Category Archives: Whimsy

Sweetie the Alligator has been Deputized by Florida Sheriff’s Office

This video of an Alligator being carried into a Key Like Pie store, in addition to being the most Florida thing ever, when viral when it was shared a few months ago. Sweetie is a rescue Gator that lives at Jungle Adventures park… when she’s not visiting schools or hanging out at the Key Like Pie store. You can read more about the background of “Sweetie” the Alligator in this story by Craig Pittman.

Sweetie became such a hit, that Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey decided to swear her in as a “resource reptile”. You can see Deputy Sweetie most weekends at the Key Lime Pie store on Cocoa Beach, when she’s not back at jungle adventures!

Sweetie being sworn in

Dude Jumped in the Bass Pro Fish Tank and Now They Want to Charge Him With a Felony

Man Diving in Tank

You might have seen the video going around of the guy who jumped into the giant Native Fish Tank at the Fort Myers Bass Pro Shops. If you haven’t been, Bass Pro has a huge tank with fish from Florida- it’s a centerpiece of the store. It made all the local news, and got shared all over on social media, and everybody had a good laugh about it. Now, local crimestoppers is claiming they have identified the man, and that he is wanted for felony charges!

That’s the kind of overblown hooey that frustrates people about cops.

Apparently, LCSO is claiming that it cost Bass Pro $3000 to ‘decontaminate’ the tank, and that makes him a felon. I call garbage- both on the cost and the felony.

They are alleging that the cost makes it a felony criminal mischief. Unfortunately, whoever is alleging that has not read the criminal mischief statute. To qualify, an individual must “willfully and maliciously” damage property. I have been out there to check it, but it certainly doesn’t look like any damage was done. On top of that, for it to be willful, he’d have to know that jumping in the tank would cause a $3000 disinfecting bill, which of course he didn’t, because it’s ridiculous. This might be some trespass of property, but to charge this kid with a felony is willful and malicious prosecution, and the authorities should be ashamed.

Here’s the story and video on the news:

The News-Press indicates some high school kids got in trouble for doing that in 2011… it doesn’t indicate that they gave a bunch of kids felonies, though:

Do You Have to Wear Pants to Check the Mail?

  • Maryland Police Issued a Warning to people to wear pants when they check the mail
  • My legal advice: please wear pants

The Taneytown police department in Maryland was apparently having a lot of complaints about people checking their mail without pants on. It was enough of an issue that they had to announce a ‘final warning’ to residents to remind citizens not to check their mail whilst disrobed below the belt.

Funny sure, but there is a legitimate legal question there… is pantless mail-checking against the law. It just so happens that I have dealt with this specific matter before, so I may be the authority on it, at least in Florida. We had a case come in when I was a prosecutor; a man charged with indecent exposure for checking the mail sans pantaloons. My supervisor thought it was a good file, but I wasn’t so sure. We had an intern working at the office at the time, and I tasked him with the legal research. As I suspected, mere nudity did not rise to the level of indecent without some sort of lasciviousness. So, in Florida at least, pantless mail-checking is not criminal, without something else.

However, I recommend wearing pants when you go out for a couple of reasons. One, a less-informed law enforcement officer may think it is indecent, and you could go to jail until the legalities are sorted out. Also, I saw a guy get charged with indecent exposure for skinny dipping, because somebody said he was waving his winky at them. There’s room for dangerous misinterpretation if you are not wearing pants, so I’d advise everyone, if at all possible, to wear pants when they check their mail.

So, I probably ought to watch the ‘Tiger King’ Series on Netflix

Joe Exotic

All the media buzz right now is about ‘Tiger King’, a true-crime documentary series about a man named Joe Exotic who was convicted of hiring a hit-man to try to kill the rival owner of another big cat sanctuary, Carole Baskin. It even has a Florida connection, as Basin runs Tampa-area Big Cat Rescue! Baskin also disputes a lot of what is covered in the show. I did cover the story when he was first indicted. I need to hurry up and watch this series (I’ve still been working my way through the new season of ‘You’). I gotta have the reference point for all of these memes!

Man Arrested for Claiming to Have the COVID-19 Corona Virus

David Landeau

It should go without saying that you should not pretend to have a potentially deadly disease, and it’s even more appalling that somebody would do so in the midst of a public health emergency. But leave it to by claiming to have the corona virus. The bus was evacuated, and when police were called, Landeau admitted that he doesn’t have the COVID-19, the diseased caused by the corona virus. He has been charged with disorderly conduct and creating a false public alarm. Fortunately, it did appear to be a false alarm.

Don’t be David Landeau. Everybody is stressed out with the virus going around, so let’s focus on helping our fellow man for a while, not adding to the stress.

Friday Fun: Drug Traffickers Label their drugs as a “Bag of Drugs” – Get Caught

Bag Full of Drugs

Florida Highway Patrol pulled over two Florida men on I-10 in the Panhandle the other day. After finding out one of them had a warrant, he called for backup. The Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Department responded and brought a K-9, who alerted on the vehicle. The search revealed, among other things, two bags conveniently labeled “BAG FULL OF DRUGS”. The bags were full of drugs.

The men were charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking, drug possession and possession of paraphernalia. Notably, officers recovered some 1.36 kilograms of GHB, often called the “Date Rape Drug”. Only in Florida…

Clearly… not the most successful criminals out there. The drug trafficking charges alone carry sentences of up to 30 years in prison, and have associated mandatory minimum sentences. Not only is it not a good idea to carry your contraband in a bag that alerts to it’s illegal content… it’s probably not a good idea to be flying down the highway going nearly 100 mph, as these guys were when they got pulled over.

Florida Man Bites Dog?

Robert Lawrence

A North Fort Myers man was arrested and charged with attacking a police dog, according to NBC-2. I have to say the NBC headline (and mine) are a little misleading… the allegation isn’t that he attacked the police dog per se, but that he forcefully grabbed it. This was after the police had let the dog loose on him, and the dog had bitten his shoulder: sounds like he was trying to stop the dog from attacking him. He had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries, including the hole in his shoulder and the deputy punching him to let get him to let go of the dog.

NBC-2 Headline

It is a felony to injure a police animal, but a misdemeanor to strike one. This guy, Robert Dean Lawrence, was only charged with the misdemeanor for his actions toward the K-9, “Koa”. However, he’s got bigger problems, as the deputies were after him in the first place for a felony battery charge. He faces charges for felony domestic battery by strangulation, striking a police dog and resisting arrest.

At least he didn’t punch a horse.

Man wanted for Punching out a Dancin’ Santa and Ripping Off its Head

detail from security footage

The scene: Cowboy Up Saloon, Fort Myers, Florida. Police are seeking information on a man who was caught on camera punching a Dancin’ Santa that was on display at the popular Cowboy Up Saloon downtown in the Fort Myers River District. A man standing at the bar suddenly turns, punches the Santa display to the ground, knocking off its head. The footage is shocking, except its just a robot, so nobody gets hurt!

It’s not the first attack we’ve had on a holiday icon in Fort Myers… several years ago the Easter Bunny was attacked at the Edison Mall. That character was played by a real person, who was fortunately ok. Um… I guess ‘don’t punch holiday characters’ needs to be said.

CCSO had to Fish a Truck out of the Pond at the Jail

One of the officers working at the Charlotte County Jail spotted a pickup truck floating in the pond in front of the jail Tuesday night. He approached a man standing there watching it, but the man was uncooperative and walked awawy. Deputies were afraid that someone might have been in the truck, and jumped in the pond, but it had sunk too deep for them to reach. A dive team was called, the truck fished out, and fortunately there was nobody inside.

Tristin Murphy

Deputies located the man who walked away, Tristin Murphy. Murphy denied any knowledge of the truck, but was arrested for Littering of Over 500 Pounds of Hazardous Material. I think they will have a proof problem charging him with dumping just because he was watching it sink, unless they can find some more evidence to link him to the truck. (It’s unclear if the truck was his, maybe there was an envelope with his name on it.) And while the truck contains oil, gas, and other fluids… I’m not sure if it meets the statutory definition of ‘Hazardous Waste‘. While it looks bad, the dude has some defenses an attorney can work with. Either way, he is facing a felony littering charge, which could potentially impair his ability to serve in the army and get his fingerprints sent to Washington, provided Officer Obie took the 27 glossy colored photographs to convict him.

Finally, I couldn’t help but notice that CCSO describes the pond as a ‘catfish pond,’ which begs the question… how is the fishing? Do the inmates get to give it a whirl? Do they stock it. The pond outside the Lee County airport reportedly has excellent fishing, but you don’t have to take my word for it.

Should a Life Sentence Be Over After Someone Dies?

Benjamin Schreiber

A prisoner in Iowa says he should be released after dying an having died and having to be revived at the hospital. Benjamin Schreiber says he was sentenced to life in prison, not life and one day more. His argument was bolstered by the fact that he had signed a do not resuscitate form, and even his brother had told the doctors not to do anything more than make him comfortable. The Iowa Supreme Court denied his claim, and he will continue to serve his prison sentence.

The appellate court wrote in their opinion, “Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot.” While he has an interesting argument that his sentence had been fulfilled, he will have to wait it out on the inside.