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The Odd Truth, Nov. 21, 2002

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.

Attempted Surrender Fails

TUCSON, Ariz. - A fugitive was turned away when he tried to surrender at a federal prison, but he succeeded on a second attempt, this time at the federal courthouse.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Rich Tracy greeted Scott A. Kline with a handshake Wednesday, saying, "Mr. Kline, I presume?"

Kline was handcuffed and booked for violating the terms of his release from prison. Wednesday's arrest came two days after Kline was turned away from the Federal Correctional Institution.

No deputy marshals were waiting for Kline when he showed up at the prison Monday, and prison officials could not take him into custody without court documentation. Kline said he waited outside for about an hour.

Tracy blamed the mix-up on a missed phone message between two marshals offices.

Kline served 18 months in federal prison for possessing 40 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was released in June and was supposed to serve three years of supervised release but said he couldn't tolerate the oversight. He skipped town.

Kline now faces a prison term that he said he hopes is no longer than six months.

"Basically, I feel like I've served my sentence and should be able to get on with my life," Kline told the Arizona Daily Star.

Professional Crash-Lander

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — Crash landing is getting to be old hat for New Hampshire pilot Edwin Simonsen. He's done it three times.

Simonsen, 72, escaped injury Tuesday during a crash on Interstate 95, 35 miles east of Orlando. He was flying a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza when the engine died.

He brought the plane in under utility wires, but his landing gear didn't come down, and his plane skidded to a halt on an exit ramp.

"He did a beautiful job of landing," Brevard County Sheriff's Department Deputy Jorge Morell said.

In 1996, Simonsen was at the controls of a Cessna 180 when its engine quit. He had just taken off from an airstrip at the Hidden Valley RV and Golf Park in Derry, N.H., which he and his wife Stephanie own.

The four-seat plane landed upside-down near the first tee of the golf course. Simonsen was found standing on the wing, shaken but OK.

An hour after the crash, he set out to play a round of golf.

Simonsen's first plane crash was in 1988, about 1,000 feet from the site of the second crash. It was more serious; he broke his back.

"That was a downwind takeoff," he said at the time. "I didn't realize the wind was screaming so hard, and when we got to the tops of the trees, there was no tail wind and we had no lift."

Pot Panty Prison Surprise

MONTESANO, Wash. - Nicole Carson had something in her panties for her boyfriend -- and now she's going to jail. Carson's been sentenced to three months behind bars for trying to smuggle pot into a Washington state prison. She was caught by guards in September with the weed packed in seven balloons, hidden in her underwear. She pleaded guilty to possessing contraband. Her lawyer called it "an act of love." But the judge didn't agree. Ignoring a 30-day sentencing recommendation, Superior Court Judge Gordon Godfrey imposed a jail stretch three times as long. Godfrey told the 21-year-old Carson the sentence should send a message so "other sweet young girls like you" will think twice.

Better Late Than Never?

OKLAHOMA CITY — It's taken 13 years, but Gov. Frank Keating finally has his briefcase back.

He lost it on a United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Tulsa in September of 1989. At the time Keating was general counsel for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Last Friday, the governor's office received the briefcase in the mail from San Francisco, where it was found on a shelf in a security office.

"I was amazed," Keating said. "I had forgotten all about it."

The briefcase contained birthday and Christmas presents for Keating's mother-in-law. It was in good shape, but had been popped open to check for contents.

Jeff Green, United spokesman in Chicago, said it was "certainly an unusual case."

"It is certainly not a standard practice, but we're glad we got it back to him. Sorry it took 13 years," he said.

Keating displayed the briefcase and its contents in his office on Wednesday. The contents included an outdated, 1970s calculator with dead batteries and the presents, which were wrapped. Keating said he would give them to his mother-in-law on Thanksgiving.

The incident should give hope to all air travelers who have lost items in transit, Keating said.

"You're lost luggage is in orbit, somewhere," he said. "It just keeps circulating in space like a satellite."

New York Homeless May Get A Cruise

NEW YORK - New York is considering housing the homeless in retired cruise ships.

The city's commissioner of homeless services has jetted down to the Bahamas to inspect ships.

A spokesman says the commissioner is looking for ways to "provide safe and appropriate shelter." The official says it's too early to say if the ships will be used.

New York's homeless population has soared in recent years.

City figures show a record 37,100 homeless people last month were sleeping in city shelters nightly.

Homeless advocates are ridiculing the cruise ship idea.

An official with the Coalition for the Homeless says the solution is for New York to provide cheap permanent housing.

She says it's "simply that easy."

Councilmen Barred Citing Felony Convictions

ANDERSON, Ind. — Two newly elected Madison County councilmen were told they cannot serve because of past felony convictions.

Just two days after Thomas Jackson found he could not serve, Franklin Earl "Buddy" Patterson found he also was ineligible.

"I don't think it's likely that this has ever happened before," said Dale Simmons, co-general counsel for the State Election Commission. "I'm somewhat amazed."

Patterson said Wednesday he had believed his conviction for theft was a misdemeanor. He said he would not have sought office if he had known he was ineligible.

"I felt bad for Thomas, and now it's happening to me," he said.

Court records show Patterson was convicted of felony theft in 1974, about three years before Jackson was sentenced for an armed robbery attempt.

Patterson, a Democrat, and Jackson, a Republican, both were elected Nov. 5. State law prohibits convicted felons from holding elected office.

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