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Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, April 12th

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Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, April 12th Posted: Updated:
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Police say they cracked an Austin prostitution ring they were led to by a drainage pipe clogged with condoms.A police affidavit filed Tuesday said investigators learned that a massage parlor was operating in a shopping strip in northwestern Austin after the realty company that had just taken control of the property. The company grew suspicious of the activities of a tenant when they found hundreds of condoms clogging a waste disposal unit connecting the strip to the city sewer system.Police say they found a massage parlor operating in the strip where female workers offered sexual services for pay. A woman and her husband have been arrested and charged with organized criminal activity and money laundering.

LYNN, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man has a ready answer when asked for his two cents’ worth: He presents a check he got from the government.Bruce Rideout, of Lynn, tells The Daily Item he got the 2-cent check from the U.S. Treasury Department a couple of days ago and has been carrying it around and showing his friends ever since.He’s not sure why he got the check and doesn’t plan on asking.The 79-year-old Air Force veteran and Lynn Water and Sewer Commission retiree had already received his income tax refund and his monthly pension.He’s not going to cash the check. He has already visited a store to have a custom frame made. The cost? More than $82.

PHOENIX (AP) — Police say a Phoenix man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a woman’s purse during a first date.They say 38-year-old David Harlow met the woman on an online dating site and two talked for several weeks before meeting in person at a Phoenix resort.During the date, the unidentified woman went to the restroom and asked Harlow to watch her belongings. When she got back, Harlow and her purse were reportedly gone.Police say Harlow allegedly took the victim’s credit card to a casino and tried to withdraw money from several banks.They say Harlow has been booked into jail on suspicion of felony theft, theft of a credit card and taking the identity of another person.It was unclear Tuesday if Harlow has a lawyer yet.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pennsylvania man who assumed the identity of a baby who died in Texas in 1972 was arrested on charges of Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft after the child’s aunt discovered the ruse through Ancestry.com, federal authorities said.Jon Vincent, 44, was arrested in Lansdale, near Philadelphia, on Monday. A federal magistrate on Wednesday ordered him to appear for an arraignment May 2.Prosecutors said Vincent stole Nathan Laskoski’s identity after escaping from a Texas halfway house in March 1996 and used his new name to start another life. Vincent had been convicted in Texas of indecency with a child, though the precise sentence he was serving wasn’t immediately clear, said Michele Mucellin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia.The real Nathan Laskoski died at 2 months old in December 1972.Authorities said Vincent first obtained a Social Security card as Laskoski in 1996. He lived in Mississippi; Tennessee; and Penn Hills and York, Pennsylvania, under the assumed name, authorities said. He held jobs, received a driver’s license and even got married as divorced as Laskoski before the scheme unraveled late last year, according to online court records.That’s when Nathan’s aunt did a search on Ancestry.com, a genealogy website.In researching her family tree, Nathan’s name came up as a green leaf on the website, which led to public records suggesting he was alive. The aunt told Nathan’s mother, who did more research and learned that someone had obtained a Social Security card under her son’s name in Texas. Nathan’s mother also found public marriage and divorce records, and she filed an identity theft complaint with the Social Security Administration.An investigator from the SSA’s Office of Inspector General took it from there in January, court records show.Nathan’s mother told the investigator she remembers a strange telephone call sometime in 1996, from someone asking questions about her deceased son, including his Social Security number. After answering some of the questions, she questioned the caller, who hung up. When she called the police, they told her it was likely a scam, but nothing more happened, court records show.Social Security records show Vincent has been employed, as Laskoski, and earned income every year since 1996.Most recently, he was working as a nurse’s aide, according to licensing records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A license was issued to Laskoski in July 2004 and is set to expire in July 2018, the investigator determined.Court records don’t say where Vincent was working under Laskoski’s name, and Mucellin, the prosecutor’s spokeswoman, also couldn’t say.Vincent’s public defender, Felicia Sarner, said he “was a very young man when this matter first arose, and he deeply regrets the poor judgment he exercised back then.”She said: “His conduct has not resulted in any financial loss and throughout all of the intervening years he has not been in trouble with the law and has lived a quiet, hard-working life.”The Social Security fraud charge carries up to five years in prison on conviction. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a penalty of two years in prison consecutive to any sentence imposed for the fraud count.Vincent remained jailed Wednesday.

GLOVERSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — After nearly six decades and millions of newspapers delivered, Mel Rulison has called it quits.The 87-year-old retired last Sunday as a route driver for The Leader-Herald, a 7,500-circulation daily afternoon paper published in Gloversville, in New York’s Mohawk Valley.The newspaper reports Rulison delivered 220 to 300 newspapers a day, seven days a week for 57 consecutive years. That’s more than 5 million papers delivered during that span.Rulison was working for his uncle’s tannery when he took on newspaper deliveries as an extra job in 1960. After the tannery closed nearly 30 years ago he kept the delivery job, spending three hours a day dropping off papers at homes in a rural area 40 miles northwest of Albany.On Monday, the newspaper threw Rulison a retirement party, thanking him for his 57 years of dedicated service.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Foul language is being discouraged at one construction site in Philadelphia.WTXF-TV reports a sign saying “No Foul Language” has been spotted at the site of the new library being built on the Temple University campus.The station asked about the sign and was told nobody complained about bad language. Instead, Madison Construction says it put up the sign so workers will keep it clean around the students and anybody else who happens by.Contractor David Buehler says the company has meetings about workplace safety, and that avoiding cursing is also emphasized.One student asked about the ban tells the TV station that they didn’t understand the point of it.

VIENNA (AP) — A town south of Vienna is abuzz over the reported theft of dozens of beehives, containing about 1 million bees, from a local park.Police said Wednesday they got involved after residents in the town of Ebreichsdorf noticed that the covers of wooden boxes containing 40 hives had been removed.The thefts were formally reported Tuesday. Police say they could have occurred anytime since the end of March.Beekeeper Horst Preisl put his loss at around 15,000 euros in lost honey and stolen bees, including queens.But Preisl tells state broadcaster ORF the damage is incalculable “in terms of years of work lost.”

BERNARDS, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey church has planted an offspring of a now-dead white oak that was believed to be the oldest in the U.S.NJ.com reports that the younger tree was moved Tuesday to the grounds of a Bernards church to replace its so-called father tree. The old tree, declared dead last summer after it failed to sprout foliage, is scheduled to be chopped down soon.The new tree was originally planted in 2001 at a nearby college, where it has grown to a height of 25 feet. The dead tree, believed to be the nation’s oldest white oak, currently stands at over 100 feet tall.The Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church, founded in 1717, is 300 years younger than the 600-year-old tree on its property. The younger tree has been planted a short walk from its father.The ancient tree was present for many episodes of American history. English evangelists James Davenport and George Whitefield preached to more than 3,000 people beneath the tree in 1740, and George Washington picnicked under it in early colonial America. French troops allied with American revolutionaries marched past the tree en route to the Battle of Yorktown.Jon Klippel, a church board member, told NJ.com that they are unsure what they will do with the wood from the 600-year-old tree after it is chopped down. A lot will depend on the condition of the wood, he said.

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – A Silver Spring man won a state lottery game twice at the same convenience store.Maryland lottery officials said in a statement 39-year-old Jorge Matamoros, who works in construction, won $5,000 March on a scratch-off game called “20x the Cash”. About a month later, he played the same game and hit for $50,000.On both occasions, Matamoros bought the winning tickets at the 29 Convenience Mart in Silver Spring.Matamoros says he plans to use his winnings to pay down some bills and possibly start his own real estate business to refurbish and sell houses.

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