Florida mum sold baby to buy car, police charge (Reuters)

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MIAMI (Reuters) – A Florida woman was charged with trying to sell her infant son in order to pay for a new car, police said on Tuesday.

The baby’s grandmother brokered the deal and initially demanded $75,000 (47,000 pounds) but agreed to cut the price to $30,000 when told the prospective buyer could not get a bank loan, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said.

The mother of the eight-week-old boy, Stephanie Bigbee Fleming, 22, of Bradenton, Florida, was to receive $9,000 of the proceeds, the FDLE said.

“Fleming planned to purchase a new vehicle from the money received,” an FDLE spokeswoman said.

Fleming also needed money to pay court costs for an unrelated probation violation, the arrest documents said.

Fleming was arrested on Tuesday. The grandmother, Patty Bigbee, 45, was arrested last week with her boyfriend Lawrence Works, 42, both of Holly Hill, Florida. All three were charged with the illegal sale of a child, and Bigbee was also charged with communications fraud, the department said.

The arrest report said Bigbee offered to sell the baby to a female relative in October, explaining she had been caring for her grandchild but “was not mother material.”

The relative alerted police and worked with them during the negotiations. Bigbee and Works were arrested when they collected a $30,000 cashier’s check and handed over the baby to an undercover agent in a Daytona Beach parking lot, police said.

The baby remains in state custody.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Cynthia Otserman)

Troubled W. Pa. city lays off 9, plus police dog (AP)

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JEANNETTE, Pa. – The financial situation is so bad in one western Pennsylvania city that even its police dog has been laid off. Jeannette City Council on Tuesday voted to lay off nine workers of the city’s 47 workers effective Oct. 5. They include three of the city’s 12 police, including Officer Justin Scalzo who handles the city’s drug-sniffing dog, Wando.

Police Chief Brad Shepler said the layoffs come at a time when the city is seeing a boom in drug trafficking. Shepler’s department is also losing its two meter maids and a secretary.

The other layoffs involved trash collectors and public works employees.

The city has a projected $440,000 budget shortfall. Some of the workers could be called back if finances improve.

Police investigate family on polygamy TV show

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By James Nelson

SALT LAKE CITY | Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:48pm EDT

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) – The new reality TV show “Sister Wives,” featuring a real-life advertising salesman and four women he calls his spouses, has sparked a criminal bigamy investigation by police in Utah, officials said.

The show, following the lives of Kody Brown, 41, the four women and their 16 children, premiered on the TLC cable channel on Sunday, catching the attention of authorities in the Utah town of Lehi just south of Salt Lake City, where the family lives together in a large house.

“We looked into it, and we have detectives working on this case now,” Lehi police Lt. Darren Paul told Reuters.

No arrests have been made, but the investigation findings will be turned over to the local district attorney’s office for review, he said.

The Brown family released a statement on Tuesday saying they were “disappointed” but were aware of the risks of doing the reality show.

“But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking,” the statement said.

Brown is legally married to just one of the women, but counts three others as “sister wives,” a term in polygamist sects that refers to a husband’s multiple marital partners.

Plural marriage, an early tenant of the Mormon faith and once common in Utah, was renounced by the church more than a century ago and outlawed, as it already was in the rest of the country, as Utah was seeking statehood.

But polygamy persists in secluded communities scattered mostly around the West, especially among followers of a Mormon splinter group called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the FLDS.

FLDS spiritual leader Warren Jeffs was serving time in a Utah prison for arranging child bride marriages, but that conviction was recently overturned. He remains in jail awaiting prosecution on other charges.

Plural marriage was long largely overlooked by Utah authorities until 2001, when polygamist Tom Green went on national television to espouse his lifestyle.

He ultimately was convicted of bigamy for being married to five women simultaneously and of child rape in connection with his 1986 marriage to a 13-year-old girl, and served several years in prison.

Paul Murphy, a state attorney general’s office spokesman, called the Green case “the tipping point” in law enforcement’s crackdown on polygamy.

Murphy said Brown contacted the attorney general’s office before “Sister Wives” aired because he wanted to inquire about the legal ramifications, and was told essentially: “It is against the law, but it’s up to local law enforcement.”

(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Police: Judge hands out condoms hidden in acorns (AP)

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Police said a district judge from Intercourse, Pa., hid condoms inside acorns and handed them out to women in the state Capitol complex last week. A summary charge of disorderly conduct was filed Tuesday against Isaac H. Stoltzfus, who presides over low-level cases as a district judge in Lancaster County.

The citation from Capitol Police said the 58-year-old jurist gave the acorns to unsuspecting women, who were offended when they discovered the contents.

Stoltzfus’ office referred questions to defense attorney Heidi Eakin, who didn’t immediately return a phone message Wednesday.

Four police and a van to fine veteran riding on the path

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He ended up being pursued through a shopping centre by four police officers, two of them in a van, after they insisted he had ridden on the pavement.

He was issued with a spot fine, which he is refusing to pay and he has now challenged the chief constable to take him to court.

Mr Gresty said yesterday that he was “dumbfounded”.

The widower, who won several war medals during his three years as a private with the York and Lancaster Regiment, was challenged initially by two police community support officers (PCSOs).

They said they had taken a photograph of him cycling across a traffic-free area, a claim Mr Gresty disputes.

“The area near the bank is pedestrianised and I must have been on my bike for about three yards on it,” he said. “I walked and pushed it the rest of the way. But I saw these two police officers and one said she took a photo of me, which I am yet to see.

“I went into the bank and they followed me. The manager called the police and told them he thought these PCSOs were being aggressive.”

Meanwhile, one of the officers called for “back-up” from two PCs who then drove a police van through the precinct in Sale, Greater Manchester, “which I think is far more dangerous than riding a bike across it,” Mr Gresty added. “They were carrying on as if I had been guilty of a serious criminal offence. They were being aggressive, rude and heavy handed all over an issue of whether I was cycling on the pavement.

“They didn’t even get that right either. God knows why four police officers had to be involved. I’m an 84-year-old man not a teenage hoodie.”

Mr Gresty, who signed up aged 18 in 1944 and served in Holland, France, Germany and Palestine, said he had been cycling for 51 years to keep fit.

“I asked them if I would get a caution but they said, ‘No it’s an on-the-spot fine of £30’,” he added.

“Everyone I have told thinks it’s ridiculous. I mean, how dangerous could an 84 year-old man be on a bike?”

Ch Supt Mark Roberts of Greater Manchester Police said they had received many complaints about the “persistent problem” of people cycling through the pedestrian area.

He said Mr Gresty had refused to speak to a PCSO about riding in the area, and was given a fixed penalty after other officers’ attempts to speak to him also failed.

ÞMore than 2,000 police officers had three or more complaints made against them by the public in the past year, figures showed yesterday.

Most were about rudeness, assault or failure of duty. The Police Service of Northern Ireland had the most officers with three or more complaints, at 376, followed by the Metropolitan Police with 273. In Dyfed-Powys, 40 claims were made against one inspector.

Police: Sneezing fit caused NY woman to crash car (AP)

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NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. – Police in New York say a woman had a sneezing fit that caused her to drive off a road, crash into several trees and plow through a fence.

Authorities say 62-year-old Mary Jane Amelio (uh-MEEL’-ee-oh), of Clinton, was driving Thursday morning in New Hartford, near Utica, when she began to sneeze.

New Hartford police say her car left the road, hit several small trees and crashed through a fence before coming to a stop.

Amelio was taken to a hospital, where she was listed in fair condition after suffering injuries to her head, neck, back and leg.

Police say she was ticketed for failure to keep right.