The Odd Truth

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Who Said Crime Pays?

DES MOINES, Iowa - An alleged burglar tried to buy his way out of trouble when Charles Lee caught him in his mother's home.

The man, trapped in the house last week, offered Lee a $100 bill to let him go. The bill sported a picture of President Bush.

"Yeah, the guy was trying to bribe me with fake money," Lee said.

Des Moines police charged Michael Castiglione, 37, of Massachusetts, with second-degree burglary.

Lee was sleeping in the basement of the home when he heard his mother, Rozetta Lee, 87, screaming. He quickly captured Castiglione.

"I snatched him and was dragging him through the house to take him outside and whup him a little," Lee said. "The guy tried to hand me a $100 bill. I knew it was fake, but I wouldn't have taken it anyway. It was one of those 9/11 George W. Bush bills."

Prince Of Thieves

DETROIT - It's good to be the prince, but only if you're the real thing.

A Michigan man who falsely claimed to be a Saudi prince worth $480 million is accused of defrauding two upscale stores of $29,000 worth of clothing, jewelry and perfume, according to a newspaper report.

Officials of Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in suburban Troy, Mich., became suspicious in December of Anthony Gignac's claim to be Prince Khalid bin Al Saud of the Saudi royal family, so they called in authorities, who called the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

The embassy knew all about Gignac, who allegedly had pulled similar scams in Florida and California, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Gignac, 32, faces local charges of credit card fraud with a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

Not Exactly Hard Time

SANTA FE, N.M. - Municipal Court might be the last place you would expect to find offenders meditating and learning to balance their chi.

But this, after all, is Santa Fe.

And it's where Judge Frances Gallegos has placed offenders in her new alternative sentencing program — a tai chi class complete with a Japanese-style tea service and meditation aided by acupuncture.

Instructor Mark De Francis, a doctor of Oriental medicine who works as a psychologist for the state Corrections Department, said he believes violent offenders can benefit from tai chi and meditation.

Offenders have a choice — they can either sign up for the tai chi class or participate in a community service program that involves picking up trash.

Czech This Out

BRNO, Czech Republic - One astronomer in the Czech Republic wants to keep his country in the dark.

Jan Hollan says it's the best way to keep seeing the night sky.

He's leading a national drive to ban excessive outdoor lighting. He says the bright night lights harm wildlife, which will hurt people, and spoils the simple pleasures of stargazing.

If the law passes, the Czech Republic would be the first nation to ban excessive outdoor lighting. At least eight U-S states have restrictions.

Rat Race

KENSAW, Nebraska - Tired of the rat race? Well, hundreds of folks in one Nebraska town can't get enough of it. The annual Mrs. Rat Race was held in Kenesaw the other day.

Much of the town turned out to cheer for 400 rats competing in the annual event. But these weren't yucky, disease-carrying vermin. The rats were just made of plastic and they're dumped in a drainage ditch filled with water. The so-called race is the year's biggest fund-raiser for the Mrs. Kenesaw Community Club.

Double The Pleasure, Double The Fun…

GREELEY, Colorado - At age 90, twins Roy and Ray Medbery still are arguing — about which one is better looking. Roy says the older they get, the more they look alike.

But Ray says he's still the better looking one. The brothers are fraternal twins, so they've never looked exactly alike. They're both widowers and live in separate retirement homes — one in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, the other in Greeley, Colorado.

The twins have one more thing in common. They're both surprised they made it 90. They'll turn 90 in about a month but celebrated their birthdays at a party over the weekend.