Crime of the day: woman arrested for breaking into cars in jail parking lot

You can’t make this stuff up. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

After posting $1,500 bond following her arrest for fighting, Gabrielle Begay was a free woman.

But not for long.

Within an hour of being released from the Douglas County jail last Friday, Begay, 21, was right back where she started. She was caught trying to break into vehicles in the jail parking lot, Chief Deputy Stan Copeland with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said.

Begay also went across the street to J & T Tire and Hudson’s Hickory House, where the owner spotted her trying to break into his vehicle, Copeland said. The owner walked to the sheriff’s office to file a report.

“While he was in the lobby talking to one of our officers, another lady overheard and looked into the parking lot of the sheriff’s office,” Copeland said. “She saw Begay trying to break into her car and told a deputy.”

To read more, click here.


Valdosta prof not guilty of laptop battery

But it appears there will be consequences, nonetheless. We first reported on Frank Rybicki’s case in Georgia Colleges, and it would seem that justice has been served, but for one thing: The man is going to lose his job. There is a facebook page set up to support him, so you can go there and show him some love.

From Inside Higher Ed:

A Georgia jury has acquitted Frank J. Rybicki, assistant professor of mass media at Valdosta State University, of battery charges related to his shutting the laptop of a student in one of his classes in March.

Rybicki denied hurting the student’s finger, as she alleged, but said that professors have every right to shut a laptop when a student violates class rules or is rude by surfing the Web rather than using a laptop to take notes. Valdosta State, which removed Rybicki from teaching duties (but didn’t change his salary) after the incident, has cleared him to return to teaching. However, in July, before his trial, the university informed Rybicki that this academic year would be his last.

Asked if he was being punished for the crime for which he was arrested (and of which he was subsequently acquitted), he said that “I think that’s pretty obvious.”

Still, Rybicki said he was pleased that he would be able to teach in the year ahead, and that a jury had rejected the charges. And he said he was thrilled that students had turned out to support him at the trial and online, on the Team Rybicki page on Facebook, which has now adjusted its illustration to feature the words “NOT GUILTY.” Many students have been arguing since the spring that an outstanding professor was having his career destroyed unfairly.

To read more, click here.


“Show Me” the money … please. After great fundraising year, MO PTA is missing $13,000

When I started this blog, I was determined to keep up with PTA embezzlement stories.  Turns out it’s harder than I thought, because PTAs are getting looted, looted all across this land, I tell you. And the crooks are going to get caught, because they’re rank amateurs, most of them. Here are some of the rules to follow for volunteer organizations: All checks should take two signautres, presidents should never sign a blank check, audits should be performed yearly, and PTAs should take out insurance to cover loss by theft. And one other thing: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL. Especially from kids.

Here’s the latest, from my home state of Missiouri, courtesy of

The Blue Hills (near Kansas City) PTA had big plans for the 2011-12 school year.

From teachers’ grants and field trips to starting a much larger purchase that involved iPads, the Fort Osage School District school’s budget had already been developed to spend some of the association’s more than $17,000.

But those plans quickly changed when executive board members discovered that thousands of dollars from the PTA’s account were missing.

“We have $3,400 in our account right now,” said Chris Ford, president of the Blue Hills Elementary PTA. “Our estimate is that more than $14,000 is not there as it should be.”

The problem was discovered last month, when the current treasurer was working on the annual internal audit of the PTA’s financial records. Ford said by state law, the previous treasurer must turn over the books by July 1. After weeks of phone calls, he said he began to suspect that there was a problem.

When the books were finally returned July 26, Ford said there were a number of inaccuracies and discrepancies, and immediately the magnitude of the situation became clear.

“… There are so many inaccuracies,” Ford said. “We can prove that between $12,000 and $13,500 is missing. But our estimate is that there is well over $14,000 unaccounted for.”

The Blue Hills PTA is working closely with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation, although no charges have yet been filed.

To read more, click here.


Former PTA president in Louisiana charged with stealing $4,000


The former president of Arthur Circle Elementary School’s PTA has been arrested on charges she stole more than $4,000 from the organization.

Jennifer Jones, 41, of the 400 block of Delaware Street, was booked for felony theft.

Detectives with the Caddo-Shreveport financial crimes unit said Jones kept $4,442 that had been collected from school fundraisers held between March and May of this year.

Arthur Circle’s principal asked several times for receipts and deposit slips before contacting the Caddo school system’s auditing office, detectives said.

Investigator Bobby Herring said the money was raised through field days, pizza sales and T-shirt sales. Part of the money was to pay for a student trip this past summer. Money had to be found from another source after the PTA budget was found to have been depleted, Herring said.

Jones, who released from jail on Tuesday, denied the accusations.

“Ms. Jones has volunteered countless hours to the organization and has been a dedicated worker. She looks forward to having her name cleared,” her attorney, Craig Smith, said.

Mindset List: To Class of 2015, “PC” means personal computer, not Political Correctness

They were born in the headwaters of, LBJ is more likely to mean LeBron James than Lyndon Baines Johnson to them, and they’ve always gone to school with Mohammed and Jesus. They are members of the class of 2015, and their Mindset List is newly catalogued by Beloit College.  The list, brainchild of a college public relations exec and a Humanities professor, contains 75 key beliefs, facts, historical realities and yadda, yadda, yadda, (as kids nowadays might say) about the shared cultural experiences of this year’s college freshmen.  Beloit has been doing this since 1998 and maintains an archived webpage with lists from prior years.

Here’s a sampling (the order seems random):

  1. There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
  2. Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
  3. States and Velcro parents have always been requiring that they wear their bike helmets.
  4. The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
  5. There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships.
  6. They “swipe” cards, not merchandise.
  7. As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
  8. Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
  9. “Don’t touch that dial!”….what dial?
  10. American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.

To see the entire list (and prior years’ lists), click here.


Book Trailer for Chain Gang Elementary

Authors and publishers produce slick little movies to promote their books. These trailers often cost thousands of dollars, and their effectiveness is debatable. (Obviously, if no one watches it, it’s not working.)

I decided to use a book trailer to promote Chain Gang Elementary, but I wasn’t willing to spend a fortune to do it, since I was already paying thousands of dollars to get the book printed.

Multitask, I told myself.

So here is my book trailer.  Enjoy:

The driver asked about the book and said he’d been a vice president at his PTA in Paulding County. “The principal hand-picked who she wanted on there,” he said.  “It can be a racket.”

I said, “You’re in Chain Gang territory now.”

I signed a copy and gave it to him.  A small price to pay for my book trailer.