NewsQuirks 665

Curses, Foiled Again

Police looking for the accomplice of Robert Haley, 18, whom they charged with armed robbery in York, Pa., found suspect David Ruppert, 21, already at the jail. He was paying Haley a visit. "I would assume that he found out that Haley was locked up," West Manchester Township Detective Jeffrey Shell said after Ruppert's arrest, "and probably wanted to know if he told the cops about the robbery."

Put on a Happy Face

Berlin's state-operated building association ordered Juergen Olschewski, 59, evicted from his apartment after neighbors complained that he violated the rules by "causing disturbing noises through loud laughter."

Double Jeopardy

When police in Lock Haven, Pa., charged Donald Guthrie with robbing a coin-operated laundry, he wrote a post-dated check to his bail bondsman. Once he was released, Guthrie needed to raise money to cover the check, so, according to police, he held up a bank in nearby Avis. He made off with nearly $9,000 but crashed his car into a tree stump during the getaway and was driven home by an unsuspecting passerby. Police identified Guthrie as the suspect after viewing a security video from the bank and investigating the accident.

Deja Vu

The same week that police in Fort Worth, Texas, accused Chante Mallard, 25, of hitting a man with her car, then driving home with him stuck in her broken windshield and letting him bleed to death in her garage, a Toronto inquest was probing a similar case. Beth Kidnie, 42, was crossing an intersection when she was hit by a car being driven by 84-year-old Pilar Hicks and dragged for more than half a mile. Hicks, who was convicted of criminal negligence, insisted that she did not see when Kidnie slapped her hands on the hood of the car or notice Kidnie's body on the driveway after the car was parked. The woman's son, Bill Hicks, told the inquiry that his mother had passed a driving test a month and a half before the accident.

In the Fort Worth incident, Mallard told police that she kept her car -- with the body of the victim, Glen Biggs, 37, still lodged in the windshield -- in her garage for two days before asking several acquaintances to remove the body and put it in the trunk of another car. Several of them took the body to a park and tossed it out. Mallard's lawyer, Mike Heiskell, accused prosecutors of overstepping reality by charging his client with murder, explaining, "I believe the law will shake out that this was simply a case of failure to stop and render aid."

Flush with Pride

As a prelude to hosting the 2008 Olympics, Beijing will be the site of the 2004 World Toilet Summit. China's capital, which is notorious for rank public lavatories with little privacy and no seats, won over World Toilet Society officials at the November summit in Singapore by spending $4.8 million between 1987 and 2000 to turn 200 primitive privies into star-rated facilities. The city also pledged to spend $6 million on further improvements in 2002 and $18 million in 2003.

Mea Culpa

Police in North Syracuse, N.Y., charged Kristen E. Amico, 33, with stealing $19,815.80 from the law firm where she worked by forging signatures on 18 company checks. She pleaded innocent to the charges but admitted forging checks after her family finances got out of hand. Amico is the wife of David Amico, who is the police chief of Cazenovia, N.Y. She told police she was sorry and promised she wouldn't do it again.

Government investigators said that FBI agents spent more than $1,800 of taxpayers' money to attend a retirement dinner in Arlington, Va., instead of attending an ethics conference in nearby Quantico, Va. The FBI said the agent would repay the money. A number of other agents from around the country were accused of using the ethics conference, which was scheduled for the day after the party, to get the FBI to pay for their travel.

Buffy Guenst, 31, the treasurer of Richland Township, Pa., was charged with using tax money to finance a $231,000 shopping spree. At first, nobody noticed when she used the town debit card at Wal-Mart, Acme and Ames, but she aroused suspicion after charging $85.50 worth of lingerie from Victoria's Secret. "These are not things that the township normally buys," Richland Police Chief Stuart Woods said. "These are not road materials."

Weighty Matters

Obese people may be entitled to a free extra seat when they fly in Canada, according to a ruling by the Canadian Transportation Agency. The decision resulted from a complaint brought by a woman who was required to pay 50 percent more for an adjoining first-class seat on an Air Canada flight between Ottawa and Calgary. A CTA tribunal said passengers should not be charged more to accommodate their girth.

Police in Largo, Fla., said that 300-pound Clinton H. Williams, 39, died while sitting on his couch when his weight made a gun that was hidden in the cushions fire accidentally. The bullet entered a major artery in his thigh. Investigators said Williams kept the .45-caliber handgun under the seat cushions so he could defend himself in case someone barged into his apartment.

West Virginia State Sen. Mike Ross said he opposes requiring obese drivers to wear seat belts. "I've seen individuals have trouble getting under the steering wheel," he said, "let alone put a seat belt on."

Jennifer Portnick filed a complaint with San Francisco's Human Rights Commission charging Jazzercise with weight discrimination after the company rejected the 5-foot-8, 240-pound woman's application to teach its dance-style exercise class. "Jazzercise sells fitness," Maureen Brown, the company's director of franchise programs, wrote Portnick, who works out six days a week. "Consequently, a Jazzercise applicant must have a higher muscle-fat ratio and look leaner than the public. People must believe Jazzercise will help them improve, not just maintain their level of fitness."

Role Model

After inviting former Suffolk, Va., businessman Mark Grethen, 44, to Washington, D.C., to accept a Republican of the Year award, GOP officials quickly rescinded the award when they learned that Grethen is serving a 26-year prison sentence for sex crimes involving children.

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.