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Stranger Than Fiction



Curses, foiled again

Police caught a 26-year-old man suspected of stealing a bottle of Schnapps and some cough drops from a grocery store in Riverton, Wyo., after he hid in a nearby building, which happened to be the police station. A dispatcher spied the suspect on the station's surveillance camera and alerted officers. (KTAK-FM News)

Ironies illustrated

After paying $90 million for its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., the Mortgage Bankers Association sold the three-year-old, 10-story building for $41 million. The industry lobbying group moved into the building in 2008, just before its membership fell from 3,000 to 2,500, and was unable to find tenants for the 168,000-square-foot building when the leasing market slowed. (The Washington Post)

Michigan's Saugatuck Township asked voters to approve a new tax to fight lawsuits seeking lower taxes. Township Board Trustee Jim Hanson explained that lawsuits by developers and people trying to get property taxes reduced are draining the township's budget. (The Grand Rapids Press)

Anger management counselor Jose L. Avila, 57, was charged with pulling a gun on two men who he believed were blocking his car on a street in Annandale, Va. The two men were federal marshals. According to the court affidavit, Deputy Marshals Floriano Whitwell and Matthew M. Dumas parked in Avila's assigned parking space while conducting a fugitive investigation. Even though Dumas was wearing his "badge clearly visible hanging from his neck," he "noticed that Avila was aiming a gun at him." Avila drove off, but the marshals pursued him and pulled him over. Whitwell said they found a 9mm Astra A-90 pistol loaded with 14 hollow-point bullets on Avila's seat, but he insisted he had pointed a cell phone at the marshals, not a gun. (The Washington Post)

What do you think?

Police arrested Edward Rodriguez for drug possession after he aroused suspicion by hiding in a ditch behind a vacant home in Mesa, Ariz. A neighbor reported the man to police, who approached the man and noticed he was shirtless and wearing women's pants with a hole in the crotch exposing his genitals. The man was also wearing his underwear around his neck. (The Arizona Republic)

Police in Carroll Township, Pa., suspected John Russel Saum Jr., 42, might be driving under the influence after they observed him driving on a highway without a wheel on the front of his car. Sparks could be seen flying from the vehicle's disk brakes. Saum's blood-alcohol concentration was found to be twice Pennsylvania's legal limit. (Carlisle's The Sentinel)

Homeland insecurity

Some South Carolina lawmakers urged repeal of a state law requiring any group that plans to overthrow any government — federal, state or local — to pay a $5 fee to register with the state or face up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Until February, when Sen. Larry Martin said the 1951 statute is one more thing making South Carolina look bad, no one had registered in all the Subversive Activities Registration Act's 59 years. Secretary of State Mark Hammond said that since February, there have been at least 10 filings. Two actually paid the fee. (Associated Press)

Spelling counts

A French court ordered eBay to pay $316,500 to Louis Vuitton Malletier and stop using Internet search terms whose spelling closely resemble "Vuitton." Louis Vuitton complained that the online auction site had been buying keywords like "Viton," "Vitton" and "Wuiton" so that online shoppers who entered these misspellings into a search engine would be directed to links promoting eBay. The Paris District Court found eBay liable for harming the brand name's reputation. (Associated Press)

Chile's mint fired managing director Gregorio Iniguez after he put thousands of coins into circulation that misspelled the country's name. The 50-peso coins, worth about 10 U.S. cents each, were issued in 2008 with the country's name spelled "Chiie." No one noticed the mistake until late last year. (Reuters)

No guns needed

Police charged a 38-year-old man with using a Worcestershire sauce bottle to beat a 43-year-old man returning to his motel room in Florence, Ala. When the bottle wasn't getting the job done, the attacker switched to a fire extinguisher. (Florence Times)

Police in Allentown, Pa., said Aaron Ingram, 68, tried to rob his 51-year-old roommate by pretending a beer bottle was a gun. Assistant Chief Joe Hanna said that when the ruse didn't work, Ingram hit the roommate with the bottle and made off with the victim's wallet, money and other personal items. (The Morning Call)

Pranks a lot

A woman told police in Fredericksburg, Va., that she, her husband and a friend were at McDonald's drive-through when the friend asked for iced tea. When told she wasn't getting the iced tea, the friend put the woman's PlayStation 3 and some of her video games on the ground as a joke. By the time the victim drove back around to retrieve the items, a passenger in another vehicle had grabbed the game system and three of the games and driven away. Police Capt. Rick Pennock said he wasn't sure what the intent of the joke was, "but whatever it was, I don't think it worked out like it was supposed to." (Freelance Star)

A 21-year-old man told Milwaukee police that he thought it would be funny to play a practical joke on his 37-year-old mother by wearing a ski mask, confronting her behind their home when she returned from shopping and pretending to rob her. The mother pulled out a .357-caliber revolver, however, and opened fire, wounding her son in the groin. Police Sgt. Mark Stanmeyer said investigators are trying to determine if the man really was pretending or actually tried to rob his mother. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Way to go

Three weeks after her 100th birthday, retired schoolteacher Harriet Richardson Ames realized her lifelong dream when she was awarded a bachelor's degree in education at her bedside in Concord, N.H. The next day, she died. "She had what I call a 'bucket list,'" her daughter, Marjorie Carpenter, said, "and that was the last thing on it." (Associated Press)

The day that Deborah McDonald, 47, received a check from the Ohio Lottery for $5,520, she was celebrating with her husband, Robert, and friends at a bar in Margaretta Township, when she argued with Robert and left on foot. A few hundred feet from the front door, a car struck and killed her. (Sandusky Register)

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