Counterfeiters try to flush the evidence

It turns out you can’t always flush the evidence down the toilet.

Selina Jean Valdez, 28, and Daniel Marquez, 41, of Pueblo, Colo., are suspected of being responsible for almost all of the city’s counterfeit money cases. Police started looking for them on December 26, and that’s when they think the couple flushed “wads of counterfeit $50 and $100 bills’ down the toilet.

A week and a half later, on Thursday, when police came back with warrants, they found raw sewage all over the duplex.

By the time police arrived at the duplex Thursday, standing water and sewage covered its floors and the toilets weren’t functional. Detectives said Marquez and Valdez had been relieving themselves in plastic shopping bags for at least a week because of the inoperable plumbing.

Police said Marquez and Valdez refused to allow their landlord inside the duplex since Dec. 26. Damage to the unit caused by cramming the plumbing will cost thousands of dollars to remedy, police said.

Video of the duplex’s plumbing shot by plumbers using a “snake camera’ on Thursday showed hunks of suspected counterfeit bills packed into the pipes. The clogs span from just a few feet beyond the toilet to almost 100 feet along the lines. The volume of bills flushed down the toilet was so great that the money was visible when police and sheriff’s deputies lifted a manhole cover on the street outside the duplex.

Detectives characterized the suspected counterfeit operation run by Marquez and Valdez as “low-tech.’ Using a combination printer-scanner-copier run through a personal computer, the bills were printed on heavy-bond paper. — Pueblo Chieftain

Doesn’t everybody know that you’re supposed to use a cross-cut shredder on the evidence before you flush it down the toilet? For not paying sufficient attention to the Enron scandal, Selina Valdez and Daniel Marquez become the Stupid People of the Day.

Artist chains self, loses key

Trevor Corneliusien, 26, an artist, went camping in an abandoned mineshaft about five miles north of Baker, Calif., on Tuesday, wrapped a chain around his bare ankles and locked it, and proceeded to draw it. Then he realized he didn’t have the key.

So he hopped across the desert for 12 hours before finding help.

“It took him over 12 hours because he had to hop through boulders and sand,’ [San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan] Ford said. “He did put on his shoes before hopping.’

The artist, who is from the area, often sketched images inside mines in the Southwest. He had finished his drawing Tuesday when he realized he didn’t have the key.

Corneliusien finally made it to a gas station and called the sheriff’s department, which sent paramedics and deputies with bolt cutters. His legs were bruised but he was otherwise in good health, Ford said. — Associated Press

Ford also said that the artist’s drawing of the chain around his legs was “pretty good.’ But that doesn’t excuse Trevor Corneliusien, who is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Home alone: Parents leave children for Vegas weekend

Jacob Calero and Michelle De La Vega, of San Ramon, Calif., on Friday left Calero’s two children, Joshua, 9, and Jason, 5, alone at home unsupervised so they could take a New Year’s Eve trip to Las Vegas.

San Ramon Police Sgt. Brian Kalinowski said that the parents could be facing child endangerment charges once information about the incident is presented to the district attorney.

During the day the boys were alone, they ate cold cereal for breakfast and heated up microwave meals for dinner. The boys’ grandmother called police New Year’s Eve when she realized they might have been left home unsupervised. . . .

When police found the boys, they were physically unharmed. The boys were placed in Child Protective Services and later turned over to their grandmother, who they are currently staying with. — KRXI

This wasn’t the first time they had left the kids alone, either. For that, Jacob Calero and Michelle de la Vega become today’s Stupid People of the Day. As of Wednesday morning, they had not yet arrived back from their trip and were expected to be arrested upon arrival.

Never answer a stolen mobile phone

A burglar in Overtornea, Sweden, broke into a home and stole a mobile phone and other items, and then called a taxi to take him to Kalix, 37 miles (60km) away. While he was waiting for the taxi, the phone rang.

It was the police. The thief apparently thought it was the taxi service, because they heard the thief swearing about the taxi being late.

“The thief answered the phone but then just put it away without turning it off,’ said Overtornea policeman Kurt Paavola.

The police tracked down the taxi and arrested the man late Monday. — Reuters

The man, who was not named in news reports, is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Drunk dropped on desert island

A man on a Monarch Airlines flight from Manchester, England, to Tenerife, Canary Islands, became drunk and began abusing the flight crew, and the captain diverted and threw him off the plane on Porto Santo, a tiny desert island.

The unidentified man swore at crew and passengers after being refused a bottle of wine on the four-hour flight from Manchester to Tenerife.

He became so abusive the fed-up pilot diverted the Monarch Airlines Airbus to Porto Santo island off West Africa.

After the plane touched down, the man was marched off by police and had his luggage dumped on the tarmac.

The plane and its remaining passengers then took off again for Tenerife, where it landed almost four hours late after the unscheduled stop. — BBC News

The man eventually did get off the island, after a day and a half of sobering up.

The man is said to have later travelled to Madeira and from there to Tenerife by flight for a holiday there. A police spokesperson in Madeira said he was charged by the police and he could face a prison term. Although he is in Tenerife, the legal process will continue, the police said. — Vip News

The problem? The crew cut him off after he drank too much. The man, who was unnamed in news reports, is today’s Stupid Person of the Day.

Two die from eating fireworks

Two men in Manila, Philippines, became the first Stupid People of the Day for 2006 after killing themselves by ingesting fireworks.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said two other people have died from ingesting a deadly brand of fireworks several days prior to New Year’s eve and appeared to be cases of suicide. — DPA

The two fatalities were both mentally disturbed adult males who swallowed firecrackers, it said. — AFP

You’re supposed to light the fireworks and then get away fast, rather than eating them.

Ramp worker dents plane, causes emergency landing

A foot-long hole in the fuselage of an Alaska Airlines jet caused the plane to lose cabin pressure, forcing the crew to make an emergency descent from 26,000 feet and return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, authorities said Tuesday.

“There was a bang and the oxygen masks fell down… and I knew at that point that something was wrong,’ [passenger Damon] Zwicker said.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were investigating, along with the airline and the Port of Seattle.

A ramp worker has acknowledged he failed to immediately report striking the plane at the gate Monday with a baggage cart or baggage-belt machine, NTSB spokesman Jim Struhsaker said.

The worker told the agency that although the vehicle touched the plane, he was not aware he had dented it, Struhsaker said.

The bump created a crease in the plane’s aluminum skin, which opened up into a 12- by 6-inch gash as the plane came under increased pressure at 26,000 feet, Struhsaker said.

Alaska Flight 536 left the airport for Burbank just before 4 p.m. Monday. The flight crew reported a loss of cabin pressure about 20 minutes later, Boren said. Oxygen masks deployed for passengers and the plane made a rapid descent, landing at Sea-Tac just before 5 p.m., she said. — KOMO

The unnamed ramp worker is today’s stupid person of the day for causing fear, panic, an emergency landing, and repairs (and subsequently, passenger delays) all because he failed to do his job.

Man gets 2 year old drunk while mother is giving birth

Juan Reyes, 37, of Patchogue, N.Y., was arrested and charged with child endangerment Tuesday after Suffolk County sheriff’s deputies investigating a family court case went to his home and found him passed out on the floor and a two year old boy stumbling around drunk.

A three year old also in the house at the time was apparently sober.

They managed to rouse Reyes, who was the only adult at home with the two toddlers, ages 2 and 3, according to the sheriff’s office. The deputies said Reyes appeared extremely intoxicated.

The deputies also noticed the 2-year-old was having difficulty standing, had bloodshot eyes, smelled of alcohol and was lethargic.

The toddler was taken to the hospital, where tests revealed he was legally intoxicated, with a blood-alcohol content of 0.094 percent, the sheriff’s office said. In New York, a driver is considered drunk with an alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater.

The second child was taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

At the time, the children’s parents were at a hospital, where the mother was giving birth. — Associated Press

This is not the man you want babysitting your children, even if as in this case he lives with you. Juan Reyes, who is being held on $5,000 bond, becomes today’s Stupid Person of the Day. He will appear in court January 3.

Florida’s dumbest of 2005

Each year the St. Petersburg Times scours the news archives to find the dumbest, craziest news stories of 2005, and they got some real doozies this year.

For the past 12 months, we scoured newspapers, magazines and the Internet for all the futile, inane and moronic news stories in Florida. And as usual, we came away overloaded.

Here’s the best of the best. Keep in mind that it’s people like these who make Florida what it is.

Scary thought, isn’t it? — St. Petersburg Times

Go read them all and laugh your ass off.

Satan arrested for indecent exposure

Today’s Stupid Person of the Day is Satan.

That is, Roy Lee Henson, whom police found walking around naked and screaming in Eustis, Fla., on Monday night.

When deputies arrived, they found Roy Lee Henson walking with his boxer shorts around his ankles and screaming wildly, according to the report.

Henson then lunged at a sheriff’s deputy, the report said.

Backup officers arrived and took Henson into custody as the man screamed he was Satan. . . .

He faces charges of aggravated assault on a officer, resisting arrest with violence, exposure of sexual organs and disorderly conduct. — Local 6 News

There’s a difference between thinking you’re Satan and really being Satan. Kids, don’t impersonate Satan. Either one of them. Trust me on this.