NEWS

This Week in Weird, Dec. 18

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Man arrested with 43 pounds of pot addressed to Little League

PEMBROKE, Mass. - The package was from out of state, addressed to “Pembroke Little League.” It arrived Tuesday at a Pembroke home, where a man loaded it into a truck.

That’s when state and local police closed in.

They arrested Anthony J. Merlino, 51, of Falmouth, and charged him with possession with intent to distribute the package’s contents, 43 pounds of marijuana.

Police Lt. Mike Jenness said Merlino had arranged to have the marijuana dropped off by a package delivery company at the Pembroke house.

Jenness would not release the address of the house or say how police knew the package would be arriving. He also would not name the delivery company.

He said the investigation is only a few days old and police don’t know yet if Merlino is part of a larger operation.

“When you start talking about 43 pounds, that’s an awful lot of marijuana for a particular area,” said Jenness. “I don’t believe it’s a one-person, one-time shot.”

Jenness said it is unclear why the package had Pembroke Little League name on it. The address where the package was delivered is a private home.

Paul Mahoney, president of Pembroke Youth Baseball, said there is no Little League in town.

Frances Shasteen is alive, despite what Medicare computer says

LA JUNTA, Colo. - Frances Meyers Shasteen, 103, was declared deceased on Feb. 28 by the federal Medicare health system.

Then, its ordered payments to Shasteen stopped.

The problem is, Shasteen is alive and well.

“Medicare will not pay hospital and doctor bills that would qualify for payment if she’s alive. Because … as anyone should know … doctors and hospital are not equipped to provide services to dead citizens,” Shasteen’s son Don wrote in a recent letter to the La Junta Tribune-Democrat.

The touch of criticism is evident because Don Shasteen, a Virginia resident, knew the glitch in the federal health care system meant that Medicare would stop paying for his mother's health care costs. But it had paid for her hip replacement surgery in March and the hospital care and medications she needed afterward – after the program had declared Frances Shasteen dead.

Doctors and hospitals cannot provide certification to change such a glitch. No one, including Medicare officials, have been able to get the declaration changed, according to officials at AVRMC.

It forced Don Shasteen to ask for intervention by State Sen. Ken Kester and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

A hospital official who asked not to be named said Wednesday that Kester had personally visited the Social Security Administration’s office in La Junta to ensure that Frances Shasteen’s monthly payments would continue.

“Medicare now accepts she is alive, but they can’t correct the problems in their system,” the hospital official said. “Their computer won’t acknowledge that a person is alive if they have been declared deceased. They are working on changing it, but it’s very complicated.

GPS-equipped deer finds a home as family pet

CANAL FULTON, Ohio - Dillie’s a lot like most of the other household pets on her block – she’s got four legs, a tail and tongue that will lick a friendly hand. She’s even housebroken, likes treats and to run around in the yard.

The difference is Dillie’s an 180-pound full-grown deer.

Dillie, short for Daffodil, has lived relatively under the radar for the past five years with her owners, Dr. Melanie Butera and Steve Heathman, in their Canal Fulton home.

“The neighbor kids come to visit and we have had church groups and others here to see her,” said Butera, an area vet.

Last week, Dillie was thrown into the national spotlight after she was crowned the winner of a Zoombak video contest.

After a delivery man left the gate to the yard open and Dillie wandered off this summer, Butera began looking for a tracking device for Dillie.

Butera found the Zoombak personal GPS locator. The small unit, which Dillie wears on a collar around her neck, allows Butera and her husband to keep an eye on her by logging into their computer.

Shortly after Butera purchased the GPS locator, the company held a contest asking Zoombak users to make a video showing how people were using the GPS locator.

Butera entered a video showing Dillie sleeping in her bed, swimming in the family pool and eating a bowl of spaghetti noodles.

“It wasn’t even a half a day (after entering the contest) they called and said we’d won,” Butera said.

The family received a $1,000 prize for the winning video and the media hasn’t stopped calling. Dillie was featured on the CBS “Early Show” Thursday morning and area TV stations have visited her home. Butera has also been contacted by British and German news agencies.

Rare white squirrel discovered in New England

WHITMAN, Mass. - Jennifer Reardon first saw the white squirrel in her Whitman yard a few weeks ago.S he stared at the animal from her doorway with her neighbor Michele Gaquin.

“We’re looking at some kind of nature anomaly here,” Reardon recalls thinking.

They guessed it might be a ferret or a runaway pet, but the bushy tail suggested that the snowy creature was a squirrel.

“We were in awe, it was just so beautiful,” Reardon said. “There was no snow on the ground, so he really stood out.”

A few Internet searches later, Reardon realized that her yard was home to a white version of the common gray squirrel.

Some white squirrels are actually albino and have red eyes as well as white fur. Reardon said the squirrel in her yard had dark eyes.

White squirrels often don’t survive in the wild, at least locally, because they are more visible to predators.

“This white squirrel is surviving in this setting because there’s not a lot of predators in that neighborhood,” said Greg Mertz, a veterinarian at the New England Wildlife Center in Weymouth. “Either that or he’s one ... lucky squirrel.”

Man celebrates with weed

CANTON, Ohio - A man slated to get $1.8 million from the city of Canton for the 2005 death of his brother was arrested Wednesday on a marijuana possession charge after telling police he intended to celebrate the recent court settlement awarding him the money, jail records said.

The proposed settlement stemmed from the June 2005 death of Shawn Pirolozzi, who died shortly after a confrontation during which city police officers subdued him with punches, kicks, pepper spray and a Taser gun.

Pirolozzi’s brother Troy A. Pirolozzi, 33, was arrested Wednesday night.

Police officers stopped the sport utility vehicle Troy Pirolozzi was driving after noticing that a headlight was not lit and that the driver had failed to signal a turn, Stark County Jail records said.

The jail records said that Pirolozzi agreed to be searched and that officers found a bag containing an undisclosed amount of marijuana in his left front pocket.

Officers also reported finding 14 empty beer bottles on the floor of his SUV and two partial 12-packs of beer, both open.

“The suspect further went on to state that he never finishes all the beer in a bottle,” the jail records said.

The officers arrested him and, after reading him his rights and “on tape,” Pirolozzi told officers “he intended to smoke the marijuana with (another) brother in celebration of just settling a civil lawsuit against the city of Canton,” the jail records said.

GateHouse News Service