Mar. 15 Only in America

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$5M raffle won in
businessboosting drawing at Ohio eatery

CLEVELAND (AP) — A Cleveland restaurant says someone won nearly $5 million in a weekly raffle that was intended to draw business and ended up lasting nearly a year as the jackpot climbed. The crowd at Grayton Road Tavern hooted and hollered Wednesday when the latest entry drawn in the Queen of Hearts game picked the right number to reveal the game’s namesake on a board of playing cards. The winner is a man from Hinckley who opted to remain anonymous. The jackpot was about $5.5 million. Under the game rules, the tavern keeps $550,000 of that to launch the next round of the game in May.

Sheriff legally used inmate food funds for beach house

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama sheriff legally used more than $750,000 of funds meant to feed inmates to purchase a beach house. Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin told The Birmingham News he follows a state law passed before World War II that allows sheriffs to keep “excess” inmate-feeding funds for themselves. Entrekin reported on state ethics forms that he made “more than $250,000” each of the past three years through the funds. The sheriff’s annual salary is more than $93,000. He and his wife purchased a four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in September for $740,000. Entrekin got a $592,000 mortgage. The home is one of several properties with a total assessed value of more than $1.7 million that the couple own together or separately.

North Carolina veteran inaccurately declared dead

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Federal officials have discovered a North Carolina veteran isn’t dead yet. The Fayetteville Observer reported that 81-year-old Charles Covell of Fayetteville was surprised to learn that he had been declared dead by the Veterans Affairs Department last month. Covell’s wife realized something was wrong when a monthly disabilities payment was not deposited in their account. They learned a death certificate for a Charles Covell was filed in January. Covell spent 12 years in the Army, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. A spokeswoman from U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson’s office said Tuesday the VA has said the mistake had been corrected. A VA spokesman said the department has an accuracy rate of 99.8 percent in halting payments to those who die.

Teddy bear with toy gun sparks anxiety in New Mexico town

SOCORRO, N.M. (AP) — A giant stuffed teddy bear sitting on a park bench holding a toy gun near an elementary school has sparked anxiety in one New Mexico town. KOB-TV in Albuquerque reports the teddy bear was spotted Tuesday in Socorro, New Mexico, but police say no laws were broken. Socorro Police Chief Mike Winders says police investigated the matter and there was no specific threat attached. Resident Dennis Wright says he believed the apparent prank was a threat made against elementary school children. No arrests were made.

Blimp tows water skier across Southern California lake

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (AP) — Yes, that was a blimp towing a water skier across the surface of a Southern California lake. The Press-Enterprise reports the blimp towed skier Kari McCollum for 6.9 miles at Lake Elsinore on Tuesday. The newspaper says that’s a new record, according to Philip Robertson, an adjudicator with Guinness World Records. The old mark for a water skier being towed by a blimp or airship was nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers). The companies sponsoring the event included T-Mobile and AirSign, an aerial advertising company.


Woman who killed beau in YouTube stunt gets 180 days

ADA, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota woman has been sentenced to 180 days in jail for fatally shooting her boyfriend in a stunt they recorded on video and planned to post on YouTube. A judge in Norman County on Wednesday also banned Monalisa Perez from ever owning a gun again and prohibited her from profiting from the story of the fatal shooting last June at their home in Halstad. For the stunt, 22-year-old Pedro Ruiz held a hardcover encyclopedia against his chest and Perez, standing about a foot away, fired a pistol to see if the bullet would go through the book. Ruiz died as a result of the gunshot. Norman County Attorney James Brue says Perez tragically relied on Ruiz’s assurances before pulling the trigger.

‘Great Outdoors Bandit’ gets 5 years for bank robberies

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A serial bank robber nicknamed the “Great Outdoors Bandit” because witnesses described him as outdoorsy has been sentenced to more than five years in prison and ordered to pay $31,000 in restitution. Josue Daniel Alfaro, 32, of Portland, Oregon, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Security cameras caught him wearing flannel shirts and jeans and a Cabela’s hat. He was arrested in August at Los Angeles International Airport trying to board a flight for Belgium. Alfaro in December pleaded guilty to robbing five banks in southwestern Idaho and a credit union in Orem, Utah. He also pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at another southwestern Idaho bank.