Friday, September 19, 2008

No shit! Dog diamond DNA gets owners in deep ...

Enough already with the DNA!
A city in Israel has begun collecting blood samples from dogs when their owners bring them in for a license.
The blood samples have been combined into a citywide data base in Petah Tikva, Israel, the New York Times reports in its Freakonomics section.
Now, in a perversion of the red light cameras some major cities have installed, the doggie police patrol the city picking up pieces of poop and analyzing the turds for tidbits of DNA.
Once they get a match, the owner is mailed a citation for failing to moop up after their mutt.
It’s hard for me to imagine that the discoverers of DNA envisioned it being used by an Israeli poop patrol.
State Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone, smelling some funny business, is a leading proponent of anti-Puppy Mill legislation. Recently the Humane Society of Berks County seized eight dogs from an Amish farmer who was operating in defiance of state law and township codes.
U.S. Congressman James P. Gerlach has joined the fray by proposing federal legislation that would close a loophole in the law that governnnnns the operation of Puppy Mills.
But, as in all criminal justice, there may be valuable uses for doggie diamond DNA.
Imagine a portly pooch who get blamed for leaving stupendous stools on the neighbors’ lawns.
What about a dog wrongly accused of doing his dooty on the neighbors lawn.
DNA could be used to clear his name.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Roseboro case could get very Funky

Angela Funk, you may already have heard, has hired an attorney.
But did you know why?
Word is that Lancaster DA Craig Stedman has been leaning on her hard.
By leaning we mean she's been called in several times for questioningSeems to me, if you need a statement from her you call her in once, get her locked down on the facts of the case, where she was, etc... and let her go.
If you're going to try to impeach her, you only need one statement. Unless you're first line of questioning wasn't thorough.
Anyway, the point is, Stedman musn't like what he's hearing from Angela. She has hired a lawyer either because the DA has threatened to charge her, or because she's being intimidated by heavy-handedness by the prosecution team.
The preliminary hearing is about a week away.
Stedman knows he's up against one of Berks County's finest. Surely Allan L. Sodomsky is a candidate to replace Emmanuel H. Dimitriou as dean of the Berks County defense bar.
There are others we simply chose not to alienate by dubbing Sodomsky, but he's certainly on the short list.
Getting back to our story, the Denver Nugget reports that Angela knows what happened the night of the murders and Stedman wants to squeeze it out of her prior to the preliminary hearing.
Also, Angela is a very physically fit woman as evidenced by this photo of her taken during a recent volleyball game.
Michael Roseboro proponents are floating the idea that she might have been lurking in the darkness. When Michael chickened out and didn't tell Jan he was leaving her, she took matters into her own hands.
How hard would it be for one woman to blitz-attack another woman, konk her on the head with an as-yet-to-be-found weapon, toss her into the pool and disappear into the night.
Maybe Angela, tired of waiting for her rich lover to leave his wife, stole the jewels as payment for the sexual favors she had granted Michael. The missing jewelry is a nagging factoid.
Could have been a straight out robbery, a blitz attack by Angela, or Michael could have taken the ring and other items to make it look like a robbery. That's one of the oldest tricks in the book.
My money is on Angela. After living right down the street from it all those years she was now so close to it she could taste it. She was tired of waiting and she took matters into her own hands.
Everybody who knows Michael has said they don't see him killing Jan. He's not the type. Maybe that's what was driving Angela nuts.
In any event, we'll find out at the prelim what Stedman has been asking Mrs. Funk.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't blow by that sheriff's car

Blowing by a marked county sheriff's car on the local highway because they can't or won't enforce traffic laws will soon be urban legend, at least in Reading and the rest of Berks County, PA.
Berks County Sheriff Eric J. Weaknecht will announce Monday, Sept. 15, that he has authorized the almost 100 sworn personnel in his department that they can now enforce the traffic laws of the Commonwealth in the county.
The sheriff's department has 25 vehicles that daily roam the county serving traffic warrants, subpoenaes and other court papers.
In the past, you could speed right past one of Route 422 or you could run a red light or blow a stop sign with one of them behind you and they'd couldn't do a thing.
"We got tired of having to sit there in a marked unit in full uniform as people committed traffic violations and flipped us off," one deputy said.
I remember hauling ass for the Jersey Shore on Route 422 or the Schuylkill Expressway. I'd be cruising down the left lane and see a marked unit in the right hand lane doing 55 or 60 mph. I'd creep up, and creep up until I could read the markings on the side of the vehicle and if it said sheriff, no matter from what county, I'd cruise right past them at 65 or 70 mph.

I've never been a speed demon but I've always taken comfort that I had learned that one little trick as a teenager, from who I don't know, and have used it whenever the opportunity has presented itself.
Now I happen to live in the one county where it's no longer true.
I may be lying to you. I haven't checked every county. I know Allegheny County sheriff's have a detective squad, or a countywide police force, or something like that, but around here no sheriff's department is enforcing the traffic laws, until now that is.
Still, grouse as I will, everyone seriously concerned about law enforcement in the city and county knows that having another 80 or so lawmen out roaming the streets with the power to bring the hammer down on evil doers is a good thing.
I just hope the deputies don't go overboard and start flexing their new found powers.
Sure they had the legal authority to arrest people for violations committed in their presence for a long time, but they never used the power until Monday.
It'll also be interesting to see what happens when deputies start having to show up at hearings in district courts around the county. Can you say overtime?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Constable probe widens to include court staff

It was bound to happen.
Sources now say in addition to at least three constables facing criminal charges, a court secretary also has been caught in the Web of deceit.
As the story goes, the constable makes nice with the court staff. In the case of one court, the constables are required by the judge to donate a couple hundred dollars per year to buy Christmas presents and other gifts for the court secretaries.
The premise was because they do all the paperwork for the constabulary.
Here's the real reason:
A constable makes nice with a court secretary and she sets aside tickets for the constable.
Innocent and unwitting civilians come in to voluntary pay a ticket that has been sent to the court as a scofflaw for failure to pay. The person, alarmed by the letter from the court, dashes up to the window to pay and avoid a warrant being issued for them.
The secretary tells the civilian they are going to be charged court fees. The court fees are actually the process serving fee paid to the constable as if the constable had personally contacted the civilian and told them to come to court. Each time a warrant is issued, a constable is assigned to the warrant. If a different constable serves the warrant, the court staff changes the warrant to indicate who served the warrant.
The civilian doesn't know any better and just wants to pay the fee and get the hell out of there and back to work.
All the walk-in tickets the secretary collects that day sit on her desk until her favorite constable comes in and she gives them to him to sign. She then goes into the court computer and changes the computer record to show her buddy's name on the ticket so that her buddy and not the original constable assigned to the ticket gets paid for it.
When the constable signs the ticket he's swearing under penalty of perjury that he was assigned the warrant.
The constable then submits that paperwork to the Berks County Controller's office for payment.
Constables are elected officials and don't earn a salary.
Every penny they get they must earn by performing services for the court.
Unless of course, they marry a court secretary and get her to set aside parking tickets for them all day and show up at the end of the day and rake in the cash.
That's one way to earn $250,000 per year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

McCoy Boys Vet Veep Candidate Sarah Palin

For any of you Republicans out there who were worried about U.S. Sen. John McCain’s pick for vice president you can rest easy.
It appears that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had been vetted by two Berks Countians long before she started her quest for the second highest office in the land.
Staff Sgt. Nick McCoy of Mount Penn, a decorated hero and wounded Iraq War veteran, met Palin at his unit’s redeployment ceremony last December in Alaska.
Palin came out to show her support for the troops and made a real impression on Sgt. McCoy and his dad, Scott McCoy, also of Mount Penn, who went along for the trip to the Great White North.
“She seemed pretty sharp and very down to earth,” Nick said.
When he shook hands with the vice presidential candidate to be, Nick sensed she really wanted to be there.
“From what I remember she told me she had a son who was new to the Army and that he was in basic training at the time and I think I’ve heard since then that he is getting ready to deploy,” Nick said. “She told me she wanted to come out and welcome us back and thank us for our service to the country.
“She was really proud that our unit was from Alaska and that we were back home,” McCoy said.
Scott McCoy said he also was taken by the attractive and affable 44-year-old governor.
“My first impression was ‘Wow!’” he said. “She’s good looking but she’s also really got her stuff together.”
Scott said he was surprised when he learned that Palin was about five months pregnant when they met.
“You could have fooled me,” he said. “I guess some women don’t show it as much as others.”
Scott said he had a few minutes to talk privately with Palin and he was impressed by her sincerity and demeanor.
“She told me she had a son in the Army,” Scott said. “She was very personable and respectful and even got a little emotional with the guys.”
Scott said Nick called him as soon as he heard Palin had been chosen as McCain’s running mate in the November general election.
Both McCoys said Palin didn’t have to win them over.
“I was going to vote for McCain anyway,” Scott said.
“I planned to vote for the Republican, whoever it was,” said Nick.
Nick, who lost both legs below the knee while serving in Iraq, has been recuperating at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tx. He’s nearly completed his recovery and while he was getting back in shape and getting used to prosthetic legs, he was also refitting a Dodge Ram Mega Cab with a wheelchair lift.
“I’m going to drive up to my grandmother’s place in Delaware and take in the race at Dover,” Nick said. “I haven’t driven that far so I went out camping last weekend by myself and everything went well.”
Since he is nearly well, Nick spends a lot of his time visiting with wounded soldiers just back from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nick was in a coma for weeks when he got back. In addition to the loss of his legs, he also had to cope with broken bones, burns and other injuries.
Now he’s getting ready to drive himself home from Texas.
Seems like, I don’t know, a miracle?
n Contact columnist Dan Kelly by calling 610-371-5040 or at