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News of the Weird

Tuesday July 02, 2002

Health inspector could pay with jail time for free meals 

HACKENSACK, N.J. — There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Vincent Strignile found out the hard way. 

Eight years of allegedly eating free meals could land him in prison for 10 years if he’s convicted of official misconduct charges. 

Strignile, 53, a part-time health inspector in Saddle Brook, allegedly ate free meals at more than a dozen restaurants that he was responsible for inspecting. 

Ike Gavzy, an assistant county prosecutor, said Strignile allegedly accepted the meals from January 1993 until he was arrested in March 2001. 

Authorities began investigating Strignile when a restaurant owner complained that the inspector had refused to pay his bill and conducted inspections that were “cursory at best,” Gavzy said. After Strignile was arrested, authorities received several more complaints. 

“On many occasions, he would say, ‘I’m the health inspector; I don’t pay,”’ Gavzy said last week. 

Whiz bag grosses out court 

PACIFIC, Wash. — There was no way to maintain order in the court when testimony turned to the Whizzinator, an artificial body part worn in an effort to pass urine drug tests. 

Snickering arose Thursday as community corrections officer Nadine Wallace told Judge Stephen L. Rochon about confiscating the contraption, which is designed to be worn as an undergarment and includes a hidden bag for holding drug-free urine. 

“Occasionally the court needs a little comic relief, but this is just unbelievable,” Rochon said. 

Wallace said she also seized illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia June 14 when Jason Smith, 24, was arrested at his home in Auburn. 

Smith, who pleaded guilty last year to possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license, was accused of failing to meet probation requirements, including drug treatment and random drug tests. 

When he read a promise that the device is reusable, Rochon said, “It just simply grosses the court out.” 

One nation under dog 

SARASOTA, Fla. — The newest candidate challenging Secretary of State Katherine Harris in her bid for Congress is truly an underdog: a border collie mix. 

Percy the dog is running as a write-in candidate in the Republican primary, said his owner and campaign manager, Wayne Genthner. 

Genthner is offering up his canine candidate as both satire and as a protest against the political establishment. 

“No one has a realistic expectation that a dog can get elected,” Genthner said last week. “But plenty of people will be willing to vote for a dog to represent their discontent with the political system.”