Woman passes counterfeit Confederate bill in Utah

fake confederate money

It’s one thing to be duped by someone passing counterfeit legal tender, but it’s hard to have much sympathy for someone who takes fake Confederate currency in exchange for goods or services.

That’s what happened recently in Salina, Utah, where a woman paid for fuel at a gas station with fake $50 Confederate bill in late June.

According to Salina Police, an unidentified female driving a gold ’90s model Ford F-150 with California license plates convinced the attendant at a Premium Oil station to allow her to use the bill to purchase approximately $45 worth of gas, according to the delightfully named Richfield Reaper newspaper.

“After the employee turned on the pump, he was suspicious, so he took the bill to a local bank,” said Police Chief Eric Pratt. “They verified it was not legitimate.”

When the attendant returned to the station, the woman, not surprisingly, had already high-tailed it out of the central Utah town.

And because the $50 bill wasn’t even a real Confederate note, it’s worthless.

“I can tell you it feels like coloring book paper,” Pratt said. “I don’t recommend anyone accepting nonstandard bills like this one as an acceptable form of payment.”

Of course, even if one was somehow taken in by the front of the bill, which has “The Confederate States of America” written in large letters, one might be tipped off that something was amiss by the reverse, which is more akin to monopoly money than legal tender.

Places in the US where fake Confederate currency is accepted.

Places in the US where fake Confederate currency is accepted.

It features the word “Fifty” written large once, smaller two more times, and in numerical form four times, but features no design other than a few geometric patterns.

Not that it’s dissimilar to money printed by the Confederacy 150 years ago, but one would imagine most anyone today would think twice before accepting it.

If the unnamed attendant still has a job, one can’t help but imagine that there are a passel of talented counterfeiters flocking to central Utah for easy pickings.

(Top: The fake $50 Confederate bill accepted by a gas station attendant in Salina, Utah, recently. Photo credit: The Richfield Reaper.)

What we learn from a pitchfork-toting robber

waffle house

It’s just a six-paragraph wire service story, but the article detailing a Georgia man’s efforts at robbing a Waffle House with a pitchfork is chock full o’ life’s rich tapestry.

A warrant has been issued for Jeffrey Wooten after he allegedly robbed a Waffle House in Norcross, Ga., by using a pitchfork to herd employees and customers into the back room, according to a UPI story.

However, things didn’t go as planned for the 50-year old, who may want to rethink his life choices.

“When he realized he couldn’t get the cash register open, he took the whole cash register and exited the store with his pitchfork,” Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers said.

Wooten, wearing coveralls and a ski mask, dropped the implement while leaving the Atlanta-area Waffle House.

A pair of restaurant employees took off after Wooten, with one grabbing the pitchfork and wielding it with great effectiveness, giving Wooten something more to remember of his visit.

Wooten’s vehicle also suffered injuries, as the pitchfork was employed to smash out the back window of his pickup.

In the end, it’s safe to say Wooten came out on the short end of the deal, considering the cost of replacing the back window on a truck and how much money is in the till of a typical Waffle House. Oh, and the fact that he’s looking at some serious time in the hoosegow for armed robbery.

“Once he didn’t have a pitchfork, he wasn’t as brazen. I know that,” Summers said.

Life on the mean streets of Westerly, R.I.

westerly police department

Urban types tend to stereotype small towns as being boring. No doubt some are but others appear to be hotbeds of interesting activity.

Take Westerly, Rhode Island. The 345-year-old community, located near the border with Connecticut, would appear be positively chock full o’ action.

Earlier this month, for example, one Darrel J. Northup, a Westerly resident, was arraigned yet again in Washington (R.I.) County Superior Court, this time on charges he intentionally rammed his mother’s Kia Optima into a “perceived romantic rival” in Westerly, according to the local newspaper.

Northup, 24, is charged with “felony assault with a dangerous weapon and failure to stop at an accident resulting in personal injury or death” related to the incident, which took place in January, the Westerly Sun reported.

Northup has been behind bars since then after it was learned that he had violated probation related to previous felony charges, including the 2012 assault of a funeral director.

In his latest brush with the law, according to police, Northup ran down William E. Cossia as he left Westerly’s delightfully named drinking and dining establishment The Brazen Hen (which describes itself as an “upscale Irish pub”), where the victim and others employed by Midway Pizza, including Northup’s ex-girlfriend, had gathered for a belated company holiday party.

Witnesses told police Northup drove his mother’s 2011 Kia Optima at Cossia as he stepped off the sidewalk. Cossia was thrown into the air, hit the hood of the car and fell to the ground, according to the Sun.

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$50 million in art recovered after 40+ years


A trio of thieves apparently didn’t fully hash out details of a 1970 art heist beforehand, when they lifted paintings by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard from the home of a British couple.

Instead of trying to sell the works – valued today at $50 million – on the black market or to a specific art patron willing to purchase purloined paintings, they dumped the works on a train traveling from Paris to Turin, Italy.

The paintings were never claimed and railway authorities, unaware of the provenance of the masterpieces, put the works up for sale in 1975, when they were purchased at auction by an employee of automobile manufacturer Fiat for $25.

The paintings – Gauguin’s “Still Life of Fruit on a Table With a Small Dog” and Bonnard’s “The Girl With Two Chairs,” hung in the unnamed individual’s kitchen for nearly 40 years in Turin before he took them with him to a retirement home in Sicily.

Recently, the auto worker’s son decided to have the paintings evaluated by an art expert, who realized that the “Still Life” was likely a work by Gauguin, a leading French Post-Impressionist, according to the New York Post.

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Family fights for law in memory of daughter


Despite very little sleep between ringing in the New Year and a late-morning decision to head for home, Billy Patrick Hutto Jr. was still drunk when he got behind the wheel on Jan. 1, 2012. Not just a little drunk, either, but pickled, smashed, three-sheets-to-the-wind drunk.

Around the same time, inside a Chrysler Town & Country minivan, David Longstreet, his wife Karen and their four children were dressed in their Sunday best and on their way to church in Lexington, SC.

A short time later, Hutto, who had pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2009, slammed into the side of the Longstreets’ minivan. David Longstreet was badly injured and his daughter, 6-year-old Emma, sustained massive injuries that would take her life just hours later.

Hutto’s blood-alcohol count was more than .20, despite having ended his drinking binge several hours earlier.

David and Karen would later tell a reporter that their daughter, their only girl and youngest child, was a genuine light in their family.

“Both a princess and a tomboy, Emma loved girly things – her Barbies, her Littlest Pet Shop toys – but was just as happy being with her dad on the riding mower, shooting the last fireworks on New Year’s eve, and riding herd over her doting older brothers,” Karen told a local publication shortly after the tragedy.

Hutto would eventually be sentenced to nine years in prison, but for David, Karen and their family the pain continues.

One way the family has sought to cope with Emma’s loss is to try to effect positive change amid the heartbreak.

They’ve pushed for more than a year for the passage of Emma’s Law, which would require all repeat and first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol concentration of .12 or higher to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

Yet even this common sense measure, a means by which this family can try to gain a small bit of peace from a heartbreaking loss, is meeting resistance from South Carolina lawmakers.

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Winnipeg: Colder than moonlight on a tombstone

winnipeg cold

How cold is it in the Canadian province of Manitoba? One news outlet compared the conditions to that of distant planet.

The Manitoba Museum reported temperatures in the capital city of Winnipeg were actually as bitter as the surface of Mars, according to the CBC.

According to the Curiosity Rover, the robotic rover exploring Mars as part of a NASA mission, the Red Planet reached a maximum temperature of -20 Fahrenheit on Tuesday, somewhat “warmer” than Winnipeg’s “high” of -24. With wind chill, the prairie capital felt more like -40 to -58, the CBC reported.

Those conditions can leave exposed skin frozen in less than five minutes.

And in the northern half of the province, in places like Thompson, Nelson House, Lynn Lake, Leaf Rapids and Churchill, the wind chill on Tuesday made it feel like -54 to -63.

It was so cold earlier this week that nine United Airlines flights, operating as United Express, flying both in and out of Winnipeg were cancelled on Monday. Three flights scheduled to leave Winnipeg Tuesday were also cancelled, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.

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Family seeks new trial for executed 14-year old

George Stinney 1Ten days after the Allies landed at Normandy, a 14-year-old black youth was executed for the murder of an 11-year-old white girl.

At just 5-foot-1 and 90 pounds, George Stinney is said to have had to use the Bible he carried to the execution chamber at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia, SC, as a booster seat when he was positioned in the electric chair on the evening of June 16, 1944.

Stinney had been found guilty by an all-white jury in the death of Betty June Binnicker, who, along with Mary Emma Thames, 7, had been killed in Clarendon County, SC. Both had been beaten with a railroad spike and left in a ditch in a rural part of the county.

The girls were killed in late March 1944; Stinney was tried and convicted of Binnicker’s death a month later. He would have the ignominious fate of being the youngest individual executed in the US in the 20th century.

Next month, however, attorneys representing relatives of Stinney will take the first step in what they hope will result in a new trial for George Stinney, according to The State newspaper.

At a hearing in Sumter, SC, Stinney family attorney Steven McKenzie is expected to present witnesses who will give evidence that he hopes will convince the judge to grant a new trial.

“In a legal brief, McKenzie has said his new evidence includes affidavits by surviving Stinney siblings who didn’t testify at his 1944 trial,” according to The State.

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Canine crime wave ends as culprit captured

cato the dog clinton, sc

It didn’t take much sleuthing to discover the identity of the thief who made off with pig ears, beef bones and dog food from a Dollar General store in Clinton, SC.

Twice within a few minutes earlier this week, items were pilfered from the store, located in South Carolina’s Upstate region.

Store manager Anastasia Polson was at a loss as to how the items could have been lifted so she turned to store surveillance cameras.

The video showed the culprit in action – a local resident well known to area customers: Cato, a husky that apparently has learned that crime does indeed pay.

The video shows the canine walking up to the doors at 9:38 a.m. this past Wednesday, but they closed before he could get into the store. However, the clever canine waited and then tagged along when a customer entered. He came back out less than a minute later.

A quick learner, Cato made another trip inside a short time later, spending about three minutes inside before leaving, according to Charleston, SC, television station WCSC.

“We had to lock the door to keep him from coming back in,” Polson said.

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Stolen Stradivarius recovered in England

Min-Jin Kym

Nearly three years after a Stradivarius was stolen while its owner dined on a $4.50 sandwich in a London train station, the $1.9 million violin has been recovered.

The instrument belonged to internationally acclaimed violinist Min-Jin Kym.

The violin was recovered with minor damage from a property in Central England late last month after British Transport Police “acted on a line of enquiry.” Further details about the investigation were not disclosed.

Kym was eating at a train station with her boyfriend on Nov. 29, 2010, and had placed the black case holding the Stradivarius and two bows valued at more than $100,000 on the floor next to her. A couple of minutes later, it was gone.

A 32-year-old man and two teens were arrested in 2011 in connection with the theft, but the Stradivarius was not recovered at that time.

However, English officials believed that it had not been taken from the country and focused their search within the UK, according to a press release issued by British Transport Police.

“Kym bought the violin in 2000 for $1.14 million, her life savings,” according to The History Blog. “She had been playing the Stradivarius since it was first loaned to her when she was a teenager (her international debut was with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra when she was just 13 years old).

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Campaign begun to find last Nazi war criminals

operation last chance poster

Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, a campaign has been inaugurated in Germany to track down the final remaining Nazi war criminals and bring them to trial.

Some 2,000 posters featuring the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp are being displayed in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.

They ask individuals with information to contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center, according to the BBC.

The US-based Wiesenthal Center estimates there are five dozen war criminals – ranging from death camp guards to members of Einsatzgruppen, mobile death squads responsible for mass killings – still alive in Germany and fit to stand trial.

“Unfortunately, very few people who committed the crimes had to pay for them,” according to Efraim Zuroff, a leading international Nazi hunter and the center’s Jerusalem branch director. “The passage of time in no way diminishes the crimes.”

As part of its “Operation Last Chance II” project,” the center is offering rewards of as much as $33,000 for information which helps in the prosecution of war criminals in Germany.

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