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News of the Weird

Saturday April 06, 2002

Big Brother is watching  


SANTA ANA — Exercise and disability checks apparently don’t mix. 

A woman pleaded guilty to insurance fraud after she was caught on video participating in an aerobics class while receiving disability payments, authorities said Thursday. 

Noel DeSota, 55, entered the plea last month and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 120 hours of community service, according to the state Department of Insurance. She was also ordered to pay $70,000 in restitution and a $200 fine. 

DeSota slipped and fell in April 1998, apparently injuring her left hip, knee, back and neck. She was treated by a doctor and put on temporary disability. 

State investigators discovered DeSota joined a “Jazzercise” class in January 1999 while continuing to claim she was unable to work because of her injuries. After taping her workout, investigators showed the video to DeSota’s doctors, who said she had misrepresented her ability to return to work. 


Message in a bottle 



COPES CORNER, N.Y. — Nearly a year and 3,000 miles later, Michael Lester got a response to a message he put in bottle and his teacher tossed out to sea. 

The response was postmarked from Ireland. 

The 14-year-old teen threw his message into the waters off Cape Cod last April. The 20-ounce Pepsi bottle, which was sealed with hot glue, washed up 3,000 miles away in Ireland. 

Richard Barrett found it there on March 10 and sent a short letter back to Lester. The teen sees the letter as a link to his great-grandmother, who lived in Ireland. 



Try hopping this fence  


MENTZ, N.Y. — Town officials wanted a fence, so junkyard owner Gene Crandall gave them one to remember — a quarter-mile long chain of junked cars, stacked three and four high. 

Mad about a 3-year-old order to  


fence his auto junkyard and local officials’ efforts to shut his business down, Crandall put up the chain of junked cars. 

The fence features a colorful assortment of makes and models: pickups, convertibles, vans and sedans, most without tires. 

Town officials aren’t pleased. 

The town’s attorney said the crushed cars violate local law and create a health risk. The newly elected town supervisor said he just wants the feud over with, noting that the town has paid more than $40,000 in legal expenses. 



PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — A woman driving home ran over an alligator, which then bit through her car’s bumper and lifted part of the vehicle off the ground. 

Stephanie Feola, 43, said she first thought she hit an opossum Wednesday night but she saw the tail of an almost 7-foot alligator under her car. 

“The car started shaking and it was lifting the front end up,” she said. “I thought it was going to come up through the floor.” 

Feola put the car into reverse to get away and called police on her cellular phone. The animal was caught and killed by a trapper, said Gary Morse, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

Morse said the animal’s reaction is often to fight what it thinks is an attacker. 

“The alligator doesn’t know what’s going on,” Morse said. “He’s got a brain the size of your thumb.”