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 V.13 No.52 | December 23 - 29, 2004 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Maine—Workers at the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, Maine, got an extra shipment of leafy greens recently. While unloading a truckload of watermelons, a volunteer came across a 20-pound bale of marijuana. The man told police the marijuana, which was neatly wrapped with packing tape, was loaded near the front end of a tractor-trailer that was dropping off watermelons at the food bank's warehouse. After the bale was discovered, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency was called. An agent quizzed the volunteer, but it was quickly determined he had nothing to do with the illegal shipment. “It was definitely bizarre,” the volunteer, who did not want to be identified, told the Sun Journal of Lewiston. The marijuana, assumed to be from Mexico and worth an estimated $20,000, was seized as evidence and will likely be destroyed. The Good Shepherd Food Bank distributes donated food to more than 470 food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Maine.

Dateline: Idaho—James MacArthur, 46, of Nezperce, Idaho, picked the wrong place to conduct a drug deal when he sold some marijuana to a client in front of Phil Steen's house. Steen is the sheriff-elect of Lewis County and happened to be sitting on his front porch at the time. Steen had only lived in the house for about three weeks when he decided to enjoy the Saturday evening air. While sitting on the porch, Steen saw what looked like a drug deal taking place on the sidewalk in front of his house. When those involved noticed him watching, they simply told him to “look away.” Instead, Steen took down their license plate numbers. Steen's information led to the search of two houses and the arrest of MacArthur, who was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia. “They really picked the wrong house to be in front of,” Steen, who will be sworn into office next month, told reporters.

Dateline: Texas—Who says violent video games are bad for kids? Back in March, four men broke into Sandy Wilson's house in Santa Fe, Texas. Wilson was babysitting her three grandsons at the time. The four men pointed a gun at the kids and attempted to burglarize the home. The children happened to be playing a video game called Grand Theft Auto on their Sony Playstation at the time of the home invasion. The game features dozens of random police scanner messages, which the burglars heard and misinterpreted as actual police. Galveston County Asstistant District Attorney Michael Elliot explained to the local KTRK TV News, “The police in the game were saying, ’Stop. We have you surrounded. This is the police.' The burglars, unknowingly, thought this was the actual police and panicked.” The four men ran off, but were eventually apprehended. Last week, Samuel Woodrow received a five-year prison sentence. Ronnie Farris was sentenced to four years. Lucas Griffin received probation. Zachary Brandenburg is awaiting trial in January.

Dateline: Texas—San Antonio is now requiring strippers to cover up--with permits. Last Friday, the City Council approved an ordinance requiring strippers to physically wear adult entertainment permits while they are on stage. City Councilman Chip Haass pushed the measure, adopted unanimously by the 11-member council, as a way to make it easier for police to identify strippers. (Uh, Chip, the strippers are the naked ones up on stage.) Jim Deegear, a lawyer for several strip clubs in the city, said the measure was simply an effort to drive the clubs out of business. According to Deegear, forcing dancers to wear permits would put them in danger by making it easier for obsessed customers to find out a dancer's real name and address.

Dateline: Georgia—Don't screw with Santa! Holiday shoppers in Atlanta were shocked last week to see a man dressed as Santa pick up a two-by-four and start beating an elderly woman who was handing out religious fliers. According to witnesses, Elkin Clarke, 49, was dressed in a jolly red Santa suit when he crossed Broad Street, trotted to a train station and proceeded to beat 74-year-old Annie Ruth Nelson about the head and face. Eyewitness Aisha Albritton told WIS-TV News that she was in danger too, “I started screaming at him, ’What are you doing? Stop!' And then he comes at me, and my roommate starts screaming my name, and I start backing up. And I told him, like ’I'm sorry, sorry.' We ran and called police.” Police arrested Clarke for aggravated battery. Nelson, who was knocked unconscious, was taken to Grady Hospital. The suspect later accused the elderly victim of stealing a box of Hershey's chocolates from him, worth a reported $145. Witnesses could not confirm the alleged theft. “She was stealing my stuff,” Clarke told reporters. “I asked her 10 to 15 times not to touch my stuff.”

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.


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