This week in odd news: Bathtub gator; Too fat for prison?
By RICHARD A. SOMMA
Oct. 21, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio defendant who vowed he was penniless and couldn't pay a fine now faces a big one after deputies escorting him from court found he had over $4,000 in his clothes.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that 36-year-old Lawrence Knox swore he was indigent during an Oct. 5 hearing after pleading guilty to a drug charge in Franklin County court. Deputies taking him to be processed for his six-year prison sentence then found he had $4,060 on him.
When the judge learned that, he gave Knox the maximum fine of $20,000, plus court costs.
About half the discovered cash was ordered to go to Knox's attorney, Michael Hayes, who'd been shorted on his fees. The rest was applied toward the fine.
Hayes declined to comment about the matter.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The attorney for a 72-year-old Florida man who was convicted in a tax scheme is using obesity to try to keep his client out of prison.
Curtis Fallgatter wrote in a court filing on Monday that Stephen Donaldson Sr. doesn't have an average man's life expectancy because he's 5-foot-9 and weighs 273 pounds (124 kilograms). For that reason, the attorney wrote, it's not right to make him serve 6 years and four months in prison. Fallgatter wrote that the prison term could translate to 61 percent of Donaldson's remaining time on earth.
The Tampa Bay Times reports Donaldson was sentenced last week in Tampa for his part of peddling an offshore tax shelter that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Twitter user has earned kudos online for discovering a subtle message on KFC's account.
The KFC account follows just 11 users; five of them are former members of the Spice Girls and the other six are men named Herb, including Green Bay Packers cornerback Herb Waters and music legend Herb Alpert. It adds up to 11 herbs and spices, part of the famous secret recipe KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders touted for his fried chicken.
The connection was noticed on Twitter by a user who goes by "Edge." His tweet about it has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on the platform.
KFC tells The Associated Press it has been following the 11 Herbs and Spices for about a month.
GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania man has been jailed on charges he sold heroin in the hospital maternity ward room where people were visiting his newborn daughter.
Twenty-five-year-old Cody Hulse was arraigned Friday on charges including heroin delivery and endangering the welfare of children. The Tribune-Review reports he declined to comment afterward.
Authorities say Hulse got busted after Greensburg police stopped a vehicle Thursday and found heroin and paraphernalia. The occupants told police they had just bought the drugs from Hulse at Excela Health Westmoreland hospital.
Police say they went to the maternity room and confronted Hulse, who acknowledged selling the drugs and who had heroin in his pocket.
Police say Hulse's girlfriend, the baby's mother, told them she didn't know about the drug deals.
Online court records don't list a defense attorney.
WASILLA, Alaska (AP) — It was an odd day for one Alaska animal control officer who took a call about an alligator outgrowing its bathtub.
KTUU-TV reports that a Wasilla resident called 911 this week after realizing that the more than 4-foot-long (1.2-meter-long) alligator named Allie couldn't live in a tub anymore.
Rescue group Valley Aquatics took Allie in. Valley Aquatics owner Sheridan Perkins says Allie is a 3-year-old American alligator.
Perkins says she has thought about re-homing Allie in Florida.
The alligator is Wasilla's second run in this year with a large reptile. In May, a 17-foot (5.2-meter) python named Sam went missing for several days before reappearing in his home's living room. He returned through the door his owner left open for him.
NEW YORK (AP) — Some flowers have found a nifty way to get the blues.
They create a blue halo, apparently to attract the bees they need for pollination, scientists reported Wednesday. Bees are drawn to the color blue, but it's hard for flowers to make that color in their petals.
Instead, some flowers use a trick of physics. They produce a blue halo when sunlight strikes a series of tiny ridges in their thin waxy surfaces. The ridges alter how the light bounces back, which affects the color that one sees.
The halos appear over pigmented areas of a flower, and people can see them over darkly colored areas if they look from certain angles.
The halo trick is uncommon among flowers. But many tulip species, along with some kinds of daisy and peony, are among those that can do it, said Edwige Moyroud of Cambridge University in England.
In a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature, Moyroud and others analyze the flower surfaces and used artificial flowers to show that bumblebees can see the halos.
An accompanying commentary said the paper shows how flowers that aren't blue can still use that color to attract bees. Further work should see whether the halo also attracts other insects, wrote Dimitri Deheyn of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.
PEARL RIVER, La. (AP) — Louisiana police say an unpaid $7 Waffle House bill has led them to make two arrests and break a Los Angeles-based identity theft ring.
Pearl River police say investigators were told two men drove off in a U-Haul van after stiffing the restaurant Saturday. Police say patrol officers spotted the van at a hotel and a passenger ran into some woods as they approached.
A police statement Thursday says officers arrested both the driver and passenger, and a search of the van turned up fake identification and credit cards, credit card skimming devices — and a Waffle House receipt for $7.41.
Police say investigators are working with the Secret Service and more arrests are possible.
Chief J.J. Jennings says there's an etiquette lesson: "Pay your bill and tip your waitress."
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Gary wasn't used to being around people. He didn't like being touched or even looked at. If anyone came too close, he'd lash out.
He was perfect for the job. Because at the Working Cats program, no manners is no problem.
Philadelphia's Animal Care and Control Team established the program about four years ago to place unadoptable cats — the biters and the skittish, the swatters and the ones that won't use a litter box — into jobs as mousers at barns or stables.
The shelter recently expanded the program to move cats that were less-than-ideal pets into urban jobs at places like factories and warehouses as a sort of green pest control. The animals are microchipped, vaccinated and free of charge.
"Part of the reason cats became domesticated was to get rid of the rodent population," said Ame Dorminy, ACCT's spokeswoman. "We took advantage of their natural propensity to hunt and made an official program out of it."
Cats identified as good matches for the program are kept in a separate aisle at the shelter in a row called TTA, time to adjust. On a recent visit, a low growl could be heard from a cage housing a male named Spike, whose intake sheet listed his qualifications: hissing, swatting, spitting, can't be picked up. A few doors down, Prince was standoffish at the rear of his cage.
Just because cats don't want to be petted or snuggle on a lap doesn't mean they can't have good lives, Dorminy said.
"A lot of these cats feel more comfortable when they can be themselves and use natural behaviors," she said. "Then they're more open to human interaction because they feel more confident."
At Bella Vista Beer Distributors, mice were gnawing on bags of chips overnight, leaving a mess and forcing staffers to throw out about 15 bags a day, owner Jordan Fetfatzes said.
They tried exterminators, but nothing worked. An employee found ACCT's program online, and Fetfatzes eventually decided on Gary, a white male with one blue eye and one green that had "behavioral issues." Gary wasn't accustomed to people and would hiss from the crate. At first, Gary would stay in the office and would only go into the warehouse after hours.
As the weeks passed, he warmed up to workers and customers, and has transformed into a sweet, playful mascot with free rein of the store.
"My only complaint is sometimes he gets in the way of a transaction," said Fetfatzes, who describes himself as a "dog guy" who's turned in to a cat lover thanks to Gary.
LONDON (AP) — As if by magic, the Hogwarts Express has come to the rescue of a stranded family in Scotland.
The train that took Harry Potter to school was played onscreen by the Jacobite steam train , which runs on a remote and scenic route through the Scottish Highlands.
On Friday, it made an unscheduled stop to pick up a family of six that was stranded when a storm washed away their canoe.
Jon Cluett, his wife and four children between the ages of 6 and 12 were staying in a lakeside hut on Loch Eilt when they awoke to find their canoe was gone.
Faced with walking several miles over boggy ground to get back to the family car, Cluett called police to see if any form of rescue was available.
"The policeman said, 'We've arranged for the next train passing to stop for you, and you're not going to believe this but it's the Hogwarts Express steam train. Your kids are going to love it,'" Cluett said Sunday.
Cluett said his children, all Harry Potter fans, were "really excited" by the adventure.
"They know the Harry Potter films and they know that are filmed in the Highlands," he said. "But they hadn't put all of that together in their heads until they saw the train."
Cluett, the pastor of a church in Stirling, central Scotland, is hopeful someone will find his canoe and give the story a perfect happy ending.
"It's got to turn up at some point. The thing is 16-foot-long, red and floats," he said.
REDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 21-year-old man wanted for probation violations surrendered at a suburban Detroit police station — with a dozen doughnuts for officers.
The sweet gesture didn't help Michael Zaydel. He still was sentenced to 39 days in jail Tuesday, a day after walking into the Redford Township police department.
Sgt. Duane Gregg says Zaydel had promised to turn himself in if a post on the department's Facebook page was shared 1,000 times. The threshold was easily met.
Gregg says Zaydel was arrested when he appeared Monday with a bag of doughnuts and a bagel. He told TV station WXYZ that "cops like doughnuts," and he wanted to reward them for any inconvenience.
Gregg got the bagel. Did other officers eat the doughnuts? The sergeant says: "No comment."
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Kentucky man dressed as the Pokemon character Pikachu is accused of trying to jump the White House fence — all in the name of making a YouTube video.
Curtis Combs of Somerset, Kentucky, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with unlawful entry. An arrest affidavit says Combs was dressed as Pikachu and told authorities he wanted to become famous and had planned to post a video of it on YouTube.
The affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court says Combs jumped a barrier on the outer perimeter of the south grounds of the White House complex and was quickly arrested.
Combs told police he expected to be arrested and had researched D.C. charges and previous jumpers.
Combs pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Combs' attorney, Edward Gaines, declined comment.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Authorities say a man sprayed a foul-smelling brown liquid on produce at a grocery store in South Carolina, telling police the store owed him money.
Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis said 41-year-old Pau Hang was arrested Sunday afternoon at a Harris Teeter.
A police report says the manager called 911 after seeing Hang in the store. The former contractor was ordered to stay out two years ago.
Police say the manager saw Hang empty a bottle with a brown liquid and a bad odor like feces on the produce. He estimated it would cost at least $3,000 to throw away the produce and clean the cases.
Investigators are testing the substance.
Hang is charged with damage to personal property and trespassing after notice. Jail records do not list a lawyer.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Officials say the 22-year-old son of a Florida sheriff's lieutenant took his father's unmarked car and used it to pull over his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.
Local news outlets report that Christopher Combs — who is a cadet in the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office where his father also works — used flashing red and blue lights to stop the vehicle Saturday night. He ordered the boyfriend to get out of the vehicle.
Investigators later found the father's car parked outside the home of his son's friend.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera told the SunSentinel the "son has been fired, effective right now!"
Combs was ordered to stay away from the couple and released on bond. He faces multiple charges including impersonating a law enforcement officer. Documents don't list an attorney.
SEA GIRT, N.J. (AP) — Nearly 200 people across the Northeast reported seeing a bright object streak across the sky.
The American Meteor Society says the flash of light that was spotted on Wednesday afternoon in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maryland and Delaware was a very bright meteor.
The sighting comes as astronomers prepare for the Orionid meteor shower. Particles from Haley's Comet will be visible late Friday night into early Saturday morning.
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City police have rounded up an unusual suspect — a young bull on a soccer field.
Police say the Brooklyn bovine was spotted at Prospect Park late Tuesday morning.
The bull was herded into a police horse trailer about two hours later and headed toward rescuers on Long Island.
WABC news helicopter video showed the bull wandering around the field, staring back at people lined up along a fence and occasionally breaking into a jog.
It's unclear where the bull came from. Previous urban livestock roundups have involved animals that escaped from slaughterhouses.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Police say a Pennsylvania man broke into a market so he could get money to pay his court fines for marijuana possession.
Allentown police arrested Edwin Cuadrado in the attempted burglary at Heresh's Market early Monday.
Police say the 20-year-old was wearing a black coat, head covering and gloves — despite temperatures in the 60s — when he threw a heavy object at the market's door.
Police say Cuadrado acknowledged smashing a window so he could try to open the store's door, telling investigators he owed money for his previous drug conviction.
Cuadrado remained jailed Tuesday on burglary, criminal trespass and criminal mischief charges.
He has applied for a public defender but isn't yet represented by that office.
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Two bear cubs that escaped from a South Dakota wildlife park didn't get far, due in part to their curiosity.
The Rapid City Journal reports that a man spotted the cubs lollygagging in his neighbor's yard about a block away from the Bear Country USA park on Sunday evening.
Pennington County Sheriff's Deputy Kylie Kintigh says that when she arrived at the scene, the bears seemed more interested in following her around than making a getaway. They checked out her squad car and one even tried climbing on the hood.
Park workers eventually arrived and gently sedated the cubs for their return to the park. It's unclear how or when they escaped.
Kintigh says "It definitely was the best call I have had — and that might stand true to the end of my career."
BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) — Two men made an unusually small request as they robbed a store in Massachusetts by demanding a single dollar in their robbery.
Police say two men entered the Brockton Market and Deli around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday while brandishing large hunting-style knives and demanded a single dollar. The men then fled.
The Enterprise reports the two men were described as Hispanic and possibly between the ages of 15 and 18. No arrests have been made.
KINGSTON, N.Y. (AP) — Bill Pullman is a bit of a klutz when it comes to holding onto a film award.
The "Independence Day" actor was the recipient of the Excellence in Acting Award at the Woodstock Film Festival last Saturday night in Kingston, in New York's Hudson Valley.
The Daily Freeman reports that after being handed the award, Pullman placed it on a shelf attached to the lectern on the stage. As Pullman began to speak, he jostled the lectern, causing the award to topple to the floor and break in two pieces.
After being handed the broken award, Pullman held a piece in each hand and said, "I've got two awards tonight!"
The local artisan who made the award later repaired it.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The organizers of Milwaukee's marathon got the distance of the course wrong — for the second year in a row.
The PNC Milwaukee Marathon on Sunday turned out to be 4,200 feet — or about eight-tenths of a mile — short. That came after last year's race was measured too long, with runners going at least a half-mile too far.
Joe Zimmerman, president of race owner ROC Productions, emailed participants to say organizers "deeply regret this human error."
Runners are often hoping to qualify for prestigious marathons such as Boston's, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that many runners became alarmed when their tracking devices showed the distance was short.
Organizers last year adjusted race times downward for runners who ran too far, but Boston Marathon organizers didn't accept them.
He's become Mr. Hawk-tober.
Remember that fan who made the great catch on Justin Turner's game-ending home run at Dodger Stadium over the weekend? Guess what? He did it again.
Keith Hupp came up with his second homer souvenir in the NL Championship Series, corralling the ball Cubs star Javier Baez hit into the bleachers at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
"I'm still kind of a newbie at this ballhawking stuff," the retired policeman told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Chicago. "The only thing that's lightning strike-ish about this is that it's two in four days."
Hupp is 54, from Southern California and has rooted for the Dodgers forever. A season ticket-holder, he always sits in the outfield and has gotten 11 home-run balls this year.
But a pair of playoff goodies — hard to imagine anyone is having a better postseason than him.
"I'm old, I've got gray hair and a bum shoulder," he said. "I do have a good glove."
Hupp said the Turner catch was easy. He scrambled toward a railing in the center-field stands and, with no one near him, leaned over to make the snag. The three-run drive in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Dodgers a 4-1 win in Game 2, and Hupp presented the ball to Turner that night.
The grab became an instant highlight and made Hupp an internet sensation. The play he made to get the Baez ball in Game 4, that was more painful.
Hupp was close to the top row of the left-field seats — above the noted ballhawks patrolling Waveland Avenue — when Baez connected in the second inning. The ball hit a back railing and caromed into a swarm of fans, beneath a TV camera stand.
"Everyone was about half my age, but I pounced. I'll pounce if there are no kids around," he said.
"I grabbed the ball and tried to tuck it in, like a football," he said. "I got piled on pretty good, I could feel a couple guys trying to rip it out of my glove. It felt like I got a cracked rib."
Hupp planned to be at Game 5 Thursday night with Los Angeles holding a 3-1 lead. One more Dodgers win and he'd get a chance at the ultimate prize.
"I only started doing this stuff a few years ago, after I retired," he said. "But I do know that catching a home run ball at the World Series, that would be the holy grail."