The Odd Truth, Oct. 10, 2003

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.

Man Beaten With Wooden Leg

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - A man has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated assault after police said he beat a suspected heroin dealer with a spare wooden prosthetic leg that belonged to his son.

Kevin Miele had been charged with felony assault in the Aug. 19 beating. A judge Thursday sentenced the 45-year-old to three days in jail and nine months probation, and ordered him to complete a course in anger management.

Miele said he encountered the man trying to persuade his adult son to buy heroin at his home in Mount Pleasant, The Saginaw News reported.

"I didn't want my son falling into the same pit," Miele said. "The guy didn't deserve the ... whipping he got, but he got it anyway. I'm lucky I didn't kill him."

"There's never an excuse or justification for beating somebody up," court-appointed defense lawyer William Shirley said. "If there ever was one, Mr. Miele has the best one I ever heard. Here's a guy in his living room attempting to sell heroin."

Lutefisk Eaten, Reluctantly

MINNEAPOLIS - To the victor go the spoils, but the four pounds of lutefisk sent to New York City Council members left them wondering whether they were the winners or losers in a wager over the baseball playoffs.

Minneapolis City Council President Paul Ostrow made good on his bet over the outcome of the Minnesota Twins-New York Yankees series by shipping off a load of the Scandinavian delicacy.

Lutefisk is dried cod soaked in lye, then boiled or baked. It's a popular holiday dish among Scandinavian-Americans in the Upper Midwest - and the butt of many bad jokes.

"If this is what happens when the Yankees win, I'm wondering if I should start cheering for another team," New York Council Speaker Gifford Miller said Wednesday after a couple of bites of the "delicacy."

Minneapolis Council Member Scott Benson sent a warning to New Yorkers.

"The consistency of lutefisk is something between fish Jell-O and fish pudding," he wrote.

If the Twins had won, the Minneapolis council would have received cheesecake and bagels.

Mount Schwarzenegger?

TBILISI, Georgia - Arnold Schwarzenegger, who scaled to the top of California politics, could now get a mountain named after him in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

But there's a catch: To receive the honor, the governor-elect must visit the country, a representative of President Eduard Shevardnadze said Friday.

Georgia, which borders Russia and Turkey, had extended the offer in the past - to no avail - but officials resurrected the Mount Schwarzenegger plan in honor of Tuesday's election.

Once again, it looks as if they'll be disappointed.

"I don't see it making the schedule in the near future," Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman said of a possible trip to Georgia. "As gratifying as it is to have a mountain named after you, his whole attention is right here in California."

The mountain, in the Caucasus range, currently does not have a name; officials declined to disclose its size and precise location.

Suspect Tracked By Tattoo On Butt

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It wasn't his face that gave the suspect way - it was his butt. The man was busted in West Vancouver, British Columbia, for using fake checks to buy pizzas. Police say the 55-year-old Quebec man was wanted on a Canada-wide arrest warrant. But the con man had used 22 different names and birthdates. So, how did the cops make a positive ID? By taking a rear view. They looked at the suspect's butt, where they found a distinctive "Made in Canada" tattoo.

Grandpa Bandit Pleads Guilty In Bank Heist

LUBBOCK, Texas - A 91-year-old man who walks with a cane and is hard of hearing pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $2,000 from a bank, his third such robbery in less than five years.

Leaning on his cane and wearing a headset to listen to the judge, J.L. Hunter "Red" Rountree initially responded "not guilty" when asked for his plea Thursday.

"I mean, `Guilty,"' Rountree later said. "I'm sorry."

In August, Rountree handed a First American Bank teller in Abilene an envelope with "Robbery" written on it in red marker, prosecutors said. He gave her a second envelope, telling her to put money in it. Twice the teller asked if he was kidding. After the first time, Rountree said, "Hurry up or you will get hurt."

A bank employee and some customers got Rountree's license plate number as he left the parking lot. Authorities stopped him about 20 miles from Abilene.

His lawyer, Shery Kime-Goodwin, declined to comment.

Authorities say Rountree's crime spree began in 1998, a week before his 87th birthday. He was arrested in Biloxi, Mississippi, minutes after robbing a bank. He was given three years' probation, fined $260 and told to leave Mississippi.

Less than a year later, in October 1999, he was arrested outside a NationsBank in Pensacola, Florida, after giving a teller a note that said "ROBBERY" and telling her, "Give me the $100s." He was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to three years in prison, becoming the oldest inmate in the Florida prison system.

Rountree faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine in the Texas robbery. A sentencing date has not been set.

Asthmatic Busted For Sharing Inhaler

CONROE, Texas - For asthmatics, taking the inhaled drug Albuterol is as commonplace as popping aspirin for a headache. So what's a little puff shared between wheezy sweethearts?

For one high school student, it's grounds for arrest, expulsion and possible drug charges.

Last month, 15-year-old Brandon Kivi's asthmatic girlfriend was having trouble breathing but had forgotten to bring her inhaler to school, so he let her use his.

But Albuterol is listed as a dangerous drug in the state's health and safety code, and delivery of any such drug is a mandatory expulsion offense. Kivi was arrested the next day and released a few hours later.

The teen and his mother will find out at an expulsion hearing Friday whether the Conroe school district chooses to press third-degree felony charges.

"That's just how my son is," said Kivi's mother, Theresa Hock. "He'll give the shirt off his back. He doesn't do drugs. They would much rather she had died than him help her."

The school nurse said the 15-year-old girl wasn't in obvious distress when the incident happened.

School Principal Greg Poole said he took action against Kivi because the teen tried to give the inhaler to another student the previous day.

Jailing The Jailers

BENTON, Ark. - Three jailers are behind bars after sheriffs say they made a beer run with money they stole from a prisoner, then shared a brew with an inmate.

Todd McEuen, 32, John E. Hood, 22, and Christopher Carmen, 21, were arrested on charges of introducing contraband to a jail. McEuen and Hood also face misdemeanor theft charges.

Lt. Jim Andrews said the men took money from a prisoner's locker Tuesday night.

"They then went to a convenience store and purchased alcohol," brought it back to the jail, and drank it, Andrews said.

Chief Deputy Bill Field said the sheriff's office learned of the incident from another jailer.

"What if something had happened? They were throwing a party when they should have been watching" prisoners, said J.R. Walters, a Saline County justice of the peace.

The suspects were held without bail Thursday in jails outside Saline County.

If convicted, they would face a sentence of three to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine on the contraband charge. The theft charge carries up to a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.