Curses, Foiled Again
Max D. Hinton, 21, was interviewing for a job with the Montgomery, Ala., police when he volunteered that he possessed child pornography and had sex with an underage girl. An investigation led to a trial, a conviction and a 30-year prison sentence but no explanation why Hinton mentioned the pornography.
• When a sheriff’s deputy in Dodge County, Neb., tried to pull over a drunken-driving suspect, the car sped up. Then the driver lost control, drove into a ditch and wound up on train tracks. The Fremont Tribune reported that when the 21-year-old driver abandoned the car and hid from the deputy, a passing train rammed his car.
• Mitchell Deslatte, 25, drove up to a state trooper station in Baton Rouge, La., and asked the trooper at the front desk if he was in a hotel. WAFB-TV News said Deslatte was promptly booked for DWI.
U.S. border authorities ordered the removal of a glossy yellow sign spelling out “United States” in 21-foot-high letters on the side facing Canada at a new border station in Massena, N.Y. “There were security concerns,” Customs and Border Protection Agency official Kelly Ivahnenko told The New York Times. “The sign could be a huge target and attract undue attention.”
The agency approved the sign, proposed four years ago by the federal General Services Administration as part of that agency’s campaign to raise the standards of government architecture but, less than a month after the new station opened, began dismantling it. “At the end of the day, I think they were somewhat surprised at how bold and how bright it was,” said Les Shepherd, the GSA’s chief architect.
Render Unto Caesar
After Chicago banker George Michael claimed his $3 million mansion was really a church, the Illinois Department of Revenue exempted him from his $80,000 yearly property-tax bill. The Chicago Tribune reported that Michael’s evidence for tax-exempt status consisted of a copy of the identification card he received from the Internet-based Church of Spiritual Humanism by clicking a button on the outfit’s Website that read “ordain me” and a photograph of his church home depicting a cross on an exterior wall. The village of Lake Bluff, where Michael’s mansion is located, contested the exemption. Kenneth Galvin, an independent state administrative law judge working for the revenue department, reversed the exemption, calling Michael’s application “a sham.” He observed that the cross “was drawn on the photograph with a marker and did not physically exist.”
• Hawaii’s new law requires residents to pay taxes on any gambling winnings without being able to deduct losses. Even gamblers who wind up net losers will still be taxed on any pre-loss winnings, according to State Rep. Pono Chong, who sponsored the measure to bring in additional revenue during “a significant and possibly protracted economic downturn.” According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the Department of Taxation, which supported the bill, estimated the yearly revenue gain at $300,000.
• After Jeanette Jamieson of Toccoa, Ga., paid off a lien for $45,000 in state taxes owed for 1998 to 2005, Georgia authorities filed charges of tax evasion for the years 2006 and 2007. During all those years, Jamieson served in the state House of Representatives and, the Toccoa Record reported, ran a tax return preparation business.
Mensa Rejects of the Week
Two people declined to evacuate Big Tujunga Canyon during the wildfire in the mountains north of Los Angeles and decided to ride out the firestorm in a backyard hot tub. They wound up critically burned and had to be airlifted for treatment, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s official Steve Whitmore, who told the Associated Press the pair “completely underestimated the fire” and that the hot tub provided “no protection whatsoever.”
• Police in Charleston, W.Va., told WSAZ News that a 57-year-old man seriously injured his left hand when he tried to drill through a live round to make a keychain ornament, and the ammunition exploded.
Compiled from the nation’s press by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand. Submit items, citing date and source, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.