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The Odd Truth, June 9, 2003

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com'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.

Stolen Diamond Swallowed

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A carpet cleaner is accused of swallowing a diamond ring in order to smuggle it out of the house he was cleaning.

The $3,000 ring was recovered Thursday. Daniel Dyament, 19, admitted putting the ring in his mouth in order to smuggle it out of the house, police said.

Maria Reilly was feeding her children breakfast Monday, when Dyament asked if he could use an upstairs bathroom. After the crew left, she discovered the ring was gone.

She called police, who called the carpet company. Dyament was arrested when police learned he was wanted on outstanding warrants. Dyament was charged Tuesday with larceny from a building.

The ring will be returned to the Reillys after it has been used as evidence, police said.

"I'm not really sure what to do with it," Maria Reilly said. "I need to check it out and see how I feel about it."

Something Smells Fishy Here

HYDERABAD, India - Hundreds of thousands of asthma sufferers gathered in southern India to swallow live sardines smeared with secret herbs, convinced the ritual will cure them.

The treatment, which is free, began Sunday night in Hyderabad, the capital of southern Andhra Pradesh state, outside the home of the Goud family and was expected to continue for 24 hours.

Every June, on a date chosen by astrologers, patients from all over India get the free treatment outside the home of the Goud family, which claims it received the formula from a Hindu saint 162 years ago.

Narendar Kumar Gupta, 40, from eastern Bihar state said he was coming for the third time.

"My condition has improved considerably during the past two years," he said.

Baldev Singh has traveled from Rajasthan to Hyderabad for a fifth straight year.

"I am told that one should take this medicine for at least seven years to root out the problem of asthma completely," he said.

Doctors have asked the Goud family to disclose the formula for medical and scientific scrutiny.

"If they refuse to do so, the government should withdraw its support for the event," said M.V. Ranga Redy of the Indian Medical Association, an umbrella organization of Indian doctors.

But the Gouds refuse to reveal the herbal formula for fear it will be used for profit. They say the saint warned that the remedy would lose its potency if it were commercialized.

Vengeful Waiter Gets Just Desserts

CORONA, Calif. - Call it the case of the waiter's revenge. Police in Southern California say an angry Sizzler waiter made a mess of a couple's home. Wayne and Darlene Keller and their kids ate at a Riverside Sizzler Saturday night. The Kellers said the waiter was rude when when Mrs. Keller requested vegetables instead of a baked potato. Later that night the Kellers found their house and mailbox slimed with smashed eggs and maple syrup. Toilet paper and plastic wrap covered their yard. Police arrested several people in a nearby SUV, including the waiter. Sizzler has fired the guy, but the Kellers say they're still scared.

Bomb-Sniffing Fraud

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Call it the case of the K-9 that couldn't sniff the C-4.

Kennel owner Russell Lee Ebersole is accused of providing bomb dogs that couldn't find bombs. He is charged with defrauding the government of more than $700,000 and putting at risk the lives of thousands of federal workers whose workplaces his dogs guarded.

Calls to anti-fraud hot lines tipped the government of alleged problems with Ebersole's dogs.

On April l4, 2002, private detectives hired by the Federal Reserve posed as contractors and drove vehicles up to three Federal Reserve building entrances. The vehicles carried 50 pounds of dynamite, 50 pounds of TNT, and 15 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive hidden inside.

The indictment says Ebersole's canine teams "failed to detect the explosives, and the vehicles were permitted to enter Federal Reserve parking facilities."

Ebersole, 43, is scheduled to go on trial Monday in U.S. District Court. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison on each of the 28 counts and fined up to $1.4 million. Ebersole has pleaded innocent to all counts.

"I believe that we'll be able to demonstrate the dogs are quite capable and are still working for government agencies," said Ebersole's attorney, Spencer Ault.

The court has refused a defense request to let the jury see the dogs at work.

Ault said he looks forward to the trial to "discuss how these tests were administered and what transpired there." He said the case is largely the result of professional jealousy among rival dog trainers envious of Ebersole's methods.

Govt. To Confiscate Drug Dealer's Lottery Winnings

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - A federal jury in Brownsville, Texas, has ruled that a drug dealer's millions of dollars won in a lottery can be confiscated by the government.

The jury found that 52-year-old Jose Luis Betancourt had been trafficking drugs for 20 years and that he used drug proceeds to buy the winning ticket.

The government said that two days after about $5.5 million was deposited in Betancourt's account on January 14th, Betancourt was recorded delivering 36 grams of cocaine to a confidential informant. Prosecutors say Betancourt told the informant he had more drugs at home.

Betancourt was convicted Friday of conspiracy and two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The jury returned on Monday to decide whether Betancourt's winnings could be confiscated.

Frat Boys Charged In Fish Killing

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Two fraternity brothers at the University of California's Santa Cruz campus are facing criminal charges for allegedly killing a beloved fish at a campus day care center.

Officials say the students have admitted the prank, in which they hit the fish with a rake and barbecued it.

Seniors Casey Loop and Matthew Cox have been charged with theft and malicious mischief.

Prosecutors say the fish was killed as part of a fraternity prank.

The Koi fish was a favorite among children at the day care center.

The fraternity spent $654 dollars on a replacement fish last month - and posted a letter on campus saying that the fraternity brothers do not condone cruelty to animals.

Pictures Are Worth $8,000, To Be Exact

LONDON - If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is that in cash?

For Mark McCarthy, who took a supermarket and Kodak to court when they lost his vacation pictures, it was worth $8,000.

McCarthy refused to accept it when a Tesco supermarket and Kodak declined to compensate him for losing slides from his vacation, including pictures of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

The two companies agreed to settle the suit out-of-court for 5,000 pounds, news reports said Monday.

In an interview published Monday in the Daily Mail, 41-year-old McCarthy, from Potters Bar, north of London, said Tesco initially took refuge in a disclaimer on its forms that it would only pay for a new film in the event of photos being lost. Kodak was also initially only prepared to offer a new film, he said.

"I eventually established that the slides had arrived at Kodak's processing laboratory in Northampton, and they confirmed that they had developed them to be returned to Tesco, but after that the trail went cold," he said in an interview published in the tabloid Daily Mail Monday.

"It became apparent to me that no one at either Tesco or Kodak was going to accept any responsibility for the fact that my pictures were lost."

McCarthy, a business consultant, went to the United States in January 2002.

Under the agreement, neither company was prepared to comment on the case. A Tesco spokeswoman said the company will continue looking for the slides for a year.

In Horse Vs. Man Race, Horse Wins Again

LLANWRTYD WELLS, Wales - Once again, four legs triumphed over two Saturday when a horse won the annual Man vs. Horse race.

Thirty horse-and-rider teams took on 300 individuals and 60 relay teams in the 22-mile race.

The winning horse, Druimghigha Shemal, finished in 2 hours, 2 minutes, beating the fastest individual runner Mark Croasdale, who crossed the line in 2:17:00.

Humans are given a 15-minute head start in the race, which has been held for more than 20 years. In 2001, a three-man team beat the fastest horse, but no one has claimed the large cash prize offered to the first single human to win the race.

The prize money rises by $1,450 each year and now stands at $40,000.

Croasdale, 38, a royal marine who recently returned from Iraq, celebrated his win against his human opponents with a glass of beer.

"It went well and I took it steady," said Croasdale, who holds the record for getting closest to winning the race. He came in just a minute behind the leading horse in 1999.

Bookmaker William Hill, which sponsors the event, had offered odds of 25-1 this year on a human winning the prize.