Three Lawyers Found This Client to Be a Pain in the Neck

Josh Monson in a special restraining chair, surrounded by law enforcement.
Josh Monson in a special restraining chair, surrounded by law enforcement.

Josh Monson was facing trial for murder and drug charges in 2011 in Everett, Washington. Apparently unsatisfied with his defense attorney, Monson stabbed him in the neck with a pencil. That lawyer was excused from the case, and a second one was assigned.

Three days later, Monson stabbed his second attorney with a pencil.

This time court officials learned their lesson and assigned a third lawyer, while prohibiting Monson from having any writing implements. Presumably Lawyer #3 was told what happened to his two predecessors, but he happened to lay his pen down within reach of his client, who lunged for it and tried for the neck again. This time his aim was off, and he only managed to scratch his lawyer’s temple. His aim was probably hindered by the electric stun device he was wearing, which a bailiff activated when he saw Monson go for the pen.

Deciding that Monson had bagged his limit of lawyers, the judge declared he had forfeited his right to be represented by counsel, and he spent the rest of the trial strapped to a special chair. Monson objected to this, asking, “How can [the jurors] fairly judge me when they see me in a chair like this?” One hopes this was merely a rhetorical question, since the jury had just seen him tackled by police officers after attacking his attorney.

Monson ended up being convicted of first degree murder. Before being taken away, he shook hands with his most-recent attorney who, curiously enough, was nowhere near any kind of writing utensil.

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How “Herbie Goes Bananas” Led to a Radioactive Disaster

Herbie Goes Bananas Radioactive Disaster

Herbie Goes Bananas, the 1980 film about a Volkswagen Beetle that is seemingly alive, is widely regarded as the worst of the Herbie movies. Some might even call it a disaster. Few could have guessed, however, that it would play a part in one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

When the private radiotherapy clinic Instituto Goiano de Radioterapia (IGR) at Goiânia, Brazil moved its location in 1985, it abandoned its old location. Left behind was some outdated equipment and furnishings. Litigation ensued over the contents of the property, and the court ordered private security to keep watch over the site, pending the outcome of the lawsuits.

The security guard who was to protect the site on September 13, 1987 failed to show up for work. The reason for his absence? He took his family to a special screening of Herbie Goes Bananas. There is no record of whether he and his family enjoyed their special time together, but history does record that this little outing left the IGR site unguarded for the day.

That happened to be the day two self-proclaimed scavengers, Wagner Mota Pereira and Roberto do Santos Alves, entered the property and rummaged around, looking for items of value to sell for scrap. They left with a wheelbarrow full of assorted odds and ends, including the core of a radiotherapy device, a small capsule filled with cesium chloride, a highly-radioactive compound made from Cesium 137.

Cesium 137 Radiotherapy Source Capsule
Cesium 137 Radiotherapy Source Capsule

The thieves returned to Alves’ home, where they began sorting through the day’s find. By evening both of them began vomiting. By the next day Pereira, who had already added dizziness and diarrhea to his list of symptoms, also noticed a peculiar burn mark on his hand that was the exact size and shape of the capsule. Despite these troubling indications, Pereira waited until the next day to seek medical attention. The local health clinic, having no reason to believe they should be looking for signs of radiation sickness, concluded Pereira was suffering from a mild form of food poisoning and advised him to get some rest. The rest did not prevent the partial amputation of several fingers a few days later.

Alves was making the most of the time his partner was at the doctor’s office. During this time he succeeded in wrestling the cesium capsule from its protective rotating head before taking a break for the rest of the day. The next day he set to work again, and succeeded in puncturing the capsule with a screwdriver. Upon seeing a strange blue light emitting from the screwdriver hole, he used the screwdriver to scoop some of the glowing substance out of the capsule. It stands to reason that particle physics was not one of Alves’ stronger suites, so he did not recognize the glow as Cherenkov radiation. Instead, he thought the substance must be some sort of special gunpowder, so he tried to light it. Despite his best efforts, the powder would not ignite. The prolonged exposure to the radioactive material did result in such severe ulceration of his right forearm that it had to be amputated.

Alves sold the goods to a nearby scrapyard. The scrapyard’s owner, Devair Alves Ferreira, noticed the blue glow from the punctured capsule and brought it into his house. For the next three days he invited everyone he could find to come in and witness the mysterious artifact. He started exploring the possibility of making a ring for his wife out of the glowing metal.

On September 21 one of Ferreira’s friends succeeded in liberating several rice-sized grains of the glowing material from the capsule. He and Ferreira began distributing these grains to friends and family as good luck charms. The charms did not bring good luck to his wife, Gabriella Ferreira, who began showing signs of illness that same day.

Ferreira’s brother, Ivo, got his hands on the capsule and scraped out additional material. He took it home and spread it out on the floor before allowing his six-year-old daughter to sit there while eating her lunch. The daughter was intrigued by the glowing substance and rubbed it on her body like makeup. She even applied some of the dust to her sandwich as she was eating.

It was Gabriella Ferreira who first connected the dots between the appearance of the strange item and the onset of illnesses. Retrieving the items from a scrapyard that had recently purchased them from Ferreira’s scrapyard, Gabriella placed them in a plastic bag and delivered them to a hospital on September 28. The physician on duty, Dr. Paulo Roberto Monteiro, suspecting the items to be radioactive, notified the authorities.

By this point more than two weeks had passed since the theft of the materials from the IGR site. Six distinct locations were contaminated. Topsoil was removed from the contaminated areas and several homes were demolished.

Far more tragic was the impact on the people. 130,000 people flooded the hospitals for testing. 112,000 were examined for radioactive contamination. One thousand of these were identified as having received a dose of radiation greater than a year’s worth of background radiation. Of these, 249 were found to have significant levels of radioactive material on their bodies. 129 of these had internal radioactive contamination. 20 exhibited signs of radiation sickness and required treatment.

And then there were the deaths:

  • Admilson Alves de Souza, a junkyard employee who worked on extracting salvageable material from the capsule, died on October 18 at the age of 18 from internal bleeding and heart and lung damage.
  • Israel Baptista dos Santos, a junkyard employee who worked on separating the lead from the rest of the radioactive core, died on October 27 at the age of 22 from respiratory and lymphatic failure.
  • Leide das Neves Ferreira, the 6-year-old daughter of Ivo Ferreira, who had played with and even eaten the radioactive material, died on October 23. She was buried in a special fiberglass coffin lined with lead to prevent further radioactive contamination of the area.
  • Gabriella Maria Ferreira, the wife of junkyard owner Devair Ferreira, was the one who first connected the illnesses to the glowing substance. Her illness got progressively worse, and she died on October 23 at the age of of 37 — the same day as Leide das Neves Ferreira.

Ironically, the person who received possibly the largest exposure of radiation, junkyard owner Devair Ferreira, survived radiation-related illnesses. His death in 1994 was from cirrhosis of the liver brought on by alcoholism.

Perhaps all of this could have been avoided if only a movie other than Herbie Goes Bananas had been playing that fateful day.

Dishonesty Doesn’t Pay

Horatio Bottomley (1860-1933)
Horatio Bottomley (1860-1933)

British Member of Parliament Horatio Bottomley made a lot of money through fraud. He also lost a lot of money the same way.

In a classic case of karma, in 1914 Bottomley bought all the horses that would run a race. He paid the jockeys to finish in a certain order and bet large sums of money on what seemed to be a sure thing. Unfortunately for Bottomley, a dense fog rolled in right at the time of the race, and the jockeys were unable to see each other’s positions. Bottomley lost all the money he had put up for the race.

One of Bottomley’s favorite ways to make money was to create sweepstakes competitions, giving away large sums of money for prizes. Upon investigation it was revealed that the winners of the sweepstakes all seemed to have a close relationship to Bottomley or one of his associates. In one typical example, all but £250 of a £25,000 prize made it into a bank account controlled by Bottomley, himself.

Bottomley ultimately was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison. He died impoverished.

Some People Just Aren’t Good With Animals

Benjamin Herman Siegel
Benjamin Herman Siegel

Benjamin Herman Siegel of southern Florida was arrested in January, 2015 and charged with battery and cruelty to animals after allegedly striking employees with a bearded dragon and putting the bearded dragon in his mouth.

According to police reports, Seigel was videotaped throwing the animal in the air multiple times before hitting employees more than once with the reptile. He also threw Gatorade on the employees, as if assault with a deadly lizard were not a serious enough offense. source

This is not the first time Siegel has made the news. In 2012 a man died in Siegel’s pet shop after Siegel hosted a “Cockroach Eating Contest.” At that time, Eddie Archbold won the grand prize of a python after eating dozens of insects and worms. Shortly thereafter, he died.  see the video and read the news report here.

Never Argue With a Judge — Even When He Calls Himself an Idiot

Judge Dean Mildren
Judge Dean Mildren
When Tristan Ellis, a notorious burglar, showed up in front of Australian Judge Dean Mildren on March 29, 2004, it was the third time that year he had been arrested. The judge was amazed that Ellis had been released on bail for the third time in a year, even after flagrantly ignoring a court-imposed curfew. Judge Mildren said he was “absolutely staggered” that any judge would grant bail to anyone with that kind of a record, and he indignantly demanded, “Who is the idiot who did that?”

The clerk had to tactfully tell the agitated judge that Mildren himself was the idiot judge.

Cleaning Up in Real Estate — the Con Man’s Way

Among the properties sold by Natwarlal were the Presidential Palace, the Parliament Building, Red Fort, and the Taj Mahal
Among the properties sold by Natwarlal were the Presidential Palace, the Parliament Building, Red Fort, and the Taj Mahal

Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava (1912-2009), also known as “Natwarlal,” was a noted Indian con man who repeatedly sold the Taj Mahal; the Red Fort; the Indian presidential residence, Rashtrapati Bhavan; and the Parliament House of India along with its 545 sitting members.

Wanted in over 100 cases at the time of his death, he had been sentenced to over 113 years of imprisonment. He was arrested nine times but was able to escape each time, the last being in 1996 at the age of 84 years.

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Perhaps They Will Find That Part About “Thou Shall Not Steal”

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The most shoplifted book in the United States is the Bible.

Nationwide, bookstores net about $16 billion in sales every year, according to the American Booksellers Association. Stores estimated that they lose anywhere from 1 percent to 5 percent to theft, some hundreds of millions a year, and much of it during the frenzied activity generated by the Christmas season.

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