Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Not gift-wrapped

"It was the worst Christmas eve I ever had," stated Robert Schoff.

Schoff, 77, of Des Moines Iowa had what would seem to be the holiday evening that definately stunk. He began by working on a small house project that included digging a small hole near his septic tank. When he got it deep enough, all he had to do was reach in and dislodge a clog that was there.

That was when the 5 foot- 5 inch, 135 pound Schoff lost his balence and became wedged in the opening of the septic tank. Now that may seem to be enough of a rough spot in a "home fix-it" project but Schoff went a bit further, he couldn't free himself from the opening.

He screamed and yelled he stated, hoping that his wife Toni would hear him and be able to help him out of his bind. She did finally notice his kicking feet an hour later and ran out to try and pull him out. When she was unable to do that, she called 911 to have her husband rescued.

Two Polk County deputies arrived and yanked him out of the opening. As for Robert, he stated he is glad that his wife found him when she did, since he didn't think he could have survived there much longer. I would have to agree with almost all of that.... that had to be a Christmas eve that really stunk, though it didn't end up tragic......... just one more tale to add to the family history perhaps.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Did you know?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child you've delivered, will soon deliver you?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

Did you know, that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, you've kissed the face of God?

Did you know, that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?

May the star that guided so many on that Christmas eve continue to lead in these days that seem so difficult for many.

Peace on Earth to all........... and to all, the simple, heartfelt joy in giving the best of yourself from within......

Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Those darn gifts...............

It seems that the holiday season can bring out some of the strangest ideas about gifts. Some I am sure that you have seen and shook your head at, asking yourself, "What were they thinking?"

In Pensecola FL last week, that had to be the question running through a few people's minds when they were confronted by a couple in a local PetSmart praking lot. Robert G Ellingson, 23, approached two people there and offered them a beer, which they refused. He then offered to sell them his baby for $30. The couple first thought that it might just be a prank or joke but the mother of the child chimed in. Maghen Duvala, 25, yelled from across the parking lot that they were indeed trying to sell her baby and at this point, someone came to their senses and called the police.

Authorities state that both of them have been charged with four counts of child neglect and are being held at the Escambia County Jail. They added that the couple had tried an hour earlier to sell their baby in the parking lot of a bank a few blocks away. The Department of Child & Family services has taken custody of the child and the couple is due in court this week. Evidently, when they failed to entice anyone at the bank to buy their baby, they must have thought that someone with a pet, might want a baby as well?

In Rock Springs WY this past week, it again was a present that led to the bit of trouble for a couple. Shawn Johnson,34, called 911 around 1 am Wednesday, to report that his wife had stabbed him. He stated that she and him had started arguing about his opening a present early.

As the argument escalated, Misty Johnson, 34, accused him of having an affair and at some point, she stabbed him in the chest. Shawn was treated at a hospital for a wound to the chest and Misty was arrested on charges of misdemeanor battery and aggravated assualt and battery. Police didn't state who the present Shawn allegedly opened too early was for. It definately seems though, that traditions in the new Johnson family should be strictly observed.

With gift ideas like these though, I believe I may take another look at the "Clapper" and the "Chia Pets" down at the local store.

Friday, December 21, 2007

To heck with sending flowers.....

There still seems to be a few young men who don't believe in the "old fashioned" method of winning a girlfriend back. Unfortunately, they may have plenty of time to discover practical methods of saying their sorry in the near future.

James Walcott, 24, of Columbia CT, evidently felt that flowers and candy wouldn't do the trick for him when his girlfriend broke up with him. For some reason, he felt that breaking into her home, attacking her and her boyfriend and threatening to kill both of them would get her to realize that he needed her back. To top off his "romantic" attempt to win her back, he deliberately crashed his car into the new boyfriend's.

It's not too surprizing that he is now charged with a home invasion, multiple assault charges, the motor vehicle crash and a couple of death threat charges to round out his romantic attempt to win back his "fair maiden." It hadn't been reported if she fell for Walcott's strategy but I am willing to bet that it didn't convince her of anything other than getting as far away from him as she possibly can.

Mark Simmons, 21, of Enfield CT, seems to have taken note of some of Walcott's romance tips this past week. Rather than calmly discuss things or try to win her back with chocolate and flowers, Simmons allegedly threw a chair at her, punched through a mirror and threw shards of glass at her. He evidently felt that those things may not have been enough to convince her, so he threatened to slit her throat and drag her behind his truck.

She decided to leave in the face of what was very misguided "romance" and Simmons followed her in traffic until he could cut her off. He slowed his car to two miles an hour and then left his car to approach hers with clenched fists.

Not too surprizingly, Simmons may be able spend a bit of time trading dating tips in the future with Walcott.................. he now faces multiple felony charges and a protective order has been issued for his former, and I expect.... never to be again, girlfriend. Possibly, the schools may want to slip in a dating ettiquette class amongst all the other "specialty" classes they now offer?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eye for an eye.....

Many people may have had similar thoughts as to what a 32 year-old Gresham OR driver felt recently. It seems that the driver of a tow truck was a bit upset about a recent ticket he had received and felt that taking matters into his own hands would solve it.

Authorities stated that he hooked his tow truck to a marked police car that was responding to a domestic call and attempted to tow it away. They added that he did finally release the vehicle after another officer ordered him to but he then locked the doors of his truck and refused to cooperate.

He evidently was upset about the response that he had received because the truck driver then proceeded to call the police station from inside his truck. According to the police report, he was unsatisfied with the police response when he tried to tow a marked police cruiser.

The manager of the towing company was eventually brought out to the scene and managed to convince his employee to exit the truck and surrender. That driver is now under arrest on charges of unlawful use of a vehicle, interfering with a peace officer, criminal mischief and obstructing governmental administration.

It would seem that the idea of retribution, possibly formed over coffee and a donut, only led to a few more tickets to add to this drivers collection.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Signs, signs.... everywhere a sign

"Predatory lawyers know they can file ridiculous lawsuits against innocent
product makers and blackmail them into a cash settlement - even in cases in
which a user has ignored common sense," stated Bob Doringo Jones.

Last week the winners of the 11th annual "Wacky Warning Label" contest were announced. The contest is sponsered by the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch and tries to show the effect that lawsuits have on the warning labels we find on our everyday products.

This year's winning entry, selected from a list of finalists and chosen by the listeners of WOMC-FM's Dick Purtan show, was submitted by Kevin Soave of Farmington Hills MI. He won $500 with his entry of the warning label he found on a small tractor......... it simply stated "Danger: Avoid Death" which i suppose would be common sense but evidently, some need to be reminded of it.

The second prize of $250 went to the entry of Turin's of Greensburg PA for their entry of a warning label they found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer. That simply read... "Do not iron while wearing shirt." Richard Goodnow of Lancaster MA, earned the $100 third prize with his entry. He found the label on a baby stroller that featured a small storage pouch. The pouch had the warning, "Do not put child in bag."

The contest organizers state that their contest shows how broken America's civil justice system is. The honorable mentions in the contest continue to back up that theory as well. Cyndi LaMonde of Traverse City submitted a warning label the accompanied a letter opener that stated : "Caution, safety goggles recommended." Ann Marie Young of Filmore NY, received an honorable mention as well with her entry that stated "The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used a signing instrument for checks or legal documents."

It would seem that not only are companies now blackmailed into being overly cautious....... it looks as though simple common sense has gone out the window as well. It is a wonder that we don't have constant signs posted to remind us to blink our eyes and breath.

For more "wacky warnings" , go here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

There was running water....

David Leggat, 55. recently got to put his survival course lessons into practice. His adventure began when he went to use the toilet at the Kittybrewster and Woodside Bowling Club in Aberdeen England. The adventure ended after four long, dark and cold days.

The unmarried bowler knew that he was trapped when the interior handle of the toilets jammed and the outer handle had fallen off. He also knew that he was in for a very long wait, since the club isn't used that much this time of year.

He stated that he hadn't brought anything to eat so he sipped cold water from the sink during the four days. He also remembered a tip from his survival course and said that he kept running a basin of hot water to soak his feet in. That wat he could heat his whole body during the long cold hours.

Cathy Scollay, the cleaner, heard his cries for help and contacted the club secretary, Bob Ewing, who came and set Leggat free with some quick screwdriver work. Leggat stated that he was fortunate to have a toilet there but he would have prefered being locked behind the bar for an ordeal like that.

The article didn't state what prompted Leggat to use the toilet there but it could be a fair punishment for letting the door shut on him, when he could see the outer handle was missing.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Throw away the key?

"I've never seen such a harsh punishment recommended for a non-violent crime," stated James Clapp.

District Judge James Hayes sentenced the Missoula MO man, who was out on parole after serving 9 years in prison for rape on Tuesday December 11 2007. He gave him 75 years for each felony count and added that they were to be served consecutively.

Robert Stearns, 45, had been found guilty by a jury in October of confronting three women in two Hamilton MO parks, then exposed himself and masturbated. At the time of his arrest, he was on probation for two counts of exposing himself and one count of intercourse without consent in 1997.

Judge Hayes had remarked that Stearns had not been able to divert and that he had gone to the parks knowing what he faced from his behavior. Stearns was then sentenced to a total of 225 years in prison on the three felony counts.

Clapp, Stearns's attorney, had stated that not only was this a harsh sentence for a non-violent crime but it also amounted to locking up his client and throwing away the key. He added that it wasn't a fair result in light of the crimes commited.

I do believe that what Stearns did to get arrested isn't the nicest of crimes but to get 225 years in comparison to what some armed robbers and killers get for sentences........ I do think it is far over the line. Just the cost alone of keeping Stearns in jail for what could be maybe 40 more years, should be enough to expose this sentence as being over the top.

Deck the parkway

The mystery began a bit before Thanksgiving this year and it continues to deepen. What had begun with a simple pair along the Garden State Parkway NJ has slowly expanded, as if elves have been working a bit of overtime.

It began with a pair of glass ornaments hung along the southbound side near the Pinelands. A shiny red ball the size of a canteloupe and a smaller oblong one with glitter swirls hung from the limbs of some large pines there. Whether the elves were busy or if that pair was a mated, breeding pair of bulbs isn't known but in the following weeks, more decorations have appeared.

There aren't any homes nearby that would lead on to think that is may the work of a nearby resident hanging them. By this monday though, the various, large bulbs have taken homes in the trees on the northbound side as well. The authorities believe that it is the work of someone who has a lot of holiday spirit but too much free time at night, since no one has admitted seeing who may have hung the ornaments.

They admit though, that it may be a frustrated husband whose's wife had said enough to the home decorations and he is now spreading his holiday cheer further from home. It doesn't seem to be much to worry about though, the ornaments are harmless and no one is hurt by what cheer they may spread. Myself though.......... I think there are many possibilities, from elves to the bulbs have found a safe nesting ground to maybe even is a nice mystery though.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Rustle up some diesel

Once again it seems, Florida police have rounded up some enterprizing businessmen. The newest group of thieves include a father-son team as well in what seems to be a growing problem with fuel rustling.

"We're not sure how long it's been going on for , but I'm sure there are that there are other times that they have done this," stated Orlando Police officer Rob Everett.

The owner of Quick Fuel Fleet Services told the Orlando police that he had been tracking fuel truck driver Lino Franco, 43, of Kissimmee and found that he had been making unschedualed stops. One stop in particular, on an access road just north of the John Young Parkway was where he had observed Franco unloading hundreds of gallons of fuel.

Officers waited at around 11 pm in a nearby business and watched Franco unload fuel in two pickups that had large tanks installed in their beds. Amado Frias, 46 and Barbaro Batista, 32 were driving the pickups and Amado's son Edrey Frias served as the lookout. The police moved in and arrested the tanker driver and all three men from Orlando after they had finshing siphoning the fuel.

All the men were booked into the Orange County Jail and face charges of third degree grand theft and are being held on $500 bond each. Officials believe that they have been doing this for some time and selling the fuel for their own personal profit. They had managed to siphon off several hundred gallons of fuel that was headed for the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant.

Franco stated that he didn't believe he committed any crime because he hadn't sold the gas and he hadn't received any money for it either. Batista stated that he may have done wrong because people don't usually give away something of value like fuel.

It seems that with the rising costs of fuel in the past months, theives are going where the profit can be made........ the fuel trucks and storage tanks. They are also showing a bit more creativity in their thefts as well.

For related posts, go here and here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Like fish to water......

"It just looked like a meadow to him, and he stepped on the ice," stated Janet Waite.

Jet, a 6 year-old took a stroll in Dorset VT recently and ended up taking an icy swim. He walked out onto the ice on an inground pool, broke through 6 inches of ice and became trapped in the 3 1/2 feet of water.

Several rescue attempts had failed and Jet was visably shaking by the time a passerby had flagged down Vermont State Police Cpl Gary Shuhart. The rescuers finally managed to break the ice in the corner of the pool and pulled Jet to safety with a rope around his neck. He was wrapped in blankets and headed off to the local veterinarian with Janet, his owner,for a check of his health and a cut on his left rear leg.

"I didn't realize what it was until it took a leap and jumped up on the side of my hot tub," stated Marlene Todd.
It seems that water attracted a visitor to Todd while she was enjoying her Deadwood SD hot tub recently. She stated that she heard a rustling in the needles near the tub and she thought it might be her cat. It was a cat, just not her housecat as she had thought.

Her visitor was a cougar that was now trapped by the deck stairs and it had only one direction to escape in. It leaped up onto the hot tub, stared her in the eyes and then leaped off it to freedom. Todd called the police about her early morning visitor and they surmised that it had probably been hunting deer in the neighborhood when her tub attracted it.

Todd added that she now knows what a golfish feels like when a cat stares at it in the fishbowl. I would think with winter rapidly approaching, strange tales of water adventures would be slowing down in the northern regions.......... evidently, they are just getting a bit more odd.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Making sure it stays fast food......

A spokeswoman for McDonald's has recently commented on a new policy that they have in force at their British restaurants. She added that signs and leaflets explaining the policy have been posted and given out as well.

It seems that too many people aren't comprehending what "fast food" is and are lingering in their parking lots while eating. To combat this, they have placed a 45 minute limit on staying in the parking lot and it is being enforced by a private company that manages their lots now. The company, Civil Enforcement manages the lots for several other companies as well and is using number plate recognition cameras to log when people enter and leave.

The company obtains information about the registered owner of the vehicle from the DVLA and they then send off a letter. The owner is fined 125 pounds for a first offense, 75 pounds if it is paid off quickly but if they refuse to pay, the fine rises and they are threatened with court action.

Civil Enforcement operates approximately 700 parking lots and states that they issues a considerable number of tickets a year. Those tickets have included an elderly couple who evidently took too long doing their Christmas shopping at the grocery store and Jamie Thomson, who spent too much time enjoying his meal and coffee one day.

He was surprised to receive a letter in the mail that he had violated the 45 minute parking limit at a Gatwick England McDonald's recently. When he asked for photographic proof of his offense, he was told that he would have to pay for the photo. He contacted the DVLA as well to ask why they had released the information to a private company and was told that they would do that for a company that had a reasonable cause to ask for it.

McDonald's though seems to have washed their hands of the outrage by stating that Civil Enforcement profits from the tickets, not the restaurant. They added that tickets are only issued in extreme cases of overstaying the parking limit.

Thomson's fine has risen to 213 pounds now and he has been threatened with court action over it. It doesn't surprise me though that he states no one in his family will eat again at a McDonald's restaurant because of this policy.

It seems to me that they have come upon a rather strange way to improve their customer service.............. take your time and enjoy our meal, just not on our property.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Brush with stupidity

On July 14 2007, Andrew Ogden, 21 decided to show off in front of his friends. His antics may have thrilled him and his buddies but it caused an unsuspecting man to be traumatized enough to need to have a week off from work.

Ogden, from Astley Village, Chorley England, was captured on CCTV cameras at the Ryeland level crossing in Chorley. He decided to thrill his friends evidently by striking a pose on the tracks, in front of an oncoming train. His other three friends had continued to cross while Ogden stood in front of the Northern Rail 20.48 Manchester Airport to Blackpool service train bore down on him at 10 pm.

He jumped out of the way at the last possible moment as the train sped by at 50 mph. The driver of the train had no way of knowing that he had missed Ogden and had to continue working that night before he could take medical leave for a week. The film shows just how close Ogden was to getting hit by the train and has left the driver very visably upset.

Ogden was arrested and pleaded guilty to obstruction without intent and will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court January 7 2008. He has been released on unconditional bail pending that court date.

What may have seemed like a good scare for his buddies, left someone else traumatized and very narrowly missed tragedy. Playing chicken with a train though, one traveling at 50 mph, isn't the way to get that thrill maybe.

Bait & switch

The bait it seems was set out on recently. The switch came when the buyers showed up to hand over their payment and take their new purchase home.

The newest bait seems to be Porsche's that are advertised as being for sale on craigslist. The latest victims made a deal to purchase a 2002 Porsche that was listed for $44,000. They were told to bring $22,000 in cash when they went to Baldwin LI to pick up the car.

Nassau County Police Dectective Lt Karl Schoepp stated that when the victims arrived a group of five men, one with a gun, beat the two victims. They surrendered only $50 though in the attack before getting away. Police added that a Pennsylvania couple was assaulted in a similar fashion last month. That couple had driven to Freeport to finish a deal on a Porsche as well that they had spotted on craigslist.

It would seem that the same old scams have been given new life with the help of online shopping.

For a related post, go here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beg, borrow or sue

One almost has to love the creativity that some New Yorkers have these days in finding the funds they think they need to live their daily lives. While most of us are toiling away at our regular jobs, struggling with the bills and trying to budget for those Christmas gifts we would love to purchase for loved ones, some people have found an alternative.

It seems that one of those families was spotted placing an ad in New York magazine, begging to receive the funds they feel they need to stay living where they wish to live. Now that may sound like a very common problem many in the city face without the benefit of rent control or a high paying job. This family though feels that begging in an advertisement for $1 million isn't such a bad thing.

Their ad states that they need help, in the form of $1 million in order to purchase an apartment on the Upper West Side. They add that they are a wonderful family that contributes to their UWS neighborhood and wants to remain there rather be forced to moved to the suburbs. They also mention that they can afford only $600-700K for that purchase, so anyone would understand their predicament.

They may well be a very nice family and contribute to the neighborhood but I find it difficult to understand how they could feel that their needing to go $400,000 over their budget is a worthy donation. If the $1 million were donated instead to an organization that provides help to the working families that are struggling to stay in their tiny apartment, pay the heat or electric bill, it would help many more , nice neighbors in the city. Many people are forced with choices in life and having the income to even think of affording something in the price range they state they can afford, gives them many choices as to where to live.

Last week, Zamfira Sfara, 48, filed suit to gain some of her former employer's millions. She claims that Leona Helmsley's dog Trouble, repeatedly mauled her in 2004 and she is seeking now a large part of the $12 million the dog inherited.

Trouble was whisked out of New York City NY this past fall to escape the death threats that were aimed at her when she was at Helmsley's Connecticut home. She evidently has been spotted enjoying the good life in Sarasota FL recently, a life that costs approximately $300,000 a year for upkeep and security.

Sfara filed suit against Trouble in 2005 and that suit was thrown out of court then. The millionare pup is expected to be back in New York in January for a high-security press conference about Helmsley's charitable trust. It may be then that officials get get a statement from Trouble in regards to Sfara's claims of being mauled.

It seems to me though, it is just another grab for some free money from someone who feels that a dog shouldn't have more money than them. Considering the size of the dog and what others who have been mauled by much larger dogs have recieved for settlements....... Sfara may only be looking at enough money to buy groceries for a week.

I am sure both these people feel that they are very deserving of the money but in comparison to what others in this country face each and every day................... they seem to be begging for "free" money and just forgetting to shake the cup in their hand when they do.

It may be politics....

Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate has recently fired the landscaping company that had been hired to work at his home in Belmont MA. This was not the first time that he had the same issue with Community Lawn Service of Chelsea MA though.

The former Massachusetts governor has been repeatedly asked for his plans to solve the nation's illegal alien problems and he has stated his solutions publically. Romney would like to develope a three-point plan that includes building fences along the U S-Mexico border, develope a tamperproof ID card for legal immigrants and cutoff federal money to what have been called "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants.

During a recent debate, Romney pointed out that he felt that Guiliani had continued to provide a safe haven within New York City while he was mayor for illegal aliens. Guilani countered that remark by stating that last year, The Boston Globe had reported on Romney's landscaping company employing illegal aliens as workers. It was a recent follow-up to that story that led to the firing of the landscaping company.

The Boston Globe asked Romney why he contiued to employ a company that had illegal aliens working for them. Romney stated that he had given the company a second chance after it was first revealed last year but that he had told them that they would have to be in compliance with the law for him to continue to employ them. He added that as soon as they were found that workers at his home were not of legal status, he drafted a letter informing the lawn service of their termination.

Ricardo Saenz recently spoke to FOX25 News and speculated that it was the heated presidential race that led to his company being fired, rather than his employees status. He claimed that Romney never had asked about his workers, only what price he had bid for the job, a job they have held for 11 years. Saenz also insisted that his workers were of legal status but he declined to show the Globe reporters their papers.

While I do feel sorry that Saenz has lost an account that he had for 11 years, working on Romney's home, I don't believe it was just politics that led to that firing. It matters little that one of his clients is now running for president, what matters is that he is breaking the law. It has long been argued that illegal workers take the jobs that Americans don't want, yet I am sure that Saenz isn't paying his workers his a competive wage....... he can become the low bidder on jobs by paying illegal workers who won't talk, less money than those who are employing legally documented workers.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Trade it with a smile

It seems that San Francisco has joined the ranks of many other cities nationwide in offering to trade gifts for guns. In a city that has seen 89 murders already, they felt that this may help remove guns from the streets or even homes where they may be stolen and used in a crime.

They held their first event in July and held their second on Saturday. California law makes it illegal to own an assault rifle and the program, Gifts for Guns allows anyone to turn in a weapon and the police will not ask any questions as to it's origins.

The event in July brought in 117 handguns and 2 shotguns and this Saturday, San Francisco police collected about 100 guns which included 4 assault rifles and two sawed-off shotguns. Once they guns are in police hands, they will be checked with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to see if they have been used in a crime previously or are stolen. Those that are stolen will be returned to their owners and the rest, about 99 percent, will be destroyed.

When Orlando held their event earlier this year, they offered a choice of a giftcard or sneakers. San Francisco offered giftcards on a sliding scale, depending on the type of gun turned in. Those turning in guns were offered a $100 giftcard for rifles and shotguns, handguns brought a $150 giftcard and assault-type rifles were exchanged for a $200 card.

Not everyone felt that it was a very good idea though. Peter Buxtun, a 70 year-old gun advocate turned in two worthless handguns and walked away with $300 in giftcards. He stated that you can buy a junk gun for $10 and then turn it in, then use the gift card to purchase another gun. He added that he felt that the officers would have done better to be out patrolling rather than handing out giftcards.

Buxton does have a point and it seems these days that almost anything can be traded or bartered for another. Getting guns off the street and out of closets though, I think is not such a bad thing for the few hours spent at the event. I do have to wonder though, on San Francisco's sliding giftcard scale........ what would a missle launcher like Orlando received be worth in gift cards?

For a related post, go here.

You're the Daddy......

"You can't be half a father, and half not, under the law," stated Melissa Brisman, reproductive lawyer.

That is the conclusion as well of Nassau County Family Court Judge Ellen Greenberg when she made her ruling on November 16 2007. The father, who is anonymous, will now have to meet with a support magistrate to determine what, if any support he is responsible for until the child is 21 years-old.

According to the man's testimony, he was a physician in the same Nassau County hospital as the child's mother worked in the late 1980's. He learned that the woman and her female partner wanted to have a baby, so he donated sperm for that purpose. The woman gave birth July 26 1989 and the man, who was married at that time, agreed verbally to not have any rights or benefits in raising the child. That agreement was never put in writing, though he did allow his name to appear on the child's birth cetificate because he felt it was in the child's best interest to have an identity.

The man also had contact with the child as it was growing up, that is until 1993, when the mother, her partner and the child moved to Oregon in 1993. He also sent the boy gifts, money and cards and letters signed "Dad" or "Daddy." up until then. After the move though, he has spoken to the child by phone only seven times in 15 years and met him once for several hours three years ago.

Jeffrey Herbst, the attorney representing the child's mother, stated that while there isn't any genetic evidence that the man is the boy's father, he feels that contact that had been made forms a parental relationship. He also cited the statement that the child had known no-one other than that man as his father to be proof of the relationship.

Deborah Kelly, attorney for the man, acknowledged that the man is named on the father on the birth certificate but she feels that his trust has been abused. Her client had been told that things would be one way and had been that for 18 years and now he has been told very differently. Her client had requested a paternity test since there was no concrete evidence that he was the father but the judge felt it would have a traumatic effect on the child and didn't allow it.

To protect the child from any trauma is what the court's should be doing but the father in this case is facing a traumatic effect as well. He has very little contact with his son in the past fifteen years and now, when the child is 18 years-old and college-bound, he is hit with a lawsuit seeking child support from the friend and her partner he had helped long ago.

While there are two sides to this debate and the laws have not kept up well with all the changes in what constitutes a "family" these days I do wonder why the mother is seeking support now. She has a partner, who she chose to have the child with and that partner should have adopted the child. I can understand wanting to keep someone who may have been a very good role model for a young boy but I don't feel that the "father" is liable for child support this late in the game. He did do them a favor and while there may not have been everything in writing, it would be fair to assume that both the mother and her partner are responsible for that child's support until age 21.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Blind eye of the badge

On Thursday he was charged with producing child pornography and the next day November 30 2007, he was set to appear before federal judge at 2:30pm. His wife, while she has been placed on administrative leave, hasn't been charged in regards to the case.

Atlanta police Sgt Tanya Crane's husband Terrill was charged after investigators recently received photographs taken from 1999 to 2002 of Terrill. They show him having sexual activity with at least 11 different girls, all of whom were minors at the time. Authorities state that he befriended the young girls, took them to his home or truck and gave them cash to engage in sexual conduct. He also offered them $50 for each new girl that they could bring to him and Crane sometimes took photos or directed them to be taken during that activity.

A photoshop employee had contacted the Atlanta Police Department in 2000 because he was concerned about the content of the photos that had been developed for Crane. The photos that were given to the police over the next two years contained about 50 sexually explicit photos. They showed girls who appeared to be between 12 and 15 years-old, engaged in sexual conduct with Crane. Those photos weren't turned over to the FBI until October 16 2007.

"This is a very disturbing case, for many reasons," stated U S Attorney David Nahmias.

Authorities state that Terrill's wife Tanya learned from an unidentified person at the Atlanta police headquarters in 2003, that they had the photos of him. She then burned some photos and negatives that she found in her house. Terrill was still trying to have sex with young girls then, telling a young girl he had exploited years earlier that he would give her $50 for each young girl she brought him.

The department spokeswoman, Judy Pal, stated that she didn't know had happened to the phots from 2000 to 2007. She added though, that the chief had been alerted to them by other staff and he immediately had contacted the FBI but made no further statements due to the internal investigation.. Police Chief Richard Pennington stated that he wouldn't tolerate the alleged actions and any purported failure to take action by his officers.

I am sure that many people would not ask the department many questions about integrity if they hadn't known of the photos existance. They did though and for several years, nothing was done to stop an officer's husband from preying on young girls. Someone was nice enough to warn his wife and rather than uphold the law as her badge symbolizes, she evidently tried to cover up his crimes as well. Cases like these are certainly making it difficult for the public to trust and respect the police, when they themselves are doing a good job of breaking it themselves.

For a related post, go here.

It's certainly not a goldfish

This Sunday, December 9 2007, you have the opportunity to add to your room decor and it is a one of a kind that you won't find at IKEA. Bonhams & Butterfields in Los Angeles CA will be handling the sale and they expect to get approximately $400,000 for the centuries old piece.

The Bonhams catelog describes the Mosasaraus baugei as a swift and graceful predator that dined on mollusks, fish, turtles and shellfish. The 70 million year old, 30 foot long lizard ruled the oceans possessing a huge skull lined with sharp teeth almost a yard wide.

This three dimensional mounted skeleton of the mosasaur is in remarkable condition and one only a few that have ever been found. This particular fossil was found near a mining area of North Africa. The mosasaur or Meuse lizard was named after the Meuse River in Holland where the first of these mosasaurs was discovered in 1780.

The auction house has also suggested that you make special arrangements for transporting home your prize if you should win the bidding, which I guess means that you shouldn't think you'll slide it into the bed of your pickup truck for the drive home.

Friday, December 7, 2007

We're teaching the lesson young.....

"This is a local program in Seminole County FL, that promotes academic excellence and rewards academic achievement," stated William Whitman.

The rewards offer that is printed on report card envelopes in nine Central Florida counties, offers a free Happy Meal to students with good grades, behavior or attendence. It replaces a program that was sponsered by Pizza Hut for ten years. The school district stated that it isn't advertising in their public schools and they gain nothing more that McDonald's paying the $1,700 for the envelopes and printing.

The promotion offers a free Happy Meal to any student that has no more than two absences, no bad marks in behavior or has all A's and B's on their report card. Susan Pagan stated that she was apalled at that offer on her fourth grade daughters report card and questioned the school district about it. She felt that she was being made to be the "bad guy" by refusing to give her daughter the free meal she qualified for. Pagan rarely takes her daughter to fast-food restaurants and doesn't like the school encouraging her to do so.

Objections have also now been raised that the envelopes are promoting fast food while families and others are trying to battle a serious rise in childhood obesity. Many school systems are taking steps to offer much healthier school lunches and teaching children how to make better choices about the food they eat.

There have been other food offers for free grades slipped in with good report cards in the past in some Orange County schools which include free ice cream and coupons for Ale House and Steak 'n Shake. Coupons for Aloma Bowling and offers from banks that have been linked to report cards or good grades seems to be better choices than free fast-food.

What I do wonder though, why the outcry of it being a fast-food meal the children are being rewarded with? Why not an outcry over the lesson it is teaching children at such a young age? There was a time when getting good grades was worth just knowing that you had achieved, received verbal praise for doing what was expected of you and in rare occasions, you may have received some reward from your parents. It seems that the "new" system includes tying an actual reward to any kind of achievement and possibly teaching children that the effort to do well should only be tied to gaining that reward...........not tied to the satisfaction of doing well for themselves.

Just grab the gal

The co-owner of the Naughtie Novelties store at 6011 Highway 51 in Madison WI reported a break-in on November 10 2007. Police used the surveillance tapes to observe a large man get out of a distinctive General Motors car, smash through a front door, grab some items and drive off.

About 10 days later, a Dane County Sheriff's Office detective noticed a car with similar distinctive features parked behind the Truckers Inn at 6162 Highway 51. They stopped the car that was missing a hubcap and had a taped-up front passenger window a short time later. The driver, Jose A Sandoval, 26, first denied committing the buglary but then began crying. He then told the detectives that the items he had stolen were hidden away and led them to an abandoned semi-trailer truck behind the Truckers Inn.

They found the items that were missing that included thong underwear, lotions and some sex dolls. Evidently, Sandoval managed to get himself a rather high class date as well. One of the dolls was a Linn Thomas talking love doll, shaped to look like the porn star of the same name. The $269.99, 5 foot-3 inch doll is described as not only being able to vibrate but she blurts out pre-recorded words of encouragement to the user.

I think that she may be the "perfect" woman as long as you keep her away from sharp objects.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

You got the lucky bag......

"It made me feel like a criminal, like I did something wrong. The look on [the cop's] face, it was like he knew I was already arrested," stated Carlos Alayo.

The freelance photographer stated that he was late for a business meeting when he spotted a wallet lying abandoned on a subway bench. Alayo picked it up and put it in his bag, hoping to later find it's owner as he rushed to board the 6 train at Grand Central Station, New York City NY, Wednesday. Just as he was boarding the train, he felt a hand on his shoulder and the undercover officer asked him where the wallet was.

Alayo, 32, had just become the latest New Yorker to be caught in the NYPD's crackdown on thieves in their operation called Operation Lucky Bag. After he handed over the wallet, he was frisked, made to stand with his hands against the wall and wait for police to run a check of his criminal history. Alayo, an immigrant from Peru, not only had to listen to the officer repeatedly tell him not to lie and admit how many times he had been arrested but he stated that he was red from embaressement.

He added that he has been in the U S for 17 years and had never felt discrimination until that day. The decoy operation he had been caught up in has the NYPD planting puses, backpacks, wallets and shopping bags around the subway. The items used to contain only a few hundred dollars but they now also include real American Expres cards issued to the Police Department. Theft of a credit card is an Class E felony and anyone the police believe was stealing the card will face up to four years in jail.

While their program has made numerous arrests of repeat offendors it also may have the effect of discouraging good samaritans from turning in the lost items. I can see the point to that as well, in these days of combatting terrorism, New Yorkers may choose to leave an abandoned bag alone and not risk arrest and in doing so, leave the opportunity for a terrorist to leave an item anywhere they choose.

As for Alayo, he was let go a week later when police found that he had no warrents or that there was an reason for arresting him. I wouldn't doubt that the next time he thinks he will do a good deed like that, he may well just walk on by the lost item.

Tumbling down......

"This thing has destroyed our lives forever," stated Maggie Cosmillo.

On January 9 2007, Angela Cosmillo was home alone caring for her 1 year-old son Joey when he slipped out of the house and fell into the pool. She jumped in, pulled him out and carried him inside, down a hallway and into a bedroom and then called 911. Joey was unconcious and not breathing and she told the 911 operator that she thought he may be dead.

Sgt Andrea Eichhorn, 36, of Chuluota and a 12 year veteren of the police department, was the third rescuer to arrive at the house. She slipped on a puddle in the hallway near where they were performing CPR on Joey. Eichhorn fell down but got up again and had a co-worker take her to an emergency outpatient clinic later that day. Doctors there told her that she had broken her kneecap. The city or it's insurers paid all of her medical bills and in the two months she was out of work, she didn't lose a single day of pay.

It is what Eichhorn chose to do, even though her police chief had advised against it, that outraged people. After spending months trying to get money from the Cosmillo's, she chose to sue them for an undisclosed amount, stating that she felt negligent and allowed their home to become unsafe. Eichhorn saw herself as the victim and stated that her knee aches, it will likely develope arthritis and she feared that she could become a burden to her family.

She filed suit on October 1 2007 and on October 10, the Orlando Sentinel published an article about the suit. The public flooded the police department and city offices with their outrage over the suit. Eichhorn was said to have ben in tears on the day the article appeared and went home. That same day, police Chief John Pavlis placed her on paid leave of absence and called for an internal investigation. Eichhorn then dropped her suit on October 12.

The Cosmillo's had ignored the suit and pleas for a settlement from Eichhorn and with good reason. Richard and Maggie, their grandson's legal guardian, were told that Joey probably wouldn't survive more than a few hours after his arrival in the hospital. For the first two months, Maggie remained at his bedside, never once going home.

Joey, now 23 months old, lives 5 miles away from them now, in a nursing home where he can get 24 a day care. He suffers from severe brain damage, breaths through a tube and is fed by another tube. He can't sit, eat or swallow but he can smile and seems to recognise music now. His grandfather Richard has hopes that he will be able to learn to do even more than that in the future.

Pavlis informed Eichhorn on November 19 that he planned to fire her and removed both her badge and gun then. While he had previously described her as a good officer, he cited that the internal investigation had found that she had broken at least five department rules in filing her lawsuit, including bringing public ridicule to the department. Her lawsuit also could have caused citizens to question whether they too could be sued by officers responding to a 911 call.

Richard Cosmillo stated that she had gotten what she deserved and she wouldn't have lost her job if she hadn't filed the lawsuit. I do have to agree with him....... Eichhorn is worried that she may develope arthritis and become a burden, there is no proof that she will develope it nor will she be anymore of a burden than the thousands of people who suffer from it without slipping on a puddle. As for her leaving work in tears...... what did she really believe people would think of her lawsuit?

The public was correct I believe, to be outraged by the lawsuit, the Cosmillo's are facing huge medical bills and a struggle to give their grandson the best life he can have.... Eichhorn lost not a single dollar for having slipped, fallen and strangely, wasn't injured enough to want immediate medical help, but waited until later in that day to have her knee checked.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You can pay for our fun

"They were like a parasite that infected the building," stated Detective Terry Sweeney.

They were a young, fun loving and jet-setting couple with a $3,000 a month apartment in Philadelphia PA. Authorities charge that they used their neighbors to support their high styles and spending though.

Police began investigating Edward K Anderton and his girlfriend Jocelyn Kirsch, 22, after a neighbor on their floor reported to police on November 19 2007 that she believed that her identity had been stolen. The next day, she was contacted by a local UPS store that she had a package waiting to be picked up. She hadn't ordered anything from the British retailer that had sent it and police waited to see who did pick it up.

Kirsch and Anderton walked in the store to claim the package and police arrested them. A weekend search of their apartment uncovered two printers, four computers, a scanner and an industrial machine that makes ID cards. They also found $17,500 in cash, credit cards, fake driver's licenses and keys to open many of the apartments and mailboxes in their Rittenhouse Square building.

The police don't know how they came to have to keys and they also believe that they have been running the scheme for at least two years. They recovered both a book and an article that are related to their scheme from the apartment, a scheme that police believe made them at least $100,000 in the past year. Anderton, a University of Pennsylvania graduate had recently been fired from his job as a financial analyst and Kirsch, a Drexel University student evidently enjoyed trips to London, Paris and Hawaii as well as spending their stolen money on personal items.

Both Kirsch and Anderton have been charged with unlawful use of a computer, identity theft, forgery and a long list of other related charges. Police have identified at least five victims, one of whom lost at least $30,000 and they expect to find more victims as they continue to investigate.

It seems that both of these young people used the gifts they had in life not to work for their own dreams but to steal other peoples dreams. It may have been that the money they were stealing wasn't being handed over the counter at gunpoint but that doesn't make it less of a crime.

Her house, her rules.....

Justin T Veal, 18, stated that he always kept an eye on the clock so that he returned home before the 1:30 am curfew his mother had imposed on him. It seems though that the rules his mother raised him had much importance to him than some of the other rules out there.

Veal was jailed last week after being arrested in a liquor store holdup and now faces a felony robbery charge. He told Indianapolis IN police that he had robbed about a dozen businesses this year of approximately $10,000. Veal stated that he needed the money for gas, to buy jewelry, fix up his car and to keep up with everyone else. Even though he had just been hired for two jobs, he told officers that he was desperate for money.

It seems though that Veal did try and follow his mother's rules. Now only did he make sure that he returned home before his curfew, he also did not attempt any hold ups on Thanksgiving or on Sundays, when he went to church with his mother. Police added that while Veal was armed during his hold ups, no one was ever injured.

I am not sure that making his curfew will do anything to lessen his sentence but at least we can rest easily knowing that he does know how to follow some rules... a few years in jail may help improve his skills in following others possibly.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

They've all just "run off"

"I love too much my wife. Many things I am thinking....... I don't know why she is doing this. She has not called me," stated Kultar Goraya.

She isn't the young, blonde housewife but Rupinder, 34, was reportedly last seen on October 2 2007 and has been missing since. If you believe her husband Kultar, she has just "run off" in much the same way that Drew has claimed his fourth wife has.

Kultar and Rupinder have been married for five years, in an arranged marriage. They along with their 3 year-old handicapped son Sam, moved to Florida from India's Punjab state last year. Rupinder was participating in a nursing exchange program but was currently on leave from Southwestern Florida Regional Medical Center. She had recently had a hysterectomy performed after having a diagnosis of cancer.

In May 2007, Kultar had been arrested for allegedly choking his wife in a drunken rage. Police state that he had threatened to kill her but they later reconciled but Kultar admits, his marriage was shakey. Kultar has stated that he was asleep on the couch that day when she came in and kissed him on the forehead and told him she was flying from Orlando to New York to visit a hospital where she hoped to work.

Rupinder's cellphone calls and credit card activity all stop on that day and she missed a doctor's visit. Even after she didn't come home, Kultar didn't report her missing, her coworkers dod report her missing on October 19. Four days before they reported her missing, Kultar abandoned his job and took Sam back to his native India. He returned almost as quickly when his relatives there were angry with him when he couldn't explain where his wife was.

Kultar claims that his wife was having affairs with two different men and speculates that maybe she ran off with one of the men or she is with friends. He has been unable though, to provide credible names for the people he said she knew so well and the one phone number he produced was answered by a woman who claimed she didn't know Rupinder.

Friends and relatives do not believe Kultar's stories that she had run off. They don't believe that she would leave her son and they found personal items in the apartment that she would not have left behind. Detectives have stated that his stories changed significantly in the two times the interviewed him and even though they don't believe him, they have no grounds for arrest yet.

Neighbors and relatives of the couple have described a couple that didn't seem right. Rupinder is described as a sweet lady who was outgoing and friendly while Kultar was described as distant and unpredictable. None seems to believe that she would just run off and leave her son behind either.

The detectives fear the worst even though they have no solid evidence that she has met with foul play. Kultar is also their only "person of interest" in her disappearance, a disappearnce that looks suspicious to them.

I do wonder why her disappearance has not brought the national attention that Stacy Peterson's has. It certainly looks as if there is some special place that all of these women are running off to with the men their husbands state have "stolen" them away. I myself find it difficult to believe that these women would leave their children behind, especially after hearing how involved they were with them.

For related posts, go here and here.

Just moving some cash

"I will like to know if the above item is still available for sale and I will like to buy this item so pleas do withdraw the advert from craigslist. I will also like you to know that I will be paying via check," read the first typo-ridden reply Choi got.

Miriam Choi had decided to move to Kentucky to be with her parents and leave Brooklyn NY. She wanted to sell some of her furniture before the move and placed an ad on the free site, Choi, a 31 year-old interior designer, was trying to sell bar and cabinet set for $725 when she received that first e-mail.

The site does warn users not to trust buyers from out of town who wish to pay by check, so Choi was skeptical of the buyer, who she only knew by the e-mail name "Heady Heady." The check, issued from City Bank of Florida and signed by someone named John Edwards arrived shortly. Instead of it being for $725, the check from Edwards, whom her buyer explained was his financier, was for $3,050.

Choi was wise enough not to ship the items until the check had cleared her bank and "Heady Heady" had told her to wait and then send whatever was left to his movers. After it had cleared, Choi did just that but after the money had arrived for the movers, the buyer contacted her again and stated he didn't want the item. He asked her to wire back most of the money and keep $135 for her troubles.

She was disappointed that she hadn't made the sale but she did figure that she had at least come out ahead by his giving her that money. Two weeks later though, Choi found out how really lucky she was, he bank contacted her to tell her that the check was counterfeit. Even worse was that they told her she was responsible for the full $3,050.

According to federal law, banks must make the funds available within two days but it may take several weeks to examine a check and find the forgeries. If Choi hadn't withdraw the money, her buyer may have complained angrily but she wouldn't have been responsible. She isn't alone in being scammed, both craigslist and Ebay state that scams abound out there and if you are in a hurry, you may not be as careful as you should be.

If the scammers are not extremely good with computers, large losses of money in these scams can be investigated through the use of the IP address that is on every e-mail sent out. The Internet Service Provider is not likely to give that information to the seller but in case of large theft, the police can be involved in the investigation.

As for Choi... she has listed the set two more times on craigsliat and both inquiries sounded like the same scam that she fell for the first time. It seems that some have discovered how to get trusting individuals to do their money laundering for them.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Nobody wanted to listen then.......

When Dr George E Reardon was fighting the loss of his medical license in the early 1990's, his lawyers and hospital officials dismissed the accusations against him as meritless. Now that the thousands of photographs victims had claimed he took have been found, the West Hartford CT police have been flooded with calls from all over the nation.

Most of those who called and spoke to the detectives just want someone to believe them and listen to what nobody wanted to listen to or believe back then. Several of those who called stated that they had molested when Reardon took them to a cabin in New York. Investigators are now going to visit the cabin he had owned on Brant Lake in Horicon NY in hopes of talking to residents who knew or observed Readon when he brought the boys there.

Dennis Malanchuk, 90 and a neighbor of Readon then had stated that he remembers the boys that Readon brought up there. He added that there were never any women that came along either, no secretaries or nurses while Readon had the boys there fishing and boating. The cabin was sold for $91,000 by his estate after he died.

Reardon had never married and lived at his mother's home on Griswald Dr, that she had bough in the 1950's. After her death in 1982, Reardon took in two brothers and became their legal guardian. He dated their mother and gave her money to pay her bills and she died of a drug overdose in 1983.

One victim, Dr C, has spoken in length of the horror of his time with Reardon. Dr C, a father of four and a pharmaceutical researcher outside Boston, wonders when investigators will find the evidence of his shattered life in the thousands of photos that have been discovered. He still vividly remembers the terror of climbing into Reardon's Cadillac DeVille, Reardon's slicked back hair and the smell of the almost constant cigarettes he smoked on that Sunday 40 years ago.

Dr C managed to bury those memories until he was 30 and had his son and they then returned as nightmares. He had spent hours locked in Reardon's St Francis Hospital office while Reardon fondled his genitals until they hurt, wait for him to clean him off and then had him pose for hundreds of pictures. He remembers that Reardon acted like he had nothing to hide as he brought the then 12 year-old past security guards and up to his office. Twice he was there alone and the third time, Dr C stated that there were two other boys there and he posed them as if they were having sex with each other. Before he took him home, Reardon gave him a gift, of real laboratory equipment since he had been interested in science even then.

Dr C didn't trust his own memories nor did he trust many people through his adult life. He has battled depression without knowing why and he turned to drugs and alcohol to try and quiet the demons. His marriage fell apart but by 1992, he was sober and ready to take action. Today, he is remarried and while he still battles depression, he is reliving his childhood through his children. The one piece of his life that is still unresolved though is his mother's insistance that it had all been his fault.

His dream is that his parents accept what had happened and accept him as he is. A simple wish to soothe what has been lifetimes of doubt and pain........ all because of one man, George E Reardon.

For a related post, go here.

Photos of the cabin in NY & the Griswald Dr home in 1994.

Update: December 13

Just when the West Hartford Police may have thought they were getting a handle on the case of Dr Reardon, the case took another twist. One of his victims states that not only did Reardon photograph him but he also raped him from the time he was 10 until he was 13. He added that he had been raped at the hospital and at other locations..

The new lawsuit brings the total to 18 that claim that the hospital is also responsible for their abuse. They all tell similar stories and St Francis Hospital so far is claiming that they were under the impression that Reardon was conducting a legitimate study and they had no idea of any wrongdoing.

A few victims had received compensation from Reardon's estate but these new lawsuits are the first that name the hospital in connection with his wrongdoing.

She's Precious

She is the third for Bai Yun and Gao Gao, the San Diego Zoo residents since 2003. After waiting the traditional 100 days, their newest baby panda was named Zhen Zhen, meaning Precious.

This particular pair of pandas, on loan from China, already have had Mei Sheng, her big brother, born in 2003, who was returned to China this year to finish growing up and become a part of their breeding program. In 2005, her big sister Su Lin was born to the prolific pair and she too will eventually be returned to China.

Zhen Zhen, who was born August 3 2007 is still kept away from public view with her mother but they can both be watched on the zoo cam. Their website also keeps continued updates as to her growth and developement... an online babybook.

These rare and loveable bears may be finally making headway in preventing extinction with the loan programs from China and the years of study and captive breeding of them. As sad as it may be for them to be returned to China, it is part of a program to ensure that they are kept as genetically diverse as possible and hopefully continue on for generations to enjoy.

For the zoo website, go here.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sweating yet?

Two of Michael Vick's co-defendents were sentenced today and I would hope that what they received has Vick beginning to sweat a little. For weeks it seemed until Vick finally made his plea deal, the sentences being tossed around were a mere 6 months to maybe a year in jail for him.

Quanis Phillips of Atlanta GA, was facing a recommended 18 to 24 months because of his more extensive criminal record and he received 21 months. Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach VA, had faced a recommended 12 to 18 months and he was sentenced to all 18 months.

The prosecutors had recomended that both be sentenced on the low end of the scale but U S District Judge Henry Hudson stated that the crimes were callous and cruel and sentenced both men on the high end of the recommendation.

Michael Vick has also pleaded guilty of all the charges but the ones that included gambling. According to the court papers, Vick had financed the Bad Newz Kennels entirely and had participated in killing several underperforming dogs. He entered custody on November 19 to begin serving his sentence early and will face Hudson on Dec 10 to learn his entire sentence. Tony Taylor of Hampton VA, will be sentenced on Dec 14.

I would expect that Vick will face much more than 12 months in jail, in view of what his co-defendents just received. The evidence showed that Vick bankrolled the entire operation and participated in it as well.......... it will be a bit difficult to try and paint himself as not having any knowledge of what he was financing on his property.

For related posts, go here.

Update: December 10

Michael Vick will apparently have a few months of "quiet-time" to contemplate how to resurrect his football career. He has been sentenced to 23 months behind bars for his guilty plea in bankrolling the dogfighting operation that was run out of his property.

While there many who felt that Vick would walk out of court with possibly a 6 month sentence, it has become more apparent in recent weeks that he wouldn't. Vick had faced up to 5 years in prison and the sentencing guidelines had suggested one year to 18 months for his guilty plea. U S District Judge Henry E Hudson has been known to be tough in his sentencing and the time two of Vick's co-consiprators just received should have made him start to sweat a bit.

Vick had managed to test positive for marijuana which was a violation of the terms of his release and he was then subjected to a curfew and electronic monitoring. He had insisted that he was innocent of any of the charges but he did suddenly change his plea after the other three arrested had pleaded guilty.

I would expect that Tony Taylor, schedualed to be sentenced on Friday, may walk out of court with the lightest sentence of the four. Sadly though, Vick only managed to grab a couple extra months of prison time over Philips..... even though he was the one who bankrolled the entire operation. All four of them still face charges state dogfighting charges in Virginia and the prosecution has stated that Vick seems to be a lot short on available cash ;ately. If Vick finds that he has no career after this is done, it is through no fault but his own.

Grandma got run over by a lawsuit

Elmo Shropshire may end up in court just in time for the Christmas holidays after he was sued for interfering with a $1 million-plus sales deal. The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeks $2 million in damages from Shropshire.

Both parties though are quite familiar with each other it seems. Shropshire, who lives north of San Francisco in Novata, holds the rights to the now popular Christmas song,"Grandma got run over by a reindeer" that first hit the airwaves in 1979. The Fred Rappoport Company of California has already sued and settled in court in a 2004 court battle with Shropshire. In that decision Rappoport claims they get the rights to use the song in connection with any products they sell related to the 2000 animated TV program based on the song.

Shropshire they claim, sent out two cease-and-desist letters to two companies who had deals with Rappoport to market products featuring the characters. Shropshire contends that he owns the copyright to the song that preceeded the cartoon by 20 years and he is only defending his rights. He adds that Rappoport can use any of the characters from the cartoon for whatever products they are marketing, he just can't use the song without his permission.

Shropshire contends as well that there are a number of companies that license the song from him to make CD's or toys and it isn't fair to them. They are paying for the use of the song and Rappoport is using it for free.

Who would have known that poor "Grandma" would be so popular as to create such a tug of war over the use?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Who does the badge protect?

A new report released states that the Bolingbrook police were called to the home of Drew Peterson and his third wife Kathleen eighteen times in two years. In all of those calls, which were related to domestic violence reports, Kathleen was the only one arrested.

Authorities never arrested Drew but he managed to have her arrested twice, both charges were dismissed later though. Some residents though are beginning to wonder if the department had protected one of their own and possibly allowed the rest of the events to occur.

Some like Pablo Delira, 59, state that they have no doubt that they would have been led from their home in handcuffs if the police had been called 18 times and they find it difficult to now trust the police.Others wonder if both women would be alive today if the police had taken those domestic violence calls more seriously when they occured.

The questions of police protecting their "brothers in blue" were raised when Tacoma WA police Chief David Brame shot his wife Crystal in a Gig Harbor parking lot and then shot himself. Brame had gotten promoted repeatedly by top officials to the post of chief in 2002, even though they knew he had been accused of raping a woman in 1988. They had even defended him and refused to take action when his wife filed for divorce and accused him of choking her four times in the previous year and of pointing a gun at her.

A five month investigation in 2003 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer found that in the previous five years, 41 officers in just King and Pierce counties had been accused of various offenses. Those would include assaulting, stalking, threatening, or harrassing their wives, children or girlfriends. Most of them paid little, if any professional price and only half of them faced any charges. The Puget Sound area police officials had wanted the public to believe that Brame was a rare case and that officers are held to a higher standard, while following a strict moral code off and on duty.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer report though found very different results, in that many departments were falling short in how they dealt with domestic violence reports against their officers. They concluded that departments had created a double standard in which officers weren't arrested immediately while civilians were routinely jailed for the same charges. They were putting victims at a greater risk by not removing officer's guns when they were accused as per model policies drafted by national experts. They were failing to conduct thorough internal investigations and in some cases, not even conducting them, thus allowing the officers to escape discipline entirely. They lacked specific policies on how to deal with an officer accused of abuse and they rarely determined that there was wrongdoing in domestic violence cases. If they did find wrongdoing, they handed out very minimal discipline.

The P-I identified only one officer of those accused who had been conviceted and that officer had pleaded guilty to phone harrassment of his ex wife. He also kept his job in the department, a fact that federal officials were going to investigate. A domestic violence related conviction is career ending for most officers because federal law prohibits them from carrying a gun.

The report also states that the victims are up against a police culture that has viewed officer involved domestic violence as a private matter. Police officers can also be among the most sophisticated, manipulative batterers, armed with an insiders knowledge of the legal system. They know how to restrain someone without leaving marks. They undermine the credibility of their vicitims by stating they are vindictive or mentally unstable. They often will call 911 first and claim that they are the victim and they certainly know what to say on the witness stand.

They also can many times count on their "brothers in blue" to protect them by gathering incomplete evidence at the scene, failing to take all the statements they should or merely by stating that the incident was mutual combat and not trying to determine who was the primary aggressor. The report by the P-I goes on to include several examples of officers doing just that, escaping domestic violence charges.

Included in those stories is one by Jenifer Rees who stood and watched as deputies handed her intoxicated husband his gun and let him drive away so that he wouldn't miss work the next morning. He had flown into a rage less than two months after their wedding in 2000 and thrown her against a wall. She had shown the deputies a scrape on the side of her head where he had hit her with a dresser drawer he had thrown at her.

Rees had refused to cooperate with the investigation rather than enrage him more and no charges were filed against her cop husband Phil. She believes that there are many silent victims out there like she had been though. Rees also believes that officials have closed their eyes to the problems facing police families, from alcoholism to abuse. She had sought help from her husband's captain, the police chaplain and other officers in an attempt to get his bosses to take his problems seriously.

Jenifer states that her ex husband Phil, who had been accused of abuse in 1998 and 1999, was a walking time bomb. He was still on the force and on the streets in 2003. Not only do the "brothers in blue" have their own website in which they can complain about the unfairness of their receiving traffic tickets, this report in 2003 shows that preferential treatment for officers may be much deeper and widespread. It doesn't seem that difficult to see why the public is now focusing on Drew and his actions in the past and departments nationwide should be focusing on it as well.

For related posts, go here, here, here & here.

Line Up........

There seems to be controversy brewing in the New York Public Library's main 5th Ave branch these days. Oddly though, it isn't about which books shouldn't or should be on the shelves, it concerns an art exhibit that is currently on view there.

The exhibit, "Line Up" by artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese features six doctored photographs of Bush administration members. They each are holding a clapboard like in a standard mugshot that features the date of their "arrest." That date featured is when each member had made "incriminating" statements about the Iraq war. It also features adio clips of the members and the sounds of flashbulbs and a prison door closing.

While some find the exhibit hysterical or bold, others are not amused by the political satire. Matthew Walter, director of communications for the state GOP finds it to be simply inappropriate and feels what he describes as political attack art shouldn't be hanging in a publically funded location such as the library.

Jim Strifler, 54 of Sayville LI NY also feels that it shouldn't be hung in a public library. He added that he felt that the library is neutral grounds and he plans to present the opposing view when he returns with his own version that will feature prominent Democrats.

Roberta Waddell, curator of the library's print collection stated that the exhibit is in keeping with tradition that dates back to 18th century England. She stated that the mugshots in the exhibit that runs until Jan 27 2008, are a relevent example of political commentary.

It seems that libraries will always be the center of kind of controversy, from the books they offer to their not wanting to bend to the public's view of their choices. People should be able to see and read many opposing views there, as a way of possibly learning more about themselves. Our political leaders aren't gods and using their image in artwork is very far from treason I thought in this country.

For the photo gallery, go here.