p.m. on a $52,000 bond.
Criminal complaints state Searls admitted to having the marijuana grow in his attic, which Huntington Police Sgt. Darrell Booth called a "marijuana factory." It included more than 100 plants and sophisticated tools needed to grow the crop indoors.
Searls appears in commercials as a hard-hat-wearing worker for the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation. The commercial lists him as a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 521. It has appeared on television and YouTube to promote the organization's drug-free message.
"Nobody wants to work next to anybody whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol," Searls says in the commercial. "We don't just talk a drug-free work force. We do something about it. The union work force is a drug-free work force."
Steve White, director of the ACT, said his organization was shocked and disappointed. Those associated with the commercial were unaware of Searls' suspected behavior. He called the allegations unfortunate and embarrassing.
"Were we fooled? Apparently so," White said. "This instance, while it might be tragic and ironic, it is exactly what we are trying to prevent -- people who use illegal drugs being in the workplace."
The commercial belongs to a rotation of television advertisements. It was not airing this week, and White vowed it would be taken out of the rotation.
Wednesday's arrest followed a routine traffic stop and execution of a search warrant, both separated by approximately eight blocks along 8th Avenue. The complaints state authorities found more than 100 marijuana plants, or approximately three pounds, in Searls' attic at 2128 8th Ave. They also found a storage area used to dry the finished product and grow lights, along with heating and cooling devices to manufacture the drug.
Booth described the 8th Avenue discovery as "a highly sophisticated, efficient, well thought out marijuana production facility." He said officers later found more marijuana and documentation evidence at 17 Morgan Court in Hurricane, W.Va. The investigation, which could result in federal charges, continued Thursday.
"It was a level of sophistication we have not seen before," Booth said of the 8th Avenue site. "It was designed around a continuous production of high-quality marijuana."
Booth said investigators had received community complaints about activity at 8th Avenue residence. However, their intelligence had not progressed far enough to obtain a search warrant until Wednesday's traffic stop. He said a K-9 patrol officer stopped Searls' van for speeding and a defective tail light.
The criminal complaints state the patrolman stopped Searls' van in the 1300 block of 8th Avenue. He found three marijuana cigarettes and a .25 caliber pistol. Searls notified the patrolman he had a pistol stored in the vehicle.
Authorities then searched the 8th Avenue residence. It contained food and bedding, but Booth said its condition did not suggest it being a permanent residence. Those developments led investigators to the house at Morgan Court in Putnam County, where Booth said Searls lived with his fiancee.
Investigators confiscated a small amount of marijuana and documentation evidence. Booth declined comment when asked about specifics, but confirmed the documents were electronic and paper. He said the marijuana in Hurricane included plants and prepared joints. He said it was consistent with marijuana confiscated at 8th Avenue.
Searls talks in the commercial about the toll an accident can take financially and to one's family.
"I love my family and coming home safely to them every night is the most important thing in my life. The cost of providing a drug-free work force is nothing when you compare it to the cost of a lost-time accident," he says.
White said the arrest shows how serious and pervasive drug abuse is in the community. He said its a reality for all workplaces, especially in construction. His unions combat it with testing.
The ACT does not initiate or administer drug tests, but supports such programs. Many programs include pre-employment, cause, random and post-accident testing. White contends drug testing standards in the construction trades surpass that of some government agencies, whose test do not detect prescription drugs and opiates.
White was unsure as to how Searls may have slipped through routine drug testing. Court documents do not directly accuse Searls of abusing the marijuana that he possessed.
"It's not a paper policy," White said. "We believe it is a pretty vigorous policy, but people are ingenious at finding ways to defeat these tests."
The ACT also has supported legislation at the state level to ban some products marketed to defraud drug tests, White said.
The Huntington Police Department and the FBI's Huntington Violent Crime Drug Task Force participated in the investigation with the West Virginia State Police, the Putnam County Prosecutor's Office and the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.
Booth praised Putnam County officials for providing significant assistance. He also said the arrest was another example of the Huntington Police Department's counter-drug offensive enacted by Chief Skip Holbrook
Photo courtesy of the Huntington Police Department
Wendell Aaron Searls, 56, was charged Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, with cultivating marijuana and possessing the drug with an intent to deliver, both felonies, in a house at 2128 8th Ave. in Huntington.
Hospital Gives Wrong Baby to New Mother
Last Modified on Thursday, September 10, 2009 10:38 AM CDT
Officials at Williston’s Mercy Medical Center are investigating how the wrong baby was given to a mother who was discharged this past Saturday.
The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, said Mercy Chief Financial Officer Kerry Monson, who was the administrator on call this past weekend. Monson said the mistake was discovered by staff and “as soon they recognized it, it was addressed.”
Monson would not release details about how the incident occurred and what families were involved. When asked about printed information outlining the procedures that were to have been followed in the discharge process, Monson said there are numerous policies and procedures involved, while adding she can’t give information about protocol.
Monson read a prepared statement that said, “We are certainly disheartened by this current event and our hearts go out to the families involved. Mercy Medical Center is committed to its core values of reverence, integrity, compassion and excellence in serving its patients and the Williston community.”
Monson continued with the statement that read, “We want to assure the community that within approximately one hour of our discovery, baby and mother were reunited.” The statement added Mercy officials are thoroughly investigating the facts associated with the incident “and are reviewing our obstetric unit’s polices and procedures to ensure that we are able to maintain patient security and confidence.”
The statement concluded with, “As quickly as we can conclude our investigation, you can be assured the appropriate action will be taken.”
Mercy’s Web page lists three babies were born on Thursday, six babies were born on Wednesday and two babies were born on Tuesday that week.
Parents must give permission for the Web posting of the newborn that is made upon discharge, so the listing may not include all births at the hospital.
Wells Fargo exec used Malibu Colony home lost by Madoff-duped couple, neighbors say
Residents identified the house's occupant as Cheronda Guyton, a Wells Fargo senior vice president
E. Scott Reckard and David Sarno
Los Angeles Times
September 11, 2009
Bernard L. Madoff's massive fraud stunned some of the wealthy denizens of Malibu Colony, especially when a couple devastated by the scheme surrendered their oceanfront home to Wells Fargo Bank.
But some neighbors say the real shocker came when they saw one of the bank's top executives spending weekends in the $12-million beach house and hosting eye-catching parties there. What's more, Wells Fargo spurned offers to show the property to prospective buyers, a real estate agent said.
"It's outrageous to take over a property like that, not make it available and then put someone from the bank in it," said Phillip Roman, an 18-year Colony resident who lives a few homes away from the property.
Residents identified the house's occupant as Cheronda Guyton, a Wells Fargo senior vice president who is responsible for foreclosed commercial properties.
Guyton could not be reached at her downtown Los Angeles office. Wells Fargo declined to discuss Guyton, saying in a statement that representatives "don't discuss specific team member situations/issues for privacy reasons." But the bank said it would "conduct a thorough investigation of the allegations" by neighbors.
The bank also said its ethics code wouldn't allow employees to make personal use of property that had been surrendered to satisfy debts.
Such conduct would pose a conflict of interest, said W. Michael Hoffman, executive director of the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass.
"For a business to allow this to happen in today's ethically charged climate is quite suicidal," he said. And because Madoff's fraud was the root cause of the situation, he added, "it's like rubbing salt into the wounds of a national tragedy."
The home's former owners, Lawrence and Linda Elins, didn't respond to requests for an interview.
Their real estate agent, Irene Dazzan-Palmer, said she had tried to lease the home for the couple last spring after they were "devastated" by Madoff losses. But before she could find a renter, the couple signed over the property to Wells Fargo to help satisfy a larger debt, she said.
Wells Fargo subsequently denied requests to show the house to prospective buyers, said Dazzan-Palmer, a Coldwell Banker specialist in Malibu Colony properties.
"I found it amazing at first when the bank wouldn't show the house to some friends of ours who were interested in buying it," said Roman, the neighbor.
Residents of the gated Malibu Colony said they obtained Guyton's name from the community's guards, who had issued her a homeowner's parking pass.
In written responses to questions from The Times, Wells Fargo said this week that its agreement with the prior owner required it to keep the home off the market "for a period of time" but declined to elaborate. The company said it now planned to list the property for sale "in the near future." The bank also confirmed that Guyton headed its foreclosed commercial property operation.
Malibu Colony stretches three-quarters of a mile along the beach in the heart of Malibu. Its residents include actor Tom Hanks, former Univision Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio, and high-profile investment banker Michael E. Tennenbaum.
The home the Elinses occupied is a sleekly modern, 3,800-square-foot, two-story structure built in the early 1990s by clothing designer Nancy Heller. Its huge glass windows look out on a patio, deck and the Pacific. On the street side is a wall of mostly beige tile and metal.
Colony residents said the woman they believe to be Guyton, along with her husband and two children, took up occupancy in home No. 106 in Malibu Colony shortly after Lawrence Elins turned it over to Wells Fargo Bank on May 13.
The residents said the family spent long weekends at the home and had guests over, including a large party the last weekend of August that featured a waterborne arrival.
"A yacht pulled up offshore, with one of those inflatable dinghies to take people back and forth to the shore," said Roman's wife, Elaine Johnson. "About 20 people got taken over in the dinghy."
Malibu Colony employees who were not authorized to speak publicly said the community association at the start of the summer had issued Guyton a parking permit of the type given to Colony homeowners.
Residents also gave The Times the license plate number of a 2007 Volvo sport-utility vehicle that they say they had seen parked in the garage at No. 106. A check of motor vehicle license plates conducted by The Times found that vehicle to be registered to Guyton.
When a Times reporter used the buzzer at the home's steel gate on Labor Day, a woman answered the intercom but declined to identify herself or come to the gate.
Asked whether the home had been foreclosed on, she said: "It's not foreclosed. It's owned by Collin Equities" -- a Wells Fargo unit that liquidates foreclosure properties.
The woman on the intercom denied that she was living at the house or had been using it periodically over the summer. Asked whether she could say why she was at the home, she answered, "No, I cannot."
On the website for a lenders conference next month in San Diego, a biography says Guyton, 39, obtained an MBA from USC, worked in the state controller's office during the administration of former Gov. Gray Davis and now manages a team of foreclosed-property managers and a separate team that restructures troubled commercial loans.
Property records show she has owned a home in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles since 2004.
Elins, the previous owner of the Malibu Colony home, is identified in Securities and Exchange Commission filings as the former president of Applause Inc., a toy and gift manufacturer, who since 1988 has headed Elins Enterprises, a financial and real estate firm in Sherman Oaks.
They bought the Malibu Colony home in 1996 and refinanced it for $3 million with Wells Fargo Bank in December 2007, property records show. The home's value was recorded at $12 million when the property was transferred in May to Wells Fargo.
In January, Wells Fargo said it had written off $294 million of loans that had been secured by customers' investments with Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme collapsed late last year.
Dazzan-Palmer, the real estate agent, said she quickly found a person who was prepared to make "a very big offer in cash" to buy the property, but she wasn't able to show the house to any potential buyers. The bank said it was considering offers from other agents, she said, "and then someone moved in."
"We thought maybe it had been sold," she added. "It was a big mystery. All we knew was that Larry had lost the house and that someone was living there."
Because Dazzan-Palmer had the listing to lease the property, other agents have contacted her about the home, she said.
"I've had calls from about 20 agents saying they've got buyers and 'When can you get us in?' " she said. "And I say, 'My client doesn't own it anymore. I brought the bank an offer myself, they didn't respond, and that's all I know.' "
Kenneth & Gabrielle Adelman / California Coastal Records Project /
The Malibu Colony beach home, third house from left with a dark patio, was last owned by Lawrence and Linda Elins. The home's value was recorded at $12 million when the property was transferred May 13, 2009, to Wells Fargo Bank.
World's oldest person dies in L.A. at 115
Enjoyed steady diet of crispy bacon, fried chicken, ice cream
LOS ANGELES -(AP) Gertrude Baines, who lived to be the world's oldest person on a steady diet of crispy bacon, fried chicken and ice cream, died Friday at a nursing home. She was 115.
Baines, who remarked last year that she enjoyed life so much she wouldn't mind living another 100 years, died in her sleep, said Emma Camanag, administrator at Western Convalescent Hospital.
The centenarian likely suffered a heart attack, said her longtime physician, Dr. Charles Witt. An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death.
"I saw her two days ago, and she was just doing fine," Witt told The Associated Press. "She was in excellent shape. She was mentally alert. She smiled frequently."
Born in 1894 in Shellman, Ga., Baines claimed the title of the world's oldest living person when a 115-year-old woman, Maria de Jesus, died in Portugal in January.
"I'm glad I'm here. I don't care if I live a hundred more," Baines said in November after casting her vote for Barack Obama in the presidential election. "I enjoy nothing but eating and sleeping."
Japanese woman, 114, now oldest
The oldest person in the world is now Kama Chinen, 114, who lives in Japan, according to Dr. L. Stephen Coles of the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks claims of extreme old age. Chinen was born May 10, 1895, Coles said.
The oldest person who has ever lived is Jeanne-Louise Calment, according to Coles. She was 122 when she died Aug. 4, 1997, in Arles, France.
Baines outlived her entire family, including her only daughter, who died of typhoid.
Baines worked as a maid in Ohio State University dormitories until her retirement and has lived at the Western Convalescent Hospital in Los Angeles for more than 10 years.
Won the 'genetic lottery'
"Living that long is like winning the genetic lottery," Robert Young, a scientist and senior consultant with Guinness World Records, said at her birthday party in April.
Staff at Baines' nursing home described her as a modest woman who liked to watch the "Jerry Springer Show" and eat fried chicken, bacon and ice cream. She refused to use dentures.
"I don't know how she does it. She only has her gums, no teeth," said Susie Exconde, the nursing director who found Baines dead in her bed at about 7:25 a.m.
Witt, Baines' physician, said that when he visited her earlier this week, she only complained that her bacon was soggy and arthritis was causing pain in her right knee.
Baines celebrated her birthday at the nursing home April 6 with music, two cakes and a letter from Obama.
Featured on local television newscasts when she voted last year, Baines, who is black, said she backed Obama "because he's for the colored." She said she never thought she would live to see a black man become president.
"We were hoping to have her until the next election," Exconde said. "We'll miss her."
FILE - In this April 6, 2009 file photo Gertrude Baines celebrates her 115th birthday, at the Western Convalescent Hospital in Los Angeles. Baines, who was named the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records, died in a Los Angeles hospital Sept. 11, 2009 said Dr. Charles Witt.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
LINK TO VIDEO:
EP teens suspected of using pellet gun to bully kids
Pair of 14-year-olds allegedly forced three boys to do 'stupid, childish acts'
Two East Peoria teenagers were arrested Saturday for allegedly forcing three boys to strip down to their underwear by threatening them with pellet guns.
The victims, ages 11, 12 and 13, also were made to jump from a large rock about 10 feet off the ground, perform jumping jacks, roll around in the grass, and "other stupid, childish acts," Tazewell County Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Lower said Thursday.
"They were trying to terrorize the kids and humiliate them," Lower said. "They were threatened they could get shot if they didn't do what they were told."
The incident was reported to police just before 10 p.m. Saturday after the victims returned home and told their parents what occurred in the wooded area behind Robein Grade School. The property is not owned by the school and is a popular hangout for children who live in the area, police said.
The teenagers, 14-year-old boys whose names were not released because they are juveniles, likely will face charges when an investigation is completed by the Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office. Until then, they have been ordered to have appointments with the county's juvenile probation office.
"This wasn't just a situation where juveniles were being juveniles," said State's Attorney Stu Umholtz. "It went beyond that."
Umholtz declined to release further details about the case, including a motive, because of the ongoing investigation. He also would not release what charges his office is considering filing against the teens.
None of the boys were injured during the incident. It was not available if the teens fired the weapons, described as soft-air pellet guns, during the commission of the offense.
Lower said though the pellets in the gun are plastic, they are hard enough to break skin upon contact.
"They hurt," he said. "You could shoot someone's eye out."
Engineer makes classic cars from beer cans
An engineer dedicated to recycling has produced a series of detailed classic car models from empty beer cans.
Published: 9:34AM BST 11 Sep 2009
Sandy Sanderson, 55, creates the models from mangled containers of well-known brands.
The cars come complete with tiny gearsticks, peddles, dashboard dials and even glove boxes.
So far his mini car plant has produced nearly ten of the vehicles including buggies, vans, roadsters and sports cars.
Mr Sanderson decided to pursue the project after he was badly injured in a motorbike accident.
While he was recovering the father-of-two said that he was looking at the bottom of a beer can when the novel idea occured to him.
Mr Sanderson, who is from Sunderland but now lives in New Zealand, said: "While I was off work, after the accident, I had the time to try making a racing car from drinks cans.
"I have always looked at the bottoms of cans and thought 'That would make a really neat half wheel'.
"The plans for each car take around three or four weeks to complete and then around 80 hours to build each one depending on how detailed they are.
"I actually don't drink much because I spill most of it.
"I drink Coca-Cola, and I like rum, but I have to persuade other people to drink the beer for me, fortunately I get plenty of offers for help there.
"For what may appear to be just one can moving across a bonnet and down around a mudguard there could actually be five or six cans used to create that effect.
"Some of the cars have required over 30 cans for their construction."
Sandy works as an engineering laser cutter in Hamilton, New Zealand, where he lives with his wife Jo.
Man Arrested For Impersonating A Police Officer
WKRG NEWS 5
PENSACOLA, Florida - The Escambia County Sheriff's Office arrested a man who was claiming to be one of their own.
Deputies say Michael Gainey walked up to two people outside the Tom Thumb on Cerny Road in Pensacola, said he was from the Escambia Sheriff’s Office and asked them if they had anything illegal in their truck.
When they replied no, Gainey allegedly grabbed one of the victims, insisted he was high and said he was going to “piss test him.” Gainey then went to the passenger side of the truck and began to search the passenger and the vehicle.
Gainey never displayed a badge or presented any Law Enforcement credentials. He was also wearing wearing a green polo shirt, blue jean shorts and flip flops.
The victims gave deputies Gainey's tag number on the Ford Expedition he was driving. Deputies responded to the address from the tag. Gainey, who matched the exact description of the suspect, answered the door.
Gainey was arrested and identified by the victims. Deputies searched Gainey and found marijuana on him. He's charged with Battery, Burglary of a Vehicle, Fraud-Impersonation of a Law Enforcement Officer during the commission of a Felony, possession of marijuana and narcotic equipment.
Bond was set at $54,000.
Wedding in Aisle 9: Tying the Knot at 99 Cents Only Store
Wednesday, Sep. 9 2009 1:12PM
Sometimes a business is met with a kismet of promotional opportunity in an paen to the concept of overdoing it, the 99 Cents Only Store in Hollywood went all out today in honor of the numerical wonder that is 09-09-09 and married nine engaged couples for the cost of 99 cents per couple. The first wedding started at 8:09 a.m. and the couples said "I do" in aisle 9.
Kathy Jacobs, a.k.a. Discount Store Diva, created the décor for the wedding ceremony and reception entirely from store inventory, including a gown made entirely from items found at 99 Cents Only Stores. The couples even got a receipt, in case they needed to make a return.
Chinese woman spends $600,000 on dog: report
BEIJING (AFP) – A millionaire in northern China paid four million yuan (600,000 dollars) for a dog and ordered 30 luxury cars to come to the airport to greet her and the animal, local media reported.
The woman and her new pet -- a black Tibetan Mastiff -- flew into Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, a report on popular news portal.
A convoy of 30 black Mercedes-Benz cars, led by two sports utility vehicles, drove to the airport Wednesday to pick up the pair, who had arrived from the Tibetan-populated province of Qinghai in China's northwest.
Photos of the event posted with the report showed a committee of dog-lovers holding up a long red banner welcoming the mastiff to Xi'an.
The millionaire, who only gave her surname as Wang, said she and a friend had spent a long time searching for an original Tibetan mastiff.
"Gold has a price, but this Tibetan mastiff doesn't," the young woman said, according to the report.
China's economy has developed at a fast pace, creating with it an increasing number of millionaires.
Research by the Hurun Report, a magazine that tracks China's wealthiest, revealed in April that 825,000 people had personal wealth of over 10 million yuan (1.5 million dollars), or 0.06 percent of the population.
The vast majority of these millionaires have said the global financial crisis has not had any impact on their lifestyle, the research said.
Sep 8, 2009 5:40 pm US/Mountain
Army Accidentally Grows Pot At Rocky Mt. Arsenal
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4)
The Army has made an unusual and unwanted discovery at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal northeast of Commerce City.
They are in charge of cleaning up the arsenal, a job that includes reseeding some areas. When their seed started to grow, they realized it was marijuana.
It isn't commercial grade, but it's still an illegal drug. It's called ditch weed or feral hemp, the kind that grows in the wild in some places.
Charlie Scharmin with the U.S. Army is in charge of the cleanup. He said he was quite surprised when he was told marijuana was growing at the arsenal.
"It's not something you expect in an environmental cleanup job," says Scharmin. "It was a little surprising."
Scharmin says they were finishing containment of two large contamination areas at the former chemical weapons production site. He said they laid down rock and clay, then put vegetation on top.
"The specification is that we acquire weed-free mulch from the supplier," explains Scharmin.
The Army blames the supplier for the snafu. It says it bought the mulch for its ground cover from a supplier in Kansas where the low-grade weed is common. Some of it apparently got mixed in with the grass.
The Army made the first discovery of hemp on the property in June. So far they have picked about 100 plants that Scharmin says are low grade. He says they plan to mow, burn or maybe even have bison who roam on the land eat the rest.
"(The) Fish and Wildlife Service does not seem to have any concern about having bison out there (with the plant present)," Scharmin said.
LINK TO VIDEO:
In Tampa, robbers show up in bizarre disguises: hospital scrubs, sinks on heads
By Robbyn Mitchell
Times Staff Writer
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tampa detectives are looking for armed robbers in pawnshop holdups. On Tuesday at the Cash America at 5913 N Armenia Ave., three came into the store wearing hospital scrubs. To see video, go to video.tampabay.com.
TAMPA — Whatever happened to ski masks?
Detectives are searching for a group of robbers with a flair for costuming, according to a release from the Tampa Police Department.
The men have stormed into three north Tampa pawnshops in the last three weeks with creative masks. In one case, one of them was wearing a child safety seat on his head. They've also donned hospital scrubs, and in another case they wore beautician's hair-washing sinks on their heads.
Police say the robberies could be the same group because of the use of props in each case.
According to reports, the most recent robbery on Tuesday at the Cash America Pawn Shop on 5913 N Armenia Ave., went this way:
Three robbers came into the store wearing hospital scrubs, with one of them pointing a semiautomatic pistol.
Employees were ordered to empty cash boxes and jewelry cabinets while customers were forced onto the floor. Then the employees were pushed into another part of the store so the robbers could make off with "high dollar items."
Then all three left the store in a stolen vehicle that was found several blocks away.
The two other robberies, Value Pawn at 5401 N 40th on Aug. 25 and EZ Pawn at 4910 E Busch Blvd. on Aug. 31, followed the same pattern, police say.
While the costumes bring a sense of humor to the crime, police say the robberies are no laughing matter.
"The first thing you think is 'That's funny,' " said Andrea Davis, a spokeswoman for the police. "But in reality, this is a violent crime, and there's nothing funny about it to the victims."
LINK TO STORY AND VIDEO:
Jensen Beach pastor sentenced to 20 years for mortgage fraud
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
7:18 a.m. EDT, September 9, 2009
STUART - A defiant Rodney McGill prayed for affliction upon his adversaries prior to his sentencing in Martin County Circuit Court, and turned his back on Judge Sherwood Bauer, Jr., as he was handed a 20-year prison term for his part in fraudulently obtaining some $1 million in real estate loans.
"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, for every witness called against me I pray cancer in their lives, lupus, brain tumor, pancreatic cancer," McGill intoned at his counsel table prior to the start of the hearing Tuesday.
McGill, the self-proclaimed pastor of New Hope Outreach Center in Jensen Beach, and his wife, Shalonda were convicted in July on nine counts each of obtaining mortgages by false representation, first-degree grand theft and racketeering.
The state alleged the McGills, individually, and through several of their organizations, selected three women of modest income to purchase properties owned by the McGills on a promised return of $50,000 in 90 days with no money down.
During the trial, prosecutors introduced loan applications on the transactions that contained incorrect job descriptions, inflated monthly salaries, nonexistent bank accounts and forged lease agreements on behalf of the buyers.
During a rambling statement to the court, McGill vigorously maintained his innocence, challenging the fairness of his trial.
"I'm not guilty of anything," McGill said. "This courtroom has been deceived. I shouldn't have been charged. What law did I break? I'm out of the box; I'm smarter than them."
As Bauer began explaining the basis of his sentence, McGill interrupted, "Whatever sentence you gonna give to me just give it to me." He then turned his back as Bauer announced the penalty.
McGill received 20 years on the grand theft and racketeering counts and five years on the mortgage fraud convictions. The sentences to run concurrently. He will face 10 years of probation following his release.
Earlier in the day, McGill's wife, Shalonda, received a sentence of 10 years and five years for the grand theft and racketeering and fraud convictions, respectively. She will also serve a 10-year probation upon release.
Shalonda McGill also was required to surrender her mortgage broker license, and they are prohibited from any further activity in real estate.
The two face repayment of nearly $100,000 in court and investigative costs and restitution of approximately $1 million to lenders who loaned money on four residential properties.
Arguing for a reduced sentence, Shalonda, who did not testify during her trial, broke her silence and told Bauer she acted under duress, was a "victim of being Rodney McGill's wife," and that she was unaware that what she did was illegal.
"Whatever I did was on direct instructions from my husband," she said.
In handing down the minimum mandatory 10-year sentence, however, Bauer said he found no basis to depart from the state's sentencing guidelines.
McGill filed a notice of appeal immediately after his sentencing.
Rodney McGill looks at his wife, Shalonda.
4-year-old 'held ransom' for pizza
EXCLUSIVE by Ben Langford
Northern Territory News
September 9th, 2009
A DARWIN mum is furious after a pizza delivery man allegedly grabbed her four-year-old son and tried to hold him as "ransom" for payment.
Cindy Paardekooper, 30, claims the driver from Pizza King at the Hibiscus Shopping Centre was an hour late delivering her half-Hawaiian, half-supreme.
When she refused to pay, the driver allegedly grabbed her four-year-old son Cain who was standing on the other side of the fence. ''He grabbed my son, four years old, by the arm through the fence as ransom for the pizza,'' Ms Paardekooper claimed.
''Grabbing a child, that's child abuse, that's assault.''
Ms Paardekooper was upstairs on the phone to Pizza King trying to negotiate a discount for the late pizza while her sister Lisa dealt with the driver at the gate.
Upset at the pizza being so late, she had called the shop before the driver arrived and said she would not pay.
She said she was told the driver would be informed.
Lisa Paardekooper claims the driver held Cain for 40 seconds, demanding cash. ''He said give me the pizza back or the money,'' she said. ''He stuck his hand through the gate and grabbed Cain around the wrist. I raised my fist to him ... when I raised my hand he let go of him.''
Cindy said that was no way to treat a child.
''If I was down there I would have jumped the fence and flogged him,'' she said.
''The manager didn't care (about the incident)when the cops went round,'' she claimed.
The driver left after the pizza was handed back over the fence to him. Pizza King manager Tessie Muscat Couturier yesterday said the driver still had his job.
''I was not there when it happened,'' she said.
''It's up to the police.
''According to him he just only held his hand to tell his mother to pick up the pizza.
''I can't believe he intended to harm the child.''
Police confirmed the incident was investigated after Ms Paardekooper reported it immediately, about 7pm last Saturday.
LINK TO PHOTO:
Judge tailors punishment that fits criminals to a T
BLADE STAFF WRITER
WAUSEON - I did the crime, I did the time, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.
Such a reaction could crop up in Fulton County, where a no-nonsense judge is requiring some criminals to wear customized clothing in public: neon green shirts with large, black letters announcing, "I'm a thief."
To curb crime and provide a form of public punishment, Western District Court Judge Jeff Robinson recently introduced the "criminali-tees," and so far several convicted shoplifters, while performing community service, have worn the garish, attention-grabbing garments.
The shirts aren't designed to be a fashion statement, but rather a statement of fact, a wash-and-wear way to help weave criminals back into the social fabric.
Public punishment, the judge said, serves as a deterrent, particularly at a time when more people are being tempted to steal from others.When the economy started to tank, the judge noticed "what appeared to be a huge uptake in the number of shoplifting cases occurring in the community."
During one proceeding, he asked a thief how she expected to get away with stealing stuff from a busy retail store, and she seemed rather proud to know security cameras can't spot shoplifters in a particular area, he said.
After that, he decided shoplifters needed to "suffer a little bit of humility." And, he said, a message needed to be sent to others that being a thief isn't something they want to get involved in.
The shirts, the judge said, are not worn with a sense of pride, and the message appears to be having its desired effect. "Shoplifting cases are down," he said, but he added that the shirts alone aren't the reason. Enforcement efforts have stepped up.
Judge Robinson's line of criminal wear isn't limited to thieves.
One man, for instance, was ordered to wear a T-shirt with "I starved my horses to death" on it, the judge said, but before the shirt was made, the offender - who was to wear the shirt while shoveling manure in the horse barns at the Fulton County Fairgrounds - was sent to prison on a felony charge.
Not a new idea
Mr. Robinson, a judge since 2005, admits customized clothing for criminals isn't a new idea. A judge in Defiance County, who is now retired, "had a whole parcel of shirts for juveniles" to wear, he said.
Judge Robinson should be commended for saying he's had enough and doing something to discourage people from stealing, said Wayne Seely, former police chief in Wauseon and Sylvania Township who is now an associate professor of criminal justice at Owens Community College.
"I think it is quite an idea on the judge's part. He deals with these people every day. Every day."
Mr. Seely said he has heard of prisoners being ordered to wear specialized clothing on a large scale in Arizona, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man known as America's toughest sheriff, dressed prisoners in pink underwear and re-established chain gangs in old-fashioned striped uniforms.
Closer to the Toledo area, in a community 30 miles northeast of Cleveland, Painesville Municipal Judge Michael Cicconetti has gained national and international attention as a result of his "creative justice," which includes offers to modify criminals' sentences if they wear certain costumes or apparel.
One time, the judge offered to reduce the sentence of a man who shot his Great Dane if he dressed up in a Safety Pup dog costume and visited elementary schools.
Another time, three men who pleaded guilty to soliciting sex were ordered by the judge to take turns wearing a bright yellow chicken suit outside the court while holding a sign that read, "No Chicken Ranch in Painesville." In exchange, the judge agreed to suspend a 30-day jail sentence. The sign and costume referred to the "World Famous Chicken Ranch," a legal prostitution house in Nevada.
In Judge Robinson's court, not all sentences handed down include an order to wear the T-shirts. But when a printed and public message would be an appropriate penalty, the clothing comes off the hanger and onto the offender.
Based on the law of averages, some offenders likely will try to skirt the shirt system.
That's why there are rules, said Mike Mann, probation officer and bailiff for Western District Court.
The shirts must be worn with "I'm a thief" visible, Mr. Mann said. In cold weather, parkas or sweatshirts cannot hide the message, he added.
Offenders, who are required to sign a release form and agree to return the clothing in good condition, mustn't allow friends or anyone else to wear the shirts (such as to a party as a prank).
Reaction from violators to the T-shirt requirement, which can cause public humiliation, has been predictable.
"Do I really have to wear this?" offenders ask. At least one shoplifter offered to pay a stiffer fine instead.
A convicted shoplifter who did court-ordered community service at the Open Door of Delta, an outreach center, didn't want to wear the shirt where she would be seen, Executive Director Cherie Mercer said.
"I told her this is the agreement with the court and she did it," she said. The offender was assigned to work in the high-traffic area of the complex's thrift store. If customers had reactions, they kept comments to themselves, Mrs. Mercer said.
Community response so far, Mr. Mann said, has been pretty positive, particularly from law enforcement officials.
"Police officers think it is a good idea," he said.
Mark Powers, a lawyer in Fulton County who represents clients who come before Judge Robinson, said he's aware of the shirts, but hasn't seen anyone wearing one in public. So far, none of his clients has been ordered to wear them, but "I am sure that will happen," he said.
And when it does, he'll be OK with it, even if his clients aren't.
But if the shirt fits …
"Quite frankly, the idea is to get people to not do this and if that is an effective way to not do that, it serves its purpose," Mr. Powers said.
A couple of churches have been "kind of apprehensive" about the shirts, said Mr. Mann who links offenders with places where they can perform court-ordered community service.
The churches didn't flat out refuse, and would allow the shirt-wearing offenders on their properties if no other community-service opportunities were available, he said.
Most places, however, have been receptive, said Mr. Mann, who calls ahead to let agencies know the lawbreakers have been ordered to wear the shirts.
The shirts aren't just visible in Fulton County.
"I'm a thief" shirts have been worn by violators who performed community service in Lucas and Henry counties, further expanding the unusual penalty into the court of public opinion.
LINK TO PHOTO OF JUDGE AND T-SHIRT:
Police: Robber Returned To Ask Victim For Date
Tuesday, September 8, 2009 6:59 AM
Updated: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 6:22 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Police said they arrested a suspected robber on Sunday after he returned to his victim's home to ask her out on a date.
18 and Under
Birth Order: Fun to Debate, but How Important?
PERRI KLASS, M.D.
BEAV! WALLY! The title character of “Leave It to Beaver,” played by Jerry Mathers, lower left, helped define the younger-sibling experience.
The older girl was smart, neat and perfectly behaved in school; in her spare time, she won dance trophies. At every checkup, her mother would tell me what a good girl she was.
She is the oldest, her mother would say, so she gets lots of attention, and she works very hard. When her younger sister turned out to be an equally good student, the proud mother explained that naturally she wanted to be just like her older sister.
Then a long-looked-for baby boy was born. When he was a toddler, I began to worry that his speech seemed a little slow in coming. His mother was perfectly calm about it. He is the only boy, she said, so he gets lots of attention, and he doesn’t have to work very hard.
Everyone takes it personally when it comes to birth order. After all, everyone is an oldest or a middle or a youngest or an only child, and even as adults we revert almost inevitably to a joke or resentment or rivalry that we’ve never quite outgrown.
Children and parents alike are profoundly affected by the constellations of siblings; it is said that no two children grow up in the same family, because each sibling’s experience is so different.
But that doesn’t mean the effects of birth order are as clear or straightforward as we sometimes make them sound. Indeed, birth order can be used to explain every trait and its precise opposite. I’m competitive, driven — typical oldest child! My brother, two years younger, is even more competitive, more driven — typical second child, always trying to catch up!
I surveyed some experienced pediatricians about when parents are likely to bring up birth order. Many cited the issue of speech, especially when a second child doesn’t talk as well or as early as the first.
And parents are likely to talk about mistakes they think they made the first time around. This time, we’re going to solve the sleep thing good and early. This time, we’re going to get it right with potty training. This time, we’re going to sign the child up for soccer.
“Too many parents are haunted by experiences both good and bad that they identify with their birth order,” said Dr. Peter A. Gorski, a professor of pediatrics, public health and psychiatry at the University of South Florida. And that might lead them to classify their own children according to birth order, he went on, which in turn can lead to a sense of identification or even rejection and to “self-fulfilling prophecies.”
Frank J. Sulloway, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of “Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics and Creative Lives” (Pantheon, 1996), points out that second-born children tend to be exposed to less language than eldest children. “The best environment to grow up in is basically two parents who are chattering away at you with fancy words,” Dr. Sulloway said.
He cited a huge and well-publicized Norwegian study, published in 2007, which found that eldest siblings’ I.Q.’s averaged about three points higher than their younger brothers’. (The study made use of Norwegian military records, so all the subjects were male.)
Those differences in verbal stimulation, like the differences in I.Q., are “relatively modest,” Dr. Sulloway continued, and unlikely to result in clinical speech delays. But in a child who is already vulnerable, a child who may be temperamentally less likely to evoke adults’ attention, or a child growing up in a less stimulating home — well, then, being the second child might be the added risk that makes the difference, he said.
“Birth order doesn’t cause anything,” Dr. Sulloway said. “It’s simply a proxy for the actual mechanisms that go on in family dynamics that shape character and personality.”
We can all cite examples and counterexamples, from our own families, our friends, history and literature. There are plenty of families where the younger child is brighter or more academic, and plenty of literary and historical examples (Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, Meg and Jo March, Dmitri and Ivan Karamazov — and you can think about those authors and their older siblings as well, and draw any comparisons you like). And then there are plenty of examples of brilliant eldest siblings, but given my own eldest status, I will refrain from citing any. (I told you this always gets personal.)
I.Q., though it does grab headlines, may shape family life less than personality and temperament. “It’s a part of a bigger picture that really involves family dynamics,” Dr. Sulloway said. “Child and family dynamics is like a chessboard; birth order is like a knight.”
Then there are all the other influences, from family size to socioeconomic status. “Typically firstborns tend to boss their younger siblings around, but what if you’re a very shy person?” Dr. Sulloway said. “Napoleon was a second-born and his older brother was a very shy guy, and he usurped the older-sibling niche because his older sibling didn’t occupy that niche.
“And why didn’t he occupy that niche? Temperament.”
Now, of course birth order played into my patients’ patterns, but so did gender and birth spacing and, above all, temperament. That little boy was more even-tempered, more placid than either of his sisters, easily soothed, and I think he would have shown that temperament no matter what.
But temperament also helped define his relationship to the four larger people in his immediate circle. “I wouldn’t discount the impact of birth order,” Dr. Gorski told me. “It sets up the structure of one’s place in relation to others from the beginning, as we learn how to react to people of different ages and different relationships.”
Pediatricians are always being warned not to let a speech delay slip past because of parents’ beliefs that boys talk later or that youngest children talk later. I did eventually insist on a hearing test and speech therapy for this little boy. As it turned out, his hearing was fine, and his sisters drilled him over and over with “use your words” exercises until his speech improved. That is one of the advantages of having hardworking older sisters.
Trooper recovers stolen wallet, with a bonus
Officer reports theft, tracks down suspect
The News Journal
September 8, 2009
Angel Cruz of Philadelphia was carrying several stolen credit cards and driving a stolen Blazer, police said.
An off-duty state trooper thought he was just trying to recover his wife's stolen wallet Sunday afternoon
He got back the wallet -- plus a colleague's long-lost keepsake.
The story began about 2 p.m. after the trooper and his family finished eating at TGI Fridays on Rocky Run Parkway, said state police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh. He did not name the trooper.
As the trooper walked back to his car, he noticed a maroon Chevrolet Blazer parked unusually close.
The Blazer drove away, and the trooper discovered someone had popped his passenger-side door lock and stolen his wife's wallet.
Whitmarsh said the trooper dropped his family at home so his wife could make some calls to cancel their credit cards. The trooper then returned to the area in his police cruiser to look for the Blazer.
He found the Blazer parked outside Sears at Concord Mall. Next to the Blazer, a man was leaning into an SUV and rummaging through the glove box, Whitmarsh said.
When the trooper identified himself, the man jumped back into the Blazer and tried to drive away. The trooper, hanging from the Blazer's partially open door, struggled with the man and reached inside to put the vehicle in park.
Other troopers arrived and took the man -- identified as Angel Cruz, 54, of Philadelphia -- into custody, Whitmarsh said.
Cruz was carrying several stolen credit cards, Whitmarsh said, and the Blazer had been reported stolen in Philadelphia.
But what really caught the troopers' attention was the watch Cruz was wearing.
It was a Delaware State Police trooper's 20-year watch, which had been stolen from a trooper's car on Dec. 21, 2007, while he shopped along Concord Pike.
The thief in that incident had also stolen the trooper's identification and credentials.
Whitmarsh said that trooper had all but given up hope of seeing the watch again.
Cruz had modified the watch so the months in the dial were in Spanish, instead of English, Whitmarsh said.
Cruz, who was later admitted to Wilmington Hospital after a medical complaint, has been charged with theft, receiving stolen property, reckless endangering, resisting arrest and other charges. Bail information was not available.
Whitmarsh said the case shows that people should "never give up hope when a treasured item is lost or stolen."
09/09/09: from The Beatles to the apocalypse, 10 things to look out for on Wednesday
With just a few days to go until 09/09/09 - a date that excites marketing men almost as much as it does numerologists - here's a tongue-in-cheek round-up of what to expect.
3:50PM BST 07 Sep 2009
1) The Beatles: Rock Band goes on sale
The computer game that children, parents and even grandparents can enjoy together finally hits shops on Wednesday. The release date was selected with a nod to the band's song Revolution 9, with its "number nine, number nine, number nine" refrain - a marketing opportunity so good they've used it twice.
2) Remastered Beatles albums go on sale too
Over the past four years every album in the Beatles back catalogue has been digitally remastered at Abbey Road studios. Now they are being made available both as single albums - with expanded sleevenotes and rare photos - and a box set. Completists can also splash out on a second box set in mono rather than stereo.
3) Apple announces something big (possibly to do with The Beatles)
The teasingly secretive tech giant has invited a hand-picked audience to a press conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. Steve Jobs and co are keeping quiet about what they plan to unveil, but have dropped enough hints to ensure feverish speculation.
The invitation shows a silhouetted woman dancing to music from an iPod, with the caption "It's only rock and roll, but we like it", sparking rumours that the long-awaited deal to make Beatles (them again) tracks available on iTunes has finally been struck. But why would the band agree to split the Penny Lane pound by releasing remastered CDs and MP3s on the same day?
4) Cats vanish from the internet
Whimsical trend blog Urlesque have christened 09/09/09 A Day Without Cats on the Internet, urging other websites to ban amusing cat videos and pictures from their pages for 24 hours. They write: "Cats rule the internet... but whether you're a bona fide cat lady who loves it all, or someone who can't stand the over-population of cats on the interwebs, we can all agree that cats need a break."
A poll to find an alternative animal meme for the day indicated strong support for rabbits (16 per cent), just ahead of turtles (14 per cent) and goats (13 per cent).
5) Fantasy film 9 released
Given its title, the name of the Elijah Wood-voiced lead (9), and the number of major characters (also 9), it is almost as if this post-apocalyptic animation was dreamed up with the release date in mind. In fact, the feature length film is an adaptation of an Oscar-nominated short released in 2005. The plot centres on nine dolls, known as stitchpunks, created by a scientist to keep the human soul alive after military machines take over the planet.
6) Barack Obama addresses Congress
The US president will seek to erode opposition to his healthcare reform programme with a prime time televised speech to a joint session of Congress. Uncertainty about Mr Obama's personal views on the detail of the proposed bill has hampered Democrat attempts to win over sceptics.. "People will leave the speech knowing where he stands," said Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, promising that the president will "draw some lines in the sand".
7) The 'biggest ever' Twitter Tea Party protest
Shortly after Mr Obama sits down, opponents of his fiscal stimulus package will attempt to take over the micro-blogging website with anti-tax hashtags . The online gathering, planned for 9pm, comes three days before thousands of libertarians and fiscal conservatives are expected to assemble on Capitol Hill as part of a "March on Washington" . The Tea Party protest movement takes its name from the 1773 Boston Tea Party, with the initials appropriated to spell out "Taxed Enough Already".
8) England qualify for the 2010 World Cup...
... if they beat Croatia at Wembley. Fabio Capello's side are in fine form and top Group 6, but the last time they had a chance to qualify for a major tournament by beating the Croatians at home, they flunked it.
9) Derren Brown wins the lottery
The self-confessed conman will attempt his most intriguing stunt yet on Wenesday night - guessing at least five of the six Lotto numbers minutes live on Channel 4 minutes before they are drawn. "This the culmination of a LOT of secret work and research," Brown wrote on his blog. "I apologise now if it goes boobs-up." Win or lose, he will explain his method in a full-length show on Friday.
10) The end of the world
Numerologists who predicted doomsday would fall on June 6 2006 weren't wrong, they just got their numbers upside down. 999 is far worse than 666 and we're all going to die, it appears.
Powerful Ideas: Cars Could Run on Watermelons
Charles Q. Choi
Special to LiveScience
07 September 2009 09:17 am ET
Editor's Note: This occasional series looks at powerful ideas — some existing, some futuristic — for fueling and electrifying modern life.
Watermelon juice could become the newest renewable energy source for vehicles, scientists now suggest.
Each year, about 1 out of 5 watermelons are left behind in fields because they are misshapen or because of cosmetic blemishes. In the 2007 growing season, this amounted to roughly 360,000 metric tons of lost melons in the United States alone.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture now suggest these reject watermelons, which are currently just plowed back into the field, could find use in biofuel.
The scientists propose the sugar in these melons can be fermented into ethanol — more commonly known as drinking alcohol — which is finding increasing use as a fuel worldwide. Watermelon juice makes up roughly half the weight of a melon, and this juice is up to 10 percent readily fermentable sugar.
In experiments, scientists found they could efficiently convert the sugars in watermelon juice into ethanol. They estimate roughly 26 liters of ethanol could be made per metric ton of rejected watermelons.
"A field of watermelons can yield somewhere between 30 to 60 tons per acre of watermelon, so a fifth of that can be impressive," said researcher Wayne Fish, a chemist with the Agricultural Research in Lane, Oklahoma.
A watermelon field can range in size from small family-operated units of roughly 20 to 30 acres to commercial production fields of 100 to 1000 acres, Fish added. A watermelon seed producer also informed him that acres of the melons are regularly grown just for the seeds, ignoring all else. "You can imagine the juice from that would be substantial as well," he said.
Although watermelons by themselves will not solve the nation's daunting fuel needs, Fish noted "this represents a small piece of a giant puzzle." For instance, leftovers from other crops that might otherwise go to waste could be converted into fuel as well. "I've gotten calls from Mexico wanting to talk about the agave plant, which is used to make tequila and is very high in sugars. So people in Mexico and the desert parts of the United States could take advantage of that."
In addition to biofuel production, the researchers noted watermelon juice could be a source of two commercially valuable "nutraceuticals," or food extracts thought to have medicinal effects. These are lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that gives watermelons their red color and has been shown to be important in prostate health, and L-citrulline, an amino acid involved in detoxifying ammonia and dilating blood vessels.
Since it could prove very expensive to haul watermelons to biofuel facilities, "particularly with the way fuel prices were last summer, if the mountain won't come to Mohammed, why not bring Mohammed to the mountain and process the watermelons right in the field?" Fish said.
Fish envisioned a traveling fermentation system that goes from farm to farm "like a mobile schnapps machine." Some growers will probably keep any ethanol they make for use in their own home operations to cut down on fuel costs, he said, while others will sell it on the market. He added biofuels company Common Sense Agriculture in College Station, Texas, is now devising such a mobile unit.
Fish admitted, "We tasted what we made. The problem is that with the fermentation that we're doing, we're trying to get the most fuel in the shortest amount of time, so we tend to make some fusel oils, which are not conducive to a pleasant taste and aroma."
Fish added, "We do have enough in a bottle at about 190 proof for people to see and smell and touch. It kicks like a mule."
Fish and his colleagues detailed their findings online August 26 in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels.
LINK TO BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR BIOFUELS:
To find a job, older workers might want to look in the mirror, too, and spruce up the vintage look
It's the most unwelcome of all job hunting tips, and the former recruiter was just the person to break it down for a seminar audience of unemployed Baby Boomers:
You've got to do something about that hair, he said.
And that gut.
And while we're at it -- guys, lose those pleated Dockers. Because to the 35-year-old who will likely interview you, all of it flashes OLD.
Telling the worried out-of-work to get a makeover may seem glib and demeaning, and heeding this advice akin to selling out to a superficial society that discounts experience and skill.
Or it just may have the ring of truth.
"I would try to at least not broadcast when I graduated and how many years I'd worked other places," says Carol Goss, a 55-year-old architect who landed a job two weeks ago with Soderstrom Architects. She networked like crazy through four months of unemployment to get the job. "And yes -- the hair is colored."
Nationally, unemployment among workers 45 and older is at its highest in the 61 years the Department of Labor has tracked it. In Oregon, the number of workers 55 and over who'd filed unemployment claims stood at about 21,500 in June - more than doubling over the last year, as have the state's overall unemployment figures, which hover just under 12 percent.
Now, unexpectedly unemployed Baby Boomers are retooling themselves to compete with younger job candidates, from buying new clothes to crafting an "ageless resume" that omits pesky dates.
"You walk in the door looking like it's the '80s, and you're dead in the water," says Karen Shimada, executive director non-profit, Life By Design Northwest, co-sponsored the job search workshop in July that featured the tough-love recruiter. "It's not right, and we're not condoning it, but it's the reality."
Life By Design Northwest launched in headier times to assist Oregonians nearing retirement in planning a meaningful, service-oriented second act; now, its efforts include shepherding shell-shocked Boomers with shredded investments and savings back into the job market.
"People in the weird gap between 57 and 62, if they find themselves out of work, they're just panicked because of health care," Shimada says. "Many who come to our workshops would volunteer for free if they could just get health insurance."
It takes longer for laid-off people over 45 to find a job - on average, six weeks longer - than younger workers. Older workers who've been laid off tend to find new jobs lacking both the pay and prestige of their former positions, according to an AARP analysis.
Non-profits like Experience Works link low-income, older workers with temporary, part-time, paid training jobs, and coach them in successfully applying for permanent positions. But their workers are finding jobs hard to come by, and for the 11 Oregon counties served by Experience Works, the placement rate has fallen from 55 percent to 36 percent in the last year.
"For every job out there, there's anywhere from 50 to 350 applicants - for a little administrative assistant job," says Julie Forrette, an employment training assistant for Experience Works' Washington County office. "Now, they can't even get an interview."
It's difficult to tell how much age discrimination factors in. After all, it's supposed to be illegal, so it's only hinted at -- as in, the time a recruiter privately told the AARP Oregon's Joyce DeMonnin, that if he sees a candidate over 50 with a belly, he thinks about his health care costs.
DeMonnin tells job seekers to spend a couple of hours on the computer actively looking for work, then a couple more polishing themselves.
"This is the time in your life you actually have time to hit the gym," she says. "Looking for a job is nothing like when they looked for a job 10 years ago or 20 years ago. It's really shocking to go out into that world."
Online job applications, social networking and panel interviews can trip up older candidates. Shimada, who has volunteered at job fairs, said she's noticed older workers tend to ramble nervously when they introduce themselves to a potential employer.
"What we've really emphasized is everyone needs their own, 30-second commercial," Shimada says. "Give them something that entices them without trying to dump everything on them from the get-go."
Often, says Linda Wiener, a Vancouver-based older worker consultant who is also the age issues consultant at job marketplace Monster.com: "You're dealing with the younger interviewer. There's a prejudice, a 'Gosh, you're like my mother, my grandmother, my aunt, my uncle.'"
The out-of-work need to critically evaluate which of their skills could transfer to another career, then hit a community college for retraining if need be. Even then, Wiener says, "they may have to face the stark reality of not getting back in the same wage zone, maybe ever. That's really a medicine ball in the stomach."
Some Boomers bristle at the notion that they need to polish themselves or their blur their resume, deeming it inauthentic.
"As much as it galls me to have to do it, you've got to research and put in a cover letter that butters them up," says Byron Miller, a 63-year-old construction worker and security guard who has been looking for work since he semi-retired last year. "I want to get hired on my skills. I don't want to have to butter somebody up."
But, Shimada, a fan of the ageless resume, says it's crucial to "get in the head of the 30-year-old who's interviewing you."
"Say you've worked in multi-generational teams, you love new ideas, you're not attached to powerful titles but you're really about teamwork," she suggests. "Understand the value set of the Gen Xers who are interviewing you."
Goss says she updated her hairstyle early in her job search, figuring, "55 is awfully old. I don't feel that old. So why would I want to look it?"
But more than that, she treated everyone she met as a potential connection, and her years of experience paid dividends when a former client gave her the lead and reference that turned into her new job. Goss says she understands how a person's appearance and spirits might flag during a long spell of unemployment.
"It's hard to stay upbeat," she says, "and keep plugging away at it."
Sunday September 06, 2009, 8:30 PM
Domestic assaults by women increasing
The reasons vary, but the statistics speak with one voice: More women are being arrested for domestic assaults.
The latest data, supplied by the state Department of Public Safety, show that last year, police arrested 1,067 women for domestic assault. That's up nearly 300 from 2003, representing an 8 percent increase.
Such arrests aren't commonplace, but a trend is there, police say.
"When I started, you might see one a year," said Somerset County Sheriff Barry DeLong, who has 36 years in law enforcement. "I think police officers are more attuned to it. In the past, it wasn't even looked at. Domestic violence is for everybody now."
Police have adjusted their training and responses accordingly.
Ann Jordan, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said that today, police are trained to arrest "the predominant aggressor," and "dig into the facts" before making a charge.
Jordan also noted the change in societal attitudes.
"Ten years ago," she said, "many men would not come forward because of the stigma involved. And there's an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol, on both sides. People who wouldn't normally assault do so when they're under the influence."
While more men than women are arrested for assault involving firearms, 21 women were arrested in the state last year for using a knife or cutting instrument during an assault, compared to 20 men.
"But it doesn't matter what the sex is," Jordan said. "Assault is wrong."
DeLong agreed that drugs and alcohol play a role in the number of women committing assaults on their domestic partners.
"Women drink and drug more now," DeLong said. "More work and socialize after work, rather than going home to their families. Today, they're on the same level as the guys."
Another byproduct of societal change: Women might be more inclined to fight back now.
"They're a little bit less likely to take the abuse that was routine in the past," said Jon Oplinger, a sociology professor at the University of Maine at Farmington. "They're fighting back."
Exposure to violence, Oplinger said, is a factor that instigates violence, among both sexes.
"It's on television," he said. "The show '24' is graphic. It makes it more acceptable, and it feeds on itself.
"You see women fighting on TV shows, and boxing matches. I don't consider it particularly entertaining, and you wouldn't have seen it 20 years ago. That translates into action, at some point."
Sgt. William Bonney of the Waterville Police Department agreed with Oplinger, that modern women are more likely to assert themselves.
"Women who have been victims in the past strike first," Bonney said. "Now we're stuck arresting them."
Chief Joseph Massey said that officers are trained to look for the primary aggressor, and the mandatory arrests can come into play.
"Whenever an assault occurs, with probable cause, there's an arrest," Massey said. "There don't have to be cuts and bruises. I think there was a reluctance in the past on the part of police to charge women for a variety of reasons, some of them cultural."
Have You Seen This Robot?
A marine lab sent out a plea today for the return of their autonomous underwater vehicle
Updated 1:42 PM EDT, Fri, Sep 4, 2009
The Mote Marine Laboratory sent out a plea today for the return of their autonomous underwater vehicle.
"Mote scientists spent Thursday using side-scan sonar in an effort to find a scientific robot that has been missing since Monday, July 31, 2009," the e-mail stated. "Now we're seeking the public's help for the safe return of the robot."
The robot in question is a little over six feet long, 115 pounds, yellow, and answers to the name "Waldo."
It was last heard from on August 31, patrolling the waters off Southwest Florida looking for signs of red tide - a very important job -- and gliding up and down and forward through the water, sending signals to satellites when it surfaced.
"It just stopped sending a signal," said Mote scientist Dr. Gary Kirkpatrick. "There are a few possibilities that we think are likely: It could have had a major leak or malfunction and sank to the bottom and is just sitting there. Or, it could have had a malfunction with its computer or its communication system and is floating on the surface but unable to tell us that it's there.
"We're hoping that if anyone has seen Waldo, they will call and let us know so we can pick it up," Kirkpatrick said.
A $500, "No-Questions-Asked" reward is being offered for the return of Waldo so it can be re-united with its AUV siblings, Carmen and Nemo.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Pharmacist gives robber Tylenol instead of painkiller
The robbery occurred at a CVS pharmacy in Santa Ana, police said.
SANTA ANA – Police arrested a 30-year-old man who walked into a CVS pharmacy and demanded OxyContin pills from an employee.
The robbery occurred around 5 p.m. Wednesday at 3911 South Bristol St. near Sunflower Avenue, said Santa Ana police Cmdr. Tammy Franks.
The robber told the pharmacist that he had a gun and demanded OxyContin. The pharmacist refused and the robber jumped the counter and struggled with the pharmacist until he complied. The pharmacist tricked the robber and gave him Tylenol instead of the painkiller, Franks said.
During the holdup, employees called 911. Arriving officers arrested Timothy Wade Voroshuck. He was booked on suspicion of robbery and false imprisonment at the Orange County Jail. He is being held in lieu of $145,000 bail.
The pharmacist did not sustain any injuries.
No gun was found at the scene.
The five-toed 'sock' that is taking the running world by storm
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:09 PM on 06th September 2009
A cushioned trainer has long been the most important item in the wardrobe for any runner keen on preserving his feet and joints.
But that could all be about to change as a craze for new running socks that mimic what it would be like to be barefoot is starting to take hold.
The FiveFingers brand has been taking off in America ever since they were named one of the best inventions by Time magazine back in 2007.
And now their fame has spread across the Atlantic, with a British osteopath Matt Walden starting to use them here to help rehabilitate his patients.
They have become the subject of huge chatter on the internet and the micro-blog site Twitter as the idea of running without trainers takes hold.
Revolutionary: A pair of FiveFingers that mimic the sensation of being barefoot that are shaking up the running world
On Twitter, one poster wrote this week: 'Just got a pair of Vibram FiveFingers - I think my whole running world is about to change.'
Another added: 'First half-mile in my Vibram FiveFingers - Oh my god - How could I *ever* run in anything else?! They are sooo good.'
Professional athlete Helen Pryer, one of Britain's top 200 metre runners who is coached by Linford Christie, is also a fan.
'I just find them really comfortable so I use them for my spring training and during gym training. I prefer them to flat shoes and spikes,' she told the Sunday Times.
The ultra-thin socks made from hard-wearing neoprene are said to help prevent injuries including ankle sprains and sore knees and sell for around £80.
They are like gloves for feet that basically give the sensation of being barefoot while still protecting the skin.
Manufacturers say they act like a second skin and force the wearer to land on the centre of the foot and not the heel which fits with natural balance.
They have been developed on the premise that trainers - which can often be bulky - sometimes cover up problems because they cushion the foot so much.
The thin rubber has separate toe sections - hence the name FiveFingers - and have been doing brisk trade in running and athletics circles.
Vibram is an Italian company and when they first designed the 'shoes', they were aiming them at sailors, yoga fans and kayakers.
But they have proved hugely popular with runners and even professional athletes as the idea catches on.
Chief executive Tony Post, who uses them himself, told the San Francisco Chronicle: 'It used to be all about adding more. Now, we're trying to strip a lot of that away.'
Vibram says sales of the 'shoes' have tripled every year since they were first launched back in 2006. It expects to make $10million from sales in North America this year.
Experts are cautious, however, about whether runners should ditch their trainers just year - warning that any change to a regime should be made with care.
Humans are hardwired to believe in God, say scientists
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:29 PM on 06th September 2009
Humans are born with an innate ability to believe in God which has been passed down through thousands of years of evolution, new research has suggested.
Scientists stumbled on the idea after studying the way children’s brains develop, as well as how the brain works during religious experiences.
They suggest that during evolution, groups of humans with religious beliefs, perhaps because they tended to work together better - and therefore stood a greater chance of survival.
All in the mind: Scientists have claimed we are born to believe in God
The findings, reported in The Sunday Times, suggest that children are born with a natural inclination to think about faith and the supernatural about the world we live in.
It deals a blow to the beliefs of atheists who campaign against organised religion, like Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion.
He has long argued that religious beliefs result from poor education and childhood 'indoctrination'.
However, Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University and author of the new study, believes the picture is far more complex.
He said: 'Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs about how the world works.
'As they grow up they overlay these beliefs with more rational approaches but the tendency to illogical supernatural beliefs remains as religion.'
Mr Hood will present his findings at the British Science Association’s annual meeting later this week.
He says organised religion is just part of a wide spectrum of supernatural beliefs.
In one study he found even ardent atheists balked at the idea of accepting an organ transplant from a murderer - because of a superstitious belief that an individual’s personality could be stored in their organs.
'This shows how superstition is hardwired into our brains,' he said.
His work is supported by other researchers who have found evidence linking religious feelings and experience to particular regions of the brain.
Religious feelings: Shaolin monks who practise meditation have been linked to showing religious sensations in parts of the brain
They suggest people are programmed to get a feeling of spirituality from what is nothing more than electrical activity in these regions.
Andrew Newberg, professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, has used brain-imaging techniques to show that such feelings are invoked by activity in 'belief networks' operating across the brain.
This supersedes the earlier concept of a 'God spot', activated during meditation or prayer.
'The temporal lobe interacts with many other parts of the brain to provide the full range of religious and spiritual experiences,' he said.
This mechanistic view of religious experience is reinforced by separate research carried out by Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Ontario.
Mr Persinger has used powerful magnetic fields to induce visions and spiritual experiences in volunteers.
Barbara Hagerty became one of Persinger’s subjects while researching Fingertips of God, a book on brain processes underlying religion.
'I saw images and cartoonish figures,' she said.
'It didn’t convince me there was no God, but it did show me how much the brain is connected to our beliefs and perceptions.'
Some researchers argue that humans’ innate tendency towards supernatural beliefs explains why many people become religious as adults, despite not having been brought up within any faith.
Scientists believe that the durability of religion is in part because it helps people to bond.
Professor Pascal Boyer, an anthropologist at Washington University and author of Religion Explained, supports Hood’s view that the origins of religion may lie in common childhood experiences.
The professor said in a recent article in the science journal Nature: 'From childhood, humans form enduring and important social relationships with fictional characters, imaginary friends, deceased relatives, unseen heroes and fantasised mates.
'It is a small step from this to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods, who are neither visible nor tangible.'
Boyer says he holds out little hope for atheism.
'Religious thinking seems to be the path of least resistance for our cognitive systems,' he said.
'By contrast, disbelief is generally the work of deliberate, effortful work against our natural cognitive dispositions — hardly the easiest ideology to propagate.'
The Rev Michael Reiss, who is professor of science education at London University’s Institute of Education and also an Anglican priest, said he saw no reason why such research should undermine religious belief.
'I am quite sure there will be a biological basis to religious faith,' Reiss said.
'We are evolved creatures and the whole point about humanity is that we are rooted in the natural world.'
Boy, 6, missing for two years, is found alive with mother in hidden room at grandma's house
Last updated at 11:51 AM on 06th September 2009 BCT
A boy allegedly abducted in a custody dispute nearly two years ago has turned up alive, hiding with his mother in a small, specially built secret room at his grandmother's home.
Six-year-old Richard Chekevdia was in good spirits and physically fit after being found on Friday by investigators with a court order to search the two-story rural home in southern Illinois' Franklin County, about 120 miles southeast of St Louis.
The boy's mother, Shannon Wilfong, 30, has been charged with child abduction.
Richard Chekevdia at a wedding in Illinois in 2007: Allegedly abducted in a custody dispute two years ago, the six-year-old has been found alive, hidden behind a wall at his grandmother's house
The grandmother, 51-year-old Diane Dobbs, has been charged with aiding and abetting.
The boy is now staying with one of his father's relatives while state child welfare workers investigate claims that Mike Chekevdia abused his son before his disappearance.
Mr Chekevdia, 48, a former police officer who is now a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard, denies the allegations.
Shannon Wilfong, who disappeared in 2007 with her son, Richard, has been charged with child abduction
On hearing his son had been found, he said: 'Two years? You have no idea. You could have knocked me over with a feather.'
Mr Chekevdia, who lives three miles from where his son was discovered, added: 'I've lost sleep. I've lost weight. I've gained weight. I wouldn't wish this on anybody.'
He won temporary custody of his son shortly before the boy and his mother - Chekevdia's former girlfriend - disappeared in November 2007.
Mr Chekevdia said he long suspected his son was being stowed by Dobbs, although there were no signs of the boy at her home when it was searched with her consent after his disappearance.
Wilfong was charged in December 2007 with abducting the boy but couldn't be found.
For much of the time since, Mr Chekevdia said, the windows of Dobbs' home were blocked off by drawn shades or other items, presumably to prevent anyone from peeking inside.
'I had a firm belief he was in there, and yesterday it was confirmed,' Mr Chekevdia said.
Investigators did not detail what led sheriff's deputies and federal marshals with a search warrant to Dobbs' house on Friday, when they found the boy and his mother in a hideaway roughly 5ft by 12ft and about the height of a washing machine.
Anxious wait: Mike Chekevdia at his home in Royalton, Illinois, looking to be reunited with his son
'We let him out of the (patrol) car and he ran around like he'd never seen outdoors. It was actually very sad,' Illinois State Police Master Sgt Stan Diggs said.
'He was very happy to be outside. He said he never goes outside. Surprisingly, Ricky is in very good spirits.
'For someone who's been isolated in that house with no other outside beings, he's a very social, very polite, very talkative little boy.'
Dobbs, the grandmother, told a local newspaper last year that her daughter had been forced into hiding to keep the child from his father - and called the custody dispute a 'nightmare for all of us'.
Grandma's house: This is where the young boy was kept hidden in a room measuring 5ft by 12ft - and just 4ft high
Mr Chekevdia, eager to get his son back in school and to a dentist, said waiting for Ricky to resurface required patience.
'It's hard to sit back and watch things happen when you're used to making things happen,' said Chekevdia, a military officer who served in Iraq earlier this decade.
'But I just bided my time and let the system work.'
Wilfong remains in jail on a $42,500 bond in Benton, Illinois, where Dobbs is being held on a $1,000 bond.
Father and son in 2004: Mr Chekevdia said he long suspected his son was being stowed by the boy's grandmother Diane Dobbs, although there were no signs of him when her house was searched with her consent after his disappearance
Tiffany Brown/Sun file photo
R.C. Farms, Inc., is a pig farm that has been in North Las Vegas since 1963.
Friday, Sept. 4, 2009 | 11:50 a.
Buyers of a North Las Vegas home are suing a home builder, charging the company failed to disclose the presence of an area pig farm that is generating odors the homeowners say are unbearable.
Michael and Sarah Ricci filed suit this week against Atlanta-based Beazer Homes Holdings Corp.
Messages for comment on the dispute were left Friday with Beazer.
The Riccis say in the suit that in March 2006 they agreed to buy a home at 5944 Tamarack Lodge Lane in the Shadows subdivision, east of Losee Road and south of Tropical Parkway.
They say in the suit that under Beazer's development agreement with the city of North Las Vegas, it was required to obtain signed releases from prospective homeowners acknowledging the existence of the R.C. Farms pig farm and that the housing development may be subjected to odors from the farm.
The farm is at 555 E. El Campo Grande Ave., west of Losee and south of Tropical -- an area to the west of the Ricci home. Directions calculated by mapquest.com indicate the farm is a 1.7-mile drive from the home.
But the Riccis say Beazer didn't provide the required information about the farm and after they moved in and noticed the odor, they asked the Beazer sales person who sold them the home about the issue.
The sales person denied any duty to disclose the presence of the farm, reasoning it was too far away from the home to necessitate disclosure, the lawsuit says.
"After several months the smell became so unbearable that Sarah Ricci could not be in her home without gagging,'' the lawsuit charges.
Only after talking with neighbors did the Riccis learn of Beazer's duty to disclose the presence of the pig farm, the lawsuit said.
The suit says the Riccis contacted the Southern Nevada Health District's Air Quality Division and spoke with a pig farm inspector who said hiring a lawyer was the only solution to their problem.
The suit seeks recission of the sales contract. Alleging concealment fraud, it also seeks unspecified compensatory, special and punitive damages for the Riccis' claimed stress, anxiety and embarrassment; and the alleged loss of full enjoyment of their home.
JERICHO, Ark. – It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another Fire Chief Don Payne didn't hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps., and
The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.
Payne ended up in the hospital, but his shooting last week brought to a boil simmering tensions between residents of this tiny former cotton city and their police force. Drivers quickly learn to slow to a crawl along the gravel roads and the two-lane highway that run through Jericho, but they say sometimes that isn't enough to fend off the city ticketing machine.
"You can't even get them to answer a call because normally they're writing tickets," said Thomas Martin, chief investigator for the Crittenden County Sheriff's Department. "They're not providing a service to the citizens."
Now the police chief has disbanded his force "until things calm down," a judge has voided all outstanding police-issued citations and sheriff's deputies are asking where all the money from the tickets went. With 174 residents, the city can keep seven fire department vehicles and saw its last business close its doors a few weeks ago.on its rolls but missed payments on police and
"You can't even buy a loaf of bread, but we've got seven police officers," said former resident Larry Harris, who left town because he said thebecame unbearable.
Sheriff's deputies patrolled Jericho until the 1990s, when the city received grant money to start its own police force, Martin said.
Police often camped out in the department's two cruisers along the highway that runs through town, waiting for drivers who failed to slow down when they reached the 45 mph zone ringing Jericho. Residents say the ticketing got out of hand.
"When I first moved out here, they wrote me a ticket for going 58 mph in my driveway," 75-year-old retiree Albert Beebe said.
The frequent ticketing apparently led to the vandalization of the cruisers, and the department took to parking the cars overnight at the sheriff's department eight miles away.
It was anger over traffic tickets that brought Payne to city hall last week, said his lawyer, Randy Fishman. After Payne failed to get a traffic ticket dismissed on Aug. 27, police gave Payne or his son another ticket that day. Payne, 39, returned to court to vent his anger to Judge Tonya Alexander, Fishman said.
It's unclear exactly what happened next, but Martin said an argument between Payne and the seven police officers who attended the hearing apparently escalated to a scuffle, ending when an officer shot Payne from behind.
Doctors in Memphis, Tenn., removed a .40-caliber bullet from Payne's hip bone, Martin said. Another officer suffered a grazing wound to his finger from the bullet.
Martin declined to name the officer who shot Payne. It's unclear if the officer has been disciplined.
Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley said Thursday that he didn't plan to file any felony charges against the officer or Payne. Fairley, reached at his home, said Payne could face a misdemeanor charge stemming from the scuffle, but that would be up to the city's judge. He said he didn't remember the name of the officer who fired the shot.
Payne remains in good condition at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. He referred questions to his lawyer.
"I know that he was unarmed and I know he was shot," Fishman said. "None of that sounds too good for the city to me."
After the shooting, Martin said police chief Willie Frazier told the sheriff's department he was disbanding the police force "until things calm down." The sheriff's department has been patrolling the town in the meantime.
A call to a city hall number listed as Frazier's went to a fax machine. Frazier did not respond to a written request for comment sent to his office.
Alexander, the judge, has voided all the tickets written by the department both inside the city and others written outside of its jurisdiction — citations that the department apparently had no power to write. Alexander, who works as a lawyer in Jericho's judge in the aftermath of the shooting, Fairley said. She did not return calls for comment., resigned as
Meanwhile, sheriff's deputies want to know where the money from the state Forestry Commission recently repossessed one of the city's fire trucks because of nonpayment.went. Martin said that it appeared the $150 tickets weren't enough to protect the city's finances. Sheriff's deputies once had to repossess one of the town's police cruisers for failure to pay on a lease, and the
City hall has been shuttered since the shooting, and any records of how the money was spent are apparently locked inside. No one answered when a reporter knocked on the door on Tuesday.
Mayor Helen Adams declined to speak about the shooting when approached outside her home, saying she had just returned from a doctor's appointment and couldn't talk.
"We'll get with you after all this comes through," Adams said Tuesday before shutting the door.
A white Ford Crown Victoria sat in her driveway with "public property" license plates. A sales brochure advertising police equipment sat in the back seat of the car.
Drug charges added to ID theft
By PATRICK BUCHNOWSKI
September 03, 2009 10:54 pm
A Johnstown man accused of stealing nearly $2,700 from a woman’s bank account was digging up a marijuana plant in his yard when police arrived to arrest him.
Jon Craig Beltz Jr., 23, made 32 withdrawals from the woman’s account at CNB?Bank’s Northern Cambria branch from April to July, city police said.
Beltz, 23, of the 700 block of Cooper Avenue, also sold $12,323 worth of the woman’s jewelry and computer equipment, police said.
When officers arrived at his residence Wednesday, “Beltz was seen holding a large marijuana plant that appeared to have been cultivated in the backyard,” police said in an affidavit of probable cause. Next to the plant was a large, fresh hole and a shovel.
“He was growing marijuana in the backyard,” city Detective Joseph Eckenrod said.
Beltz was charged with identify theft, receiving stolen property and access device fraud. He also was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance and marijuana possession.
Beltz was arraigned by District Judge John Barron of Upper Yoder Township, the on-call magistrate, and sent to the Cambria County Prison after failing to post $50,000 bond.
Grandma charged in bomb threat
A 51-year-old woman who was barred from visiting her grandchildren at their school is facing a third-degree felony charge after a bomb threat was called in to the NortGrheast Side campus.
Velma Gladys Brewster was charged with making terroristic threats to Windcrest Elementary School at 465 Faircrest. She was arrested Thursday and released from jail after posting bail. Bond for the third-degree felony charge was set at $10,000.
When staff arrived at school on Thursday, they heard a voicemail message warning of a bomb threat, according to an affidavit for arrest warrant.
Administrators recognized the female voice that left the message – which had been left Wednesday night – as Brewster's, according to an affidavit for arrest warrant.
The trouble with Brewster began the day before, when the school's principal issued a trespass warning after the woman attempted to visit her granddaughters without permission from her daughter, police said. According to the warrant, Brewster was asked to leave the campus after causing a disturbance about 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The threatening message was left at 6:44 p.m. Wednesday, police said, but school employees did not check the voicemail system until about 7 a.m. Thursday.
The threat prompted the school to evacuate up to 678 students and 85 faculty employees, while the Windcrest and North East Independent School District police departments investigated.
The San Antonio Police Department's bomb squad also assisted in a search for explosives, but no suspicious devices were found at the scene.
Standing broom in Prattville sweeps in paranormal researchers and the curious
August 27, 2009 7:00 PM
PRATTVILLE, Ala. -- Buzz about a broom standing upright and unsupported at a downtown Prattville business is sweeping the town.
Several hundred people have stopped by Vintage Blu, a yet-to-be-opened consignment shop, since the phenomenon was discovered Aug. 20. Dozens of theories to explain what's going on have been thrown out. There must be glue on the bristles of the broom, or there are magnets in the floor working in concert with the buildings electrical system, or maybe ... just maybe ... it's something from beyond at work.
"I think it's more strange than spooky," said Christy Burdett, the shop's owner, who has been working for several weeks to get the business open. "But it's been fun."
No, there isn't any glue, and there are no magnets in the floor. As to something otherworldly going on, people will have to use their own judgment.
It all started out innocently enough. The broom was leaning against a set of mobile shelves when Della Benton, Burdett's sister, moved the shelves on Aug. 20. When Benton looked back, she was surprised to see the broom standing on the floor.
"Christy was behind the counter and I told her to get her camera quick and take a picture. I thought the broom would fall over in just a few seconds," Benton said. "We had people walk past it the rest of the day. It stayed there. Spence (Williamson) from the fire department shoved the handle to the side; it went over a few inches and swung back into place."
Some 25 hours later a friend stopping by the store touched the broom's handle and it toppled.
"We told her she had the Holy Spirit, and she drove the ghosts away," Christy Burdett said with a laugh.
The broom is a run-of-the-mill item, purchased from Dollar General.
"It's just your average $2.99 broom," said Phillip Burdett, Christy's husband and a Prattville firefighter. "I don't know how to explain it. We've had people just walk in since it happened every day we've been down here. They want to see the broom."
It seems that the broom likes one spot on the store floor. People have moved it to other areas, and it hasn't stayed upright. Tuesday during an interview with theMontgomery Advertiser, a photographer moved the broom and was able to make it stand several feet away. It was quickly returned to its favorite spot, where Christy Burdett plopped it down and there it stuck.
It remained standing Thursday.
Visitors eye the broom suspiciously when they first walk in the building. The Burdetts are quick to move their hands around it, just to prove there are no strings or wires holding it up. Their 6-year-old son, Reed, has even jumped off the counter near the broom several times, landing beside it with a thud. The broom never wavered.
Their 2 1/2-year-old, Will, also has gotten in on the act.
"We brought him in and asked him what he thought of the broom," Christy Burdett said. "He went up and looked at it and said 'Mommy, it's cold.' I went up and there was cold air around the broom. You'll have to come up with an explanation for that on your own."
Christy Burdett posted what was going on Facebook late last week. That's when the buzz started.
"Word got around pretty quickly," she said. "There was a paranormal group having a fundraiser out at Buena Vista, and they asked if they could come by and see it."
Southern Paranormal Researchers spent several hours at the store over two days, she said. The crew put teams in the store, its basement and the building next door, which houses Lucky Photography.
"They told us they felt the presence of several spirits," Christy Burdett said. "The lights flickered next door."
She said one member of the group came out of the bathroom and wanted to know who had turned the lights off. "When she found out nobody did, she got a little upset," Burdett said.
The researchers still have to go over evidence gathered during the investigation, to see if anything went bump, or swish, in the night, said Jake Bell, assistant director of SPR.
"The basement team thought they had some shadow movement," he said. "Other members of the team just had the feeling of a creepy presence."
And what is Bell's personal verdict?
"I just think it balances that way," he said. "But it's pretty funny how they found out, by moving that piece of furniture. It's a pretty cool story."
As word filtered out in the community, folks came by to share their downtown ghost stories.
The building has a varied past. It has been a cafe, car dealership and dry goods store. Lucky Photography was its most recent tenant, moving next door a few weeks ago.
"The guy from the photography shop came by when everybody started talking about the broom," Christy Burdett said. "He said he didn't want to tell us this when we moved in, but he had a broom that would stand up. He never told his partner because she was scared of ghosts."
George Walthall Jr., a local attorney, owns the building and has his office on the second floor.
"Ladies from George's office told us they see an older man and woman upstairs sometimes," Phillip Burdett said. "They all told us the stories separately, and the stories matched up."
Walthall stopped by the store Tuesday morning and was at a loss to explain the broom's positioning.
"I had a client a long time ago that was into voodoo," he said. "But that's been a long time ago. If there are any spirits in the building, I'll just send them downstairs."
If there are spirits, that won't be the only thing Walthall does, said Butch Ellis, who was walking downtown Tuesday.
"If there are ghosts in the building, George will figure out a way to charge them rent," he said.
Published September 03, 2009 10:50 pm -
Suspects didn't think anything fleet of police cars when they pulled in for a bite to eat
Deputies: Please pass pilferers
Cops catch burglars at coffee break time
By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
Two deputies who went to Happy Chef for a coffee break during a busy night of investigating burglaries got the added treat of having their suspects served up on a silver platter.
The Blue Earth County sheriff’s deputies likely needed some down time after responding to three residential burglaries that took place in a span of 90 minutes Wednesday night. All of the incidents took place within five miles of each other, but the residents lived in three different townships.
Investigators suspected the same individuals were responsible for all of the burglaries. Each of the residences were broken into in the same manner and similar items had been stolen.
When a final tally was compiled, items worth about $10,000 had been taken. The stolen goods included laptop computers, other electronics and jewelry.
At about 10:14 p.m. county dispatchers learned the crooks the deputies were looking for might have moved on to other counties. Le Sueur County authorities reported they were looking for a black Chevy pickup that had been involved in a burglary there.
They were asking law enforcement officers in the area to stop the vehicle, which contained three men and a woman, and hold the occupants for questioning.
The two Blue Earth County deputies, and several other deputies and police officers from the area, were taking their coffee break when the Le Sueur County report came through. As one of the deputies was jotting the information down, another officer noticed a truck matching the description pulling into the Happy Chef parking lot, Capt. Rich Murry of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
The crew of cops — Murry estimates a half dozen at minimum — then went outside and determined, via license plate number, that the pickup was the one they were looking for.
Although items that had been stolen that night from homes in both Blue Earth County and Le Sueur County were still in the pickup, the three men and one woman inside apparently weren’t concerned about pulling up to a restaurant with a row of squad cars outside.
“It’s fair to say there was a good showing of law enforcement when they pulled into the parking lot,” Murry said.
Further investigation revealed the group were suspects in a theft at Minneopa State Park last week and a burglary in St. Clair Tuesday.
The four people arrested were all Mankato residents. They were: Randal Charles Burger Jr., 20; Zachary Donald Hanel, 20; Scott Allan Abbe, 19; and Mariah Skye Harrabi, 18, the report said.
It was a good thing the deputies took a break when they did, Murry added. Not just because their suspects fell into their laps, but because the bust also led to a busy night of follow-up work after the break.
“It’s an easy beginning to the case, but there’s a whole lot of work that goes into taking the reports,” Murry said. “It’s great that it ended the way it did, but they were busy afterwards.
“Actually, it shows those coffee breaks can be pretty productive, too.”
Move over, Twinkies: Deep-fried butter is here
Inventor of fried Coke and fried cookie dough is ‘back with a vengeance’
State Fair of Texas
Abel Gonzales Jr. says his deep-fried butter invention tastes like “a mix between a biscuit or a croissant that is just stuffed to the gills with butter on the inside.”
Well, brace yourself, because a new deep-fried item has been invented that’s so bold, so audacious, so brazen, it’s bound to take your breath away. The invention is none other than:
That’s right. This artery-clogging, heart-stopping dish is among eight new deep-fried concoctions that will be unveiled to the public at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas later this month. Each year, fair concessionaires try to outdo themselves by dreaming up recipes that could send you racing to your cardiologist if they became regular staples of your diet. The friendly competition has become so intense that fair officials have dubbed the fairgrounds the “Fried Food Capital of Texas.”
This year’s fried butter entry is the brainchild of 39-year-old Dallas resident Abel Gonzales Jr., winner of past state fair competitions for his Texas Fried Cookie Dough, Fried Peanut Butter, Jelly and Banana Sandwich and Fried Coke recipes.
(That’s right. Fried Coke.)
To make fried butter, the butter itself needs to have an outer coating, or shell, if you will — something that can withstand the bubbling cauldron of the deep fryer.
“I mean, butter by itself does not taste good,” Gonzales said. “Nobody just grabs a stick of butter and eats it. That would be gross.”
So here’s what Gonzales does: He takes 100 percent pure butter, whips it until it is light and fluffy, freezes it, then surrounds it with dough. The butter-laden dough balls are then dropped into the deep fryer.
For purists who just want the unadulterated taste of butter, Gonzales serves up plain-butter versions of his creation. For others who want a little more pizzazz, he offers three additional versions with flavored butters: garlic, grape or cherry.
“When you taste it, it really does taste like a hot roll with butter,” said Sue Gooding, spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas. “It tastes great.”
“It’s like a mix between a biscuit or a croissant that is just stuffed to the gills with butter on the inside,” Gonzales said. “I think that’s the best way to describe it.”
An order of fried butter will get you three or four pieces of piping-hot dough in a little cardboard boat.
“Any more than that and I think it would be a little bit too much,” Gonzales said. “A little bit too rich.”
Pork chips and pecan pies
Other deep-fried creations to be showcased at this year’s state fair include:
All eight creations will be judged in the categories of Best Taste and Most Creative. Winners will be announced on Labor Day.
State Fair of Texas
Gonzales won the 2005 State Fair of Texas' Best Taste competition for his fried peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich. (For the record, Elvis pan-fried his legendary peanut butter and banana sandwiches; Gonzales deep-fried his.)
For his part, Gonzales has won three times in the past four years for his cookie-dough, Coke and PBJ-and-banana-sandwich inventions. He still remains a little astonished that he didn’t win anything for last year’s creation, something he called Fire and Ice. That complex dish involved deep-fried pineapple chunks topped with strawberries, strawberry sauce and — here’s the kicker — banana-flavored whipped cream flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen.
“Smoke would come out of your nose or mouth as you exhaled,” Gonzales said. “Kids really loved it. It was something to see.”
This year, Gonzales decided to get back to basics with a dish that doesn’t pussyfoot around.
“Fried butter, I think, is his effort to come back with a vengeance,” Gooding said.
‘Special foods for a special time’
So what’s with this annual celebration of all things deep fried and deeply unhealthy? Should the Food and Drug Administration step in and ban the event?
No, said Jennifer Pereira, a registered dietitian in nearby Arlington, Texas. A firm believer in the “no bad foods” approach to dieting and healthy eating, Pereira said it isn’t such a bad thing for people to splurge occasionally on foods they truly enjoy.
“The state fair is only once a year,” Pereira said. “I would strongly encourage people not to binge. Don’t build up your hunger so you can eat everything in sight. Pick a couple of things that you really enjoy, savor them, and stop eating when you feel satisfied.”
Pereira pointed out that all foods contain some nutrition — even Gonzales’ fried butter dish.
“Fried butter has fats, and you need some fats,” she said. “The dough would have some carbohydrates. ...
“In my practice, once I get people to legalize all foods, it’s amazing how food loses its grip.”
Married pastor faked kidnapping to visit girlfriend
|Reported by: Don Germaise
Abc Action News
Last Update: 8/31 3:34 pm
TAMPA, FL -- A Hillsborough County pastor faked his kidnapping so he could cheat on his wife without getting caught, Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies said.
According to deputies Wikler Moran-Mora, pastor of the International Missionary Society of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, texted his wife Tuesday night that he had been kidnapped, but she should not to panic or worry. After several similar texts claiming he was negotiating his release, Moran-Mora's wife did panic and call sheriff's deputies.
Hillsborough deputies launched a full scale search for the missing pastor, with more than a dozen deputies taking part.
Sheriff's spokesman JD Callaway told ABC Action News.com, they traced Moran-Mora's location through his cell phone and found him with another woman. Callaway says the pastor confessed he concocted the kidnap story to keep the tryst from his wife.
LINK TO PHOTO:
Texas DNA exonerees find prosperity after prison
JEFF CARLTON, Associated Press Writer – 10:58 am
DALLAS – Thomas McGowan's journey from prison to prosperity is about to culminate in $1.8 million, and he knows just how to spend it: on a house with three bedrooms, stainless steel kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer.
"I'll let my girlfriend pick out the rest," said McGowan, who was exonerated last year based on DNA evidence after spending nearly 23 years in prison for rape and robbery.
He and other exonerees in Texas, which leads the nation in freeing the wrongly convicted, soon will become instant millionaires under a new state law that took effect this week.
Exonerees will get $80,000 for each year they spent behind bars. The compensation also includes lifetime annuity payments that for most of the wrongly convicted are worth between $40,000 and $50,000 a year — making it by far the nation's most generous package.
"I'm nervous and excited," said McGowan, 50. "It's something I never had, this amount of money. I didn't have any money — period."
His payday for his imprisonment — a time he described as "a nightmare," "hell" and "slavery" — should come by mid-November after the state's 45-day processing period.
Exonerees also receive an array of social services, including job training, tuition credits and access to medical and dental treatment. Though 27 other states have some form of compensation law for the wrongly convicted, none comes close to offering the social services and money Texas provides.
The annuity payments are especially popular among exonerees, who acknowledge their lack of experience inmanaging personal finances. A social worker who meets with the exonerees is setting them up with financial advisers and has led discussions alerting them to swindlers.
The annuities are "a way to guarantee these guys ... payments for life as long as they follow the law," said Kevin Glasheen, a Lubbock attorney representing a dozen exonerees.
Two who served about 26 years in prison for rape will receiveof about $2 million apiece. Another, Steven Phillips, who spent about 24 years in prison for sexual assault and burglary, will get about $1.9 million.
The biggest compensation package will likely go to James Woodard, who spent more than 27 years in prison for a 1980 murder that DNA testing later showed he did not commit. He eventually could receive nearly $2.2 million but first needs a writ from the state's Court of Criminal Appeals or a pardon from the governor.
McGowan and the others are among 38 DNA exonerees in Texas, according to the , a New York legal center that specializes in overturning . Dallas County alone has 21 cases in which a judge overturned guilty verdicts based on DNA evidence, though prosecutors plan to retry one of those.
, who was wrongly convicted of rape, said the money will allow him some peace of mind after more than 26 years in prison.
"It will bring me some independence," he said. "Other people have had a lot of control over my life."
Chatman and other exonerees already have begun rebuilding their lives. Several plan to start businesses, saying they don't mind working but want to be their own bosses. Others, such as McGowan, don't intend to work and hope to make their money last a lifetime.
Some exonerees have gotten married and another is about to. Phillips is taking college courses. Chatman became a first-time father at 49.
"That's something I never thought I'd be able to do," he said. "No amount of money can replace the time we've lost."
The drumbeat of DNA exonerations caused lawmakers this year to increase the compensation for the wrongly convicted, which had been $50,000 for each year of prison. Glasheen, the attorney, advised his clients to drop theirlawsuits and then led the lobbying efforts for the bill.
Besides the lump sum and the monthly annuity payments, the bill includes 120 hours of paid tuition at a public college. It also gives exonerees an additional $25,000 for each year they spent on parole or as registered sex offenders.
No other state has such a provision, according to the.
Exonerees who collected lump sums but will receive the annuities. Whether the money will be subject to taxes remains unsettled, Glasheen said.under the old compensation law are ineligible for the new
The monthly payments are expected to be a lifeline for exonerees such as Wiley Fountain, 53, who received nearly $390,000 in compensation — minus federal taxes — but squandered it by, as he said, "living large." He ended up homeless, spending his nights in a tattered sleeping bag behind a liquor store.
But after getting help from fellow exonerees and social workers, Fountain now lives in an apartment and soon will have a steady income.
Fountain's story is a cautionary tale for the other exonerees, who meet monthly and lately have been discussing the baggage that comes with the money.
Chatman said he's been approached by "family, friends and strangers, too."
"It takes two or three seconds before they ask me how much money, or when do I get the money," he said. "Everyone has the perfect business venture for you."
Though appropriately wary, the exonerees say they are excited about having money in the bank.
"You're locked up so long and then you get out with nothing,"said. "With this, you might be able to live a normal life, knowing you don't have to worry about being out on the streets."
by Express-Times staff
Wednesday September 02, 2009, 1:59 PM
Photo Courtesy of Bethlehem Police DepartmentPolice have issued an arrest warrant for Lloyd Virgil Barclay, who allegedly robbed the KNBT at 920 W. Broad St. in Bethlehem this morning.
Man allegedly calls 911 twice to say he's hungry
September 3, 2009
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – Authorities said a man was arrested after calling 911 twice for a ride and saying he was hungry.said Benjamin Dewer, 26, was charged early Wednesday with making false calls to 911. The report said Dewer was apparently drunk when police found him sitting on a sidewalk. He asked police for a ride to a park and told them he was hungry.
When police refused, Dewer walked away and called 911 a second time for a ride.
Dewer was being held behind bars at the Palm Beach County Jail on a $1,000 bond.
Stranger accused of slapping crying child at store
(09-02) 18:19 PDT Stone Mountain, Ga. (AP) --
Police say a 61-year-old man annoyed with a crying 2-year-old girl at a suburban Atlanta Walmart slapped the child several times after warning the toddler's mother to keep her quiet.
A police report says after the stranger hit the girl at least four times, he said: "See, I told you I would shut her up."
Roger Stephens of Stone Mountain is charged with felony cruelty to children. It was unclear if he had an attorney and a telephone call to his home Wednesday was unanswered.
Authorities say the girl and her mother were shopping Monday when the toddler began crying. The police report says Stephens approached the mother and said, "If you don't shut that baby up, I will shut her up for you."
Authorities say Stephens then grabbed the 2-year-old and slapped her. The child began screaming and Stephens was arrested. Police say an examination showed the girl's face was slightly red.
A call to the girl's mother, identified in the police report as Sonya Mathews of Grayson, was answered by a woman who identified herself as Sabrina Mathis, the victim's aunt.
Mathis said Wednesday that the girl is doing fine.
"As of today, she has really forgotten about it," Mathis said. "She's been playing."
Mathis said the girl's mother was shaken up over the incident.
"She's as well as to be expected," Mathis said. "Right now she's just trying to calm down."
Darwin City Council traffic wardens book dog for parking
September 02, 2009 12:00am
A DOG has been booked for illegal parking.
The blue heeler was tied to a fence outside Rapid Creek Market when it was approached by two Darwin City Council traffic wardens.
One of the inspectors wrote out a ticket – and taped it to the dog's lead.
Witness Ray McEvoy said he couldn't believe his eyes.
"I watched an elderly lady and her very faithful blue heeler roll up at the market," he said.
"The lady tied the dog to the fence and gave him a bowl full of water.
"And off she went into the markets.
"Then two traffic inspectors came along. They had a bit of a talk and, to my amazement, wrote out a warning infringement notice for the dog and taped it to his lead rope."
Mr McEvoy said the dog was tied to a fence well away from the foodstalls.
"It was on a path rarely used," he said. "And the owner made sure the dog was in the shade.
"It wasn't in distress at all. In fact, it was the most placid blue heeler I've seen in my life."
Mr McEvoy, who runs a commercial cleaning business, said the booking caused quite a stir.
The dog owner was last seen marching off in pursuit of the parking inspectors.
Council spokesman Grant Fenton said a dog was considered to be "at large" if the owner was not there.
"You can't tie up a dog and leave it," he said.
Police: Drunk 12-year-old steals car in north Lincoln
BY HILARY KINDSCHUH / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 2:20 pm
Police say an intoxicated 12-year-old boy stole a car Tuesday night and had three hit and run crashes before a citizen caught him.
A 1988 Honda Accord was taken from a Kwik Shop at First Street and Cornhusker Highway around 8:40 p.m., said Chief Tom Casady. The driver had left the keys inside the unlocked car.
Soon after the car was stolen, police received several calls about an erratic driver in the Gaslight Village mobile home park, Casady said. The driver hit a fence and stop sign in Gaslight Village before hitting a parked car on the 100 block of West Saunders Avenue.
A 41-year-old man who lives on the block chased down the 12-year-old driver as he got out of the car and ran, Casady said. The man tackled the boy and held him until police arrived.
The boy was referred to the Lancaster County Attorney on suspicion of auto theft, fleeing the scene of an accident and drunken driving, Casady said. He had a blood alcohol content of 0.14.
This is not the first time the boy has stolen a car that was involved in a hit and run.
Police believe he stole his parents' car in June and hit a parked car, said Officer Katie Flood. An officer met with the boy and his father several days after the incident, and the boy was referred to the county attorney on suspicion of negligent driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Because police met with the boy several days after the first incident, they could not determine whether he had been drinking at the time, Flood said.
Ex-inmate suffers serious injuries trying to get back into Brevard jail
BY KAUSTUV BASU • FLORIDA TODAY • September 1, 2009
The concertina wire that surrounds the Brevard County Detention Center in Sharpes is designed to prevent inmates from escaping.
But Monday night, someone tried to break into the jail compound by climbing the fences and suffered severe injuries.
The sequence of events began about 8 p.m. at the Camp Road facility when, according to the sheriff's office, 24-year-old Sylvester Jiles of Cocoa showed up at the front gate and asked to be taken into custody.
"He told the people at the jail that he was fearful for his life," said Maj. Greg Purden of the sheriff's office.
Jiles had been released from jail Friday after accepting a plea deal on a manslaughter charge. He pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Dustin Prouse, 19, in February 2007.
On Monday, jail officials told Jiles they could not take him in. They told him to file a police report about the threats he was receiving.
Instead, Jiles climbed the 12-foot wire fence at the west corner of the jail grounds, then ran to a second fence topped with razor-sharp concertina wire. While attempting to do so, he fell and severely injured himself.
"Anything that touches those wires is ripped to pieces. He suffered severe, life-threatening injuries," Purden said.
Jiles was taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, where his condition is unknown at this time.
Lancaster New Era
September 2, 2009
A bank robber offered an unusual explanation Monday for why he held up an Ephrata bank in 2007.
He did it to get away from his abusive wife, he told a judge during his sentencing in Lancaster County Court.
In fact, Anthony Miller, 39, wanted so badly to escape his wife — even if it meant going to jail — that he repeatedly asked tellers during the robbery, "Did you call the police yet?"
"She was very abusive to me," Miller told Judge Louis Farina. "I was scared. She threatened to commit suicide if I ever left her."
Miller's defense attorney, Robert Beyer, said that when the woman, now Miller's ex-wife, came to pick up his car after he was taken into custody, she met with the arresting officer.
After 20 minutes with her, the officer said, "I was ready for jail, too," Beyer dryly noted.
Farina sentenced Miller to 3 to 6 years in prison, a little longer than Miller had wanted. Beyer asked the judge to give Miller, who has already spent 31 months in prison, a sentence of time served.
The judge, however, said Miller committed a serious crime and used a BB gun that looked like a real gun during the robbery, even though it wasn't loaded and he never threatened anyone with it.
Farina said, "I accept he may not have wanted to hurt anyone. He made a very bad decision under a period of stress."
Turning to Miller, the judge said, "We have to make sure you don't do that again."
Miller pleaded guilty in June to the robbery of the Ephrata National Bank on Martin Avenue in February 2007.
The day of the bank robbery, Miller purchased a BB gun at Wal-Mart, took it out of the box and went to the bank, Beyer said.
Miller stayed at the bank for four minutes, as tellers collected money. A witness said, "He wanted someone to call the police."
An employee did trigger an alarm and police, who were nearby, arrested Miller as he left the bank.
When he walked out of the door, Miller hesitated for a moment, Beyer said, thinking that he might want police to kill him and "have this be over with," but then changed his mind.
Miller, who has no criminal record, decided to rob the bank after a series of problems — marital, financial and emotional, Beyer said.
Miller met his wife through a Christian dating Web site. She moved to the county from Washington state and the couple was married in 2004.
The pair soon had problems and Miller wanted to end the marriage, but his wife threatened to overdose on pills, he said.
During this time, Miller also struggled with depression. A welder, he had a job that did not offer health insurance and he said could not afford the medications he needed for his condition.
Feeling desperate, he saw the bank robbery as a way to get away from his wife.
Farina listened and then noted a very curious thing: When Miller was arrested, he asked police if he could call his wife.
Beyer said, "He didn't say what he was going to say."
"Goodbye? It's your fault?" Farina asked, his eyebrows raised. "So it's her fault?"
Beyer responded that Miller doesn't blame anyone but himself.
"His wife's actions drove him to it?" Farina asked. "He saw this as his way out?"
"Absolutely," Beyer said.
Miller weighed in, saying, "I certainly wasn't thinking straight. That's not the way I normally act. I believe I had a nervous breakdown that day."
Farina told Miller that he traumatized people in the bank with the gun.
The judge said he wanted to give Miller more than just the time he had already served in prison so he could get evaluated and counseled.
"You need enough time and supervision so we can identify what are your problems," he said.
LINK TO CONTEST:
|Tuesday, 01 September 2009 8:01PM
Man arrested after wearing 'wrong belt' into Daley Center
|CHICAGO (STNG/AP) -- A southwest suburban man is free on bond Tuesday after he was arrested for allegedly trying to bring weapons into the Daley Center by hiding them in his belt.|
|Jamie Busk, 38, of Evergreen Park was stopped about 2 p.m. Monday at the Daley Center entrance near Randolph and Dearborn, according to a release from the Cook County Sheriff's office.
While Busk was going through a security X-ray machine, courthouse Deputy David Nowacki noticed several metal objects that appeared to be inside his belt. He stopped Busk and inspected the belt, finding a built-in zipper with several objects tucked inside.
Among the items found in the belt were a pocket knife with a 2-inch blade and handcuff keys, while the buckle was fashioned so it could also be used as a weapon, the release said.
Busk, who told the deputy he “wore the wrong belt today,” was charged with unlawful storage of a weapon.
|The Chicago Sun-Times|
|Man arrested after wearing 'wrong belt' into Daley Center|
|Jamie Busk, 38, of Evergreen Park was arrested for allegedly trying to bring a pocket knife, handcuff keys and several other weapons into the Daley center through his belt.
|(The buckle of Busk's belt was fashioned into what appears to be a small cutting or slicing weapon. (CCSD))|
|(This small bladed tool was hidden inside the zipper pouch of Busk's belt. (CCSD))|
|(A zipper pouch used to conceal the weapons ran much of the length of Busk's belt. (CCSD))|
LINK TO PHOTOS AND AUDIO:
69-year-old Missouri woman fires gun on airport runway
09:04 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 1, 2009
FULTON, Mo. (AP) -- Police say a 69-year-old woman forced a plane to abort its landing Saturday night when she went onto the runway and fired a gun.
Judy Davis of Fulton was being detained when police arrived and found a loaded .22 caliber handgun in her pants pocket. Mexico, Mo., radio station KXEO reports that she was arrested on a charge of unlawful use of a weapon and released after posting $4,500 bond.
Police say Davis walked into the terminal and said she was planning to shoot down a plane. She told investigators she was upset because the plane had repeatedly flown to close to her house.
Officials say federal authorities have been contacted and will be helping with the investigation.
FBI: Fort Lauderdale bank robber also tried to steal a kiss from teller
Fort Lauderdale police investigators, along with bank security guards at the Bank of America on the 3000 block of Davie Boulevard after the bank was robbed last week.
South Florida Sun Sentinel
3:25 p.m. EDT, August 31, 2009
FORT LAUDERDALE - First, he tackled the Bank of America security guard. Then, he punched the manager in the face. And before fleeing with $9,000, the armed robber asked a teller for a kiss, authorities say.
Police found Deatrick Daniel, 27, moments later in a nearby yard Friday with the help of a bank customer and employees, according to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI.
Daniel, of Fort Lauderdale, is accused of robbing the bank at 3030 W. Davie Blvd. around lunchtime Friday.
On Monday, he appeared at the federal courthouse and was charged with bank robbery.
According to the criminal complaint:
Daniel allegedly fought with the bank security guard in the parking lot and tried to take his gun away.
He then ran inside while the bank manager tried to call 911 and got in a scuffle with him, too. Daniel punched the manager in the face, pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and jumped over the counter.
He forced one of the tellers at gunpoint to open the cash drawers for him. Before fleeing with $9,000, Daniel took the teller into the breakroom and asked her to kiss him. The complaint didn't mention whether she did.
The bank guard, manager and a customer followed Daniel and told police he went into a neighborhood nearby. Police found him about 50 yards away hiding in a backyard.
Police were able to recover $2,000 from the yard, plus some cash scattered between the bank and the home.
Daniel was charged with bank robbery and is being held at the Broward Main Jail. He will later be taken to the Federal Detention Center in Miami
Drunk pilot: Where have you hidden the runway?
An intoxicated pilot had to be guided to land by a rescue helicopter after he radioed the control tower to ask: "Where the bloody hell have you hidden yourself?"
Allan Hall in Berlin
7:56PM BST 31 Aug 2009
The 65-year-old amateur pilot allegedly tanked up on beer and wine before taking to the skies above the eastern German state of Thuringia in his Cessna light aircraft on Saturday afternoon.
Once airborne, he served himself some more tails while at the controls.
Two hours later he was apparently so inebriated that he was unable to read the instruments telling him where the Schoengleida airfield was.
"Come on, I know you're down there," he radioed. "Where the bloody hell have you hidden yourself?"
Control tower staff say he also sang a few songs, cracked a mother-in-law joke and told them to "pull their fingers out as I've got a party to go to". Fearing instrument failure, the tower scrambled a rescue helicopter stationed at the airfield. It homed in on the man in clear blue skies some 50 miles west of the airport and gave instructions for the pilot to follow it back.
Officials at Schoengleida said the pilot, who has not been named, made a safe landing.
"But when the helicopter pilot went over to see him, that was when he got the full force of the alcohol fumes in his face," said a spokesman.
The man was unsteady on his feet as he wobbled from the pit to his parked car. Concerned airfield authorities alerted police.
He was stopped on the way home, breathalysed and found to be nearly four times over the legal limit for driving.
Now he has lost his driving licence - and his pilot's licence.
May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008