Shirking-Class Heroes 

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Curses, Foiled Again
David Sherman, 49, stole a DVD player from a Walmart store in Gretna, Neb., but didn’t get far because 24 Sarpy County sheriff’s deputies were in the store for “Shop with a Cop Night.” Some of the deputies escorting 75 underprivileged children spotted Sherman running from the store with the DVD player, gave chase and caught him hiding in a car. (Omaha’s WOWT-TV)

• Bolivian authorities intercepted a van carrying 204 1-kilogram bags of cocaine that aroused their suspicion because all of the brick-sized bags were wrapped in red and stamped with the Nazi swastika. (Australia’s News.com.au)

Shirking-Class Heroes
Scott Bennett, 45, published a newspaper obituary for his mother, even though she was still alive. Brookville, Pa., police Chief Ken Dworek said Bennett submitted the bogus notice to The Jeffersonian Democrat so he could get paid bereavement leave from his job. After the mother appeared at the newspaper to dispute the obituary, Bennett was charged with disorderly conduct. (Oil City’s The Derrick)

• Manhattan high school teacher Mona Lisa Tello, 61, claimed to have been on jury duty for a total of 15 days, but authorities accused her of forging her jury-duty notice. “The letter had wrong dates, wrong room number, wrong address, different words misspelled,” city school district Special Commissioner for Investigation Richard Condon said. “She had not done any jury duty.” Tello resigned but kept her pension. (New York’s WCBS-TV)

• Joan Barnett, 58, told her employer that her daughter died in Costa Rica so she could spend two and a half weeks vacationing there. Barnett, who lost her job as a parent coordinator at Manhattan High School, aroused suspicion by faxing a death certificate to the school to qualify for bereavement leave that had “slightly different fonts which were not aligned properly,” according to special investigator Richard Condon. Investigators also confirmed that Barnett booked the tickets for her vacation more than three weeks before she said her daughter died. (New York’s Daily News)

Second-Amendment Follies
After Transportation Security Administration screeners detected a loaded gun in a carry-on bag at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, they turned it over to police Officer N.J. Phillips. Richard Popkin, the owner of the .22 Magnum revolver, was telling Phillips how to clear the weapon when it accidentally fired, Phillips said, “grazing the left side of my face.” (CNN)

• Two sheriff’s officers were eating at a convenience store in Sevierville, Tenn., when they began discussing the weight difference of their semi-automatic service weapons. Cpl. Chris Huskey, 40, unloaded his .40-caliber pistol and handed it to Deputy Adam Bohanan, 27. Bohanan handed the gun back to Huskey, who started to reload, but the gun accidentally fired. The bullet went through a 15-inch computer screen and continued into a cooler, where it lodged in a package of bologna. (Knoxville News Sentinel)

• Police arrested Bill Robinson, 66, for firing a 12-gauge, double-barrel shotgun at some mistletoe on a tree at a shopping mall in DeKalb County, Ga. Insisting that a shotgun is the best way to get mistletoe, Robinson explained he would’ve gotten it from a neighbor’s tree, but the neighbor was away. “I didn’t want to go shooting in his yard if he wasn’t home,” he said. (Atlanta’s WGCL-TV)

• A 22-year-old Navy SEAL shot himself in the head at his home in San Diego, Calif., while trying to convince a companion that the pistol was safe to handle. Police officer Frank Cali said the man had been drinking with a woman and was showing her his 9 mm handgun, which he believed was unloaded. He offered to let her hold it, but when she declined, he tried to demonstrate how safe it was by putting it to his head and pulling the trigger. (Escondido’s North County Times)

Too Short to Run
U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney denied a request by four presidential candidates to add their names to Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot because they failed to collect the required 10,000 signatures. Only Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul qualified. In addition, state officials said Newt Gingrich’s petition had 1,500 signatures that appeared to be signed by the same person. “If someone is running for president of the United States,” state Sen. Ryan T. McDougle, chair of the Virginia Senate Republican caucus, said, “you would think they would understand the requirements.” (The Washington Post)

Time-Biding Follies
A Canadian couple was vacationing in Oregon when the 75-year-old wife died in their car. The 71-year-old husband then drove for 225 miles with her body beside him before calling authorities, who advised him to stop at the nearest police station. She was examined and officially declared dead. “He wasn’t sure what to do, so he kept driving,” said police Chief Robert Burks of Tonasket, Wash., about 20 miles south of the border. “He was taking her home, probably, to deal with it up there.” (Washington’s The Wenatchee World)

• Paramedics responding to a 911 call from a man reporting that his 78-year-old mother was experiencing chest pains said that when they arrived at the Philadelphia home, the man asked if they could also take his 84-year-old father, who a police source said had been “dead for a couple days.” (Philadelphia’s Daily News)

Be Fruitful and Multiply
Despite “legitimate concerns” by federal health authorities, Trent C. Arsenault, 36, vowed to continue making free sperm donations, insisting he’s helping low-income people with infertility. Arsenault, a computer-security expert who lives in Freemont, Calif., claims to have fathered 14 children, with four more on the way, and donated sperm to between 60 and 75 families since he started offering his services in 2006. Food and Drug Administration officials notified Arsenault to cease his operation for failing to follow rules governing sperm banks, but his lawyers insisted the standards don’t apply because his donations are “individual intimate partner arrangements” allowed by law. (MSNBC)

• Bill Johnson, 52, a conservative Republican who ran for governor of Alabama in 2010 and has campaigned against same-sex marriage, spent most of 2011 in New Zealand coordinating earthquake recovery efforts and donating sperm to lesbian couples. Johnson, who is married, used an alias to meet women online that wanted to get pregnant. Three women he met are pregnant, another three have received his sperm and three more are considering his services. He explained the urge to become a biological father was “a need that I have.” (Auckland’s New Zealand Herald)

Compiled from the press reports by Roland Sweet. Authentication on demand.

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