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Religious Interpretation

The latest on quirky criminals, strange trends and odd events.

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Religious Interpretation
Brewery worker Del Hall of Newtown, Ohio, is taking an unusual approach to fasting for Lent this year. Hall, who works at the Fifty West brewery in Dayton, is going on an all-beer-only-beer diet until Easter. He told WKRC-TV that monks from the 1600s inspired him. "(T)hey would take a popular style of beer in Germany, bock beer, make it extra hearty and that would be their liquid bread, and that's what they call it," Hall said. He is, however, including all types of beer in his Lenten fast. "(T)his seems very daunting," Hall noted. "I'm just curious if I'm up to the challenge." He is planning to check in with his doctor during the fast.

Going Out in Style
Drivers along southbound Interstate 880 in Hayward, Calif., were pleasantly surprised on March 4 when they saw $20 bills flying through the air. Some motorists stopped to collect as many as they could, but the mystery lay in where they came from. The next day, members of a family, who wished to remain anonymous, admitted to KTVU that they tossed $500 worth of bills into the air as they drove back from a funeral; the unexpected windfall was intended to honor their deceased family member. It's an "Oakland thing," one person explained.

Scrooge Report
As Clayton Lucas, 25, was being transported through East Deer Township, Pa., from a halfway house to a treatment class on the morning of March 4 (69 days after Christmas), the van driver regaled him with Christmas songs. Turns out Lucas isn't a fan of holiday tunes, so he reached into the front seat and began choking the unnamed driver, who was strangled almost to the point of losing consciousness, according to police. KDKA reported that another driver flagged down a state trooper and alerted him about an altercation happening on the shoulder of the highway. After a struggle to get handcuffs on Lucas, the officer deposited him in the Allegheny County Jail, where he will face multiple charges.

Let's Make a Deal
In Granville County, N.C., Melissa Anne Godshall, 31, and her boyfriend, Robert J. Kennerley, 46, were minding their own business, panhandling at the side of the road, when a car pulled over and Godshall received an unusual proposal: Levan Lomtatidze, 44, from the nation of Georgia, would pay her $12,000, give her a car and make rent payments for her if she would marry him so he could stay in the United States. She agreed, according to U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr., and Kennerley served as a witness at their nuptials. Alas, this romantic partnership was not to be: On March 7, Godshall and Lomtatidze were indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud, visa fraud and making false statements in immigration proceedings, the Raleigh News and Observer reported. If convicted, the two face 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Best man Kennerley also faces prison time and fines for aiding and abetting marriage fraud.

Idiom in Action
In Ljubljana, Slovenia, an unnamed 21-year-old woman and a 29-year-old relative were arrested for insurance fraud, police announced on March 11, after the young woman cut off her hand in order to collect almost 400,000 euros in insurance payments. Two other relatives were released in the case. The four had recently signed up with five different insurance companies for life and injury coverage. "With one of her accomplices, she intentionally amputated the hand at the wrist with a circular saw, hoping to stage it as an accident," said police spokesman Valter Zrinski, according to the Daily Mail. The group left the hand behind when they went to the hospital, intending to ensure a permanent disability, said police, but doctors at the Ljubljana University Medical Center were able to retrieve and re-attach it. The woman and her accomplice face up to eight years in prison.

Anger Management: Wedding Edition
As a wedding party of 30 guests gathered on the beach at Oceanfront Park in Ocean Ridge, Fla., on March 3, Jeffery E. Alvord, 27, and his bride posed for photos before the ceremony. Trouble erupted when a 24-year-old man would not move from his spot on the beach to make way for the photos, The Palm Beach Post reported. In fact, Alvord told police, the man wouldn't relocate even after being offered $50 and became "very belligerent," so Alvord punched him in the nose. The victim told Ocean Ridge police a groomsman held him while Alvord punched him three times, and the police report noted that the victim's "nose appears to be out of place sitting more to the right of his face," and his glasses were broken. Alvord spent what would have been his wedding night in the Palm Beach County Jail and faces charges of aggravated battery and criminal mischief. He and his fiancee married the next day, shortly after his release from jail.

People Different From Us
He's been dubbed the Naked Carpenter for renovating his home wearing only a tool belt, but Robert Jenner, 43, of Snodland, Kent, England, seems to have crossed the line with local jurors. Jenner was convicted on March 12 of 10 counts of indecent exposure in Canterbury Crown Court. Jenner's nudist habits have put him on the wrong side of law enforcement before, reported Metro News, but this time his offenses included delivering packages for a courier service wearing trousers with a hole cut out of the crotch, exposing himself to a teenage girl, and running past a children's play area while wearing "see-through trousers." Jenner's attorney, Kate Chidgey, tried to explain her client's behavior: "It was not his intention that people were caused distress by what he did or didn't wear." She added that he strongly believes in "naturism."

Crime Report
Elysia Johnson, 21, apparently needed some alone time on March 9, so she took a full cart and a six-pack of Stella Artois beer into a dressing room at Target in Lathrop, Calif., where she hunkered down for more than an hour, according to police. Johnson finished all the beer and left the store—with about $200 worth of unpurchased merchandise. A loss prevention officer stopped her and she was taken to the San Joaquin County Jail, where she was held on $60,000 bail. Johnson also had three outstanding warrants, reported KTXL News.

Bright Idea
Looking for a way to banish evil spirits? Check in to The Lighthouse, near Frome, Somerset, England, where a group called Universal Medicine will help you burp your troubles away. The Mirror reports that the group, founded by Serge Benhayon in 1999, ran up against the law last year in Sydney, Australia, where a civil court declared it a "socially harmful cult" and found that it makes false claims about healing. Members are told what to eat and who to associate with. A girl named Kasha told the BBC her mum joined the cult when the girl was 12. "She started burping ridiculously and she said, 'I'm just burping out bad spirits,'" Kasha said. "She's still my mum and I love her. But she's never going to be the person that she was." Benhayon, a failed tennis coach who claims to be the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci, still lives in Australia but visits The Lighthouse twice a year.

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