A money laundering scheme 


A December Newsweek story reported that some female entrepreneurs can't change their underwear fast enough to fill all their customers' orders (at $10 to $30 per pair, used, a price presumably kept down by supply and demand, in that there were at least 400 such sellers on the eBay website before restrictions were placed). For example, "Michele," a 28-year-old Floridian, buys brand-new panties by the case, gives them free to her girlfriends, and retrieves them daily from their dirty-clothes piles for resale.

A spotless record

In a Nov. 16, 2000, letter published in its entirety (except for naming the recipient) in the Washington (D.C.) City Paper in January, the human-resources director for the District of Columbia Public Schools informs a female job applicant that an investigation into her criminal record has been resolved in her favor. According to the letter, DCPS accepted the applicant's documentation that the government had, for undisclosed reasons, declined to prosecute her cocaine-distribution charge, her marijuana-possession charge, her three dangerous-weapons charges, her shoplifting charge, her soliciting-prostitution charge and her destruction-of-government-property charge (all during 1984-1992), and that the woman, thus with a clean record, is now "eligible for employment with DCPS."

Taxes: volunteers, please

The New York Times reported in November that at least 23 small businesses (though one with 76 employees) are actually taking the far-fetched advice of a former agent and an accountant who give seminars showing how "Section 861" of the Internal Revenue Code actually exempts nearly all Americans from the duty to pay income taxes (and thus, that the firms need not withhold taxes from paychecks). The IRS director calls that interpretation "just plain nonsense," but the agency has for months allowed the companies to flout the law.

Kill joy

In November, prominent Vermont hunter Thomas N. Venezia, 41, was finally brought to justice after several shooting sprees, marauding through Canadian woods massively and maliciously violating game laws. An undercover agent quoted Venezia after one illegal shooting: "I have the ‘K' chromosome. I love to kill. I have to kill." Once, Venezia spontaneously leaped from a truck and started firing at ducks, then later at pigeons because, he said, he needed action because he had gone an hour without killing anything. At a hearing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Venezia, sobbing, admitted the incidents and was permanently barred from Canada (though he remains licensed to hunt in Vermont).

A boom in scholarship

The University of Michigan has accepted 15,000 personal papers of Unabomber-murderer Ted Kaczynski (an alumnus) and is housing them with, according to a December San Francisco Chronicle report, "all the academic solemnity that, say, Churchill's papers received when they went to Cambridge." Said a Kaczynski biographer, "Ted is obsessed with his public image." The university's decision is ironic, said Kaczynski's former prosecutor Steven Lapham, who points out that the man's private journals, introduced in his trial, showed that contrary to his alleged social and environmental reasons for his serial bombings, he merely "enjoyed taking other people's lives because he could."

Tracking a scent

The fragrance Oh My Dog, from the French company Dog Generation, is selling well in Paris (at about $30 a bottle, including complimentary shampoo), providing pooches (according to the label) "an emotional short-cut between dog and man." And in Baltimore (according to an October report in the Baltimore Sun), Susan Wagner continues to pursue her lawsuit against the maker of Paws and Effect (a cologne designed to be sprayed on cats to mask their natural odors, sold at a Nordstrom fragrance counter) for failing to put a clear-enough warning on the package that it was not for humans; Wagner claims serious skin problems.

Truth in advertising

In November, the company 911 Computer of Korea introduced a $60 hand-held lie detector that reveals deceptions by sensing voice tremors caused by stress-restricted blood flow (a technology developed for the Israeli military). The Handy Truster Emotion Reader can allegedly point out lies with 80 percent accuracy after being calibrated with truthful statements, but a spokesman said it might not work against politicians because it can be defeated by "compulsive" liars.

What, this old dump?

In January, a federal judge in Tampa locked up 1980s corporate raider Paul Bilzerian for contempt of court for allegedly hiding assets in a longstanding civil lawsuit in which the government is trying to collect a 1991 securities judgment that Bilzerian defrauded investors of $62 million. In a recent bankruptcy filing, Bilzerian claimed only $15,800 in assets, listing even a $5 Casio watch, but Florida law allows bankrupts to keep their homes, and Bilzerian has lived for years in an 11-bedroom, 37,000-square-foot lakefront residence with indoor basketball court, movie theater, nine-car garage and elevator (which he offered to rent out during the week of the Super Bowl for $600,000).

Caught napping

Fairfax County (Va.) supervisors banned residential sleeping except in bedrooms as a way of curbing situations in which dozens of immigrants occupy the same house.


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