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Addicted to Money



Curses, Foiled Again
After finding a gunman in his home in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., Jacques Baillargeon, 66, sprayed window cleaner in his face. The robber dropped a crowbar and a skullcap, and fled. Sheriff’s officials traced the man, identified as Nathaniel Lee Smith, 29, to his home after he called 911 to report someone had broken into his home and stolen a crowbar and a skullcap matching those left behind. Investigators concluded that Smith reported the items missing to cover himself if they were traced to him. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Mario Hili, 64, avoided thousand of dollars in traffic fines by reporting his car stolen each time a traffic camera caught him speeding or running a red light. After the latest incident, Senior Constable Siobhan Daly told an Australian court “it was the 21st time since 2000 that Hili had reported his car stolen. Each time, he would find it himself at various locations around Geelong.” Daly said that after the latest incident, police fingerprinted the car and found only Hili’s prints. (Australia’s Geelong Advertiser)

Addicted to Money
When Maureen O’Connor, 66, a former mayor of San Diego, appeared in court to answer charges that she had stolen $2,088,000 from a charitable foundation set up by her late husband, her lawyers disclosed that she bet more than $1 billion at casinos to feed her gambling addiction. Noting that O’Connor began gambling after her husband, fast-food chain Jack in the Box founder Robert O. Peterson, died in 1994, lawyer Eugene Iredale stated his client’s actions fit “the syndrome known as grief gambling.” She went through her personal fortune of between $40 million and $50 million, took out second and third mortgages on her home, auctioned her belongings and borrowed from friends. After O’Connor accepted a plea deal giving her two years to repay the foundation, Iredale declared, “This is a woman who has been through real trauma.” (The New York Times)

Rita Crundwell, 60, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $54 million from Dixon, Ill., while she was the small town’s comptroller. The thefts occurred over more than 20 years and funded a lavish lifestyle, which included prize-winning horses, expensive jewelry, luxury cars and extravagant parties. During this time, city officials said, her massive thefts crippled Dixon’s budget. She blamed the shortfalls on an economic downturn and late payments from the state government. Noting that since her arrest, his client’s cooperation with authorities in selling off assets toward restitution “has been extraordinary,” public defender Paul Gaziano urged a short sentence. Instead, U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard sentenced her to 19 years and seven months in prison, declaring, “You showed much greater passion for the welfare of your horses than the people of Dixon you represented.” (Chicago Tribune and Associated Press)

When Guns Are Outlawed
Authorities charged Timothy John Howard, 30, with robbing another man in Tulsa, Okla., by throwing porcelain tiles at him. (Tulsa World)

Police arrested Erik Brown, 36, in Port St. Lucie, Fla., after they said he struck a teenage relative in the face with a Taco Bell burrito during a domestic dispute. Officers reported the victim had “burrito cheese, sauce and meat all over his clothing and face.” (The Smoking Gun)

Police accused Ryan Herman, 23, of trying to take a dozen employees at a Walmart store in Glendale, Ariz., hostage by threatening them with a fire extinguisher. When police arrived and told Herman to drop the fire extinguisher, an officer said Herman raised it in a “threatening manner” and had to be Tasered. (Phoenix’s The Arizona Republic)

Cloak of Invisibility
A new fashion line aims to make wearers invisible to drone cameras. Stealth Wear, by designer Adam Harvey, is made from silver-infused fabric that reflects heat, thereby blocking thermal-imaging cameras. “There’s a lot of products in the stealth area that are too militaristic or are too associated with the tinfoil hat crowd,” Harvey said. “I tried to do something that’s in-between.” The line consists of a hoodie, which costs $473, and a burqa, which sells for $2,365. “These are really high-quality fashion garments, not everyday wear,” said Harvey, who previously designed an “anti-paparazzi” handbag that detects and neutralizes camera flashes, and the OFF pocket, which disables cell-phone signals. (U.S. News & World Report)

Second-Amendment Follies
While people entering the State Capitol building in Austin, Texas, wait to be screened by metal detectors and scanners looking for concealed weapons, armed lawmakers may bypass the lines by showing their concealed-carry permit. Of the 181 members of the state House and Senate, as many as half are armed, according to Alice Tripp, legislative director of the Texas State Rifle Association, who said, “There’s a couple who, I used to say, their desks would qualify as a gun show.” Several lobbyists, reporters and other regular visitors to the Capitol who don’t carry firearms nevertheless underwent training to get a concealed-handgun license just to qualify for the express entry. (The New York Times)

Since the Dec. 14 shootings at a school in Newtown, Conn., communities in Maine, Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania and Georgia have passed or considered laws requiring citizens to own guns. “Basically, this is a deterrent ordinance,” Councilman Duane Cronic said at the meeting in Nelson, Ga., whose city council unanimously approved mandatory gun ownership. “It’s no more than putting a sign in your front yard saying that ‘ADT protects this home.’ Now, the person that may be there [checking] your home out to cause harm to you or your family to break into your house has to decide, ‘When I break that door down, what’s on the other side of that door?’” (Associated Press and CNN)

We’re from the Government, and We’re Here to Help
Because electric and hybrid motor vehicles don’t make enough noise at low speeds to warn pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed requiring them to make additional noise at speeds slower than 18 miles per hour. The federal agency said it would leave it up automakers how to make the vehicles noisier. (The Washington Post)

Tom Ridge Solution
After the North Carolina House Judiciary C Committee approved a bill making it a felony to purposefully expose “private parts,” including a woman’s “nipple, or any portion of the areola,” state Rep. Tim Moore pointed out that women could avoid prosecution by applying duct tape to their nipples. “You know what they say,” Moore quipped. “Duct tape fixes everything.” (Raleigh’s WRAL-TV)

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.

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