Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, May 11th - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, May 11th

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WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) -- A Massachusetts man accused of locking a Verizon worker inside an unventilated underground vault because he was upset the worker parked on his grass has pleaded guilty to kidnapping.
Westborough resident Howard Cook Jr. entered the plea Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court.
The 73-year-old Cook was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to complete an anger management program.
Authorities say the retired utility official locked Michael Hathaway in the vault in August 2013 by pulling out the extension ladder, locking the hatch and placing large rocks on top. The ventilation system automatically shuts off when the door is closed.
Police say Cook was upset that Hathaway parked on the grass at his business.
Hathaway used his cellphone to call police.

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BEIJING (AP) -- Next time you leave silly messages on the world's highest mountain, beware: China is watching you.
Mountaineering officials have scrubbed graffiti from two granite tablets on the Chinese side of Mount Everest's northern base camp and plan to name and shame future defilers.
State-run mobile news site The Paper reported Wednesday that workers removed the signatures, dates, doodles and messages left by scores of visitors. They include "let's wander together," ''farewell to the mountain" and "here I come."
The graffiti grew so thick it covered the information about the mountain carved into the tablets in Chinese, Tibetan and English.
The base camp at roughly 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) is a popular tourist site and has fallen prey to the sort of behavior the Chinese government says is uncivilized and vows to punish.
Along with publicizing the names of those leaving behind graffiti, base camp management is considering setting aside separate wall space just for visitors to write their names and other messages, a local tourism official, Gu Chunlei, told The Paper.
"It's a way of getting travelers to change their habits without even knowing it," Gu was quoted as saying. Similar graffiti walls have been set up at other scenic sites, including the Great Wall outside Beijing that has long been a target for those seeking to leave a mark of their visit.
As personal incomes have risen, Chinese have become avid travelers and bad behavior by some of them has become something of an embarrassment. Along with sharp criticism in the media and online forums, the government has set up an online national database naming those involved in particularly egregious behavior and giving airlines, hotels and other travel outlets the option of refusing them service.
In 2013, a Chinese teenager scratched his name on an ancient Egyptian temple and was roundly condemned by his fellow Chinese.
Everest itself has accumulated garbage, pollution and other ills brought by the vastly increased numbers of climbers and visitors to the peak that straddles China and Nepal.

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A passenger who authorities say forced an Alaska Airlines flight to be diverted after he didn't get a beer has pleaded not guilty in Portland, Oregon, to a charge of interfering with a flight crew.
A federal indictment unsealed Tuesday says 32-year-old Luke Watts of Portland threatened to become violent if flight attendants didn't serve him a beer during a March flight from Sacramento, California, to Seattle.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Tolkoff says Watts then locked himself in the bathroom and screamed and pounded on the door. He also demanded hugs from flight attendants.
Concerned about the potential for violence, the pilot decided to land in Portland.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta on Tuesday allowed Watts to remain free while awaiting trial.

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ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. (AP) -- A Pennsylvania police officer is following in his retired father's footsteps - all four of them.
The New Castle News says a 3-year-old German shepherd named Ranger is picking up where his father, 11-year-old Jozek, left off. Ranger will be a K-9 officer with the police department in Ellwood City, a borough 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
Jozek retired his badge on Monday. He has assisted in 64 apprehensions, 43 building searches, 174 drug searches and dozens of other tasks and demonstrations since joining the police force in 2007. The dog is responsible for seizing illegal drugs, nearly $30,000 in cash, five vehicles and 14 illegal guns.
K-9 handler Sgt. Michael McBride bred Jozek to keep the K-9 program alive and to get a free replacement for him.
Ranger was born in July 2012.

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A Florida man was slapped with a citation after Florida Fish and Wildlife officers made an unusual find in his dashboard: an alligator foot.
FWC officers stopped the truck to check for a day-use pass in a wildlife management area near Lake Okeechobee when they found alligator parts scattered inside the cab, the agency wrote in a Facebook post Monday.
Among the parts was a gator foot hanging out of the truck's dashboard.
The driver claimed the parts were from an alligator he had hunted a few years ago, but the smell told officers otherwise, the FWC said.
The man then confessed to killing the gator a few days before without a permit and was cited for the violation, authorities said.

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If you've never watched Antiques Roadshow, you're missing out. The show is a constant source of quirky entertainment, where experts appraise items and antiques belonging to random people. Sometimes the artwork or furniture that gets appraised is miraculously worth a jaw dropping amount -- other times it's worth next to nothing -- either way, it's amusing to watch. 
The experts who do the appraisals are extremely experienced in their fields, but recently, one made a bit of a snafoo. 
While the show was in Oregon, a man named Alvin Barr brought a clay jug onto the program last year. He had bought the pot with six beast-like faces on it, at an estate sale in Eugene, Oregon for $300. 
The appraiser, Stephen Fletcher, discussed how it had emerged somewhere in the "Middle Atlantic states headed southward," and was worth somewhere around $50,000.
Barr was delighted, up until now, when something changed. It turns out, the pot was actually made in a high school ceramics class in the 1970s by a woman who also lives in Oregon, named Betsy Soule. 
PBS has since issued a correction online, after Soule called the program and sent a photographer of herself surrounded by similar pots she had made. 
Oops.

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CINCINNATI -- The city's finest helped out a fine feathered friend Monday when officers untangled a gosling who was caught in Ohio on what appears to be a balloon string.
In a video posted by James Givens to the "Support The Blue With FOP #69" Facebook group, Mother Goose waits patiently nearby as an officer unwraps the fuzzy gosling. 
After just a couple minutes, the tiny waterfowl scurries back into the creek to savor its freedom and Mama Goose honks in thanks. 

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A developer convicted in a mortgage fraud scheme has pleaded guilty to additional federal charges after admitting he ordered his son to shoot him in the legs in an effort to collect on a disability insurance policy and delay his prison sentence.
Shannon Egeland, 41, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and willful failure to pay child support.
Egeland was vice president of the now-defunct Desert Sun Development company, which orchestrated tens of millions of dollars in mortgage fraud during Central Oregon's real estate boom and bust from 2004 to 2008.
A judge ordered him to federal prison on Aug. 1, 2014, to begin serving a 10-year sentence. The day before he was to report, he was wounded in a roadside shooting near Caldwell, Idaho.
Egeland, who had moved to Idaho in 2013, told police he was hit in the head and shot in the legs after stopping to help a pregnant motorist in the middle of the night. It was later revealed the shooting was staged, and he had directed his teenage son to shoot him with a 20-gauge shotgun.
The wire fraud charge stems from a disability insurance policy that Egeland applied for a week before the shooting that caused an amputation.
Besides suffering the disability in a deceitful manner, Egeland lied in the application he sent across state lines from Idaho to Portland's Standard Insurance Company. He told the company he had not been arrested in the past 10 years.
In addition to the fraud case that netted him a decade behind bars, he had committed two other crimes. In late 2010, he was convicted of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school. In 2013, he was convicted of theft for stealing $9 worth of items from a store.
Egeland, beyond answering procedural questions, did not make a statement at Wednesday's hearing in Portland. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Bradford said he planned to recommend a five-year prison sentence, tacked onto what Egeland's already serving.
U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown scheduled sentencing for Oct. 5, though it could get pushed back because it coincides with the trial she is overseeing for Ammon Bundy and others charged with occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon.

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A woman had to be rescued by police and firefighters after she got stuck inside a giant banyan tree in Key West.
Police posted a photo on Facebook Tuesday showing parts of the woman's legs and body sticking out of the tree, with officers standing nearby.
According to the Facebook post, Officer Scott Standerwick and fire rescue officials helped free the local woman.
"Protect and serve!" the Facebook post proclaims.
Still no word how the woman got stuck, or why she was barely wearing any clothes. 

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Nelson, WI - A 100-mile long garage sale is underway, up and down both sides of the Mississippi River.
From Red Wing to Winona, if you're willing to sort through stuff, you can find some real treasures.
Signs went up bright and early Friday morning in preparation for the day bargain hunters across the Mississippi have been waiting for.
And there couldn't be a better weekend to have it. With summer-like temps people can even head out to the lake after their done.
At these garage sales anything goes, and you never know what you'll find someone walking out with.
The true garage sale shoppers aren't letting one stone go unturned. One said they brought around $500 cash. Others even make it a weekend getaway.
From Winona to Prescott, Wisconsin, there's something for everyone on all 100 miles of the river no matter which side you decide to visit. 
You may find that one thing you've been looking for, or the thing you never knew you needed. 
Thousands of people have finished their spring cleaning just in time for you to take advantage of their finds. 
 

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