As a fan of eccentric crime, I’d like to share the following recent favorites:
1. Last Friday night, police officers knocked on the door of Frank Giardina, 49, in Queens, due to a noise complaint. Frank answered the door with a marajuana pipe in his hand, and when the police asked him about the odor, he replied, “Oh, that’s weed.” The officers asked Frank for ID, and while he went to fetch it, Frank invited the officers into his apartment, where they found five pounds of heroin sitting on the kitchen table, with a street value of $400,000. Frank’s bail has been set at $25,000.
The verdict: Frank is guilty of both drug possession, and good manners.
2. Young Lee, a co-founder of the Pinkberry yogurt chain, was just sentenced to seven years in prison for assaulting a homeless man with a tire iron, near a freeway ramp in LA. Mr. Lee claims that the homeless man disrespected him by revealing what the New York Times called “a sexually explicit tattoo.” This of course made me desperate to know the exact nature of the tattoo, and thankfully Gawker revealed that it was two stick figures having sex.
The verdict: Lee got off easy, especially because the name Pinkberry sounds far more explicit than his victim’s tattoo.
3. Mikhlif Al-Shammah is as far as I can tell, a heroic man. He’s been crusading peacefully in Saudi Arabia for Sunni-Shiite equality. Because of his efforts to promote understanding, mostly through writing articles, he’s lost his job, been arrested and imprisoned, and his son has shot him four times. Among the government’s charges against Mikhlif is “annoying other people.”
If Annoying Other People was considered a crime in the United States, the following offenders would be serving life sentences:
Anyone who uses a cell phone on the street.
Anyone who eats smelly food in an enclosed space, like a subway, while strangers sit nearby.
Anyone who claims to know what really happened to that Malaysian jetliner, especially with regard to “the government cover-up.”
Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to stand still and chat with their friends near the doorway of an office building or a theater, or on a crowded sidewalk.
Anyone who uses the phrase “tonal variations” when referring to food or throw pillows.