Sunday, November 30, 2008


Ex allegedly plotted against hubby's nose
NEW YORK (UPI) -- A New York man claims a former friend attempted to obtain hired muscle to break her ex-husband's nose.

Hugo Gomez says Brazilian dancer Mariliza Cotoulas asked him to hire two men to break the nose of her ex, computer salesman Vassili Cotoulas, 46, "because his appearance mattered so much to him," the New York Post reported.

"She asked me how much it would take to beat ... him," Gomez said.

Vassili Cotoulas told the newspaper "she wanted to break my nose ... because of my plastic surgery."

However, he claims she did not want her hired thugs to stop with his nose. "She wanted to have me put in a coma, or a wheelchair," he said.

Mariliza Cotoulas was arrested on suspicion of criminal solicitation and other charges.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Fla. Mayor Shares Alleged Mobster's Name
ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. (UPI) -- Michael Finnerty, mayor of St. Pete Beach, Fla., says he'd rather not be mistaken for the Michael Finnerty recently indicted as a Gotti crime family figure.

Florida's Finnerty was alerted to the plight of his namesake when a reporter called asking if he was the man accused of violating racketeering laws as an associate of John Gotti Jr. He said "no," then joked, "Put those handcuffs on me, baby," the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported..

The mistake might have been made because both Finnertys are from the New York area, but the mayor is 60 while the indicted Finnerty is 43. And Mayor Finnerty pointed out he's not from New York City but from Fort Monmouth, N.J., the newspaper said.

"I guess the potato famine brought over all the Finnertys (from Ireland)," the mayor told the Times. "It takes all kinds of Michael Finnertys to make the world go 'round. I'm the craziest one around, though, because I'm the mayor."

The closest Mayor Finnerty said he's come sharing a mob connection was in an episode of the "The Sopranos" in which mob figure Tony Soprano has been shot and dreams his name is Michael Finnerty.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, November 28, 2008


Would-be robber leaves payoff
FORT WORTH, Texas (UPI) -- A would-be robber forgot to take his payoff from a coin-operated machine he crashed into in Fort Worth, Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says.

The unidentified suspect crashed a truck into the machine at a Fort Worth gas station, managing to knock the machine's collection box free, but then fled the scene without taking the booty, the newspaper said.

The Aug. 2 incident marked the second time this year such a botched theft occurred at the Fort Worth station, the Telegram said.

The station's car wash was targeted some weeks ago by a would-be robber who left behind a collection box full of coins after it was broken free.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Alligator Evades Capture
ATLANTA (UPI) -- A small alligator is believed to be still lurking in Georgia's Lake Lanier, state wildlife officials say.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that although officials don't consider the alligator a threat to lake visitors, they want to move the creature to more suitable habitat in south Georgia.

Scott Frazier, a Department of Natural Resources game manager and wildlife biologist, said the 3- to 4-foot alligator has yet to show up in baited traps set last week.

"As far as I know, he's still out there unless someone has gathered him up without our knowledge," Frazier was quoted as saying. "The traps are still out there."

The alligator was first sighted last month in the Flat Creek area of Lake Lanier.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Griffin theft has couple's claws out
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (UPI) -- A couple in Annapolis, Md., is furious that a group of teenagers allegedly stole a statue of a griffin from their front lawn.

Patricia Shema said she and her husband, Malcolm, were shocked to find several teens had managed to steal the nearly 4-foot-tall statue of the mythical beast, which is half-bird and half-lion, The (Annapolis, Md.) Capital said.

"I'm tired of 'kids being kids' -- of them having no idea of right or wrong and having no idea of personal property," she said. "I'm not looking for restitution, I'm looking for a permanent record."

Shema said the statue, which was taken Wednesday night, was specially made out of wood for the couple and would cost more than $2,000 to replace.

She said there was something of a silver lining for her -- the statue had been colonized by ants and she's hoping the critters have made themselves a nice home in the vehicle the thieves used to cart it away from her home.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Burglar shortens sentence with video
LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- A notorious Los Angeles serial burglar has made a deal to have time taken off his prison sentence in exchange for creating a training video for the police.

Ignacio Pena Del Rio, who was sentenced Tuesday to seven and a half years in prison for stealing more than $16 million worth of merchandise from multiple locations in the California cities of Burbank, Glendale, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Simi Valley, made a deal with the Los Angeles Police Department to have six months taken off his sentence in exchange for the burglar revealing the secrets of his success in a 70-minute training video for cops, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

LAPD Detective Bill Longacre said Pena Del Rio shared information in the video that could hopefully lead to more burglar arrests and prevention. He said the convicted burglar shared insights into how he chose victims and how he was able to talk his way out of tight spots on occasions when he was nearly caught.

"We let him ramble," Longacre said. "And he gave up a lot of good information."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, November 24, 2008


Dummy coyotes fool humans, not geese
HAMMOND, Ind. (UPI) -- Indiana officials said they plan to remove decoy coyotes from islands on Wolf Lake after they failed to scare off geese but successfully fooled motorists.

Officials said the dummy coyotes failed to stop geese from feeding on fresh plantings on the islands -- although they did spark multiple calls from motorists who believed the decoys to be stranded dogs, the Gary (Ind.) Post-Tribune reported.

"We've been getting calls from neighbors and people driving by, 'There's a dog trapped on the island!'" Hammond Port Authority Director Milan Kruszynski said.

Army Corps of Engineers contractor J.W. New placed the two-dimensional coyote cutouts on the islands last year, intending to scare off geese and ducks. A spokesman for the contractor said the items were initially effective.

"The geese are very wary of them, then eventually they figure it out," J.W. New spokesman Jon Dittmar said.

He said he can understand how some motorists may have been fooled by the dummy dogs.

"They're very striking when you first come upon them. I could see how it would be for someone driving by at 70 mph," Dittmar said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Father appalled by virtual audience to son's death
By SARAH LARIMER, Associated Press Writer Sarah Larimer, Associated Press Writer – Sat Nov 22, 6:53 pm ET
MIAMI – The father of a college student whose suicide was broadcast live over a webcam said Saturday he was appalled by the virtual audience that egged on his son and called for tougher regulation of Internet sites.
Abraham Biggs Sr. said those who watched and the Web site operators share some blame in his 19-year-old son's death.
"I think they are all equally wrong," he said. "It's a person's life that we're talking about. And as a human being, you don't watch someone in trouble and sit back and just watch."
Police found Abraham Biggs Jr. dead in his father's bed Wednesday, 12 hours after he first declared on the Web site for bodybuilders that he planned to take his own life. He took a fatal drug overdose in front of an Internet audience. Although some viewers contacted the Web site to notify police, authorities did not reach his house in time.
Biggs, who has said he was at work during the episode, said he had not known about his son's online presence.
"I think after this incident and probably other incidents that have occurred in the past, they all point to some kind of regulation is necessary," Biggs said. "I think it is wrong to have this happen for hours without any action being taken from the people in charge. Where were they all the time?"
The younger Biggs posted a link from the Web site to, which allows users to broadcast live with their webcams.
A computer user who claimed to have watched said that after swallowing some pills, Biggs went to sleep and appeared to be breathing for a few hours while others cracked jokes. Some users told investigators they did not take him seriously because he had threatened suicide on the site before.
Biggs Sr. said he believes the webcast was a cry for help.
"But rather than get help, he was ignored," Biggs said. "I would not want to see anything like that on the Internet and not try and get help for that young man. I think that's what the average person would do. Any normal person would do. I'm really appalled."
Pembroke Pines Police Department Sgt. Bryan Davis said no new information on the case was available Saturday.
Biggs Sr. said funeral arrangements have not yet been set for his son, who he said loved helping others.
"He was a good kid. Good kid," Biggs Sr. said. "It's a shame I wasn't there to help him. It's a big loss to me. I wish I was there to help him — since nobody else would."
Miami lawyer William Hill said there is probably nothing that could be done legally to those who watched and did not act. As for whether the Web site could be held liable, Hill said there doesn't seem to be much of a case for negligence.
"There could conceivably be some liability if they knew this was happening and they had some ability to intervene and didn't take action," said Hill, who does business litigation and has represented a number of Internet-based clients. But "I think it would be a stretch."
An autopsy concluded Biggs died from a combination of opiates and benzodiazepine, which his family said was prescribed for his bipolar disorder.
"Abe, i still wish this was all a joke," a friend wrote on the teenager's MySpace page.
In a statement, CEO Michael Seibel said: "We regret that this has occurred and want to respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time."
It is unclear how many people watched it happen. The Web site would not say how many people were watching the broadcast. The site as a whole had 672,000 unique visitors in October, according to Nielsen.
Biggs was not the first person to commit suicide with a webcam rolling. But the drawn-out drama — and the reaction of those watching — was seen as an extreme example of young people's penchant for sharing intimate details about themselves over the Internet.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

FAA: Mice caused small plane to crash
NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. (UPI) -- A pilot whose single-engine Cessna crashed in North Stonington, Conn., said investigators told him the crash was caused by mice aboard the plane.

Danny Hall said his 1968 Cessna suffered engine failure and plummeted into the Pawcatuck River Aug. 2. Federal Aviation Administration investigators told him a mouse nest was the cause of the engine trouble, WSFB-TV, Hartford, Conn., reported Wednesday.

Hall, 42, said the investigation found mice had built a nest in the plane that was sucked along with its occupants into the carburetor after he activated a device designed to prevent icing.

The pilot, who suffered only minor injuries from the crash, said there would have been no way to detect the mice and their nest prior to takeoff without opening up the plane completely for an inspection of its innards.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mooning prof. incident under investigation
HAYS, Kan. (UPI) -- Officials with Fort Hays State University in Kansas said a professor is being investigated after a video of him mooning students was posted on YouTube.

School officials said Professor Bill Shanahan became angered at a Fort Hays State debate team event when the team got low scores from two judges, KCTV, Kansas City, Mo., reported Wednesday.

The YouTube video depicts Shanahan jumping up and down and ranting before dropping his pants and mooning the crowd of students and teachers attending the event.

"We're sure that there's probably some facts and information that's just not available. I mean, you see a lot on the video, but we need to make sure everything is revealed before we take any action," Fort Hays provost Larry Gould said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Illinois bans 'Meth Coffee'
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (UPI) -- The Illinois attorney general has banned state retailers from selling a product labeled "Meth Coffee" because she said it glorifies drug use.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the drink, which does not actually contain methamphetamine, has been banned from the state because it violates the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices by comparing itself to illegal drugs, WQAD-TV, Moline, Ill., reported Wednesday.

The San Francisco-based makers of Meth Coffee said their product was designed strictly for sale online.

"(Meth Coffee) was never marketed or sold in stores in Illinois, and it is now no longer available online for purchase from, or shipment to, Illinois. Meth Coffee was founded by a group of comedians, artists, and rebels, some of whom are in recovery from methamphetamines. For us, recovery from addiction is no joke -- but Meth Coffee is," the company said in a statement.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International