Odds & Ends
Dateline: Italy—Investigators in Naples are looking into the possibility that pizzas in the famed city are being baked with wood stolen from a local cemetery. “Pizza, one of the few symbols of Naples that endures ... is hit by the concrete suspicion that it could be baked with wood from coffins,” wrote Italian daily Il Giornale. Neapolitan pizza is traditionally cooked in a stone oven over an oak-wood fire. The newspaper reports that local police believe criminals may be offering smaller, low-end pizza shops a cheaper alternative. “A gang might have set up a market for coffins sold to hardhearted owners of bakeries and pizzerias looking to save money on wood,” Il Giornale said. Naples’ historic graveyard has long been a target for thieves. Last year, some 5,000 flowerpots were looted from the cemetery grounds.
Dateline: Massachusetts—A father has been caught allegedly trying to trade his baby daughter for some beer outside a gas station convenience store in Chicopee. Chicopee Police Sgt. Christopher Lareau told WWLP-22 News that 24-year-old Matthew Brace of Northampton offered his 3-month-old daughter to a maintenance man working outside the Pride gas station in exchange for two 40-ounce beers. The incident took place at around 1 p.m. last Monday. The infant’s mother, 31-year-old Wendy Arsenault, was inside the convenience store at the time. Brace put the baby in the worker’s truck and said, “For two 40s, you can have her.” The worker then called police. Officers found Brace hiding behind a trash container trying to dispose of the baby’s stroller. According to news reports, the parents are on public assistance and have been living at a nearby Econo Lodge. Arsenault later told WWLP-22 she was buying cigarettes at the time and knew nothing about Brace’s business deal. Brace was not arrested but was summoned to court on charges of reckless endangerment of a child. The baby is now in state custody.
Dateline: New Jersey—A group of high school students almost got a free trip to an amusement park instead of the ride to school they were expecting. Officials say a school bus driver who showed up early accidentally collected 30 Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School students instead of the seventh and eighth graders he was supposed to pick up and take on a field trip to Six Flags Great Adventure. The students boarded the bus around 7:45 a.m. last Wednesday morning but became concerned when the driver passed their school and got onto the New Jersey Turnpike. Several of them called their parents. The scrupulous students told the driver they weren’t supposed to be going to an amusement park and eventually convinced him to turn around and take them to school instead.
Dateline: Georgia—How bad are our country’s economic woes? About 180 county employees in suburban Atlanta are being asked to return thousands of dollars in bonuses they received—16 years ago. Gwinnett County’s chief financial officer, Aaron Bovos, calls it a project to “clean up receivables and to eliminate outstanding obligations.” According to the county, employees weren’t actually supposed to get bonuses to their paychecks back in 1994. Authorities blamed the overpayments on a “payroll anomaly” caused by the county adjusting employees’ payroll cycles. More than $39,000 was paid out, and now the county wants it all back. Employees can fork over a cash payment or apply the money to vacation time.
Dateline: Florida—A Daytona Beach woman has been arrested after allegedly assaulting a drive-through worker at a fast food restaurant with a Taser over a lack of condiments. Melanese Asia Reid and her friend Katrina Mari-Alyce Bryant placed an order at the drive-through window of a Wendy’s restaurant last Monday morning. When the drive-though attendant failed to include the requested mustard and mayonnaise packets, the two women became verbally abusive and used what was described as “discriminatory language.” Reid then tried to slap the worker. The worker deflected the blow, which only seemed to make the customers madder. Reid and Bryant responded by parking their car and entering the restaurant armed with a pink stun gun. Reid began chasing the worker around the store, while Bryant cheered her on. Reid was unable to get a clear shot, and the women left after the manager threatened to call police. Unwilling to leave it at that, the two women went home and later called the Wendy’s store to complain about their continuing lack of condiments. The manager tricked the women into saying where they were, and police tracked them down. Reid is now charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and Bryant is charged with being a principal to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.