Originally created 05/26/05

Odds and Ends



ALTON, Ill. - Tim Pruitt went fishing and pulled up a whopper of a beast.

No, seriously: It was roughly the size of a sixth-grader.

Pruitt, casting his line in the Mississippi River on Sunday, hauled up a 58-inch long, 44-inch around blue catfish that weighed a whopping 124-pounds.

To get a sense of just how big that is, the state record holder was a mere 85 pounds and the world record holder tipped the scales at 121 pounds, eight ounces.

"My adrenaline was really pumping, so it wasn't that bad," said Pruitt. "Later on, when I was lifting him out of the livewell and into another tank I really felt the weight."

Now, Pruitt, whose fish has already been weighed in the presence of a conservation police officer and measured by a biologist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is expected to submit documentation to the International Game Fish Association so that it can be certified a world record holder.

Once that's done, the catch should be approved as the world's largest blue catfish, replacing the current champion that was caught Jan. 16, 2004, in Lake Texoma, Texas, said Becky Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the association.

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MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. - A former parking meter attendant accused of stealing $120,000 - quarter by quarter - has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and has promised to pay most of it back.

Vincent J. Howard agreed in court Tuesday to repay $70,000 within 30 days and $30,000 more over the two years that he will be on probation.

Macomb County Circuit Judge Richard Caretti also ordered the 50-year-old Howard to spend six months on an electronic tether.

Howard, who worked for the Detroit suburb of Mount Clemens for 23 years, was arrested last year after police raided his home and found thousands of dollars in coins. They also found $500 in Howard's car and $2,000 in a city-owned car he used on his rounds.

"He said he took $500 every two weeks for 10 years to pay bills," said county Assistant Prosecutor Steve Steinhardt. "But I think he used the money to more than supplement his income."

Howard now works as a $9-an-hour laborer for a fence company.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee's deputy finance commissioner spent 13 hours stuck in an elevator at the state Capitol after no one paid a phone bill.

Jerry Adams, who oversees Tennessee's $25 billion budget, was working alone a few weekends ago when he stepped into an elevator, which promptly broke and left him stranded between floors.

Adams picked up the phone in the elevator, but it didn't work because the bill for the phone hadn't been paid and the service was disconnected, officials said.

Finance Department spokeswoman Lola Potter said the bill was mistakenly sent to the Department of Human Services. Officials there had no record of the line and didn't pay the bill.

In the elevator, Adams said the only thing he could do was push a button that rang an emergency bell. He did that every five minutes for hours, but the building was deserted.

At about 4 a.m. the next morning, the cleaning crew heard Adams stirring and rescue crews finally freed him.

"It was not the way I wanted to spend a Sunday evening," said Adams, who lives alone.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An 86-year-old woman was jailed after police said she called 911 dispatchers 20 times in a little more than a half-hour - all to complain that a pizza parlor wouldn't deliver.

Dorothy Densmore was charged with misusing the 911 system, a jail spokeswoman said.

She told dispatchers Sunday that a local pizza shop refused to deliver a pie to her south Charlotte apartment, said Officer Mandy Giannini. She also complained that someone at the shop called her a "crazy old coot," Giannini said.

Densmore wanted them arrested. Instead, police came to arrest her, and she resisted, Giannini said.

It's unusual for someone to face charges for nonemergency calls, Giannini said. But on Sunday, Densmore kept calling 911, even after she was told to stop, Giannini said.

When an officer arrived at her apartment, the 5-foot-tall, 98-pound woman attacked him, Giannini said. Densmore scratched him, kicked and bit his hand, she said.

Densmore also is charged with resisting a public officer and two counts of misusing the 911 system, jail records show.