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

October 2012 Archives

The Top 5 Most Egregious Expense Report Abuses

Lawyers have the bad rep for expensing ridiculous charges to their clients . However, a close look at some expense reports abuses by politicians and executives show that lawyers are not alone, reports Huffington Post.

The takeaway with these individuals appears to be that when someone else is footing the bill, you should try to get away with as much as possible.

Here are the top five most egregious expense report abuses from haircuts to strip clubs to outright fraud:

Attorney Sues His Daughter for Libel Over Trust Fund Accounting

Attorneys are generally more litigious than other people but the attorney who sued his daughter this week takes the cake.

To be fair, Richard Fischbein's daughter, Beth Fischbein-Bodner, is the one who first involved the legal system. She asked a judge for an accounting of her trust fund which she was supposed to collect back in 1990. As part of her request she accused him of mishandling the trust.

In response, Fischbein filed a $3 million suit for libel against his own child. He says she's being ungrateful, which is irrelevant, and that what she says is untrue, which could be important.

Burglary Suspect Sues Homeowner for Shooting Back

A suspected burglar and attempted murderer has brought a lawsuit against the man he allegedly tried to kill.

Apparently, the burglar did not like that his intended victim shot back at him, reports CBS News.

You know this country is overly litigious when even suspected criminals can sue their alleged victims for violence. The plaintiff/criminal suspect, Samuel Cutrufelli, allegedly kicked in the door of 90-year-old Jay Leone's California home. Leone was ordered not to move as Cutrufelli scoured the house for valuables.

After some time, Leone told the burglar that he needed to use the bathroom. But instead of a potty break, Leone went to retrieve his .357 revolver.

The whereabouts of Florida's evasive "Mystery Monkey" are a mystery no more, the Tampa Bay Times reports. But the animal's mysterious origins are still ripe for speculation.

After nearly four years on the run, the furry fugitive -- a rhesus macaque weighing 45 pounds -- has been caught and given a new name: Cornelius, as in the chimpanzee scientist from the "Planet of the Apes," according to the Times.

Better known as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay, Cornelius had been spotted swinging from branches and darting in-between traffic over the past few years. Local fans even created a Facebook page in its honor.

Despite numerous attempts by wildlife agents to tranquilize the animal, the Mystery Monkey had always been able to escape capture.

That is, until Wednesday afternoon.

Specs Appeal: Murder Defendant's Glasses Scrutinized at Trial

In a surprising twist, a defendant's glasses became the focus of a murder trial when the prosecutor accused him of pulling a Clark Kent move on witnesses.

Donnell Harris wore glasses to his trial for second-degree murder and prosecutors took note of his change in appearance. They weren't impressed with his intellectual look but instead realized that Harris doesn't normally wear glasses, a fact they mentioned to the judge.

But when the judge issued a jury instruction that referenced the glasses, Harris's attorney felt it had gone too far. Too bad the appellate court didn't agree with him.

Arby's Employee Fired After Fleeing Armed Robbery

An Arby's employee was fired from the fast food chain after fleeing from an armed robber.

Ironically, the employee was fired for violating a restaurant safety policy following her escape from a knife-wielding robber, reports The Consmerist.

The unidentified 56-year-old Arby's assistant manager in Dayton, Ohio was alone in the restaurant last week when she heard the doorbell. The woman thought that it was a coworker who had come back to the restaurant to retrieve something. To the manager's surprise, it was a man brandishing a knife.

Naked, High Carjacker Gnawed His Own Finger: NJ Cops

If there were not already enough reasons not to use PCP, a New Jersey man was allegedly high on the drug when he arrested in a carjacking attempt.

After police arrived at the scene, the man allegedly threatened to fight the cops, pooped in the back of a patrol car, and tried to bite his hands off at the wrist.

Police say that 29-year-old Jargget Washington stripped naked at an intersection and starting pounding his fists on cars and screaming incoherently, reports The Jersey Journal.

At this point, Washington allegedly jumped on the hood and roof of a passing car and tried to pull the driver out. The driver managed to fight off Washington when the police arrived.

Sorry, New York Lap Dances Are Not Tax Exempt, Court Rules

Cultural performances get a tax exemption in New York, but in case you're wondering, that doesn't include lap dances.

An 'adult club' in Albany, New York thought they might be onto something when they filed a lawsuit over state sales tax. The club claimed that its admission fee and the cost of private dances should be exempt as a cultural endeavor.

The state's high court wasn't convinced that lap dances have the same cultural value as ballet.

But it wasn't a unanimous decision.

NYC Teacher Bribed Students With Soap

Marlon Scanterbury, a high school teacher in Brooklyn, NY, saw homework passes as a way to make a few dollars by selling his homemade soap.

The scheme started out as an incentive program where students could 'buy' trinkets using 'keys' earned through good academics and behavior. A few months into the program Scanterbury offered a deal of 10 keys in exchange for the purchase of a bar of soap.

That didn't tempt many students so he included a free homework pass in the deal. Unfortunately, that's what things went sour for Scanterbury.

Girl, 9, Mistaken for Skunk Gets Shot by Relative at Halloween Party

A 9-year-old girl was shot on Saturday night when her costume was mistaken for a skunk by relatives.

To deal with the 'skunk' problem her relative took out a shotgun and fired at what he thought was a smelly invader. The girl was wearing a black costume and a black hat with a white tassel. She was on the far side of a hill at the time.

The man was sober when it happened, according to police, and he hasn't been arrested. But we have some questions we'd like to ask him.

A Florida man was arrested after allegedly fighting with a restaurant manager. The two were fighting because the customer was reportedly having sex with his girlfriend on a table at the restaurant, and the manager wanted them to stop.

Some people are turned on by whips and chains. And others are apparently turned on by having an audience -- apparently even if that audience includes children.

Jeremie Calo, 32, reportedly was making out with his unidentified date at the Orlando-area restaurant. Things got hot and heavy and the couple's public displays of affection morphed into public displays of sex, reports WJXT Jacksonville.

On Abercrombie Boss's Jet: Boxers, Phil Collins Music

Next time you want to complain about your job, just be thankful you're allowed to wear the underwear of your own choosing. In a lawsuit brought against Abercrombie & Fitch, a fired airplane pilot says male stewards were required to wear boxer briefs and that Phil Collins music had to be played on every flight.

The lawsuit is an age discrimination lawsuit, but the pilot's age (he's 55) is the least interesting aspect of the case.

In fact, it's not clear what some of the allegations have to do with age discrimination at all, but the replaced pilot details plenty of idiosyncrasies of Abercrombie CEO Michael Jeffries, reports The Guardian.

Couple's 'Dangerous' Chihuahua Costs Them Big Time

A Canadian couple will now have to list their dog on a dangerous pet list after the dog bit a mail carrier. The "dangerous" dog in question is a three-pound teacup Chihuahua.

Not surprisingly, the dog's owners called the designation of Molly the Chihuahua as a danger to the community a "joke," reports The Windsor Star.

Back in August, Molly reportedly escaped from an open gate and bit the ankle of a postal carrier in Ontario, Canada. At the time of the incident, the dog owners offered to bandage the mail carrier.

But when taking a look at the wound, the owners could not spot any blood nor identify where the carrier was bit. The mail carrier was able to continue on her rounds.

Michigan 'Batman' Pleads Not Guilty, Says He Has Good Intentions

Batman, in the form of his lesser known alter-ego Mark Wayne Williams, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to a charge of resisting and obstructing police.

No one doubts that Williams was attempting to emulate the caped crusader, but that isn't necessarily an excuse for his behavior. But many things Batman did were against the law but he had the good sense to keep his identity secret and not interfere with police.

Williams wasn't so suave when he attempted to 'do justice' while police were looking for a driver who fled the scene of an accident. His excuse for his behavior won't hold water either.

Woman Drinks Hand Sanitizer, Gets Arrested for DUI

Hand sanitizer isn't meant for human consumption but if you do drink it before getting behind the wheel you can expect to get pulled over for a DUI.

Jennifer Wilcox of Middletown, Connecticut may not have known this rule when she told officers that she hadn't been drinking. But after she failed a sobriety test the jig was up and she admitted that she had drunk half a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Even without her admission, police probably had enough evidence to arrest her. The first sign was when she almost crashed into the officers.

Bridal Gown Bandit Caught on Tape Stealing $5K Wedding Dress

Many women go a little crazy over finding the perfect bridal gown. But when they can't afford it they often settle for something more affordable.

An as-yet unidentified woman didn't have that kind of restraint. She knew which gown she wanted and since the $5,000 price tag was hard to swallow she just walked out the door with the dress.

In a fairytale world she would be able to keep that dress but if police can figure out her identity that likely won't happen. Police have some pretty useful information to track down the bridal gown bandit and separate her from her stolen dress.

Law School Litigant Can't Stop Suing Law Schools After Flunking Out

Gregory Langadinos has been a law student for many years but he's become more famous as a law school litigant than as an attorney. Which makes sense since he never graduated and isn't admitted to practice.

Langadinos first enrolled at Southern New England School of Law (now the University of Massachusetts School of Law). He promptly flunked out and then enrolled at Touro Law School in New York. When he flunked out there, he applied for readmission to his original school.

The problem for the law schools is that when things go wrong for Langadinos, he sues.

Worker Cooked to Death at Bumble Bee Foods Plant

A Bumble Bee Foods factory worker was cooked to death while on the job in Santa Fe Springs, California.

So you might want to hold off a week or two before buying that next can of tuna.

Authorities say that they found the body of Jose Malena inside a device called a "steamer machine." The 62-year-old Malena was cooked to death and investigators are still trying to figure out how he ended up in the cooking device, reports KTLA Los Angeles.

Dog Semen Lawsuit Claims Vet Destroyed Champion Poodle's Sperm

Most people get a dog for the love and affection but if you show your dog you also choose it based on breeding value. That is where our dog semen lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania.

You read that right; Linda Blackie and Miriam Thomas sued a veterinary hospital that accidentally destroyed over a hundred sperm samples from their prize-winning standard poodles. The samples were collected and cryogenically frozen but accidentally defrosted in 2009, according to Centre Daily Times.

Apparently poodle sperm carries a high price because the owners asked for over $300,000 in compensation. The jury had to determine how much each sample was worth.

Pro Bono Lawyer is Best Friend of Pit Bull on Trial for His Life

A lawyer has been appointed to represent  pit bull on trial for his life. The offending canine is facing charges after a near deadly attack on a five-year-old boy. Lawyer appointments usually don't make news, even to represent defendants who attacked children. However, the defendant, Kno, is facing the death penalty.

A Georgia judge appointed lawyer Claude Kicklighter to represent the pit bull who is facing euthanasia after an attack on a child that required two surgeries, reports the ABA Journal.

It does not appear that Kicklighter requested the appointment or has any special expertise in representing dogs. The judge says that he appointed Kicklighter "in the interest of justice," reports the ABA Journal.

'You Don't Need to Arrest Me, I'm a Republican'

Charlene Idelle Hunziker learned the hard way that police can, and do, arrest Republicans if they break the law after a drunken public outburst.

Hunziker was in a P.F. Changs in West Des Moines, Iowa when she started ranting about politics. In front of other patrons she started yelling about the virtues of Mitt Romney and was extremely agitated when the restaurant asked her to leave.

Didn't she ever learn that politics isn't polite dinner conversation?

Restaurant employees called police because they were worried Hunziker might hurt someone. When the cops arrived she had an excuse all prepared.

A Hong Kong couple is suing an education consultant because the couple's two children did not get into Harvard. They got into two other Ivy League schools instead. Heaven forbid!

The couple says that they hired the Boston-area consultant and handed over $2 million to help get their two sons into the hallowed halls of Harvard, reports ABC.

The money reportedly went to getting their sons into top prep schools in the U.S. and eventually into Harvard. However, the plan did not go accordingly, and the unnamed children were forced to spend their undergraduate years someplace outside of Cambridge like New Haven, Providence, or if they were truly unlucky, Ithaca.

Woman Hid Meth Pipe, Bag of Meth Inside Herself

Nicole Lynn Denzer was pulled over by police for erratic driving on Tuesday but officers soon realized she had hidden meth and a pipe on her person.

Officer's initially searched her vehicle and arrested her for possession of a controlled substance. When they got to the local jail, police realized the Minnesota woman had drugs on her person as well, they just couldn't see it. A drug-sniffing dog investigated Denzer and was very interested in her ... err, crotch.

If it was a friend's dog it might have just been an embarrassing moment but police knew their K9 was only interested in one thing.

Maine Zumba Studio Doubled as a House of Prostitution?

The town of Kennebunk, Maine was rocked by allegations that its local Zumba studio was also a house of prostitution.

Zumba instructor Alexis Wright was arrested and charged with 106 counts of prostitution, violation of privacy, tax evasion, and other charges. She pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, reports The New York Times.

Sure Zumba is a pretty sexy way to work out but police were more concerned with what happened in Wright's studio and office after hours.

After Wrong Sales Price, Chevy Dealer Has Customer Arrested

Danny Sawyer got such a great deal on a new car that the Virginia Chevy dealer that made the sale tried to have him arrested. Literally.

Sawyer had traded in his old car and purchased a black Chevrolet Traverse. The next day, Sawyer had second thoughts about the color and returned to the car dealer to get a blue Traverse.

The sales manager at the time okayed the trade-in, and Sawyer went home with the blue Traverse. Later on, the manager realized that he made mistake in pricing. The blue Traverse should have sold for $5,000 more, reports NBC.

Man Facing Cocaine Charges Brings Cocaine to Court

An Illinois man facing a court date for cocaine charges decided to bring some cocaine with him to the courthouse.

Alex Robinson was previously arrested for cocaine delivery in 2006 and was due in court for a probation hearing on a drug charge earlier this week.

When the 37-year-old man showed up at the courtroom, he had to go through security screening. That's when he allegedly put a baggie containing three grams of cocaine onto a security tray, reports the Huffington Post.

Talk about being the butt of a potentially dangerous joke. A North Carolina teenager allegedly spiked a teacher's coffee with butt-enhancement pills, Charlotte's WBTV reports.

Butt-enhancement pills? Yes, they exist, and they're being sold online for about $50 per bottle. The pills allegedly used in the teacher's coffee, called GluteBoost, promise "a bigger booty 100% risk free."

But that doesn't cover the risk of getting caught spiking a teacher's coffee.

VA Man Found Dead Surrounded by 24 Venomous Pet Snakes

A Virginia man was found dead in his home after apparently being bitten by one of his pet venomous snakes.

Authorities believe that 70-year-old Jack Redmond naturalist was bitten by a Chinese palm viper and succumbed to complications from the bite, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Chinese palm viper was just one of 24 venomous snakes that Redmond kept in his collection. The man was found by his wife and he had traces of a snake bite on his finger. Redmond had been battling prostate cancer, and it's believed that his weakened state may have contributed to his death.

So what's the legal lesson here? Follow the law, and you won't get bitten by a poisonous snake.

Stripper's Pole Dance Ruptured Man's Bladder at Bachelor Party

A Pennsylvania man is suing the Penthouse Club near Philadelphia claiming that a stripper ruptured his bladder.

Patrick Gallagher was celebrating his impending marriage at the club. As part of the Penthouse Club's "Bachelor's Package," Gallagher was invited onstage and told to lie down for some personal attention by the strippers.

But one stripper allegedly gave a bit too much attention to Gallagher when she slid down a stripper pole onto Gallagher's abdomen.

The stripper allegedly landed on Gallagher with such force, that she ruptured his bladder, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Man Punches Attorney and Gets Longer Sentence, Not Better Counsel

Violence doesn't generally solve anything but Lamarcus Williamson was apparently compelled to punch his defense attorney in the face after his sentence was read.

It didn't improve his position in court. Not only had the judge given him the maximum sentence for the crime at issue in the hearing, he got additional time for what happened in the courtroom. It's a general rule that judges like order and they're willing to punish people who go for chaos instead.

Williamson's attorney, public defender Dan Hall, never even saw it coming.

The Search for Justice for Convicted Witches

The Connecticut witch trials concluded almost 350 years ago but the victims never got their justice. Bernice Mable Graham Telian, the descendant of a woman who was hanged as a witch in 1663, is fighting to clear her ancestor's name.

Mary Barnes is Telian's seventh grandmother. She was convicted for 'familiarity with Satan' and hanged for practicing witchcraft in colonial Connecticut. The state executed 11 women for witchcraft between 1647 and 1663 .

Now Telian wants to exonerate her and she's not the only person fighting for it. But so far the state isn't cooperating.

Woman Busted for Riding a Manatee (Sea Cow) in Florida

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez was just getting to know the local wildlife when she went manatee riding on Tuesday. The animals mate in the warm water off the coast of Florida but when Gutierrez saw them she went in the water to get a close look.

Other Florida beachgoers snapped a photo of her taking a ride with one of the creatures and when the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office saw it they went looking for Gutierrez.

Turns out, disturbing the manatees is illegal in Florida given their endangered status. The hunt for Gutierrez ended later that afternoon.

Holy felony, Batman! Michigan's own Caped Crusader, played by a character named Mark Wayne Williams, is at it again -- and once again, his antihero antics have landed him behind bars.

Williams, 33, of Petoskey, Mich., is well known to locals (and local law enforcement) as "the Petoskey Batman." He dresses up in a homemade Batman costume and sets out to fight crime, though he hasn't always been successful.

In May 2011, Williams was caught hanging off the side of a building with a variety of weapons in his utility belt. He pleaded guilty to resisting and obstructing a police investigation last fall, and was ordered to ditch his Batman costume for six months.

'A 1st Grader Beat Me Up,' NY Teacher Sues School

It's embarrassing enough for a teacher to get beat up by a first grader. What could be even more embarrassing? To have the news picked up and broadcast nationally.

John Webster is a hulk of a man in any profession. He's 220 pounds and a former college running back. So at a New York elementary school, you'd probably bet that he'd be the one to dish out beatings.

But after a dust-up with a 50-pound fist grade student, Webster came out on the losing end and even suffered permanent injury which caused him to miss work, reports WCBS. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Man Having Sex While Driving Pleads Guilty to 2 Deaths

Mark Anders Chalin pled guilty to criminal vehicular homicide on Monday for killing two people when he was having sex while driving. He crossed the median and hit another car, killing the driver of the other car as well as his own passenger.

There are laws against certain kinds of distracted driving such as driving while intoxicated or texting behind the wheel. Sex seems like the kind of behavior that is so obviously distracting no one in good conscience would do it.

Chalin seems to have disagreed, although he claims he doesn't remember what happened.

Drag Queen Robs Bank in Stretchy Pants, Miniskirt

If you're going to pull off a robbery you'll likely be seen by a security camera. Most people opt for a mask to hide their faces but a California man decided the perfect disguise would be to dress in drag instead.

That plan didn't work out so well for Leonard Brown, Jr. who allegedly robbed a Bank of America in Ceres, California in September. He was identified as the robber on Wednesday and a warrant was put out for his arrest.

Not only was he recognized, the 'stretchy pants bandit' didn't even have much fashion sense.

An allegedly drunken man on horseback literally hoofed it when he led police on a slow-speed chase through the streets (and lawns) of a Florida town.

But the Paul Revere wannabe didn't make it very far. Charles Cowart's gallant attempt to gallop away to freedom has instead rustled up a fistful of criminal charges, the Associated Press reports.

Cowart, 29, of Bushnell, Fla., told police he'd hopped onto a horse to ride to his grandmother's house. But someone called police to say Cowart himself was hopped up on alcohol.

A drug dealer in Pennsylvania was arrested after trying to make a sale of heroin to an undercover cop. The brand name of the heroin? The Lebron James. The packet even featured a silhouette of the basketball player, reports United Press International.

Who knows why drug dealers choose different street names for their heroin. Fans of The Wire have all heard of the WMD, Pandemic, Bird Flu, Brokeback, and even the Bin Laden. Maybe these are labeled for how the heroin is supposed to make you feel?

If that's the case, the Lebron James brand can make you feel like a man among boys ... if taken in 2012. Previous to this year, it just might make you feel high until you need it the most.

NJ Woman Faked Cancer for a Free Wedding, Cops Say

When asked how far she would go for her dream wedding, Lori Stilley might answer 'I'd fake cancer for it.' That's what the New Jersey woman is accused of, based on police charges.

There is no crime for 'inappropriate-devotion-to-your-wedding' so prosecutors have charged her with theft for all the money she allegedly took from friends and family.

In February 2011 Stilley told family and friends that she had stage 3 bladder cancer. Then in April she told them, via Facebook and her website, that the cancer was now stage 4 and that she couldn't afford treatment. The community donated money and meals to help care for her but now they suspect she was never sick in the first place.

Women Smuggled Cocaine in Their Hair Weaves

Two women with big hairdos were arrested at John F. Kennedy International airport in New York after allegedly trying to smuggle two pounds of cocaine each in their hair weaves.

It's probably a cleaner and more comfortable way to smuggle drugs than via the anal cavity.

The two women, Kiana Howell and Makeeba Graham, had just flown to New York City from Guyana. The first giveaway that the women were up to something was their suspiciously towering hairdos, reports The Smoking Gun.