Friday, July 28, 2006

Inmate signs real name to bomb hoaxes

A prison inmate pleaded guilty on Tuesday to sending letters to the FBI and secret service that included bomb and anthrax threats -- as well as his full name and inmate number.

Donald Ray Bilby, 30, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Trenton to one count of false information and hoaxes after he sent five letters demanding authorities deposit $20,000 in his county jail inmate account because he needed money for bail, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"I think it's fair to say we were not dealing with a great criminal mind here," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said in a statement.

Bilby signed all the letters using his full name and inserted his inmate number beneath his signature. One letter to the FBI included demands for money, a piece of paper labeled "anthrax" and a white powdery substance that turned out to be harmless.

He faces a maximum of five years in prison after first serving a sentence for automobile theft.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Snake joke could lead to jail

In this file photo, a boa constrictor peeps from among the undergrowth at an animal rescue center in China.

A man's idea of a joke -- putting a pet 6-foot boa constrictor in his mailbox to startle a mail carrier -- could bring him time behind bars.

"It was an incredibly stupid practical joke that wasn't funny," said James R. Mell, 31, an auto mechanic from the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.

Mell put the snake in his mailbox July 7, The Detroit News reported.

"I thought it was funny. Looking back on it, it isn't, and it wasn't," he said.

On Monday, federal prosecutors charged Mell with obstructing the delivery of the U.S. mail. The charge carries a penalty of up to six months in prison.

Postal carrier Nakeema Anderson was making her rounds when she opened Mell's mailbox and found the snake, court records say.

"Anderson reported observing a white male in the driveway laughing," said a report from U.S. postal inspector Andrew Gottfried.

Mell wrote a letter apologizing to Anderson and said he hoped that would settle the matter.

The pet snake is not poisonous, does not bite and has tiny teeth.

"It will only strike at something that it can actually eat," Mell said.


Cop Censured for Moonlighting as a Hooker

A policewoman has been censured for some unauthorized "undercover" work — a stint moonlighting as a prostitute — but is being allowed to keep her day job after giving up the night duties.

While prostitution is legal in New Zealand and police are allowed to take approved second jobs, a top officer said sex work and police work don't mix.

The policewoman had worked for a limited time as a prostitute in the northern city of Auckland before her clandestine activity was uncovered, police said. Her name and rank have not been made public.

Police media communications manager Jon Neilson said he understood the officer had taken up "secondary employment due to financial difficulties," but had not sought police approval to work in the sex industry.

She has been counseled over the matter, which "under police procedures .... amounts to a censure," said Deputy Police Commissioner Lyn Provost.

"I can assure the public that ... this type of secondary employment would never be approved given that the type of work is inappropriate and incompatible with policing," Provost said.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Florida Fogey In Golf Cart Rage Incident

Meet Edmund Gaston. The 79-year-old Floridian is facing a felony rap for allegedly using his golf cart to destroy his girlfriend's carport. According to a Lady Lake Police Department arrest affidavit (a copy of which you'll find here), Gaston backed his "Club Car" cart into a support pole before driving forward and knocking down an entire wall of the structure. The July 16 incident caused about $2000 in damage to the home of Gaston's female friend. When cops pulled over his golf cart, they found two bottles of vodka, one of which was open. Gaston, who was busted in May for battering the same woman, was charged with criminal mischief and leaving the scene of a crash.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Idiot of the Day - July 18, 2006

Man Sues Over Nude Beach Dog Ban

A New York man who says that he suffers from a debilitating skin condition and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the September 11 attacks is suing for the right to have his rat terrier accompany him to a naked beach on Fire Island. Mark DelCore, 39, contends that he needs to sunbathe sans clothes because of an "acute skin condition that requires me to be in the sun as often as possible," according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday by the Queens man. DelCore's complaint, which does not further identify his ailment, notes that since "my skin condition is all over my body I require exposure to the sun all over my body." The lawsuit, a copy of which you'll find below, contends that while Fire Island National Seashore officials will allow seeing eye dogs to accompany beachgoers, service dogs are not allowed on the beach. DelCore states that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that his dog Cheekies "goes everywhere with me and provides me with emotional support and comfort." He adds that the Fire Island National Seashore is "the only place within range of my home that I am legally allowed to sunbathe without any clothes." In a TSG interview, DelCore said that he was in a lower Manhattan gym on the morning of the World Trade Center attack and, when the planes hit, was forced to leave the facility while still wet. After the first tower collapsed, DelCore said that he was covered with a "light dusting" of an unknown substance (which attached to his wet skin) as he ran north from the scene. His resulting condition, which he said does not have a name, led to him going on disability from his job with a New York bank. DelCore, a former bodybuilder who once competed at the Gay Games, acknowledged that his dog has not been certified as a service animal.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Idiot of the Day - July 17, 2006

Police: 911 isn't a dating service

A woman who called 911 to get "the cutest cop I've seen" sent back to her home got a date all right -- a court date.

The same sheriff's deputy arrested her on charges of misuse of the emergency dispatch system.

Washington County Sheriff's Sgt. David Thompson told KGW-TV of Portland it all started with a noise complaint called in last month by neighbors of Lorna Jeanne Dudash. The deputy sent to check on the complaint knocked on her door, then left.

Thompson said Dudash then called 911, asking that the "cutie pie" deputy return.

"He's the cutest cop I've seen in a long time. I just want to know his name," Dudash told the dispatcher. "Heck, it doesn't come very often a good man comes to your doorstep."

After listening to some more, followed by a bit of silence, the dispatcher asked again why Dudash needed the deputy to return.

"Honey, I'm just going to be honest with you, OK? I just thought he was cute. I'm 45 years old and I'd just like to meet him again, but I don't know how to go about doing that without calling 911," she said.

"I know this is absolutely not in any way, shape or form an emergency, but if you would give the officer my phone number and ask him to come back, would you mind?"

The deputy returned, verified that there was no emergency and arrested her for misusing the 911 system, an offense punishable by a fine of up to several thousand dollars and a year in jail.

Thompson said Thursday it was the first case he knew of in which someone called the emergency line for such a personal reason.

"That's taking up valuable time from dispatchers who could be taking true emergency calls," he said.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Found on the web...

We had a good first week on the streets, mostly because we have good hand-picked police officers on the department. Calls were handled very efficiently and with great success, given what we inherited.

We caught a bank robber and three carjackers in the first week. To be honest, though, the bank robber was so bad at her trade that we gave her an assist on the arrest. The only thing she didn’t do was write the arrest report.

Let’s face it. When you put two bags on the counter, one white and one black, order the teller to fill the black bag, and then leave with the white one, coupled with trying to use a hairbrush as a holdup gun, wrapped in clear plastic to boot, it doesn’t really present much of a challenge.

We could barely talk the FBI into showing up on that one.

Then there were the three stooges who tried, we think twice, to carjack a woman over on Northside Drive. They got out, pulled a gun, scared the poor woman half to death, and then sat there trying to get her Lexus started. They sat and sat.

The victim ran into a drug store and came back with the manager, who got a good look at the car tag and Moe, Larry, and Curly as they drove off.

By then the cops were well on the way and located the car. The police followed them over off of Delk Road. They pulled into an apartment complex. After the car stopped, the officers rushed the car.

Moe and Larry, occupying the front seat, never got a chance to get out. Curly ran straight into a creek which, by the way, will hamper a clean getaway. A second officer fished him out as he tried to climb the hill on the other side of the creek. The only casualties were a pair of muddy boot and pants of the second officer.

Detectives think it’s the same three who tried to carjack a motorist at the Northridge Kroger the previous day.

You guessed it.

They couldn’t get the car started.


Idiot of the Day - July 11, 2006

A man in Portland, Ore., is suing Michael Jordan for $416 million because, the man says, he's often mistaken for Jordan and he doesn't like it. The dolt, whose real name is Allen Heckard, told a Portland TV station, "I'm constantly being accused of looking like Michael and it makes it very uncomfortable for me." Apparently it takes $416 million to make Heckard comfortable. Actually, double that. Heckard also wants $416 million from Nike founder Phil Knight for making Jordan one of the most recognizable men on the planet, which presumably has added to Heckard's discomfort exponentially. If only he'd looked like Dickie Simpkins.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Airline co-pilot arrested after screener smelled alcohol on his breath

A Southwest Airlines co-pilot was arrested minutes before takeoff Sunday, after a security screener reported that his breath smelled of alcohol, authorities said.

Carl Fulton, 41, of Fort Worth, Texas, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of operating a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a federal offense.

A Transportation Security Agency screener reported to supervisors that the co-pilot's breath smelled of alcohol when he went through a security screening line, FBI spokesman Patrick Kiernan said.

Police administered a breathalyzer test, but the results were not being released Sunday, Kiernan said.

The Boeing 737 was scheduled to depart Salt Lake City International Airport with 123 passengers, traveling first to Phoenix and then to Albuquerque, N.M. It left 15 minutes late after Fulton was replaced.

The U.S. attorney's office was expected to file charges Monday, Kiernan said. The offense carries a penalty of up to 15 years in federal prison and fines.

Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Paula Berg confirmed the arrest and said Southwest has launched an internal investigation.

Fulton, who is based in Dallas, has worked for Southwest for two years and has no prior offenses. He is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, Berg said.

Federal Aviation Administration officials will conduct an investigation.


Man who lied to probation officer ordered to wear sandwich board

A man who lied to his probation officer about having served in the military was ordered to stand outside the courthouse wearing a sandwich board that says: "I am a liar. I am not a Marine."

William C. Horvath, 35, of Whitefish, pleaded guilty to making false statements, a felony.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy sentenced him to four months of house arrest and four years of probation. He also ordered him to stand outside the courthouse for 50 hours wearing the sandwich board with the message.

On the back, it must read: "I have never served my country. I have dishonored veterans of all wars."

Molloy, a veteran himself, also ordered Horvath to write letters of apology to newspapers, the U.S. Marine Corps, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion in Kalispell. The judge said Horvath must admit in the letters that he lied repeatedly about serving and being wounded.

According to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office, Horvath claimed during an interview with a probation officer on Aug. 9, 2001, that he had served in the Marine Corps. The officer was gathering information on Horvath on a prior charge of being a fugitive in possession of firearms or ammunition.

The probation officer then attempted to verify Horvath's military service, but was told by the Marine Corps that there was no record of Horvath ever having served.

Horvath then presented the probation officer with evidence of his time in the military, including photographs and decorations. However, Marine Corps representatives told the probation officer that the evidence contained a variety of inconsistencies.

One of the problems: He was wearing his uniform improperly.


Home-alone boy survives 11-story fall

A 4-year-old boy survived a fall from an 11-story window of this apartment building.

A 4-year-old boy survived a fall from an 11-story window after being left alone at home, bouncing off a metal awning into a concrete courtyard and then trying to stand up, officials said. He was able to chat with doctors.

"I'm amazed the kid's alive," Police Chief James Tuffey said.

Hasim Townsend remained in serious condition Saturday, a day after his fall, with a broken skull, a broken leg and other injuries.

"It's an incredibly good sign that he was talking, and I can't attribute it to anything other than good luck," said Dr. Michael Dailey, an attending physician in the emergency department.

The boy ended up in the same pediatric intensive care unit at Albany Medical Center where his mother works as a receptionist, police reports said.

Elizabeth Burciaga, 21, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. She initially told police the boy had been left with a baby sitter, officials said.

A psychiatric evaluation has been ordered for her, authorities said, and an order of protection to keep her away from the boy has been filed.

The boy stood on a bed and pressed against a window screen, which gave way, police said. He hit the awning about 12 feet off the ground, and it flexed and saved him.

Police came after residents heard him crying. Paramedics had to hold the boy still.

Albany has no regulation requiring bars or other window guards in high-rise apartments, said Steve Longo, executive director of the Albany Housing Authority.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ga. Dad Allegedly Taints Kids' Soup to Sue

A father accused of poisoning his children's soup in a scheme to sue the Campbell Soup Co. was indicted on tampering and fraud charges, authorities said. The children, a 3-year-old boy and his 18-month-old sister, were taken to hospital emergency rooms three times in January.

According to investigators, their father fed them tainted soup each time. On the third occasion, authorities said, he used the prescription drugs Prozac and Amitriptyline — both used to treat depression — making his young daughter so ill she was flow by helicopter to an Atlanta hospital.

William Allen Cunningham, 40, was charged with tampering with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or serious bodily injury. He also was charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and communicating false statements that a consumer product had been tampered with.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said Cunningham wanted to get money from the manufacturer by claiming its soup caused his children's illnesses. Cunningham contacted Camden, N.J.-based Campbell by mail and phone to complain, but there was no evidence the soup was tainted when it was purchased, Nahmias said.

The children are now in the custody of their mother, who has not been charged, he said. He declined to comment on their health.

Cunningham, in custody, was expected to appear before a federal judge next week. If convicted, he could face up to 75 years in prison. It wasn't immediately clear Friday if he had an attorney who could comment.