Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, December 1st - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, December 1st

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- A Canadian man caught at a border crossing with 51 turtles tapped to his body pleaded guilty Tuesday to smuggling or attempting to smuggle more than 1,000 of the reptiles out of southeastern Michigan.
Kai Xu, 27, would order turtles online and travel to the U.S. to pick them up and then ship them to China or return with them to Ontario, Canada. He pleaded guilty to six crimes in federal court in Ann Arbor and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
It's illegal to export wildlife from the U.S. without a permit from the government.
Xu "regularly deals in turtle shipments worth $30,000, $80,000 or $125,000," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said in a court filing. "In China, the turtles he smuggles are worth two to three times the amount he pays here."
Defense attorney Matt Borgula declined to comment after the guilty plea.
Xu has been in custody since his arrest in suburban Detroit in September 2014. He describes himself as an engineering student at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, although the university said he wasn't enrolled at the time of his arrest.
In summer 2014, weeks before his arrest, Xu was under surveillance in Detroit. After picking up a box at a United Parcel Service site, he hid behind trucks and emerged with "irregularly shaped bulges" under his sweat pants, wildlife agent Ken Adams said.
Xu returned to Ontario but was stopped by Canadian border authorities who found 51 live turtles taped to his legs, including box turtles and terrapins.
Despite the bust, "he did not cease smuggling turtles. He did not even slow down," Woodward said.

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- A pet tortoise stolen during a home invasion got to ride shotgun when Albuquerque police returned the reptile to its owner.
Officers responding to the Sunday evening home invasion were able to get a description of the car in which three suspects drove off with the 10-year-old tortoise.
Police then were able to locate and stop the car. They found straw from the tortoise's pen on the car's front seat but not the tortoise itself.
However, questioning of the suspects enabled police to find the tortoise in the home of a friend of one of the suspects.
The tortoise was returned to a tearful owner. The three men were arrested and jailed on suspicion of aggravated burglary and other crimes.

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HONOLULU (AP) -- A dog bound for its new owner in Mississippi ended up in Honolulu instead.
The Pembroke Welsh corgi was headed from Seattle to her new owner in Mississippi on Saturday when she made a wrong connection in Dallas, American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said. American Airlines says the company is looking at its procedures to figure out how the corgi ended up on the wrong plane.
When breeder Paul Chen was notified that Bethany was misplaced, he reported the dog missing and offered a $1,000 reward.
Bethany left the islands on Monday for Dallas. She was at a Texas kennel on Tuesday and was expected to fly to her new owner on Wednesday, Huguely said.
Such mishaps involving dogs and cats are rare. According to U.S. Department of Transportation figures, 28 pets died, 21 were injured and two were lost by airlines in the first nine months of 2015.
A dog died on an American Airlines flight in April. The airline said it couldn't determine the cause. A cat escaped from the cargo hold of an American plane in February; the cage door had not been secured with zip ties as required.
Beginning in January, airlines will have to disclose more information about shipments of pets, including the number of animals they carried in the previous year.

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) -- A former Ohio Lottery Commission employee has been sentenced to probation for stealing $115,000 in instant lottery tickets and cashing in winners.
WFMJ-TV in Youngstown reports a judge in Mahoning County ordered David Dragelevich (druh-GEL'-uh-vich) on Monday to pay restitution and serve five years of probation.
An Ohio Inspector General's office report released last May said Dragelevich would keep tickets returned from an unidentified retailer, then enter in a lottery database that they'd been resold and cash out winning tickets. The report says Dragelevich told State Highway Patrol investigators he cashed some tickets.
The 40-year-old man from the Youngstown suburb of Poland resigned from the lottery in January 2014.
Authorities say the scheme was uncovered after a supervisor found scratched-off instant tickets in his state-issued van.

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NORWALK, Conn. (AP) - Squirrels are out to ruin Christmas in one Connecticut city.
Officials in Norwalk are blaming the critters for chewing through the wires on several strands of lights on the Christmas tree outside city hall.
Ken Hughes, Norwalk's superintendent of parks, tells The Hour that when he tested the lights Monday in advance of Wednesday night's official tree lighting ceremony, only about a quarter lit up. That's when he noticed that a wire near the bottom of the tree had been chewed through.
It took someone in a bucket truck more than three hours to go up and down the tree to find and replace other chewed wires. Fortunately, the strands of lights only cost about $17 each.
Officials figure squirrels are to blame because they can climb high enough.

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CAMDEN, S.C. (AP) - Authorities in South Carolina say a man has racked up his second charge in five months for driving drunk at speeds of more than 100 mph on the same highway.
Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said in a written statement that 28-year-old John Hannah was stopped Saturday by his traffic unit after deputies clocked him clocked doing 115 mph while he was driving under the influence on Interstate 20.
Matthews says Hannah was also stopped June 13 while driving 114 mph on the same interstate, also under the influence. Court records show Hannah has requested a jury trial on the earlier charge. The records did not list an attorney for Hannah.
Matthews says Kershaw County charged 12 people with DUI during a drunken driving crackdown this past weekend.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - A friendly pig with pink toenails was rooting her way through a Florida flower bed when something caught her attention: dog treats.
Turns out the wayward black-and-white oinker has an affinity for canine snacks and was easily lured out of the flowers Monday by animal control officers.
Clearwater police have posted a photo of the manicured porker on their Facebook page in the hopes that its owner will come forward.
For now the pig is in custody of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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A skyscraper in Manchester is causing an incredibly loud nuisance for people who live nearby. 
The Beetham Tower has a glass blade at the top of it, and every time the wind blows, it makes a creepy and loud scream-type sound. The architect says the blade is just decorative, and that the sound effect for the 47-story building was unintentional. 
No word if he's going to be able to arrange for the blade to come off. 

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Some people in Kent, England really like Kanye West apparently. They've created a petition to rename a 19th century train station after him, specifically changing "Canterbury West" to "Kanye West Station"
The campaign was originally posted on Change.org as a joke, but it now has more than 1,000 signatures.
The page calls to honor the rapper by transforming the station as a tribute for the "greatest human being of our time."
The petition reads, "We cannot undo past wrongs, such as retroactively giving Taylor Swift's Grammy Award to Beyonce, any more than we can save Jesus from crucifixion (although technically God kind of took care of that)," it goes on to say "But we can show our appreciation in other ways, and what better start than renaming Canterbury West Station to Kanye West Station?" 
The owners and Kanye have yet to comment on the petition.

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) - An Ogden mother has been charged on accusations she drove around town with her daughter and other children throwing eggs at homes and cars.
The Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden reports that investigators say Jennifer Terry and the girls threw eggs at as many as 20 homes in the Ogden area. The vandalism occurred on Aug. 20.
Prosecutors say it caused an estimated $2,350 in damage to one house's stucco and $3,000 in damage to a car's ignition.
Terry is charged with a misdemeanor count of causing a catastrophe.
The AP sought comment on the charges from Terry, but could not verify whether she had a listed telephone number or an attorney.
Prosecutors say Terry told police she did it due to family issues and because she didn't care.
 

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