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The Odd Truth, Nov. 6, 2002

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Naked Justice

EL PASO, Texas - Call it a case of naked justice. A former strip club in El Paso, Texas, could be transformed into a courtroom. The place was seized in 1994 after authorities charged it was being used for organized prostitution. Now, the city and county share ownership of the property. El Paso County Commissioners are proposing a swap with the city to take over the former strip joint, and convert it into a justice of the peace court. The City of El Paso would get land and some financial considerations in exchange. City officials are considering the strip-club swap.

A $20,000 Mistake

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - Imagine going to a cash machine and finding your $10 bank balance had mushroomed to more than $20,000. Authorities in New Britain, Connecticut, charge Ramon Ferrer ripped off thousands of dollars that had been accidentally credited to his account. The money was supposed to have been deposited in the account of a nonprofit group. Prosecutors say Ferrer withdraw the windfall at ATMs and bank branches within ten days. He's pleaded innocent to first-degree larceny charges and is free on bail. He's due back in court next month.

13th Time's A Charm?

HACKENSACK, N.J. - A 13th drunken driving conviction could be the one that keeps a New Jersey man off the roads forever.

Robert DeSantis is being held in jail until his sentencing next month. He's facing at least five years in prison, and possibly as long as 31 years.

And he can't legally drive in New Jersey again unless he lives to the age of 129.

Until now, despite his record, DeSantis has served only 62 days in jail. Local judges have allowed him to do community service and alcohol-abuse treatment programs.

He's been fined repeatedly, and has had his license suspended. He pleaded guilty in October 2000 to drunken driving in a crash that injured four people.

Expensive Fiberglass Penguins Stolen

TULSA, Okla. — It seems as though 6-foot penguins would be hard to hide, but Tulsa officials are still looking for two penguins stolen from their perches around the city.

Four penguin sculptures that were part of a citywide promotion of a new zoo exhibit were stolen over the weekend.

Two have been found floating in the Arkansas River, one damaged but repairable, the other broken into pieces.

Two remained missing Monday.

"If we had found them in good condition, or they had been returned to us undamaged, we probably could have looked the other way and turned the other cheek," said Mary Collins, executive director of Tulsa Zoo Friends. "But this has gone too far."

The four fiberglass penguins were worth more than $10,000 total, she said.

The city has more than 65 penguin sculptures scattered around the city.

The Slot King Of Nevada

STATELINE, Nev. — And the winner is — Kenneth Wilson of North Carolina.

No, Wilson hasn't won an election. He was after something he thought was worth a lot more.

The Waynesville, N.C., man outlasted 242 other finalists to win the National Champion of Slots title at Harrah's Lake Tahoe late Monday.

The 65-year-old is scheduled to collect $1 million in $50,000 installments over 20 years.

The retired paper worker and the other contestants each began with zero points. After three 15-minute rounds, Wilson had scored 21,742 points — 988 more than the No. 2 finisher.

"I'm sure it's gonna feel great when I wake up," Wilson said. "My head's kind of spinning right now."

He and wife Helen have two sons and three grandchildren.

"We're not sure how we plan to spend the money just yet, but we do need a new car, so that will probably be the first thing," he said.

Jock Wins Re-Election In Nebaska

HOLDREGE, Neb. — Rep. Tom Osborne still can't get away from football talk.

During a meeting Monday at Holdrege City Auditorium, the Nebraska football coach turned Republican congressman was pulled away from questions about Iraq, the new farm bill and water by a question about football.

Franklin farmer Don Wright asked Osborne about Nebraska's 27-24 loss to Texas that was decided when the Cornhuskers were intercepted in the final seconds.

Osborne, who said he was watching from the press box, thought the pass — not a kick — was the right call.

"The kick could have been blocked. We already had two failures," Osborne said. "On the other hand, we had time to throw to the end zone. The odds are 40 percent you make it."

"There's lots of reasons you do it. If Nebraska had kicked the field goal and missed, everybody would have complained, 'He should've thrown the ball in the end zone,'" Osborne said. "Sometimes it's a no-win deal."

Wright played high school football with Osborne and they graduated together from Hastings High School in 1955.

Osborne easily won re-election Tuesday.

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