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News of the Weird



Lead Story

In a May article on eating habits in the "Stroke Belt"--a group of southeastern states with stroke death rates well above the national average--a Chicago Tribune correspondent described two signature dishes at Mulligan's bar in Decatur, Georgia: the Hamdog, a hot dog wrapped in half a pound of hamburger meat, deep-fried, and served on a hoagie roll topped with chili, bacon, and a fried egg; and the Luther, a half-pound bacon cheeseburger served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut.


Michael Scanlon, once a partner of former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to defraud his and Abramoff's clients and agreed to pay nearly $20 million in restitution for kickbacks he received. According to a May article in the News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, during the years 2002-'05--a period when Scanlon bought tens of millions of dollars in real estate, often paying cash--he spent his summers working six days a week as a lifeguard on the Delaware shore, last year earning $11.35 an hour. Now 35, Scanlon reportedly tried to line up the same job for this summer, but officials in Rehoboth Beach, fearing a possible media circus, turned him down.

In April a man legally known only as Leigh was arrested for trespassing at the courthouse in Machias, Maine, for the 24th time. A former employee of the state marine patrol, Leigh has devoted himself to getting arrested for trespassing as a protest, hoping to convince the court to grant him a new hearing on his 1993 conviction for reckless conduct with a firearm. He's spent about nine years in the county jail so far, and now has no other residence. Just before his most recent arrest, Leigh was convicted on trespassing charges number 22 and 23 and sentenced to time served, as he'd been in jail since the previous April; he spent the next two days doing errands, then went back to the courthouse to get arrested again.

Adventures in Ballistics

In May 44-year-old Robin Key was sitting in the passenger seat of a minivan stopped at a red light in suburban Tampa, Florida, when she was hit by a random shot fired through the windshield; she escaped with only minor injuries, however, as the .38-caliber bullet landed in her lap after being deflected by her seat belt and bra strap. And in April a bullet fired inside a Bronx nightclub passed through a bathroom door and came to rest in the hair weave of 26-year-old Glenda Clarke. (Her scalp was grazed and required three stitches.)

Government in Action

In 2004 Jason Lyon of Buffalo, New York, sprained his ankle jumping from a Humvee while serving with the National Guard in Iraq; following treatment, military doctors certified him OK for further combat. On returning home Lyon applied to become a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, but a USPS doctor ruled last fall that the injury had left him unfit to deliver mail. Only after the case attracted publicity did the USPS agree to accept a second opinion, and in April Lyon got word he'd been hired.

Ronald Michalowicz, 55, filed a lawsuit in May against his former employer, the village of Bedford Park, Illinois. When Michalowicz was fighting a rare form of cancer in 2004, the odds looked bad that he'd survive, much less return to his job of 27 years as a fire inspector. Accordingly some colleagues solicited donations from the community to help him cover expenses (first clearing the idea with the mayor) and ultimately raised about $25,000. But after grueling radiation therapy Michalowicz made it into remission and went back to work in 2005; months later the village, under a new administration, fired him, only a year short of retirement, for having accepted the contributions, which it said was in violation of state and local ethics laws.

Smooth Reactions

In Olympia, Washington, in May, assault defendant Justin Jacobson, 21, abruptly slapped his lawyer during jury selection; the judge declared a mistrial. And in the same month John Gomes, apparently not liking how things were going at his murder trial in Boston, stood up, grabbed his lawyer by the throat, and tried to strangle him until court officers pulled him off.

More Things to Worry About

Henry Kolsrud, 82, of Spokane, Washington, surrendered his dentist's license in May rather than face sanctions; state investigators alleged that Kolsrud had (among other things) allowed a cat to wander around his examination rooms, stored dental supplies and cat food in the same refrigerator, and used dental tools to scoop up cat feces and vomit.

Least Competent Criminals

According to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Star Tribune, an unidentified convicted criminal was caught bringing marijuana to a community-service assignment in May; his task was to help clean up the Saint Paul Police Department's dog training school in preparation for graduation ceremonies the next day.

Least Competent People

Shee Theng of Edmonton, Alberta, was sentenced to house arrest and community service in May following an assault conviction for an incident in which he attempted to style the hair of his sleeping girlfriend using a brush he'd attached to an electric drill, ripping out clumps of hair and bloodying her scalp. Theng, 30, said he'd devised the technique after seeing something similar on an infomercial but conceded he'd gotten equally poor results when he tried it out on himself first.


In December News of the Weird reported on a group of lawsuits alleging among other things that Seattle-area physician Dennis Momah had impersonated his twin brother, gynecologist Charles Momah, for the purpose of sexually abusing Charles's patients. In May a judge ruled that the plaintiff in the first suit had fabricated her story with the help of her lawyer, Harish Bharti (who represents most of the complainants); Dennis Momah was awarded more than $3 million for defamation, and Bharti was ordered to post the judge's ruling prominently on his Web site. Charles Momah's 2005 conviction for sexual abuse was not affected.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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