Legally Weird: May 2012 Archives
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

May 2012 Archives

A man likely suffering from late-night munchies tried to pay for his meal at a Denny's restaurant with a $1 bill and a bag of marijuana, police say.

Alas, the pothead's impromptu plan didn't pan out.

The incident happened about 2 a.m. Saturday in Niagara Falls, N.Y., The Buffalo News reports. The man placed a to-go order for a burger and fries, which rang up to $9.91. When it came time to pay, the man came up short -- but then had a pothead epiphany.

Anonymous sex in the park is so hard to come by these days. A Minnesota man was arrested after he allegedly blindfolded and tied himself to a tree in a park. Apparently, he was waiting for strangers to have sex with him, according to police.

Alan Petrusson, 50, was sitting on a sling with his genitals exposed in Wayside Park. His ankles and wrists were tied to a tree, the Coon Rapids Herald reports. Petrusson was spotted by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officers. They called the police, but by the time cops showed up, Petrusson was gone.

While one would hope this was a one-time occurrence, apparently it's not.

Ex-Bank Exec Runs Tilapia Fish Farm from NYC Apt

Christopher Toole is violating his lease, or so says his landlord in a lawsuit filed against the New York City tenant. Not only is Toole running a business out of his apartment, he's stinking up the hallways and the apartment below him.

The catch? He's running an apartment fish farm. He also heads a nonprofit known as the Society of Aquaponic Values and Education, which encourages people to breed tilapia in urban dwellings.

A gruesome cannibalistic attack in which a naked man violently chewed on another man's face may have been fueled by drugs, doctors in Miami say.

Police shot and killed the alleged face-chewer Saturday afternoon after he refused to comply with an officer's order to stop, The Miami Herald reports. Sources later identified the suspect as Rudy Eugene, 31.

"When the officer approached him, told him to stop, pointed a gun at him, he turned around and growled like a wild animal and kept eating at the man's face," a police union leader told Miami's WPLG-TV.

The victim has been identified as Ronald Poppo, 65, according to NBC Miami. Poppo is listed in critical condition at a Miami hospital.

It's said that revenge is a dish best served cold. An appropriate caveat is that it can also get you arrested. An Arizona dad learned this lesson the hard way after he created a fake profile on a pornographic Website using his son's former assistant principal's identity. The plot started after his son's iPod was confiscated.

Robert Dale Esparza, Jr., 34, allegedly blamed Gateway Pointe Elementary School Assistant Principal Frank Hendricsen for the lost iPod, The Arizona Republic reports. Though Hendricsen, who is now the interim principal, denied taking the device, Esparza wasn't satisfied.

To get back at him, the disgruntled father reportedly assembled a phony porn site profile using lewd photos that he passed off as Hendricsen. So how was he found out?

Man Slapped Noisy Kid Who Wouldn't Be Quiet at Movie, Cops Say

Prosecutors have charged a Washington man in an April incident during which he hit a noisy kid in the face. The 10-year-old was apparently talking during a showing of Titanic in 3-D. The guy, identified as 21-year-old Yong Hyun Kim, simply wanted to watch his $15 worth of entertainment in peace.

And to protect his girlfriend, it seems. He was also pretty mad that the boy and his two friends kept throwing popcorn in the theatre.

Man Arrested for Driving (Drunk) with Zebra, Macaw in Front Seat

Iowa resident Jerald Reiter, 55, was arrested on Sunday for drunk driving with a zebra in his truck. The baby animal, along with a macaw parrot, was reportedly sitting in the front seat with him when he was stopped by police.

He had apparently taken the animals to the Dog House Lounge, a local bar that he claims often allows animals inside. Unfortunately, food was being served that night, so the bar owner sent the zoo animals back to the car. With a very drunk Reiter in tow, of course.

Ex-Hooters Girls Dumps Fiance so NYC Exec Sues Her for $50K

Sometimes love just doesn't work out. Other times you need to give a relationship a second chance to grow. But if it still isn't playing out right, then you can be like Steven Silverstein and sue your ex-fiancée.

The 29-year-old telecommunications executive met his would-be bride, Kendra Platt-Lee, when she was working as a flight attendant. They started dating in 2008 and within a year they were engaged, the New York Post reports. However, they broke up for about 15 months before getting re-engaged again.

The second attempt wouldn't last, either. And now Silverstein is claiming over $50,000 worth of damage. For what, you ask?

Man's 'Super Soaker' Held a Shotgun Shell, Not Water

A California man is in some hot water after Fresno police discovered his "Super Soaker" shotgun.

Randy Smith, 54, was walking around with the children's water gun hanging off his neck when police stopped him, KMPH reports. The toy was allegedly modified to be a "zip gun," a crude firearm that in this case could fire a 20 gauge shotgun shell.

Cops took the gun apart and discovered the sneaky upgrade. But how did they know to check?

Silicon Valley Tech Exec Changed Bar Code Prices to Pay Less for Legos

It seems a nice Bay Area home and executive compensation weren't enough for Thomas Langenbach, a vice president at SAP Labs, a German software company. The Silicon Valley exec is accused of going on a massive Lego theft spree, netting him upwards of $30,000 in profits.

Prosecutors believe Langenbach stiffed four local Target stores out of thousands of dollars. He allegedly put fake bar code stickers on Lego sets and would then purchase them at a major discount. He'd then sell them on eBay.

Dad Ticketed for Saving Son, Not His Jeep, From Rolling Off Cliff

A New Jersey dad received two traffic tickets after he let his vehicle fall down an embankment and into a river. Frank Roder leapt from his 2006 Jeep Commander to save his son, Aidan.

Roder, 38, brought his 5-year-old son to Rahway River to feed ducks. However, the excited boy bolted from the Jeep before Roder could park. Aidan ran straight toward a ledge 35 feet above the river. So Roder did what any good father would do. He caught his son before he could fall. 

Though Aidan was safe, police weren't too sympathetic to the father's scare and gave Roder a pair of traffic citations.

So what were his tickets for?

Car accidents can happen anywhere, and sometimes even the most defensive drivers find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nowadays, thanks to technology, car accident videos are increasingly common on the Internet, giving us a clearer view of the crashes and a chance to learn lessons from what went wrong.

A recent post on the auto website Jalopnik highlighted a handful of non-lethal, but visually spectacular, car crashes. Here are five of the unluckiest car crashes caught on tape, and the legal lesson from each:

A distracted Toyota Prius driver got a crash course in what not to do behind the wheel, and how not to cross paths with burly bikers looking for a fight.

The Prius driver, a 19-year-old man from San Jose, Calif., was headed north on U.S. 101 near Belmont about 8 a.m. Sunday when members of several motorcycle clubs sped by in the fast lane, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The Prius driver took out his cell phone and began recording video, a California Highway Patrol officer said. And that's when trouble really took off.

New York City Gets First $1 Million Parking Spot

New York City's first $1 million parking spot has hit the market, and people are a bit appalled. The slab of concrete is about 12 feet wide, 23 feet long and 15 feet high. That's enough space to add a car elevator.

It also comes equipped with a different kind of elevator -- one that goes to the 8,000 square foot town house or to the $38.8 million penthouse.

Now, we know you have many a burning question about this space, but we're only going to answer one of them. Can you sell a parking spot?

Two McDonald's patrons are under arrest after an allegedly "messed up" cheeseburger order led to a drunken rampage.

The men say they told grave-shift workers at a McDonald's in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to hold the onions on their cheeseburgers, Nashville's WTVF-TV reports. But when they discovered the offensive onions hiding under their buns, they went back to the drive-thru to demand satisfaction.

The McDonald's manager, however, wasn't lovin' it.

Woman Shot Herself Twice to Backup Fake Home Invasion Story

Tennessee law enforcement sprung into action when 48-year-old Joy Lounders called to report a robbery and shooting at her home. While waiting for a Lifestar flight, she told investigators that she had been attacked by a white male with grey hair.

The man had entered her home, prompting her to grab her .38 handgun. A struggle followed, and she ended up with bullets through her leg and back.

This was all a lie. Lounders had shot herself.

Homeless Man Stabs Brooklyn Library Patron for Watching Porn: Cops

Authorities are scratching their heads this week in response to a bizarre attack at the Brooklyn Heights Library in New York. Ralph Neptune, a 46-year-old homeless man, is accused of attacking a fellow library patron for allegedly watching porn.

Neptune walked up to Ransom Alton, 52, on Tuesday evening and accused him of watching a racy video on a library computer. He then whipped out a knife and stabbed Alton in the neck and chest.

He's expected to recover.

Talk about a diamond in the ruffage. Police in Windsor, Ontario, are waiting for an alleged diamond-swallowing thief to pass along a key piece of evidence worth about $20,000.

They've been waiting for a week.

Police arrested Richard Mackenzie Matthews, 52, on May 10 after he allegedly tried to surreptitiously swap a 1.7-carat diamond with a fake one at a jewelry store, The Windsor Post reports. Store employees confronted Matthews, who allegedly swallowed the real diamond before police arrived.

Police arrested Matthews on suspicion of theft. Since then, the alleged diamond-swallower has been under constant watch in a jail cell with no toilet, police told the Post.

A fallen air freshener and a Superman mouse pad led to an Indiana pastor's fall from grace. Robert Lyzenga, 55, is accused of hiding cameras inside women's toilet stalls at his church, the Lafayette Journal and Courier reports.

A female church member exposed the pastor's secret after an air freshener in a toilet stall fell to the floor, revealing a camera inside. She found two other fake air fresheners in adjacent stalls, one of which also contained a camera, according to an affidavit obtained by The Smoking Gun.

When investigators checked the cameras' contents, they found video of two women and a girl using the restroom. But the cameras had also captured other images that led detectives to the pastor's door.

TX Man Stabbed to Death Over Mother's Day Gift?

Paige Parkerson stabbed her fiance, Clifton Barkin. Or so says his mother, Evetta Wright.

Wright says she dropped her son off at home around 11:30 p.m. Sunday night after she took him to the local Walmart to pick up flowers and a card for Parkerson. She's the mother of his two small children. But just after midnight, she received a call from her future daughter-in-law.

Wright claims the 20-year-old mother of two confessed to stabbing her son.

Husband Who Challenged His Wife's NY Assembly Seat Drops Out

After announcing his candidacy only a few days earlier, Republican Mark Schimel has pulled out of the race against his estranged wife, Democrat Michelle Schimel. The couple separated last year after 32 years of marriage, NBC New York reports. They had two children together.

Michelle is serving her third term in the New York State Assembly. Mark was competing for her spot.

So why did the Republican candidate suddenly decide to exit the race for the State Assembly seat?

IL Man Who Sewed His Son's Buttocks Avoids Jail

An Illinois man who sewed his teenage son's butt won't be going to jail. Randy Swopes, the boy's father, has accepted a plea deal instead.

Swopes, 52, will be put on 24-months probation and have to do 250 hours of public service, NBC Chicago reports. The incident took place in 2008. His son was 14 years old at the time.

So why did the elder Swopes take a needle and thread to the teen?

Apple must make some really good mobile phones. Two men who claimed their iPhones were stolen by prostitutes fired shots at a motel door to get their gadgets back.

Cesar Salmeron, 28, and Jasiel Salmeron, 25, apparently tracked down the thieves to a motel room in California at around 8 a.m. They wanted to confront the people inside, Fox 40 reports. So naturally, they fired a gun at the door.

Much to their likely surprise someone inside shot back and Jasiel Salmeron was hit.

So what did Jasiel do next?

A Texas teenager claims he was just joking when he allegedly tried to rob a police station -- but now the joke's on him.

Keithan Manuel, 18, is behind bars after he walked into a police station in Wilmer, Texas, and told a dispatcher behind a window to "give me all your money," police told Dallas' KTVT. He pointed a hand, covered by a towel, at the dispatcher.

The dispatcher says she laughed it off at first. But then Manuel allegedly said something that got him arrested.

This is what happens when you punch a stranger in the face -- and then leave your homework behind at the scene of the crime.

Police in Orem, Utah, arrested Dallas Naljahih, 18, for allegedly breaking into an elderly man's home and punching the man in the face before running away, Salt Lake City's KSL News reports.

The alleged burglar's carelessness apparently led to his arrest, as he left his backpack behind in the victim's lawn. In a twist reminiscent of the movie "The Big Lebowski," the backpack contained a USB flash drive with Naljahih's homework assignments and -- more importantly -- his name, police said.

Naked Unicyclist Arrested for Distracting TX Drivers

Texas police arrested a man riding a unicycle naked, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Joseph Glynn Farley, 45, was charged with indecent exposure. He was spotted by cops and witnesses riding in the buff across a bridge 20 miles southeast of Houston.

Surprisingly, Farley wasn't drunk at the time. 

So if not booze, what motivated him to cycle in his birthday suit?

Reporter Fired for Stripping After Work, Sues Newspaper for Discrimination

A former journalist at the Houston Chronicle filed a complaint with the EEOC last week, and is accusing the paper of gender discrimination. Sarah Tressler says she was fired after a local alternative paper revealed that she's a part-time stripper. The article also pointed readers to her anonymous blog, Diary of an Angry Stripper.

Soon after the article ran, the stripping reporter was told that she was fired for not disclosing the information when she applied for the job. But as she tells it, "There was no question on the form that covered my dancing."

MN Mom Made Daughter, 12, Shave Head, Wear Diaper in Street

Two Minnesota parents were arrested for shaving the mother's 12-year-old daughter's head and making her wear a diaper in public, WCCO-TV reports. And to think that Mother's Day 2012 is coming up on Sunday.

Police found the girl running up and down the street picking up trash. A crowd of over 50 people had gathered to watch the girl, who was dressed in a diaper and tank top. The couple, Stephanie Ann Broten, 38, and Darnell Alan Landrum, 34, allegedly told police they did it as punishment for the girl's poor grades and her failure to do homework.

Broten and Landrum were each charged with malicious punishment of a child. So what kind of sentence could these parents-of-the-year be facing?

TX Constable Forced Deputy to 'Motorboat' Her, Lawsuit Claims

Things are not going well for Galveston County Constable Pam Matranga, who is currently seeking reelection. Former deputy James Gist is accusing the Texas law-woman of sexual harassment and retaliation. His lawsuit reads like a raunchy comedy and includes allegations of forced motorboating.

Indeed, Gist says that, on multiple occasions, Matranga "lifted her blouse and pulled it down over [his] head." She then pressed him into her breasts. The motorboating lawsuit also claims she asked Gist's fiancee if she could give him oral sex.

It doesn't stop there.

NY Man Digs Up Dead Chinchilla, Sends Pics to Owner

Raymond Williams dug up a pet chinchilla. A dead one, that is.

The 20-year-old apparently spent part of Sunday digging up the deceased pet before taking photos and texting them to its owner. The pair, whose relationship is unknown, had gotten into a dispute the day before. He's accused of stealing $260 from her after he failed to steal her cell phone.

The dead chinchilla pictures are presumed to be related to this incident.

This Little Piggy is a Pet, Court Rules

One little piggy is going to be able to continue crying "wee wee wee" all the way to its Houston home. A Texas judge has ruled that the pig is a pet, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

The battle over Wilbur the pig began when Alex Sardo gave his wife, Missy, the then-7-week-old Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. But when the couple's homeowners association found out, they wanted the piglet out. Cypresswood Community Improvement Association sent a letter to the Sardo family stating they had 30 days to get rid of it or face a lawsuit.

The family sued instead, insisting Wilbur was a pet. And a Harris County district judge agreed, but not entirely for the reasons you'd expect.

Chicago Bank Robber Forgets His Cash

A Monday morning bank heist has left Chicago police and federal investigators scratching their heads. And a robber with little to show for his crimes.

The man in question entered a Michigan Avenue bank, claiming to be carrying a bomb. He then handed his bag to the teller and demanded that she fill it with cash. Before she could finish (and hand it back), he abruptly turned around and left.

Yeah, it's not every day that a robber forgets the cash.

A pair of “truck nuts” led to the arrest of a driver in South Carolina, where cops apparently aren't too keen on the kitschy decoration that some find obscene.

A sheriff’s deputy stopped Joe Cervantes-Rodriguez, 31, on Sunday night, apparently for no reason other than the “truck nuts” dangling from the back of his pickup truck, according to an incident report obtained by The Smoking Gun.

“The vehicle was displaying an obscene object from the rear bumper,” the deputy’s report states. “The object was a pair of large fleshy testicles.”

The 5 Worst Moms of the Year

Are you struggling to fill out your Mother's Day card? Don't know how to put your emotions into words? We're here to help.

In the past 12 months, many a mom has graced FindLaw.com. Unfortunately for their children, these women behaved badly. We mean really bad. But their shortcomings can help inspire your 2012 Mother's Day missive.

So go ahead and thank your mom for never acting like one of the following worst moms of the year.

Late-night TV or sex with your girlfriend? A Florida man chose TV -- and then called the cops after his rejected lover attacked him in a fit of rage.

The dramatic confrontation began when the cohabitating couple returned to their Port St. Lucie, Fla., home after a night of drinking at a friend's house, the website The Smoking Gun reports.

It ended with the 27-year-old boyfriend running down the street dressed only in his underwear, and calling 911 with his girlfriend in hot pursuit.

Was it wrong for a sheriff's deputy to force jail inmates to dance to Usher? "Yeah!," an internal investigation has found.

R&B artist Usher's song "Yeah!" hit the top of the charts in 2004. But it wasn't a hit at an Ohio jail, where a deputy allegedly forced inmates to dance to "Yeah!" in order to use the jail's microwave.

Another inmate was forced to "do the robot" in order to use the phone after he learned a family member had died, an internal investigation found, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

An "aggressive" wolf dog hybrid that was set to be euthanized will instead serve a "life sentence" as a prison guard dog, a Louisiana judge has ruled.

The judge originally ordered Chief, a British Columbia wolf and German shepherd mix, be put down after the dog kept escaping from its owners' property and allegedly "terrorized" neighbors, The Advocate reports.

A law in Pointe Coupee Parish, La., where Chief lived, requires dogs to be leashed or confined to an owner's property. Chief's case went to court, where neighbors unleashed their concerns about the canine.

Swayed by witness accounts of the alleged bad dog's behavior, Judge James Best ordered Chief be destroyed. But news reports about the dog's days being numbered spurred a prison warden to action.

Meth Lab Explodes in Man's Pants During Struggle with Cops

If you're going to cook meth, you should probably do it the old fashioned way. You know, in a rundown home, a hotel room or a trailer. Carrying around a meth lab in your pants? Well, that's just a horrible idea. Just ask David Williams.

The Oklahoma man was arrested on Friday after a portable meth lab exploded in his pants. A brief encounter with a Highway Patrol trooper led to a roadside struggle that caused the one-pot lab to burst.

The just-cooked meth was then lost forever.

Justice may be blind, but anyone can see that indecent exposure at a bookstore for blind people is quite clearly a crime.

Well, maybe not everyone. Police in a Philadelphia suburb are looking for the man behind an unusual, and unlawful, spectacle: The man exposed himself at a bookstore for the blind, and then ran off.

You see, apparently not everyone at the Bucks County Association for the Blind's bookstore is actually blind. This includes one woman who claims she came across the bookstore flasher -- who then showed her a bit more than she wanted to see, the Burlington County Times reports.

Boy, 11, Pees on $36,000 Worth of MacBooks

In a story sure to bring smiles to PC users, an 11-year-old Pennsylvania boy was caught peeing on dozens of MacBooks, PennLive reports.

The full-bladder assault resulted in over $36,000 worth of damage for Upper Allen Township Elementary School, the laptops' owner. The boy is a student at the school. It's believed he urinated on the computers after finding them unattended at the school.

School officials labeled the damage as a total loss beyond repair. And apparently they have good reason not to expect AppleCare to come to the rescue.

A California motorcyclist's lawsuit claims a bike ride in 2010 took an unexpected turn that caused a prolonged erection for two years -- and counting.

Henry Wolf blames the after-market "ridge-like seat" on his 1993 BMW motorcycle for causing his "severe case of priapism (a persistent lasting erection)," according to the lawsuit filed in state court in San Francisco and obtained by Courthouse News Service.

A four-hour ride on the motorcycle seat, designed and manufactured by Corbin-Pacific Inc., caused Wolf's condition, his lawsuit asserts. But medical experts aren't so certain.