Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

July 2010 Archives

Jail Time for Phillies Fan's 'Vomit Assault'

It's a swing and a miss for the Phillies fan that unleashed a "vomit assault" on a local police officer and his 11 year-old daughter in the stands of a Phillies baseball game this past April. The judge in the case sentenced 21-year old Matthew Clemmens to 30 to 90 days of jail, 50 hours of community service, and 2 years probation.

Clemmens was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment for intentionally making himself vomit on Michael Vangelo and his daughter. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Clemmens was displeased when a member of his party was ejected from the game and stated, "I need to do what I need to do. I am going to get sick," right before putting his fingers down his throat to induce vomiting.

Motorized Coolers Meet Traffic Laws

In yet another sign of the impending apocalypse, a Nova Scotia man was cited after he was caught driving a motorized cooler down a sidewalk. The tricked out red cooler was fully equipped with standard features such as mp3 player, radio, enhanced suspension, cup holders and a 5.5 horsepower motor. Neil Rideout of New Waterford is fighting the ticket he received on his ultimate urban vehicle for $222 under Nova Scotia's Motor Vehicle Act. Rideout, 42, plans to fight the ticket in court. His trial is scheduled for February 2nd.

Rideout claims he drove the cooler on the sidewalk because he had earlier been told by police that he could not ride it on the street. He said it can go as fast as 50km/h though he generally drives it between 5 and 10km/h. He was approached by police while driving down the sidewalk to the local convenience store. "The police officer came up to me and said, 'Mr. Rideout, may I search your vehicle?' " said Rideout. "At that point, thinking that it was a joke, I kind of lifted the top of the cooler and said, 'Officer, go ahead.'" The officer allegedly searched the cooler but did not find any alcohol or contraband.

NY Police Arrest Edward Pemberton, Alleged Bouquet Bandit

Just because you have a unique idea doesn't necessarily make it clever. And it certainly doesn't make executing it advisable.

Alleged bank robber Edward Pemberton would have been wise to hold off on his trademark "Bouquet Bandit" routine. Pemberton allegedly robbed banks while carrying a bouquet of flowers or a potted plant. Pemberton, 44, was arrested Wednesday. Pemberton had become a popular figure in the tabloids during the two week search. He had his face splashed on a number of tabloid covers throughout the month. Police say the flowers may have been tied to Pemberton's previous line of work: he once worked in Manhattan's flower district.

Last Thursday, Pemberton allegedly hit the Bank of Smith Town on Seventh Avenue and West 18th Street, in New York just after 9 a.m. He allegedly approached the bank teller with a bouquet filled with flowers and baby's breath in a pink cellophane, handed over a demand note from inside the bouquet and said "Give me all your $100s, 50's, don't be a hero." Pemberton was not armed. The teller handed over $400.

After receiving money from the teller, the Bouquet Bandit left the scene. The teller was left with the note and the flowers. Although, unfortunately for the teller, they probably did not get to keep them as they were evidence of the robbery. Pemberton allegedly used a similar routine to rob Capital One  Bank on Ninth Avenue and West 23rd Street, on July 8, but he used a potted plant instead of flowers. Perhaps the diversification was designed to keep the police off of his trail. Might we suggest a mask next time instead?*

Man Caught Smuggling Titi Monkeys in Girdle

This case is one of a man breaking one of the great unwritten rules of life: do not stuff monkeys down your girdle. While you are trying to make the picture in your head go away, further explanation will be provided. One, Roberto Cabrera, was arrested after authorities at Mexico City's International Airport searched him and found 18 titi monkeys (genus Callicebus) stuffed in pouches attached to his girdle.

Officials noticed, reports the Associated Press for CBSNews, that Cabrera became "markedly nervous" when approached and asked what the unsightly bulge under his shirt was. Of course, Cabrera's sweaty demeanor could have been the result of the dozen-plus monkeys hidden on his person, two of which sadly, were already dead. 

Amish Teen Leads Cops on Low Speed Chase

After some of the terrible stories in the news about the fallout from high speed police chases, this will come as a refreshing report of a low speed chase that ended fairly well. Except that is, for the horse. That's right, the horse, because this is a story of police pursuit in Amish country. Cops tried and initially failed to bring wild-child Levi Detweiler, an Amish teen, to a stop after they witnessed him, his horse and his buggy running a stop sign.

According to a report by the Associated Press for CBSNews, Detweiler failed to yield to police after running (term used loosely) a stop sign. He led officers on a several miles long merry, and none too brisk, chase before coming to grief in a ditch. When Detweiler tried to make a sharp turn into a driveway, the horse, buggy and fleeing teen all overturned. Not to be stymied, the Amish teen then fled on foot. 

Man Killed in Strange Scheme to Gain Child Custody

Divorce and custody battles are so painful, they can almost kill you. In this case, the fight over custody of a child did actually result in the death of one parent. In a sad and twisted plan to gain child custody of his son, 20-year-old Dwayne Lamont Moten was shot and killed by his friend.

According to, Dwayne Moten had lost the fight over custody of his 3-year-old son Dwayne Jr. Moten planned to get his child back by having friend, and now murder suspect, Jacob Wheeler shoot and injure him. According to police, the two then hoped to pin the shooting on Moten's ex-wife's boyfriend, thus regaining custody of the child. Unfortunately, Wheeler was either a much better or much worse shot than either man planned.

Man Steals House, Claimed He Purchased it From Yahweh

Here is a story of one Montana man with a very creative, and sadly, very illegal, answer to the foreclosure crisis. Brent Arthur Wilson took possession of a foreclosed house and started living in it. However, in part because he had bigger dreams, he was caught, put on trial and convicted.

The Associated Press reports that Brent Wilson was found guilty by a Lake County jury on July 13, of theft, deceptive practices and tampering with public records or information. Wilson was discovered and subsequently charged after a real estate agent investigated the removal of "for sale" signs from a $380,000 house he was selling on behalf of a lender in August 2009.

Man Arrested for Drunken Lawn Mower Ride

Perhaps if you've had too many drinks, taking a lawnmower ride in the middle of the night sounds like a good idea.

That was the case for an Iowa man who was stopped by deputies at 1 a.m. for drunk drivng a lawnmower down a highway with no headlights, the Associated Press reports.

According to authorities the man's blood-alcohol concentration was .190, though it was unclear what he was doing, or if had been drinking, earlier.

Man Holds Mom Hostage for Not Ironing

A 29-year-old has been charged with aggravated assault and false imprisonment for holding his mother hostage at gunpoint for refusing iron his clothes.

Robert Edward Tyrrell Jr. allegedly pulled out a gun on his mother, took her keys and cell phone and refused to let her leave for at least six hours, the Associated Press reports.

According to officials, the man may be ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He told his mother '"Ironing is woman's work."

Zombie Car Crash Creates Rescue Confusion

Just one more reason the undead should not be permitted to drive. A car accident involving a group of zombies caused confusion and consternation Friday, July 19, near the city of Portland, Oregon. Portland locals, although living in a city known for weird and wonderful residents, were openly freaked out by the survivors of the accident sporting bloody wounds and torn clothes. One would think they would be used to strange sights in the home of such local favorites as Voodoo Doughnuts, but the crash caused concern, nonetheless.

The joke was on bystanders and others, though, according to Thaindian News. The Portland Police Department reported that the car involved swerved through the eastbound lanes of I-84, before rolling over and coming to a rest upside-down in the middle of the freeway. There were about five people in the car who were taken to the hospital, but police believe some may have fled on (rotting) foot to avoid consequences. Which exact consequences are not clear from reports, it is really not against the law for zombies to drive. Unless of course they have been drinking.

Jail Time for Woman Who Taped Dog to Fridge

It is a sad state of affairs between a man and a woman when things disintegrate to the point where she had to do something very, very bad to get his attention. At least, that is what Abby Toll must have thought when she taped her boyfriend's dog to the refrigerator. Upside down. That last part was just mean.

According to Denver ABC7 News, Ms. Toll was convicted of felony animal cruelty and was sentenced on July 9. While he could have hung Abby Toll out to dry, the judge did not. Instead of giving her the maximum 18 months in prison, Toll was sentenced to 30 days, 200 hours of community service, levied a $500 fine and put on three years probation.

Atlanta Woman Hits Store with Car, Twice

This one is kind of hard to believe, even by Legally Weird standards. Not only for the actual facts, but for what is left undone. Police in Atlanta, Georgia, were called to the scene of a car accident on Monday morning, July 5. That is not unusual. It may be a bit more unusual that the accident occurred when 75 year-old Constance Chapman drove her Mazda Miata through the front window of an Atlanta liquor store, causing as many as 1,500 bottles of alcohol to shatter.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chapman told police her brakes failed while she was attempting to park in front of the store. The really unusual part? She has done it before.

Pennsylvania Introduces State-Owned Wine Vending Machines

The future of alcohol sales? Vending machines, perhaps.

Pennsylvania recently introduced wine kiosks, a sharp turn for a state with some of the country's most strict alcohol laws. Right now the machines are located in two grocery stores. If the test run goes well, the machines could spread to 100 additional stores, according to the state Liquor Control Board.

Customers seem enthusiastic about the machines, the AP reports:

"This is just convenient one-stop shopping," said Darby Golec, 28, of Enola. "It'll be nice to have it all in one area."

The machines are especially appealing in Pennsylvania because of its restrictive liquor laws. For example, wine and liquor can only be sold in state-owned stores and corner stores can only sell up to two six-packs per customer of legal age. By contrast a person can buy alcohol from the machine by completing a few simple steps...well, perhaps not simple:

First the customer selects a bottle on wine from a touch-screen display. Then they swipe their ID to verify their age. Then they blow into a breathalyzer device to test their blood alcohol level. Then they look into a surveillance camera. Then a state employee remotely approves the sale after verifying the information. Oh, and the machines are closed on Sundays and holidays. And they charge a $1 convenience fee. Nice.

Elderly Woman Disinterred Relatives - for Company

Let's file this one under: that's why there is a law against it. Although some rush to the "that's creepy" side of the following story, as usual, there is more to it. Part of the complication though, is that it is also just plain illegal. A ninety-one year old widow living in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, kept both her husband and twin sister around for company. The difficulty is they had both been dead for some time.

The Associated Press reports Jean Stevens had the embalmed corpses of her loved ones disinterred and more or less resurrected in her home, her twin sister June on a couch in the spare bedroom and her husband, James, on the couch in the detached garage. That way, she could visit with her sister and talk to the husband she was married to for nearly 60 years. Old habits die hard.

Domestic Dispute Disintegrates into Antler Stabbing

In the days of the frontier, men settled their arguments like men; by shooting each other. Those days are not entirely gone in Alaska, but happily dispute resolution, while not always entirely civilized, has been taken down a notch. At least in the case at hand. Two roommates have recently made the national news for a fight that ended in a stabbing. With antlers.

According to KTVA11 News, Anchorage police were called to the scene of a dispute last Thursday July 1, after shots were allegedly heard in the 2400 block of Douglas St. in west Anchorage. Upon arriving, the police were not confronted with gun fire, but with the victim suffering from stab wounds to his back and ankle.

Competitive Eater Goes Nuts over Contract Dispute

Competitive eaters. Like other performers or athletes, they can be a bit high-strung. However, that was not all that was at the bottom of a disruption of the famous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island, in New York this 4th of July. Below the seething anger that ended in arrest for one former champ, was something many entertainers of all persuasions can relate to: a contract dispute.

According to the New York Daily news, it seems that watching his arch-enemy Joey (Jaws) Chestnut compete in and win a contest he was not allowed to take part in was too much for former champ Takeru Kobayashi, a.k.a. "Tsunami." As Chestnut was presented with his mustard yellow belt, Kobayashi stormed the stage and caused such a disruption that the police were called in and he was arrested. Kobayashi was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and trespassing.

Not a Plain Vanilla DUI Case

Maybe what we have here is a case of difficulty getting the kids to school on time. Pulling this off everyday can be rough, in a Desperate Housewives kind of way. So rough in fact, possibly this one woman decided she just couldn't face the daily drop-off without out a little liquid refreshment -- even if it is summer vacation. But why hit the Scotch when there is something else available and in a conveniently small bottle? Vanilla extract. And a chaser of Diet Coke. These two ingredients make a recipe for a rather unusual DUI case coming out of Tennessee, late last week.

According ABC2 News, Kelly Moss of Germantown, TN was spotted slumped over the wheel of her car which was parked in front of Arlington Middle School. To be more specific, the car was parked more or less in the driveway and partially on the sidewalk in front of the school. If this was not enough to alert local police to a potential problem, the partially empty bottles of vanilla extract and can of Diet Coke allegedly found in the front seat were. The vanilla bottles were labeled 35% alcohol, by volume.

Stuffed Animal Money Laundering Ring Corralled

Here is a case of life imitates art, but on an ever bigger, badder platform. Begin, for instance with the Audrey Hepburn move Wait Until Dark about thieves trying to steal back a heroin stuffed doll from a blind woman. Move on to the drug stuffed Teddies at a Build-a-Bear operation in the Bronx in 2009. And now we have Angel Toy Company co-owners Meichun Cheng Huang and Ling Yu, arrested, along with chief executive officer Xiaoxin Ju on Friday, July 2 and charged with money laundering through the multi-million dollar sales of their cute little stuffed animals.

Stuffing the actual animals with drugs is so last year. To run on a truly global scale, up to date drug lords are allegedly using the cuddly creatures as a front, not a conduit. According to the Associated Press, multiple government agencies have finally seen results from what was a two year investigation into the activities at Angel Toy.