Tihomir Petrov, 43, a mathematics professor at California State University Northridge, was charged in January with misdemeanors for allegedly urinating twice on the office door of a colleague with whom he had been feuding. (Petrov was identified by a hidden camera installed after the original puddles turned up.) Petrov is the author of several scholarly papers, with titles such as “Rationality of Moduli of Elliptic Fibrations With Fixed Monodromy.”
SERIOUS DRUG PROBLEM
Gangs in Durban, South Africa, have recently begun stealing expensive anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs destined for AIDS patients and using them in the country’s most popular street drug, “whoonga,” a highly addictive, smoked cocktail of detergent, rat poison, marijuana and the ARVs. The crisis was reported by KwaZulu-Natal province drug-abuse organizations and Durban police, who stood by their claims despite attempts by South African president Jacob Zuma to assure international suppliers of ARVs that more were needed and that none were being diverted for whoonga.
Somehow, prison inmates finagled $39 million in undeserved federal tax refunds in 2009, according to a February report by the U.S. Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. In Key West, Florida, for example, where prisoner Danilo Suarez was sentenced in January to five years in prison for filing multiple fraudulent returns, jailers discovered a pass-around sheet of instructions for false filings. While some refunds were legitimate (e.g., on pre-incarceration investment activity), the IRS conducted fraud screenings on fewer than half of all returns filed by prisoners. (The IRS complained that, until 2008, it was illegal for the agency to share information with state corrections officials—or even with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.)
State law in Tennessee prohibits registered sex offenders from re-contacting their victims, but there is no such restriction on anyone convicted of a sex crime before 2007 and still in prison who is not yet on the registered list. (Post-2007 sex criminals are automatically registered upon conviction.) Consequently, according to a February WMC-TV report, convicted molester Terry McConnell cannot be prevented from mailing birthday cards to one of his two victims (one reading, “I cannot believe my little tot-tot is already a teenager. You might be tired of me writing this, but I can’t get over how fast you are growing up”). Prison officials say their limited resources are better used on monitoring incoming mail rather than outgoing.
Three people were hospitalized in Bellevue, Washington, in January when their van stalled and then exploded as the ignition was re-engaged. They were carrying two gallons of gasoline in an open container and had inexplicably been feeding the carburetor directly, through an opening in the engine housing (between the seats), as the van was in motion.