Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Dumb Crime Category

Here's a good rule of thumb: If it's illegal for Amazon, it's illegal for you, too. For years, the mega-retailer has been trying to utilize drone delivery, even experimenting with exploding drones (for safety's sake, you see), to no avail. So if Amazon can't use a drone to deliver that book to your door, you probably can't use one to deliver bud to a customer.

This would've been helpful information, perhaps, for Benjamin Paul Baldassarre and Ashley Lauren Carroll, who police claim had been using a drone to distribute drugs throughout their Riverside, California neighborhood.

Top 5 Dumb Crimes of 2017

We cover some strange and stupid crimes here on Legally Weird, so it's always nice to have an opportunity to look back on the strangest and the stupidest. And the year-end gives us just that opportunity.

So here are five of the dumbest crimes and criminals we've written about this year, for your reading pleasure.

The First Law of Holes states that 'if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.' Case in point: If you hired a hit man to kill your wife, and that hit man turned out to be a cop, you probably don't want to hire another hit man to kill the first. Chances are, that hit man is a cop too, and you've just added another count of "using facilities of interstate commerce in connection with the hiring of a person to commit a murder" to your record.

So when that happens, we have no choice but to wonder whether all hit men are actually undercover cops.

There are all kinds of scams out there: the omnipresent grandparent scam; the finger-painting scam, so popular in the posh kindergartens these days; and, of course, the fake baby funeral scam.

And there's the classic, shoot yourself and your significant other in a faked home invasion to get settlement money from the property manager scam; an oldie, but a goodie.

If you were a prisoner in upstate New York looking for help with your parole case, the NYS Prisoner Assistance Center and an attorney named Mario Vrendenburg might've looked like a good option. Over 400 other prisoners and their families thought the same, handing over more than $23,000 to have the firm handle administrative parole appeals and other legal matters.

The only problem, according to the New York Attorney General's office, is that there was no NYS Prisoner Assistance Center, Mario Vrendenburg was actually Antonia Barrone, and the fake firm was run out of Barrone's home. Now Barrone is facing at least three years in state prison.

Jason Nissen seems like a swell guy. Fourteen years ago, as a math teacher at a Queens high school, Nissen sold his students tickets to a free Dave Matthews Band concert. And it turns out he's been turning to shady ticket sales tactics ever since to turn a profit.

Nissen has been charged with wire fraud after using a fake premium ticket exchange as the cover for a Ponzi scheme. Nissen's NECO.com told investors it would acquire and resell "premium tickets for events like the Super Bowl, the World Cup and the Broadway hit 'Hamilton.'" Instead, it used later investors' funds to pay back initial investors, cheating them out of over $70 million.

"You know what will be great," the civil fine-burdened man thinks to himself, "I'll just pay the whole thing in pennies. That will really show them."

Jokes about paying fines in change have existed since coins were invented, apparently, but most of us don't follow through on the threat because most of us are adults capable of understanding that dumping a bunch of pennies on a civil servant's desk is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Still, some of us try to make a statement in copper-plated coins and need to be reminded that no, they don't have to take your pennies.

Dr. Kadri, a plastic surgeon with an office on Los Angeles's famous Rodeo Drive, has reported that a former employee has stolen thousands of patient records. While privacy rules prevent the doctor from disclosing whether the records stolen include any celebrities, the doctor did explain that the plastic surgery practice has helped countless affluent individuals from many different states and countries.

The employee quit after being confronted about embezzling money. When she quit, she claimed to have lost the company cell phone. However, the cell phone was found at the practice's Palmdale records storage office, after discovering the location had been burglarized. As such, the theft of the 15,000 patient records (the actual paper records) is presumed to be the work of this former employee. Unfortunately, what was found on the phone gave the doctor even more pause.

Never underestimate the stupidity of people on social media. Two adults, who were initially presumed to be teenagers, admitted to and were arrested for abusing a baby alligator by capturing it, blowing smoke into its face, feeding it beer, and using its tail to drink beers off. What's more, these geniuses thought it would be a good idea to post their abuse of the baby animal that is protected by both state and federal law on Snapchat.

The images they posted were saved, posted to Facebook by a concerned viewer, and then transmitted to the authorities, who are still investigating despite having already made arrests and filed charges. Joseph Floyd, 20, and Zachery Brown, 21, are being charged with a misdemeanor for harassing wildlife under state law.

A Kentucky Girl Scouts troop leader, Leah Anne Vick, was arrested this week for allegedly stealing over 6,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. With the average box of Girl Scout cookies containing 20 cookies, that's over 120,000 delicious, purloined treats. The street value of all those cookies is estimated at $26,000.

Vick, 26, signed for and picked up the 6,000+ boxes of cookies to distribute to her troop as part of her role as troop leader, but none of her girls ever reported receiving their inventories. It has also been reported that the Girl Scout's organization believes that Vick may have even stolen additional boxes that were destined for other troops, but were unsure because those boxes were not signed for.