Mad Minute stories from Monday, February 12th

NEW YORK (AP) - A New York City man who says he has a fear of the Tasmanian Devil claims his father-in-law repeatedly scared him with a toupee that looks like the cartoon character.

The New York Post reports Yunes Doleh was arrested in November for violating a restraining order filed by his son-in-law, Mazen Dayem. The 36-year-old says Doleh terrorized him at a funeral by waving the hair piece and snarling.

The Staten Island man says he's had a fear of the Tasmanian Devil his entire life. Dayem claims his father-in-law has taken advantage of his phobia since 2013. Dayem filed a restraining order in September following an altercation with Doleh at a restaurant.

An attorney for Doleh labeled the case a "family dispute."

Doleh faces charges of criminal contempt and aggravated harassment.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Most golfers like short par 3s, but West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice probably wishes No. 18 at the Greenbrier Classic in 2015 was a little longer - 33 yards longer to be exact.

In 2015, Justice's charity promised fans at the 18th hole $100 for the first hole-in-one and $500 for the second in 2015. Professionals George McNeill and Justin Thomas aced the 137-yard hole, forcing the charity to give almost $200,000 to fans around the green.

The charity took out an insurance policy on the payouts, but a federal appeals court says the policy only covered holes at least 170 yards long.

Old White Charities Inc. accused the insurer of breach of contract for not covering the payout, but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that claim.



SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A marijuana activist whose advocacy dates to the 1960s counterculture has been arrested in California toting 22 pounds of illegal marijuana, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Irvin Dana Beal, 70, of New York, was arrested Saturday in far Northern California after prosecutors said his rental car was spotted weaving across the road and driving 20 miles below the speed limit. James Statzer, 51, of Michigan, also was arrested.

The arrest occurred along a well-traveled highway in California's famed Emerald Triangle area, known for its high-grade pot. A police dog smelled marijuana during the stop and 22 pounds of the drug was found.

Both men pleaded not guilty to charges of possessing drugs for sale and felony transportation charges and were being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Beal has been promoting marijuana's medical benefits for decades. His activism dates to the 1960s heyday of Abbie Hoffman and the Youth International Party, known as the Yippies.

Recreational sales of marijuana become legal in California on Jan. 1, and medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996. But it's still illegal to transport large quantities of the drug or to take it out of state.

It's not uncommon for traffickers to think they can now transport pot risk-free, said Deputy District Attorney Colleen Murray, who is prosecuting the case.

"People are like, 'It's legal.' So often they're very open with officers, 'Oh hey, I have 100 pounds,'" she said. "That's not the way it works."

Defense attorney Tom Ballanco said it's not clear if his two clients thought they were acting legally.

Friends were raising money for Beal's bail, Ballanco said, concerned that he is a heart attack survivor and has other illnesses. Beal isn't a flight risk and looks forward to fighting the charges, Ballanco said.

"The nature of his life, really, is one of activism. He's not the type of person who's going to flee from this," Ballanco said. "He's certainly a very colorful figure. I'm happy to be representing him and his co-defendant."

For law enforcement, these were routine arrests in an area where traffickers typically tote hundreds if not thousands of pounds of famed Emerald Triangle pot to East Coast states.

"People can buy it here for maybe $800 or $1,000 a pound," Murray said. "Once they get back there ... they're going to get maybe $3,000 to $4,000 a pound for it. That's a nice profit."


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) - With Hurricane Irma approaching Florida in September, Cynthia Copley, 70, and her 69-year-husband frantically made plans to evacuate. But they needed help moving $26,000 in gold bars they'd bought for their retirement. They asked their neighbor to help them move the bars, which were hidden in a cat litter box, to a boat on their property for safekeeping.

The storm didn't hit Panama City, where the couple lives in Florida's Panhandle. And they thought all was fine until they discovered their gold was missing about a week later. They called their neighbor, Corey Lofton, who had helped them move the gold bars, but he told them he had moved to Jacksonville.

So, they called the Bay County Sheriff's Office on Sept. 15. And three months later, Lofton is back in Bay County to face grand theft charges. He was arrested this week in Jacksonville on DUI and violation of probation charges and was returned to Bay County.

Why did the Copleys stash between 15 and 20 gold bars in a cat litter box?

"We were frantic," Copley told the News Herald. "We were so worried about the storm. Unfortunately we didn't think about anyone taking advantage of us."

She said they put the litter box on their boat and moved it to an inland property to weather the storm.

In an incident report filed in September, the sheriff's deputy wrote that he contacted Lofton's mother who lives next door to the Copleys. She told investigators she didn't know where her son was, but that "he had spontaneously left town over the weekend to work in Jacksonville."

Lofton had been arrested on a drug charge in May and violated his probation by moving to Jacksonville.

The Copleys invested in gold to help prepare for retirement. She said the sheriff's investigators haven't told her whether they recovered any of the gold.

"We kind of figured it was long gone. We were hopeful, but since that happened in September, it's pretty much a lost cause," she said. "I just want to see him in jail."

Lofton has a Feb. 6 court date.

A lawyer for Lofton wasn't listed on court records.


ARGYLE, N.Y. (AP) - Residents of a rural upstate New York town have found the source of a powerful stench plaguing them this fall: hundreds of pounds of rotting moose meat dumped along a road.

The Post-Star of Glens Falls reports someone had discarded parts of a moose carcass over an embankment in the town of Argyle, near the Vermont border, 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of Albany.

Residents found a moose's head, hoofs, pelt and other parts strewn around the area.

State Department of Environmental Conservation officers investigated and determined the remains were dumped by an Argyle man who had legally shot a 665-pound bull moose in northern Vermont earlier this fall during the state's moose hunting season.

The department ticketed him for unlawful disposal of solid waste.


FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) - A homeless woman has been accused of trying to steal more than $1,000 in goods from a Massachusetts Target store during a Shop with a Cop holiday event attended by dozens of police officers.

The Boston Globe reports Melissa Allen was stopped as she tried to leave the store with the unpaid merchandise Tuesday. There were more than 50 Framingham police officers in the store as part of a charity event for children sponsored by their department.

Police say Allen had a bin filled with items she tried to steal, including clothing, accessories and home goods.

Allen was charged with larceny over $250 and resisting arrest. She was arraigned Wednesday.

WBZ-TV reports Allen's lawyer said she's living with a friend, has no money and wants to go to rehab.


A Bronx woman intending to share news of her engagement with a friend texted the wrong number, reaching a celebrity who ended up becoming a very special part of her announcement. 

Charlyn Willis had texted a smiling selfie featuring her new ring to a number she thought belonged to her friend. Turns out the number belonged to Sarah Michelle Gellar. 

Gellar took to Instagram to broadcast the stranger's happy news to her 1.7 million Instagram followers: "This is Charlyn Willis... She got engaged today and texted her sister but by accident she got me... CONGRATS!!!!"

Willis recorded the story and posted it to her Facebook, writing: "I guess the best way to announce your engagement is to have a celebrity do it for you. THANKS Sarah Michelle Gellar... AND YES, I SAID YES TO DEE!!!!" 

Gellar even chimed in on the Facebook thread, saying, "Here to help!!!!" 

Willis replied, "You really have no idea how amazing you are for this!" 

Willis tells News 4 she'd been trying to get in touch with her best friend from childhood -- a girl with whom she used to be so close they called each other sisters, and with whom she only recently reconnected on her last trip back to New York.

"She was a kindred spirit, and I wanted to text her the news," Willis said. "I sent the selfie and said, 'I'm getting married' with a bunch of ridiculous emojis." 

Willis got a text message back from a woman named Jenna, who turned out to be Gellar's assistant. 

"Jenna said, 'Hey, just tell me who you are so I can forward this message to Sarah,'" Willis said. "I said, 'I don't know who Sarah is, but I apologize for the inconvenience! Have a nice holiday!'" 

Jenna responded, "This is so funny. I'm going to tell her your message anyway!" 

And that's when Gellar posted the photo to Instagram, helping the sweet little announcement go viral. 

"I was just fangirling," said Willis, who has been an avid follower of Gellar since the actress' "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" days, and can vividly recall when Gellar and Prinze got married. "As far back as I can remember, she's been a staple in my childhood life."

"I'm not a teenybopper -- I don't cry and squeal and get stupid, but I've been losing my mind," Willis laughed. 

Willis lived in the Bronx all her life until moving to Savannah two years ago "for love." And it looks like it's all worked out. 


Fort Worth, TX - He's out for blood... and whatever you've got in the cash register.

Authorities in Texas are looking for a robber who disguised himself as Dracula.

Police say the man walked into a credit union in Fort Worth and showed bank clerks a pistol before demanding cash.

The clerks handed over all of the money, and the robber got away.

Police say he left in a white Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck with a camper attached to it.

Evidently this isn't the first time the vampire thief has drawn blood.

Police say two similar robberies happened in Denton and Grapevine, with the robber wearing the same mask and escaping in the same truck.


(Huffington Post) The World Chess Championship logo for next year's match is raising eyebrows with folks online.

World Chess this week unveiled promotional artwork for its November 2018 title event in London. It included this image of two people around a chessboard, which some wags have dubbed "pawnographic":

Others lightheartedly asked whether the image had been lifted from the Kama Sutra, and suggested it was "putting the 'mate' into checkmate."

"People are openly laughing at it," David Kramaley, who runs the Chessable learning website, told the Daily Telegraph. "But, joking aside, I've got to say it has grown on me."

Not everyone was happy with the artwork, however. Chess grandmaster Susan Polgar questioned whether it was appropriate for children to see:

World Chess, the commercial arm of the game's governing World Chess Federation, is organizing November's match between world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen and a challenger to be decided at a tournament in March.

World Chess acknowledged on its website that the new logo, developed by Moscow-based agency Shuka Design, was "controversial and trendy, just like the host city."


(Huffington Post) A Florida attorney is facing several charges after he allegedly paid female inmates for sexual acts for a proposed "girls in jail" porn series.

Andrew Spark was arrested Sunday after deputies at the Pinellas County Jail caught him with his pants down while in the attorney visitation room with a 28-year-old female inmate.

Detectives who entered the room as the two were allegedly about to begin a sexual act said Spark's penis was "fully exposed," according to Tampa station WTVT.

Spark was charged with exposure of sexual organs, introduction/possession of contraband into a county detention facility and soliciting for prostitution. He was freed a short time later after posting $5,300 bail.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri also alleges that Spark solicited sex from at least two incarcerated women. In return, Spark would offer to put money in their commissary accounts ? about $30 to $40 at a time, the sheriff said. 

Spark was able to got the women alone in private rooms by using his attorney visitation rights ? even with inmates who weren't his clients, according to WFTS TV.

Typically, electronic devices aren't allowed behind bars except for attorneys in the process of serving clients.

"He duped the system because he came in there representing himself as a lawyer," Gualtieri said at a news conference Monday. "There's something that is sacrosanct about that lawyer-client relationship, and that's why we give great consideration and, frankly, deference to it."

Spark allegedly filmed the sex acts on his iPad for a porn project titled "Girls in Jail," according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Investigators alleged Spark and the woman he was caught with had at least six encounters between June and his Dec. 17 arrest. Neither she nor the other woman whom Spark allegedly solicited will be charged with crimes.

Officials are investigating to see how many other inmates Spark may have had sex with at the Pinellas County Jail and other facilities in the Tampa Bay area and Central Florida. 

Officers are also in the process of obtaining a search warrant for the tablet in hopes of discovering the number of videos Spark made and where they may have been posted, according to WFLA TV.

Gualtieri said there are no current plans to change the rules on attorney visitation, but admitted the incident "certainly raises concerns," according to the Bradenton Herald.

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