NewsQuirks 685

Curses, Foiled Again

A man walked into a bank in Harrisonville, Mo., and showed the teller what looked like a gun. Instead of cash, he demanded a cashier's check for $200,000. About two hours later, according to FBI representative Jeff Lanza, George Leroy Curtis, 75, accompanied by a salesperson from an RV dealership, presented the cashier's check at his bank in Independence and had the bank write a $166,000 cashier's check to the dealership. The FBI identified Curtis within hours, and he was arrested in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he had gone on vacation in his brand-new 40-foot Holiday Rambler motor home with his 65-year-old girlfriend, her son and her two grandsons. "We're still trying to figure this guy out," Lanza said, "whether he's just not very bright or never cared whether he got caught."

After Eric Peltz, 36, and another hunter shot a black bear and her three cubs last November, they proudly posed with the carcasses for a newspaper photographer. Peltz told a reporter for the Standard Speaker of Hazleton, Pa., that the successful bear hunt was a dream come true, providing an account full of details. The story caught the attention of investigators with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, who last month charged the two men with killing the bears illegally because they used apples as bait to lure the animals. They also charged Peltz with exceeding the legal limit of one bear a year.

Better Red Than Dead

Hoping to reduce the number of koalas killed by cars each year, authorit ies in the Australian shire of Redland have begun painting dead koalas red and leaving them beside the road to alert motorists to drive more carefully in areas where the slow-moving animals live. The measure by the Redland Shire Council, which hopes the six-month trial program will reduce the estimated 150 koalas killed each year in the shire, drew criticism that it will upset passing motorists and children and may cause more accidents if drivers stare at the roadkill instead of watching the road.

Is That a Dagger Before Me?

A teen-age girl charged with stabbing her older sister in the chest and slashing her arm told police in Bryan, Texas, that she stabbed the sister, Amanda Gonzalez, 18, because she wouldn't move from in front of the television.

Samantha Lou Trusdell, 6, died after suffering a stab wound and then falling on her head at a private campground in Tennessee. Witnesses told Blount County sheriff's deputies that the girl was sitting around a campfire with her family while her 11-year-old brother was roasting marshmallows on a three-foot metal grilling fork. When one of the marshmallows caught fire, the boy began swinging the fork, which came loose from the wooden handle and struck the girl in the back of the head. She fell and hit her head on a stack of firewood.

Instant Rollback

Demetrius Houston, 31, was accused of stealing $12,000 to $15,000 worth of Bose speakers from Sam's Club stores across north Florida by putting homemade bar codes over the real labels, duping unwitting clerks into giving him a 93-percent discount. Once Sam's security experts figured out what was happening, they spotted Houston on surveillance videotapes and identified him because he used his credit card and Sam's club membership.

Easy Money

Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine said he is investigating charges that adoption lawyer Joyce Britton routinely billed the Illinois child welfare agency for more than 24 hours' work a day on uncontested adoptions. For one six-day week in April 2001, for example, Britton billed the Department of Children and Family Services for 207 hours, or 63 more hours than are in six days. "It makes her look bad," Britton's attorney, George Collins, admitted, "but it's not that bad."

Ed Jagger, a lawyer in St. Petersburg, Fla., insisted that he earned his $ 350,000 fee, even though his client said that all he did was make one phone call. When Mary Kay Brite died, her stepgrandson, David L. Brite, who lives in California, hired Jagger to see if the woman had a will. He agreed to pay Jagger 25 percent of any inheritance if he located one. Jagger contacted the lawyer who filed the will for Brite's grandfather, who died in 1984, and was referred to the lawyer whose firm, now defunct, had prepared the grandfather's will. That lawyer confirmed he also prepared a will for Mary Kay Brite and sent Jagger a copy. When Brite learned he was inheriting an estate worth more than $1.4 million, he decided that Jagger's fee was excessive and asked the court to lower it. "It's been an easy estate," Paul McColley, Brite's accountant, said. "No issues. No litigation. It's the easiest work you can find."

In Columbus's Wake

Alvaro de Marichalar Saenz de Tejada became the first person to cross the Atlantic on a personal watercraft, making the 5,200-mile journey from Rome to Miami in 117 days aboard a 9-foot Bombardier Sea-Doo. The Spanish count trained for a year and put on 40 pounds to make up for the weight he expected to lose along the journey. Accompanied by a support ship with a crew of six, Marichalar said he averaged 12 hours a day, pointing out that he stood up for most of the voyage to prevent spinal injury. "The most difficult part," he added, "was the cold."

Second-Amendment Follies

Donna Sue Miller, 46, admitted responsibility for the death of her 5-month-old grandson, who was shot by a bullet from a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic handgun that Miller had hidden in the broiler drawer of the oven in her home in Cassopolis, Ind. The gun discharged two days later when Miller put a pizza in the oven to cook. "I didn't know the gun was loaded," she said after she was sentenced to five years' probation.

Two Boy Scout employees in charge of firearm safety at a summer camp in Boone, Iowa, were fired for shooting BB guns at other Scouts. One 15-year-old counselor suffered a serious eye injury that could result in a permanent partial loss of vision. "This is a clear case of just acting stupid," Mitigwa Camp Director Pete Langston told the Des Moines Register. "They messed up."

Police in Norcross, Ga., reported that a 13-year-old boy was shot in the head while attending a gun show with his father. Gwinnett County police representative Ray Dunlap could offer no details of how the shooting happened but did say that "it was an accidental discharge of a handgun."

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

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