Mad Minute stories from Monday, April 4th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Monday, April 4th

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A Chihuahua is in animal custody after leading police on a chase across the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge.
The California Highway Patrol tweeted the small black dog "led us on quite a chase" Sunday and posted a video of it running furiously on the upper level of the bridge while being trailed by a motorcycle officer.
After it was captured, the Chihuahua was taken to a San Francisco animal shelter where staff members named it Ponch, after the CHP Officer Frank Poncherello played by Erik Estrada in the TV series "CHiPs."
A spokeswoman for the city's Department of Animal Care and Control said the dog wore a tag decorated with a human skull, but it had no identification. Deb Campbell said the dog was recovering from its misadventure.

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A Louisiana man accused of stuffing $31 worth of candy bars into his pockets faces a possible sentence of 20 years to life in prison, prompting a judge to question whether the sentence was "over the top."
Orleans Parish prosecutors chose to charge Jacobia Grimes, 34, under a statute that boosts the alleged candy theft to a felony. The law applies to people who have been convicted of "theft of goods" at least twice. Grimes has five prior theft convictions, making him a "quad" offender under the state's habitual-offender law.
Grimes, 34, pleaded not guilty Thursday, The New Orleans Advocate reported.
The possible sentence raised questions with Judge Franz Zibilich, who was overseeing Grimes' arraignment last week.
"Isn't this a little over the top?" Zibilich said. "Twenty years to life for a Snickers bar, or two or three or four."
Grimes' attorneys, Miles Swanson and Michael Kennedy, said his prior guilty pleas were for similar shoplifting attempts, including stealing from a Rite-Aid, Save-A-Center, Blockbuster Video, and Rouses grocery stores.
Swanson said all the thefts were for less than $500 worth of items. The last theft of socks and trousers from a Dollar General store got him a four-year sentence in 2010.
One of his lawyers said he could have been charged under a different statute than the habitual-offender law.
"They're spending their time to lock someone up for years over $31 worth of candy," Swanson said.
Grimes also faces a charge of drug paraphernalia possession. He is currently free on $5,000 bond, court records show. His lawyers say he has a heroin problem. Grimes also has convictions for possession with intent to sell fake drugs and obscenity, a crime committed while he was behind bars, the newspaper reported.
Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, would not comment on the specifics of Grimes' case, citing office policy. He emphasized that the alleged crime was considered a felony by the state.
The case appears to be an extreme example of a widespread practice in Louisiana, which criminal justice reform advocates say has one of the toughest habitual-offender laws in the country, the newspaper reported.

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Croatian police are investigating the reported theft of 280,000 euros ($320,000) and two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of gold - all snatched from the headquarters of the Croatian police.
Helena Biocic of the police media office confirmed Monday that the theft had taken place, but refused to reveal any details.
The Jutarnji List newspaper, which reported what was taken, says the heist occurred late Sunday. The report says the thieves got in by the fire stairs and broke into the office of the organized crime department chief, Zeljko Dolacki.
The daily says police found an overturned, empty safe in the morning.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A pair of thieves stole an autographed motorized scooter donated by San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence from the city's Make-A-Wish Foundation office over the weekend, officials said Monday.
Foundation spokeswoman Jen Wilson said the burglars were caught on surveillance cameras as they also escaped with high-end backpacks, laptops, iPads and other items. The theft occurred Saturday night; no arrests have been made.
"It's confusing to think that would happen," said Pence in Milwaukee before the Giants-Brewers game on Monday. "There's a lot to celebrate with Make-A-Wish. All the kids that they've changed lives for. It's pretty uplifting. You never know what may come of something like that. In the grand scheme of things, it's going to work itself out."
Wilson said the thieves destroyed a couple door handles to access the office, which they ransacked.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization that last year arranged 400 wishes for San Francisco Bay Area children with life-threatening medical conditions. The wishes can be anything from a shopping spree or horseback riding lessons to a trip to Paris or a family vacation in Hawaii, Wilson said.
Last year, a foundation donor had paid $40,000 at an auction for the Major League Baseball player's scooter and dinner for four with him. The scooter was being stored at the foundation offices.
This was the second time the scooter has been stolen.
A few years ago, it was stolen outside a San Francisco restaurant and returned to police and then Pence.
Pence donated the scooter to the city's Make-A-Wish Foundation "because he wanted to say thanks to Batkid for making the streets of San Francisco safer," Wilson said.
Being Batkid was a wish granted to 5-year-old cancer survivor Miles Scott in 2013.
Wilson said the recent theft will not deter their good works.
"We will continue to do everything we can to grant every eligible child's wish," she said. "But (the thieves) should think long and hard about all the families that will be affected by this because not only does a child get a wish but their entire family participates in the wish."

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska is halting production of its new, widely mocked license plate after officials learned that the state icon depicted at the center wasn't drawn accurately, officials announced Friday.
The license plate is supposed to show the Nebraska Sower, a statue of a man throwing seeds from atop the state Capitol. However, the governor's office said the image on the plates used elements from a different artwork.
Since the design was unveiled last week, some people have called it boring. Others have joked that the way the man in the image is holding his grain satchel appears sexually suggestive.
Department of Motor Vehicles Director Rhonda Lahm said the state will redesign the plates to correctly depict the statue "so that production can resume in the near future." The new plates will be issued starting in 2017 as part of Nebraska's 150th birthday as a state.
The decision to halt production was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald.
State officials used an image that was submitted for a 2002 license plate contest. The artist, 43-year-old Jeff Heldt of Omaha, said he mistakenly used an image he found online from a relief sculpture on Michigan State University's campus in East Lansing.
"It was just a mistake on my part," Heldt said in an interview. "There's no conspiracy around it. In 2002, there weren't a lot of great pictures of the sower online. That was one of the more detailed ones."
Heldt didn't realize his artwork from the 2002 contest was used for the new plate until he read a newspaper article about the design. He dug through his files and discovered it was his image. The man in his image is holding his grain satchel differently than the figure on the state Capitol.
Gov. Pete Ricketts "appreciates the designer stepping forward to explain the sources he used to develop the submission," Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage said.
Nebraska's process for selecting license plates has faced problems before. In 2009, the DMV invited the public to vote in an online poll to choose from four design proposals. But the department threw out thousands of votes after discovering that a minimalist approach initially won only because a humor website had urged people to choose the most boring option.
Nebraska law requires the DMV to issue a new standard license plate every six years. The state's current plates depict a meadowlark and goldenrod.
The new plate is navy and gold, the colors of the state flag. It also shows the years 1867 through 2017, reflecting Nebraska's 150 years of statehood.
The DMV has said it expects to produce about 5.2 million plates with a new design between 2017 and 2022.

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SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (AP) - A Long Island man has been arrested after authorities said he put plastic bags over two red light cameras in Smithtown.
Suffolk County Police say 26-year-old Bryan Valentine, of St. James, was arrested Friday on criminal tampering charges.
They say Valentine placed plastic bags over two red light cameras at the intersection of Main Street and Landing Avenue around 5:30 p.m. Friday. Police say someone called 911 to report the incident and officers found Valentine nearby.
He is expected to be arraigned Saturday. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
Another Long Island man, Stephen Ruth, was arrested in September after police said he pointed red light cameras away skyward so they wouldn't capture violators. He has pleaded not guilty.

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The search for Barrel Bob - the Missouri Department of Transportation's mascot - is over.
Nearly two weeks since being stolen on a federal highway in Jefferson City, the 10-foot-tall sculpture made from recycled orange and white construction barrels turned up in a Boone County ditch Thursday evening.
Barrel Bob is a statewide pitchman for work-zone safety, a job that includes a social media presence.
A statement by the department jokes that Barrel Bob was "shaken up but appeared unharmed" and unsurprisingly refused medical attention, asking to be taken to the department's Columbia maintenance site.
The mascot has found itself in tough straits before. It was set ablaze last October.

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Police in Manchester, Connecticut arrested a husband and wife after an argument at Royal Buffet got out of hand on Saturday night.
Manchester police say they were called to 410 West Middle Turnpike for a dispute that started as an argument over crab legs at the buffet table and escalated into a physical confrontation. During the scuffle, a 21-year-old man was punched in the face and lost a tooth.
That man's mother jumped in and used pepper spray on her son's attackers. Her actions were in self-defense and she is not facing any charges, according to police.
Police arrested Clifford Knight, 45, and Latoya Knight, 38, both of Windsor. Clifford Knight is charged with third-degree assault and disorder conduct. Latoya Knight is charged with disorderly conduct and threatening. Police said the suspects are husband and wife.
Clifford Knight was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and Lataya Knight was released on a $2,500 non-surety bond. They are both expected in court on April 14.
The Manchester Fire Department responded to vent out the restaurant after the pepper spray was deployed.
The restaurant had to close while the health department assessed the air quality, but the restaurant said they opened for business at the usual time Sunday.

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NEW YORK (AP) - A bull that escaped from a holding area and darted through the streets of New York City has been captured and taken to greener pastures by Jon Stewart.
Officials tell The New York Times that the black and white Angus was spotted Friday in Queens. The bull was soon corralled at York College, where students snapped pictures and took videos.
The bull was dubbed Frank Lee after a prisoner who escaped from Alcatraz. It was later taken to an animal shelter by the former "Daily Show" comedian and his wife, who are animal advocates.
It's not the first bovine to hit New York's streets.
In January, a cow that fled from a slaughterhouse in Queens was taken in by an animal sanctuary and renamed for rock legend Freddie Mercury.

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DETROIT (AP) - Fans flocking to Detroit's Comerica Park for the 2016 baseball season can leave written pleas for their favorite team's success _ or for other reasons _ in a prayer wall next door to the stadium.
The Detroit News reports Saturday that the 9-foot-tall wooden wall at adjacent St. John's Episcopal Church is expected to be dedicated Sunday.
The dedication coincides with St. John's annual prayer service for the Tigers before the start of the regular season.
Church member Joe Alff tells the newspaper he got the idea for the wall after seeing one resembling Jerusalem's Western Wall at a church in Illinois.
Alff enlisted a neighbor to build the St. John's wall.
He says the church is putting together a team to periodically "pray that God answers" the prayers.
 

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