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Wacky weather and wacky crimes

Published March 26. 2011 09:00AM

In case you weren't paying attention, two relatively important events happened. First, last Saturday night the moon reached perigee, meaning it was the closest it could get to the earth in their dance around the sun. Coincidentally, the moon will reach full apogee again when its full on October 11th of this year. The moon will not be that close to the earth again for another 18 years.

The second event was the arrival of spring last Sunday evening signaling the astronomical end of winter and the return of spring. This event however was trumped by Mother Nature who found it appropriate to celebrate by dumping snow on us, not once but twice this week with a hint of more next week. So much for the groundhog being accurate. He was about helpful as that "second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania", Gus. He has not been good to me either.

Due to the wacky weather, I thought it would be fun to see what is in the dumb criminal files so sit tight and enjoy these accounts of those who have yet to learn crime does not pay.

Our travels through the world of crimes and misdemeanors this week takes us to Florida where we learn that it's not healthy to refuse a kiss from grandma. In this case, 92 year old Helen Staudinger was really annoyed that the younger man, 53 year old neighbor Dwight Bettner, did not want to kiss her. She actually refused to leave his house, but eventually did to retrieve a gun returning to shoot at his house. He was not hit, but did get cut from broken glass. I guess he will think twice when Helen comes to call in the future.

Remaining in Florida we find you are never too young to be dumb. In this case, 18 year old Sebastian Estaban was hungry so he shoplifted a $1.19 pack of cookies from a Circle K convenience store. The store called sheriff's deputies who arrived and discovered Estaban with two friends. He was trying to eat the evidence police reported. When they caught him, he confessed slandering the beloved Cookie Monster in the process. His words: "Ya, I stole the cookies. I'm the cookie monster." Poor Cookie Monster. One has to wonder how the police recovered the evidence. On second thought probably not.

Too bad Sebastian didn't go to the pizza shop where 54 year old millionaire dentist Richard Ludwig decided to use a stolen credit card to buy a pizza. He spent $40.64 on the meal and when arrested, he told sheriff's deputies he was worth three or four million dollars and had no troubles. Well none at least before he bought the pizza. Maybe he could get some tips from Sebastian on catchy punch lines like "I shouldn't be arrested for stealing a pizza, they should be arrested for charging me $40 for it."

Nerves of steel should probably be a prerequisite for a life of crime. Obviously, Florida bank robber Charles Grier didn't get the memo. After knocking over a bank, Grier was easily caught by the police as he stopped twice to use restrooms near the robbery. The first stop was to change clothes and police caught him leaving the second restroom. Guess the lesson to would be bank robbers is the super size convenience store soda is not a smart idea when committing a felony.

If Grier had made it to his getaway vehicle, he might do well to remember barbecue forks are not regulation police gear. No one told 69 year old Howard Schultz this little tidbit though before he was arrested for impersonating a police officer. Apparently Schultz convinced a driver to pull over by brandishing a barbecue fork at him from the side of the road. Obviously criminals aren't the only people in Florida who are a little slow on the uptake.

Here's a story about an appropriately named drug user in Florida who was arrested with 29.3 grams of marijuana. Florida police report that Mark Fiasco was pulled over by police who searched his car with his consent. In the trunk, police found the pot along with a bong that Fiasco claims he lost seven years ago. He was arrested for possession, but thanked police for locating his long lost bong. Now who says cops are bad guys?

Of course we need to go a little further south to find what I think is one of the most inane comments of the week. Venezuelan Leader Hugo Chavez said in a public address that the downfall of life on Mars occurred when capitalism was introduced to the planet's population. Exaggerating is one thing, but the downfall of an alien civilization blamed on capitalism? That is even a new one for me.

On a sad note, I would like to conclude my column this week by extending my thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of our dear colleague Joe Plasko. I, like most of us had the privilege of helping Joe out from time to time and I always enjoyed talking with him. He was always friendly, ever humble and inspiring and he will definitely be missed by everyone who knew him. Our prayers are with you in this time of grief.

Til next time …

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