<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Weird News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/weird http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:57:44 -0700 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:57:44 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Yawning Suspect to Judge: "I Don't Care, Man"]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:36:13 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/041614+joseph+butler+judge+john+hurley.jpg

A yawning suspect earned a stern rebuke and a trip to jail after he told a South Florida judge, "I don't care, man."

Joseph Butler was facing grand theft and resisting arrest charges when he appeared before Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley Tuesday in the incident captured on court video.

Butler, arms crossed, stood as the prosecutor read from his lengthy criminal past then yawned loudly, drawing the ire of Hurley.

"Oh don't worry, sir. Sir, I heard you yawn, but don't worry. You won't yawn in just a minute. Trust me on that one," Hurley said.

"I don't care, man. I really don't care," Butler said.

"I know this is boring to you and you'd rather be out doing something else, but I can guarantee you won't be stealing anymore after this conversation," Hurley replied.

Hurley then set Butler's bond at $104,000, but ordered him held without bond on three previous grand theft arrests.

"So he's gonna be staying in jail for awhile," Hurley said after dismissing Butler. "Good, maybe he can yawn all he wants while he's over there."

<![CDATA[SFO Super Shuttle Hijacking "Totally Bizarre"]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 22:07:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-15-2014-super-shuttle.jpg

Police are looking for a man suspected of hijacking a San Francisco International Airport Super Shuttle van full of passengers in what a spokesperson for the bus service is calling a "totally bizarre" incident.

The Super Shuttle van was out picking up passengers in downtown San Francisco around 3:56 a.m. Sunday, when it picked up the suspect from a sidewalk, San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Albie Esparza said.

The suspect provided a different name than what was in the reservation, making the excuse that his girlfriend had made a mistake when she booked the van for him.

The driver allowed the suspect to board the shuttle. When the shuttle operator pulled over on O’Farrell Street near Powell Street to help load a passenger’s luggage, the suspect jumped into the driver’s seat and started the van.

The shuttle driver was able to jump back on the van and hung from the side door as the suspect drove away at a low speed.

The shuttle driver kept hanging for about a block before jumping off and calling 911.

The passengers in the van got into a physical struggle with the suspect on New Montgomery Street, managing to jump out of the van, retrieve their luggage and share a cab to the airport.

The suspect drove off by himself in the van, which  was later located in Alameda County near the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Esparza said.

Super Shuttle spokesperson Margaret Nathan described the incident as “totally bizarre.”

“The company is 30 years old and this is the first time something like this has ever happened,” she said. “We are wondering, why would anybody choose to commit a crime with a very branded van? We are very grateful that the passengers overwhelmed him and were able to get away in a taxi.”

Nathan said that Super Shuttle has not yet heard any concerns from passengers about the incident.

“In fact, people have been tweeting really positive things about us,” she said.

Esparza described the suspect as a 30-year-old mixed-race male, 160 pounds, 5’5” tall, brown hair and eyes, last seen wearing a green t-shirt.

Investigators are talking to the driver and the passenger of the hijacked van to find out more information about the hijacking.

Photo Credit: Supershuttle.com: PRNewsFoto/SuperShuttle International]]>
<![CDATA[Knife Found in Enchiladas at Sonoma Airport]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:33:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/enchilada-knife-2.jpg

Transportation Security Administration agents found a knife stuffed inside a woman's carry-on tray of enchiladas at a Northern California airport, but she was still allowed to fly.

The TSA says security at Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa noticed something suspicious in the woman’s carry-on luggage Monday morning. They opened it up and found a knife in the middle of a tray of enchiladas.

“Looks like homemade enchiladas,” TSA’s public affairs spokesperson tweeted.

The passenger reportedly told agents she has no idea how the 8 ½-inch knife got there.

The agents took the knife and the Alaska Airlines passenger was allowed through security and onto her plane.

TSA’s public affairs office tweeted out pictures of the hidden knife. (Editor’s note: The office’s initial tweets erroneously state the knife was found at Oakland International Airport).  


Photo Credit: TSA]]>
<![CDATA[What If Moses Had Facebook? Google Exodus on Social Media]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 12:37:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/196*120/aish.jpg

What if Moses had Facebook?

That's the question a Jewish group in Israel began formally asking in 2011. And by Monday - on the eve of Passover - more than 2.5 million people had clicked in to watch a YouTube video trying to answer that question, all with a jazzy version of the Passover classic, "Dayenu," set in the background.

When Aish.com first publicized the "Google Exodus - Passover Movie," just 50,000 people had seen the clever 2:17-minute clip.

Silicon Valley plays a prominent role - albeit silent one - in the humorous video, with Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Twitter and Craigslist all acting as the key forms of communication between God, Moses, Pharaoh and the other key Passover players. Of course, Moses emails Pharaoh from his gmail account to the leader's dot.gov account.

The clip begins with a search for "Basket Baby." Someone searches Yahoo for "Why is the bush burning but not being consumed?" Pharaoh's Palace is searched for on Google Maps. And Moses posts a status update on Facebook saying that "My staff just turned into a snake. Cool."

While the video is still certainly funny, after three years, it's starting to show its age. There are no Red Sea photos posted Instagram. And if Ramses needed a girlfriend for his harem, Tinder wasn't around to have helped him find a nice Eygptian girl.

Maybe that's why this year, Aish.com - a Jerusalem-based Jewish content website - decided to be topical, and create a new Passover video based on the hit Disney film "Frozen."

This year's video is called "Let it Go: Passover Edition." As of Monday morning, it had nearly 80,000 views.

Photo Credit: YouTube screengrab from Aish.com]]>
<![CDATA[Polish Artist's Missing Paintings Found in Santa Rosa]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:13:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-11-2014-polish-paintingd.jpg

By all accounts, Hanna “Kali” Weynerowska led a colorful life – the sort of colorful life she might depict in one of her many paintings.

As an up-and-coming painter in her native Poland, she was building something of a name for herself before World War II broke out. Then she was captured by Nazis, escaped from a concentration camp, became a freedom fighter, and eventually made her way to San Francisco, where she continued to paint.

“Her paintings were very well done, with oil and gold trimmings,” friend Angeline Friedman said. “She was a perfectionist in a sense.”

Before Kali died in 1998, at the age of 100, she left instructions that 86 of her paintings should be sent to the Polish Museum in Rapperswil, Switzerland.

“To my knowledge that was always her desire,” Friedman said of the paintings. “It was always supposed to go to Poland.”

But the paintings instead ended up with family members who never sent them to their intended destination.

“For a period of time it was unsure exactly where they were,” said FBI Agent David Johnson. “People were looking for them, without answers.”

Eventually the Polish government enlisted the FBI to try and track down the paintings. Agents visited a family member in Santa Rosa, who led them to dozens of paintings tucked away inside a storage facility.

“After a conversation with us, it was agreed we would take them in and get them back to Switzerland where they belong,” Johnson said.

The paintings arrived in Switzerland on Thursday to the delight of the Polish government.

“I think, for Poles, it’s such an emotional thing,” said Caria Tomczykowska, President of the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation in San Francisco, “because Poland lost so much during the war.”

FBI agents from the San Francisco Field Office returned 75 lost paintings that are considered cultural artifacts and national treasures to Poland’s Ministry of Culture. (Photo: FBI)

Tomczykowska said she knew Kali and her husband during the woman’s time in San Francisco, and she treasured her visits to her eclectic “bohemian” home on San Francisco’s Mount Davidson.

“It’s just a remarkable collection,” Tomczykowska said, “and a testament of her creativity and of her excellence as a painter.”

Tomczykowska said 80,000 pieces of art stolen by Nazis and the Russians from Poland during WWII remain missing.

The FBI has a special unit specifically tasked with tracking down stolen art listed in a large database. But Kali’s paintings weren’t included in the database, since their disappearance was more likely related to a domestic squabble than international espionage.

Though Tomczykowska was happy to see the paintings finally going to a Polish cultural institution, she still held out hope they would eventually end up in Poland. That was what Kali wanted.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.]]>
<![CDATA[Bay Area Couple's Epic "Save-The-Date" Video Goes Viral]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 22:49:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-11-2014-save-the-date.jpg

There's only one word to describe San Francisco lawyers Janice Jentz and Bambo Obaro's insanely over-the-top "Save-The-Date" video: Epic.

The couple's 109-second "Great Gatsby"-themed trailer is a departure from conventional save-the-date cards, instead opting for fast cars, helicopters and steamy nightclub action, with Jay-Z and Kanye West blaring in the background.

The video, produced by Major Diamond Productions, starts off by showing Jentz getting into a pink corset dress and glittery heels, her dog by her side. Obaro, dressed in a tux and dark shades, then flies over San Francisco to propose to Jentz, diamond engagement ring in tow.

Post engagement, the couple dances with friends to Kanye, Jay-Z and some Bollywood music.

It ends with the couple walking along the tree-lined grounds of San Francisco City Hall.

"You're invited. Boss wedding. San Francisco, July 12, 2014 -- See it in real 3D," the credits state.

Above the Law blog, which was the first to write about the video, described it as rivaling "the epic display of elegance and class that is the upcoming Kimye wedding."

The video -- which has since been picked up by Jezebel, E! and The Today Show -- has been viewed more than 824,000 times this week on Vimeo.

Today's Hoda Kotb called the Hollywood-style video a "turn-off," saying that it "flaunts wealth."

"It seems like a lot of coin to drop on a video ... I don't like the close-up of the diamond, I don't like it," she said.

Jentz and Obaro obviously dropped big bucks on the production. Both are University of San Francisco law school graduates. Obaro is a litigation associate at Weil Gotshal and was named to Lawyers of Color's Inaugural Hot List. Jentz practices family law at a small law firm and was selected as a Northern California Super Lawyers "Rising Star" in 2012 and 2013.

According to Major Diamond Productions, the couple wanted their save the date to "be different than every other save the date," and were inspired by Jay-Z, the trailer for Great Gatsby and their love for big parties.

The keyword for this project? "Epic," obviously.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

<![CDATA[Croc Caught at Suburban Shopping Mall]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 12:11:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/abandoned-croc.jpg

It's not every day that a Nile Crocodile is found wandering around a TJ Maxx shopping center in the middle of suburbia.

But that's what happened on Wednesday about 9 a.m. when an abandoned four-foot croc was crawling around a Roseville shopping center near Sacramento.

Police Sgt. Kelby Newton told NBC Bay Area that it looks like the amphibian's guardian was trying to dump his pet at The Serpentarium on Douglas Boulevard, which has a sanctuary for certain type of reptiles.

Owning such an alligator is illegal. Nile Crocs are native to Sub-Saharan Africa, are aggressive predators and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

Shoppers at the TJ Maxx Plaza discovered this Nile Croc all by itself, with duct tape wrapped around its mouth. Newton said a Rubbermaid box, the kind you store Christmas ornaments in, was found nearby - and the duct tape on the container was broken.

"The croc must have popped the lid off," he said.

Roseville Animal Control Officer John Bennett ended up lassoeing "the critter," which was not happy about getting into a cage.

"That thing was real quick and agile," Bennett said.

And now, the croc is in the hands of the California State Fish and Wildlife wardens, who will likely donate it the animal to a wildlife or educational organization.

This was the first time a crocodile was seen wandering about Roseville, and the first time one needed to be lassoed off the streets.

"Totally the first time," Kelby said.

But he added that despite the initial scare for TJ Maxx shoppers, the situation was quickly and safely remedied.

"A lot of people were relieved," he said, "when they saw the duct tape on its mouth."

Photo Credit: Roseville Police]]>
<![CDATA[Unbelievable Animal Stories: Sea Lion Found Miles From Water]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:14:39 -0700 Read more here. ]]> Read more here. ]]> http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/041614-hoppie-sea-lion.jpg Check out some of the craziest animals and the stories behind them.]]> <![CDATA[Woman Gets B-Day Card in Mail 45 Years Late]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:14:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1969+mail1.JPG

A birthday card that was intended to reach a young Brooklyn woman on her 19th birthday has finally reached its destination, 45 years after it was first mailed.  

It's not the only piece of mail from 1969 that recently found its way to Susan Heifetz, now living in Floral Park. She says a man living in her childhood apartment building in Marine Park contacted her, saying he had mail addressed to her and postmarked 1969.

Heifetz knew right away the first piece of mail was from her late mother when she saw the lipstick print on the envelope.

"That was mother's thing, to put sealed with a kiss, and the tradition has continued," she said. 

Inside was the birthday card that cost just 6 cents to mail at the time. 

"I've been crying probably since Wednesday when I got this," she said. 

Two days later, another letter with the same Brooklyn address turned up, also written in 1969, from a soldier in Vietnam she had once dated.

"He said in the letter that he tried to call several times before he was shipped overseas, but of course in 1969, we didn't have answering machines," she said.

And then over the weekend, Heifetz got a 1969 birthday card from her brother, postmarked a day before her mother's card.

The Postal Service says it has processed and delivered more than 7 trillion pieces of mail since 1969 and that it's unlikely the three pieces of mail addressed to Heifetz were lost in the system. But it can't explain where they may have been for 45 years. 

Heifetz says the unexpected deliveries bring her a sense of closure as she packs up to retire to Nevada, where her brother and his family live. 


<![CDATA[Car Tipping - Not Cow Tipping - in San Francisco]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:37:16 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/smartcar21.jpg

Someone's been vandalizing compact Smart cars in San Francisco, flipping the tiny vehicles on their front and rear ends in the city's streets.

NBC Bay Area found four of the targeted Smart cars between Sunday night and Monday morning. Two were found in the Bernal Heights neighborhood on Anderson Street, and another was found a bit south on Sweeny and Bowdoin streets, closer to the Portola district. They were either sitting on their headlights, rear bumpers high in the air, or vice versa.

A fourth Smart car -- a small white one with a faded "Obama-Biden" bumper sticker -- was discovered Monday about 9 a.m. at Coso and Prospect avenues between the Mission District and Bernal Heights. Shelley Gallivan was babysitting her friend's Smart car after it was left to her by her late father, and was shocked to find it flipped on its right side.

"Whoever is doing this just has misdirected anger," Gallivan said.

San Francisco Police Officer Gordon Shyy said the suspects are still at large and will face felony vandalism charges if they are caught. Police do have an eye witness account to work from.

Brandon Michael was out having a cigarette about 1 a.m. Monday when he spotted about six to eight people wearing hooded sweatshirts flip over the cars.

"They looked like they were up to no good," Michael said. "And sure enough, they huddled around it and lifted it up."

And the vandalized cars? Michael said they reminded him of little dogs: "They look like they are dachshunds sitting up on their hind legs."

Smart car representatives did not respond immediately for comment.

Neighbors were puzzled at the odd sight. Smart cars are a mainstay for many in San Francisco, where parking is tight and drivers search for eco-friendly ways to get around.

"I think it's a bunch of pranks," Dan Gomez said. "I don't know, it sounds kind of weird. I don't know why you would want to do that."

Smart Automobile is headquartered in Boblingen, Germany, and has its primary assembly plant in Hambach, France.  The idea for the car was hatched in early 1990s when Nicholas Hayek, the inventor of the Swatch watch, approached Mercedes-Benz to realize his vision of an "ultra-urban" car, according to the company website. The first Smart car came to the United States - specifically Manhattan -  in 2008.

The cars start at about $13,000 and the company brands its cars with a lower case "s."

Tipping over large, heavy objects just for kicks is nothing new. High schoolers, football teams and fraternities have supposedly been tipping cows in pastures for years, and picking up VW bugs and moving them elsewhere was a minor fad back in the 1960s and 1970s.

The exact motives behind the vandalism are unclear. The diminutive cars are smaller and lighter than most vehicles. A Smart car weighs about 1,500 pounds; a Ford Focus S Sedan weighs close to 3,000 pounds, and a Hummer clocks in at 8,600 pounds -- definitely a heft that would pose a flipping challenge.

The VoiceofVancouver showed a video of people flipping over a Smart car in 2011 during a citywide riot, as did another YouTube user who showed people smashing the high-tech mini-car. In 2009, the Toronto Star wrote a piece, "Tipping Smart cars the latest prank trend," comparing the act of tipping over the pint-size vehicles as the modern-day equivalent of tipping over cows.

The Smart car website has a forum with frustrated car owners discussing the pricey prank.

And a parody Facebook page was set up called "Smart Car Tipping" by a creator who does not "practice, promote or condone Smart Car Tipping."

One website, however, seemed to be cheering on the tipping. TotalFratMove.com called the Smart car tippers "heroes" and described the cars as "teensy little wheeled boxes."

A Smart car flipped over on Anderson Street in San Francisco. April, 7, 2014.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Bryan Carmody]]>
<![CDATA[Student's April Fool's Joke on Teacher Goes Viral]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:05:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mich+class+prank.jpg

Extra credit belongs to this student who stayed in character throughout a caught-on-camera April Fool's prank that has since gone viral.

The student pranked her macroeconomics teacher, Professor Stephen Barrows, last week at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich. At the center of the joke was the teacher's in-class policy: If a student's phone rings, the call must be answered on speakerphone.

Per the policy (and the joke), when the female student's phone rang, she answered. Here's what the class heard:

"Hi, this is Kevin from the Pregnancy Resource Center. Per your request, I am calling to inform you that the test results have come back positive. Congratulations."

A clip of the prank shows the teacher clearly looking concerned at this point. He can be heard telling the student she can turn off the phone.

"There is no need to worry," the caller says. "I know you told us the father is no longer in the picture, but we will be in contact with you throughout this whole process, so don't worry about anything. We provide counseling and other maternity services at no charge."

As the teacher moves to publicly apologize to the student, she plays it cool.

"That's okay," she says. "I've been expecting this, and I already know what I'm going to name the baby. Her first name will be April, and her middle name will be Fools."

The class erupts into laughter, right along with the professor. The prank had since garnered more than 4 million YouTube views by Monday afternoon.

<![CDATA[Smart Cars Flipped Over in San Francisco]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 07:43:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-07-2014-smart-10.jpg Someone's been vandalizing compact Smart cars in San Francisco, flipping the tiny vehicles on their heads and rear ends in the streets of San Francisco.]]> <![CDATA[Toilet Paper Wedding Contest on a Roll]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:13:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/TP-Wedding-Dress.jpg

With 10 years running, you could say that a quirky competition known as the “Toilet Paper Wedding Contest” is truly on a roll.

The annual nationwide contest, created by the website Cheap-Chic-Weddings and sponsored by Charmin, is exactly what it sounds like: a battle of the best, most elaborate wedding gowns made entirely out of toilet paper.

That’s a whole lot of white, plushy two-ply.

Besides Charmin Toilet Paper, other materials designers are allowed to use include tape, glue, a needle and thread. That's it. Entries must also include a toilet paper headpiece.

The contest began two weeks ago and participants have until May 13 to submit their masterpieces by sending photos of their design on a model or mannequin to the Cheap-Chic-Weddings website.

From there, contest co-creator Susan Bain said the top 10 wedding dress entries will be chosen and online voting will open to the public. The contest will culminate on Jun. 12 at The Sanctuary Hotel on The Haven Rooftop in New York City where the top 10 designs will be showcased.

There, a winner will be chosen and the victor, quite fittingly, will receive a nice stack of paper – a $10,000 grand prize. Second place will walk away with $5,000 and third place will receive a $2,500 prize for their toilet paper creation.

The winners will be selected by a panel of judges, which includes “Project Runway” contestant Kate Pankoke.

But to take top honors in this year’s contest, designers will need to bring forth their TP A-game.

Bain told NBC 7 that contestants must step it up every year and with the 10th anniversary of the contest, this is especially true this time around.

Bain said details and extra accessories on the dresses get more intricate each year. Also, much like a wedding, competitors tend to use themes.

“Contestants use themes and name their dresses. Last year we had a dress that converted from long to short, a Japanese wedding kimono and a steam punk-inspired dress. The winner used glitter glue to form realistic calla lilies!” said Bain. “Above all of that, the workmanship has gotten better.”

Bain said the gowns are examined carefully by judges who always take into consideration how much the entry looks like a real wedding gown.

“To win this year it will take great photos [of the dress] at the start of the contest, excellent structure to the dress and details we haven't seen before,” she added.

Last year’s winner was an entry dubbed “Beautiful Swan,” pictured above.

For more information on the Toilet Paper Wedding Contest, click here.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com]]>
<![CDATA[Jogger Gets Apology From Driver "Wracked With Guilt"]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 18:55:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-04-2014-sunnyvale-note.jpg

Julie Colwell was out jogging Thursday morning, as she does every morning, when she was cut off in the crosswalk by a passing car.

“I was like, ‘You jerk! Pay attention!'” Colwell recalled. “I yelled, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ I was fuming.”

But the 42-year-old Sunnyvale, Calif., mother of three had a sudden change of heart Friday morning.

She said she found an apology note taped to the crosswalk pole near Cherry Chase Elementary School, the exact spot where she had nearly been hit the day before.

The note was written in red marker, and left unsigned.

“To the woman I cut off yesterday, I am incredibly sorry for doing so,” the note read. “I am wracked with guilt over the thought I could have injured you. Thank you for the wake up call to give driving my full attention. Sorry!”

Colwell said that as soon as she saw the note, she knew it was intended for her.

She said she dropped any lingering anger she had for the mystery motorist, whom she described as a man who looked like he was driving his kid to school.

“Of course I forgive you,” Colwell told NBC Bay Area, as if she were speaking to the driver. “Thanks so much for owning it. We need more of that."

Photo Credit: Julie Colwell]]>
<![CDATA[NorCal Men Sold Black Rhino Horns: Feds]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:14:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*145/AP95083002055.jpg

A grand jury has indicted two Bay Area men with illegally selling endangered black rhinoceros horns that used to belong to an elderly man who wanted to get rid of them before moving to Thailand.

Court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada name Edward N. Levine, 63, of Mill Valley, Calif., and Lumsden W. Quan, 46, of San Francisco, as the two alleged black market dealers in the Las Vegas case dubbed “Operation Crash” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

A “crash” is a herd of rhinos.

A complaint was first filed on March 20 and the grand jury in Las Vegas indicted them on Tuesday.

Levine’s attorney, Lawrence Semenza, told NBC Bay Area by phone on Thursday that he had no comment. Quan’s attorney, Christopher Oram, wasn’t immediately available for comment. Quan, whose email is listed in the court documents, did not return an electronic request seeking comment.

Both he and Levine are out of custody on bond. Neither have yet to enter a plea. If convicted of all counts, they face a maximum of five years in prison. They were ordered back to court on April 10.

The two are formally charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which bars the sale of wildlife that was transported, and the Endangered Species Act, which bars the interstate transportation of endangered species for a commercial purpose. All are felonies.

The alleged acts occurred between Jan. 20 and March 19. And the federal complaint alleges the transaction was caught on four video cameras. Neither the U.S. Attorneys Office nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife would release those images.

The two, who are mentioned once in the documents as “partners,” are not charged with flying to Africa and whacking off the head of a rhino to take its valuable horns for sale.

Rather, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Vance Jurgens wrote in the federal complaint (PDF) that they allegedly conspired to sell two antique horns for $55,000 being sold by an elderly man who wanted to shed some of his belongings before moving to Thailand. The horns average $25,000 a pound, he wrote.

Jurgens was able to make the arrest at the Southpoint Hotel in Las Vegas on March 19, because he had set up a plan with a confidential informant has been helping the government after he was arrested on his own felony wildlife smuggling charges.

Through email and phone conversations Quan and Levine planned to meet with the source to trade the two horns. A date was set to meet in Las Vegas. And then at the hotel, the source paid the two men with cash and transferred from a brown sack to a silver suitcase, documents state. The transaction was caught on video and audio recorders, according to the complaint.

Selling rhino horn has been illegal since 1976. 

The rhino population has decreased by 90 percent since 1970 due to poaching. In South Africa, for example, U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents said that 13 rhinos were poached in 2007, and more than 1,000 rhinos were poached there last year. There are just an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 black rhinos left in the world.

In many Asian cultures, especially in China and Vietnam, rhino horns are thought to have major health benefits, including being able to cure cancer and bring good luck.

Photo Credit: Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Caught on Camera: Burglar in the Buff]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 04:58:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/burglar2.jpg Police say a man was arrested after breaking into a home while wearing nothing but a cowboy hat in Johns Creek, Georgia on Monday.]]> <![CDATA[Woman Hit By Lightning Left With "Metallic Taste"]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 13:05:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-02-2014-lightning-strike-fix.jpg

A California woman who was struck by lightning during Monday's storm that dumped down on the Bay Area says she's doing fine.

Emily Davis said she has a lingering metallic taste in her mouth and that her teeth hurt a bit after the bizarre event. She got checked out by a healthcare provider on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old woman says she was struck by lightning on Monday afternoon as she was crossing Adeline Street in Berkeley.

Davis was holding an umbrella in one hand and a coffee in the other when she heard a nearby clap of thunder.

"I started to have that metallic taste in my mouth and after that it looked like someone took a picture with the flash, and a bolt of light went down my umbrella hand," Davis said. "My hands started shaking. I couldn't control it for five minutes."

Davis said she threw her coffee on the ground because she could no longer hold it while her hands shook uncontrollably.

According to the National Weather Service, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are 1 in 500,000. About 60 people each year are killed by lightning in the United States, and several hundred are injured.

Lightning and electricity are no strangers to Davis' family.

Her father is an electrician. Davis' grandfather also served as an electrician, she said.

And to top it off Davis said her great-great-great-grandfather was struck by lightning and killed while sitting on a horse in Missouri.

Davis plans to have an EKG done on Wednesday to make sure her heart is strong.

Representatives from the Katie Couric show have also reached out to Davis for a possible appearance on the show.


Chris Roberts contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Terry McSweeney]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: "Quite Alarming" Video Shows Woman Feeding Alligator]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 17:13:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/feeding-gator.JPG

A woman was caught on camera feeding an alligator at a Port St. Lucie senior living complex.

The video that was recently released is about a year old, neighbors in the Florida community told WPTV.

In the video, the woman is seen sitting on the ground as the gator approaches her from a small body of water. The woman even kicks at the gator when it appears to get too close.

"It was quite alarming to see this woman just sitting by the water with this alligator just feet, in some cases inches from her," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Katie Johnson said.

Neighbors say the gator was so used to getting fed, it would chase people with steaks.

The gator was removed and the FWC is investigating the incident. It is illegal to feed alligators in Florida.

<![CDATA[Sauerkraut, Sausage, and Les Claypool's Fine Wine]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:25:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/CC+Sauerkraut+Party+2014-067.JPG Claypool Cellars, now CC Pachyderm, hosted their 3rd Annual Sauerkraut Party in Sebastopol, which was bigger and better than ever.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Celebrates St. Stupid’s Day]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:44:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-01-2014-st-stupids-day.jpg

One of the Bay Area’s more colorful parades filed through San Francisco Tuesday, marking April Fool’s Day.

More than 100 costumed revelers marched down Market Street as part of the annual St. Stupid’s Day Parade, organized by Bishop Joey and the First Church of the Last Laugh.

The parade doesn’t have much of a point, which, ultimately, is the point.

Bishop Joey says, despite the City's affordability crisis, it shows silliness still thrives.

“There’s a progressive and experimental and curious spirit in this town,” he said, “and I think it still carries over regardless of the different waves of economics that cross back and forth across the bar. And we’ll be going to a bar after this.”

The group stopped during its march to protest at the Federal Reserve and the former "sock" exchange.

This is the 36th straight year of the parade.

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr. ]]>
<![CDATA[The Craziest Food Heists]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 11:55:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/generic-eggs-food-generic.jpg Honey, nuts and cheese top the list of the most expensive — and delicious — food heists.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[10 Unfortunate Truck Spills]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:31:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/171571810.jpg The fear of overloaded trucks crashing on the highway and spilling their contents might not be so irrational at all. Click here to see some unfortunate truck spills around the nation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pot Bundles Wash Up on La Jolla Beaches]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 06:28:00 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/la+jolla+childrens+pool+0224.PNG

Two bundles of marijuana washed up on beaches in San Diego’s La Jolla area Sunday morning, San Diego Police confirmed.

The first was discovered near the La Jolla Children’s Pool around 9:30 a.m., and beachgoers found the second at Black’s Beach at 11:15 a.m., according to SDPD Watch Commander Dan Lasher.

San Diego lifeguards say the bundle found at Black’s Beach weighed about 25 pounds.

While they didn’t mention the pot found at the Children’s Pool, lifeguards say a third 25-pound bundle had washed up Thursday at Black’s Beach.

They believe it came from the same boat because it had the same wrappings as the one discovered Sunday.

<![CDATA[Danville Teacher Invites Will Ferrell to High School Prom (Again)]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 17:28:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/will10.JPG

San Ramon Valley High School teacher Chad Cochran doesn’t want to give up.

Cochran, who embarked on a mission in early March to get Will Ferrell to attend his school’s senior prom as a co-chaperone, went on YouTube once again to woo the actor.

Although Cochran’s first YouTube video generated a lot of buzz online, it didn’t get the response he was looking for – a response from Ferrell.

Promises of chocolate fountains, photo booths and a boutonniere from a chain grocery store filled Cochran’s first YouTube video. This time, he got his students to back him.

“Dear Mr. Ferrell, my name is Chad Cochran. You might remember me from such Internet videos as when I asked you to chaperone the ball with me,” Cochran says in the opening scene. “Since I haven’t gotten a response I thought I’d take you around campus and show you how much support there is.”

Cochran then goes around the campus asking students what they thought about the idea.

“Yeah, I guess that would be pretty cool," a student says. "I don't know if he'd be that good at twerking, though."

Cochran even gets the school choir to sing a little something to get Ferrell to come to the prom: “Say you’ll go …. Say you’ll go, so he (Cochran) will stop bothering us.”

Cochran clarified in his first video that he is happily married with two children and two dogs, but his wife won’t be able to attend his prom. So he wants Ferrell to keep him company.

"If you ever feel uncomfortable on the dance floor you can just say 'spumoni,'" Cochran said in the video.

His deadline to Ferrell for a response – May 10, the day of the prom.

Danville teacher invites Will Ferrell to high school prom for the second time.

Photo Credit: Via YouTube: Cwickus]]>
<![CDATA[USC Students Attempt to Break Sandwich-Making Record ]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 09:09:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sandwich_making_722x406.jpg

USC’s Zeta Phi Rho fraternity and the university’s Special Events Committee are hoping to go down in history Friday. The two groups, along with other participants, are aiming to break the world record for most sandwiches made in one hour.

The sandwiches -- the multi-cultural frat hopes to make 20,000 ham and cheese sandwiches -- will be donated to the homeless on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

Friday’s event, dubbed the 12th annual Zeta Phi "Skid" Rho, is the fraternity’s keystone philanthropy event at the USC, Gamma Chapter. Local organizations tackling homelessness such as Union Rescue Mission and the Midnight Mission will distribute the sandwiches, according to USC Zeta Phi Rho President Vincent Ong.

The current Guinness World Record stands at 5,721 sandwiches.

Over the years, the event has evolved from a few brothers making a handful of sandwiches to hundreds of students making thousands of sandwiches per year, according to a Zeta Phi Rho press release.

This year’s event had more than 450 sign-ups, but per Guinness World Record guidelines and limited space, participation was capped at approximately 350. Participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign-ups were open to USC students and the public.

The committee came up with the concept of breaking a world record, and the fraternity envisioned the experience of the event, according to Ong.

Kim Chu, the Director of USC’s Special Events Committee, said the two groups decided to work in conjunction when they realized they were both holding sandwich-making events. The fraternity and the committee decided to "combine forces and make it a collaborative event."

While one goal of the event is to break the world record, the other is to make a difference in the community.

"We want to raise awareness for the poverty problem in LA and mobilize the student body," Ong said.

Beverage companies Starbucks, Monster and Diabolo are sponsoring the event to ensure participants have ample energy to produce so many sandwiches.

Photo Credit: USC Zeta Phi Rho fraternity]]>
<![CDATA[Pig Surrenders Peacefully After Foot Chase]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:52:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/police-chase-pig-sm+copy.jpg

After a brief foot chase in a residential Santa Monica neighborhood, authorities had Sophie surrounded.

To clarify: Sophie is a pet pig.

In a call that officers don’t see every day, the loose pig was reported roaming around by residents on Wednesday. When park rangers and officers arrived on scene, they found Sophie and a foot pursuit ensued. And if the photo above is any indication, there may have been a brief standoff as well.

Officers said on Facebook that they were able to take Sophie into custody without incident, and she was safely transported to the Santa Monica Animal Shelter.

Sophie was later reunited with her Los Angeles owner who was visiting a friend in the area when the pig escaped.  

Photo Credit: Santa Monica Police Department/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Exploding Propane Tank Destroys Car]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 23:33:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/car66.jpg

A San Francisco man who was resting in the driver's seat of his Honda Civic managed to escape to safety after an exploding propane tank landed in his car.

Joe Castillo, by all accounts, is lucky to be alive after the exploding missile flew from across the street on Friday morning and destroyed his car, which he had just bought two days earlier.

Castillo had been reclining in his seat, waiting for his shift to begin at BayFab Metals in San Leandro. He escaped with only a minor shoulder injury.

The Alameda County Fire Department said the explosion was reported in the 800 block of Doolittle Drive about 7 a.m.

The propane tank from Alaco Iron and Metal Co. flew across the street flew 100 yards into the back of Castillo's Honda. Workers were recycling the gas tank and didn't realize it wasn't empty, fire officials said.

The back of Castillo's car was blown up and melted. The scene left Castillo's manager, Paul Tavares, feeling grateful that his employee survived.

"We should let him go buy the Lotto ticket," he said. 




Photo Credit: Bob Redell]]>
<![CDATA[Breast Milk Donor to Break Record]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 08:57:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/denton_mom_breast_milk.jpg

When Alyse Ogletree first started donating breast milk, she just wanted to do something good. The North Texas woman never expected it would lead her to likely become a world record holder.

"At that time I had no idea there was even a record out there,” said the Denton mother of two.

However, she’s now just a few steps away from that title.

Ogletree has donated 53,081 ounces of breast milk and is applying to the Guinness Book of World Records to officially be named the record holder.

The current holder, Amelia Boomker of Illinois, made the record book by donating 16,321 ounces to an Indiana donation center.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, which receives Ogletree's donations, said she should easily triple that number with her donations to them; a total of more than 414 gallons of breast milk.

"I was over-producing,” Ogletree explained.

She first made the realization about four years ago when her son Kyle was born. Ogletree said while she was in the hospital, her son wasn’t taking breast milk. But she was still producing way too much; filling the hospital’s reserves, she said.

"One of the male nurses asked me if I'd ever considered donating and I was like, 'What is that?'" she said.

That’s when she found the Fort Worth clinic, which was more than happy to take her extra milk.

After the birth of Kyle Ogletree, she donated 1,880 ounces.

When she became pregnant with her second baby, Kage, Ogletree said donating again was a no brainer; though she had no idea how much she’d produce.

"I ended up producing on average about 130 (ounces) per day," she said.

Producing the milk almost became a full time job in itself for the mom, who said it was taxing on her.

Ogletree’s husband Lance said there’d be times she’d be in and out of bed all night having to pump.

"Sometimes we wouldn't be able to send it off quick enough, so we'd have our deep freeze in the garage with probably an entire shelf full,” he said.

Alyse Ogletree said she enjoys being able to produce the milk for a good cause. Between drinking a lot of water and pumping regularly she believes her body just became willing to produce so much.

Simone Summerlin of the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas said Ogletree donated more than 51,000 ounces after giving birth to Kage, up to when she stopped producing in recent weeks.

At this point Ogletree is still in the application process. She said Guinness will have to approve all of her records with the donation clinic in order for the record to be officially named to her.

As a competitive person, Alyse said she’s excited to shatter the record and hopefully be given the title. But she said the real pleasure is the good that comes from the cause.

The Office of Women's Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services encourages breastfeeding for health benefits for mothers and babies, cost saving, and other benefits.

Donated breast milk is often used for mothers that cannot produce enough milk for their children. Additionally, for very young children, breast milk has medically proven benefits over a variety of suppliments.

The Mother's Milk Bank of North Texas, where Ogletree donates, said donated milk is processed and screened for bacteria, then frozen until it is ordered by a physician.

"It takes a lot to raise a family and there are women out there that are not able to produce milk,” Ogletree said.

Ogletree said she encourages more moms to try their hand at the record and help raise more donations and awareness around the cause.

“It's wonderful to be a part of something as special as helping out little babies,” she said.

Before Boomker, the previous record holders were Karen Merheb of Dallas with more than 14,200 ounces, preceded by Alicia Richman, also a North Texan from Granbury, who donated 11,115 ounces.

Ogletree said it will be nice to bring the record back to North Texas.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Minimum Wage Map Test]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 09:16:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/money17.jpg

Minimum Wage Map Test

<![CDATA[Police: Puppies Stolen, Put For Sale on Craigslist]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:52:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/03-27-2014-puppies.jpg

A San Leandro man has been arrested on charges that he stole two German Shepherd puppies and put them up for sale on Craigslist.

San Leandro Police Lt. Mike Sobek said on Wednesday that Richard Coleman, 30, was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property and extortion.

A woman told officers that her two puppies were stolen from her Livermore home last week, and when she checked Craigslist, she found that they had been put up for sale.

She contacted the seller set up a time to meet him, police said. She confronted him and he ran away, police said.

But officers were able to ruse Coleman to another location where he was arrested with one of the puppies, police said. Coleman led officers to the second puppy, according to police.

Both puppies were unharmed and returned to the woman.

In a statement, Sobek said: "This crime struck a nerve with one of our officers and he went that extra step to help recover those puppies and return them to a grateful owner."

Coleman was due in court on Thursday.


Bay City News contributed to this report.


Photo Credit: San Leandro Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Inadvertently Asks Deputy for a Ride]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:24:26 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/kareem+moore.jpg

A man is behind bars after he inadvertently asked an undercover officer for a ride in Deerfield Beach Wednesday, police said.

Broward Sheriff's deputies said a man named Kareem Moore, who had just stolen an Audi SUV, dumped the car on the side of Interstate 95, crossed the highway and jumped a fence before approaching the officer, who was in an unmarked BSO car at 300 NE 2nd Street.

"He asked for a ride and our officers accommodated him," Deputy Rob Schankenberg said.

He said while the car was unmarked, the man inside was clearly marked as a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy.

The deputy was part of a Deerfield Beach ground search to find Moore, who allegedly led deputies on a chase down Dixie Highway.

"It doesn't typically happen that way, but we'll take it any way we can get it," Lighthouse Pointe Police Chief Ross Lacata said.

BSO was assisting Lighthouse Pointe Police after they allegedly spotted Moore speeding from a Northwest 23rd Avenue home in the Audi Quattro. Officials said Moore burglarized that home before he drove away.

"The guy kicked in the door here with a foot," said homeowner Ricardo Fernandez.

Fernandez said it took Moore about six minutes to make off with his valuables, including watches, a Louis Vuitton bag and two handguns with ammo.

<![CDATA["Crazy Cat Lady" Will Face Charges: SPCA]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 17:42:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Frankford+Cat+Hoarder+Cat+Lady+Sign.jpg

Pennsylvania SPCA Humane Law Enforcement Officers were busy on Wednesday removing hundreds of cats from the home of a self-proclaimed "cat lady" in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.

About 240 cats were discovered in two connected "unsanitary" row homes on the 1600 block of Filmore Street. This came after officers found dozens of other felines during an earlier visit to the homes.

A sign on the gate of the home reads "I'm the Crazy Cat Lady. And this is the crazy cat house."

According to records, the woman who lives at the home has been running a licensed animal shelter known as Animals in Crisis since 2002. SPCA officials say they began to investigate her a few weeks ago after receiving a tip from a concerned citizen. Officials say the woman initially cooperated with them and turned over as many as 30 cats during an earlier visit. However, they then asked her to surrender more cats after conditions worsened but she allegedly refused.

"She declined to continue cooperating with us," said Sara Eremus of the SPCA. "It was a situation where we needed to just go in there and take them."

SPCA officials arrived at the home around 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Investigators say conditions inside the home were so deplorable and unsanitary that the officers had to wear respirators while removing the animals.

Workers from the SPCA spent the day at the house removing the cats. The felines that were removed were transported to PSPCA headquarters on Erie Avenue for vet exams, treatment and shelter.

"PSPCA's ultimate goal here is to find the cats good homes once it obtains legal custody of them," officials stated in a press release.

In total, animal officers estimate the woman, who was not immediately identified, kept more than 300 cats in her home.

According to the SPCA, the woman was operating a cat rescue but became overwhelmed.

The Animals in Crisis website describes itself as a nonprofit organization working to rescue animals and “doing the work the PSPCA should be doing.”

“The number of cats being thrown out far exceeds the number of homes we can find, so we are forced to keep many of them and make them as happy and healthy as possible,” reads a statement on the website. “Due to this large number of cats, we need to expand our facility. We have two full-size basements that are completely cleaned out and ready for renovation.”

NBC10’s Deanna Durante called a number listed on the website and spoke to a woman who refused to identify herself. The woman claimed the animals were not being seized from the home on Filmore Street. Instead, she said the owner of the cats had gotten older and was too sick to take care of the animals and therefore called the SPCA herself.

SPCA officials told NBC10 that the woman we spoke to was “entitled to her side of the story.”

Alicia Manfredi told NBC10 that she used to work at the shelter and was not surprised by the discovery on Wednesday.

"I watched the cats being abused," Manfredi said.

Manfredi claims that she filed a complaint against the owner back in 2011 before quitting. She also sent NBC10 pictures of what it looked like inside.

"Everything was neglected," Manfredi said. "Feces, urine, everywhere. It was just really awful, even for us to be working in."

While the SPCA confirmed a complaint was filed back in 2011, they claim they searched the shelter at the time and did not find any signs of neglect.

On Thursday the PSPCA announced that the woman will face charges, although what those charges will be depends on the outcome of the investigation.

The cats will be made available for adoption soon, says the rescue.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com - Pete Kane]]>
<![CDATA[Flirty Burglary Suspect Arrested in San Mateo]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:44:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/03-25-2014-flirty-burglar.jpg

Police on the Peninsula say they set up a suspected burglar on a “first date” he likely regrets.

Keveen Quintanilla, 31, of Burlingame, is accused of burglarizing Curry Up Now, a restaurant in the 100 block of South B Street in San Mateo. San Mateo police say he was caught in the act by employees in the early hours of Saturday morning, but he fled the scene before police could arrive.

One of those employees, 22-year-old bartender Ashleigh Cullen, told police she recognized the suspect as a man who had previously “flirted with her during business hours.”

Cullen says she was getting ready to close the restaurant in the wee hours of Saturday morning when a man came up to her as she was taking out the recycling.

“He said he’d seen me around and wanted to hang out, which was strange since it was already 1 a.m. when he approached me,” Cullen said.

Later, she says, she realized someone had burglarized the restaurant's storage area, stealing televisions, other electronics and something unusual.

“He stole a pair of my slippers I keep in the basement,” Cullen said.

Cullen was able to give police the man's name and phone number.

Then, pretending to be Cullen, San Mateo police started exchanging texts with the suspect. They arranged a fake date at a donut shop in Burlingame.

Ashleigh Cullen

“This genius decided, 'Sure, OK,' and he showed up there on Burlingame Avenue, not to meet the young woman from the restaurant but instead two plainclothes detectives,” San Mateo Count District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. 

Instead of a date with Cullen, Quintanilla ended his night in handcuffs with a chauffeured ride to jail.

He was booked into San Mateo County Jail. He is charged with five felonies, including burglary and possessing methamphetamine.

“This is a simple case, once again proving when you think not with your brain but with your emotions, such as this idiot was doing, you end up in the county jail,” Wagstaffe said.

He already has another date lined up: Quintanilla is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: San Mateo Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Dying Monk Granted Wish: Calif. Gov. Signs Burial Bill]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 03:56:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/209*120/3_monksketeers_to_SF_Chronicle_20140317.jpg

A 76-year-old monk dying of cancer can now be buried at his beloved monastery, thanks to a bill OK'd by California's governor, who studied to be a priest himself.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who was a Jesuit seminary student in the 1950s, signed a bill on Tuesday allowing Archimandrite Theodor Micka to be buried on the grounds of Holy Cross Monastery in Castro Valley.

The bill, which was authored by California Sen. Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-Hayward), allowed an exemption to the current law regarding burial sites. As the law is written, it's a misdemeanor to bury someone in a place other than a designated cemetery without the proper state and county permits. 

In what's known as a "gut-and-amend bill," Corbett wrote the bill to allow Alameda County to expedite the permittng process.

"He had a very compelling story," Corbett said in a phone interview on Tuesday from Sacramento. "We wanted to fulfill his dying wish."

Micka's wish is to be buried on the monastery grounds where he has lived for three decades. The monastery is the only Orthodox one of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area, and there, monks perform weddings, baptisms and services for Orthodox Christians of all ethnic backgrounds.

Micka is the abbot, or the head monk.

"[Corbett] called us today," Holy Cross Monastery Father Stephen Scott, who is Micka's caregiver, told NBC Bay Area. "We were very impressed. Father Theodor has been the abbot here for basically 50 years. He wanted to be buried here."

When Micka was diagnosed with stage IV cancer last April, Scott said that he discussed his friend's burial issue with members of the Stanford Religious Liberty Clinic, who were already helping the monastery with other legal matters. Students Greg Schweizer and Caitlin Bradley helped draft a narrowly crafted bill, CA SB 124, to allow Micka to be buried on the 9-acre rural grounds of his home. Micka's cancer has spread to his lymph nodes, Scott said, though all his friends and supporters are hoping that "he will rally."

The grounds of Holy Cross Monastery in Castro Valley, Calif. (Photo: Father Stephen Scott)

Micka has been "courageous" in the face of his diagnosis, said Scott, the monastery's co-founder. The two have been friends since 1970, when Micka was a parish priest in Los Altos Hills.

When Micka's mother died, she left her son all that she owned. He decided to use her inheritance to buy the 9-acre monastery, helping to build its walls and plant its gardens. Nature is Micka's passion.

"He made a vow to build a monastery," Scott said. "He creates beauty and order out of chaos. We have no fences so that deer can come onto our lawn. We are surrounded by green and parkland. Father Theodor loves the idea of finding God through the beauty of the place."


Photo Credit: Father Stephen Scott]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Animal Planet Host Sentenced Over Lizard Sale Attempt ]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 06:41:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/188*120/lizard-schultz-us-atty-office.jpg

The former host of Animal Planet's "Wild Recon" show has been sentenced to two years probation along with 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty in connection with illegal sales of endangered lizards.

Donald Schultz's sentencing came Monday after he pleaded guilty on Nov. 13 as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors in federal court. He admitted to selling two endangered Iranian desert monitor lizards to an undercover agent, violating the Endangered Species Act.

Schultz was also ordered to pay $9,000 in fines per the agreement.

He told NBC4 last year that he kept the lizards as pets, but decided to sell them because he was moving.

"Someone contacted me and asked to buy them from me," he said. "In retrospect, it was a stupid thing to do. I had no idea it was against the law."

The lizards, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, were sold for $2,500 each by Schultz.

On the day of his plea agreement he posted a message to fans on Twitter.

"My apologies to anyone I’ve disappointed. I intend to use this opportunity to do more, work harder & let my actions speak louder than my words," it read.

The once popular host’s case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Shaves Head for Friend with Cancer, Violates Dress Code]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 17:48:12 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/03-25-2014-shaved-heads-thumnb.jpg

A gesture of solidarity got a young Colorado girl banned from her school.

Kamryn Renfro, a student at Caprock Academy in Grand Junction, shaved her head to support her 11-year-old friend who's battling cancer and going through chemotherapy.

But when Kamryn tried to go back to school this week, she was not allowed in.

It turns out that having a shaved head is a violation of the school's dress code policy.

“I’m sad, because she was really happy to go back to school and show people what she did,” said Delaney Clements, Kamryn’s friend, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2010.

“For a little girl to be really brave and want to shave her head in support of her friend, I thought that was a huge statement,” said Wendy Campbell, Delaney’s mother.

The school decided it is willing to make exceptions to the rule given the circumstances, though, and has told Kamryn she will be allowed to return to school.

<![CDATA[Arcade Fire's Huge Papier–Mâché Mask Stolen During Show]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 08:36:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/arcade+fire+masks.jpg

If you took a huge papier–mâché bobblehead mask from the Arcade Fire show in Connecticut last week, the band wants it back, no questions asked.  

Arcade Fire was at Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena on Tuesday as part of the Reflektor tour and Richard Parry's bobblehead was stolen during their show, according to a statement from the band’s public relations firm.

“This mask is a one of a kind piece that is an essential component to our live show," Arcade Fire said in a statement. "We have photos of the theft but rather than press charges we would prefer if the person who took it would get in touch with us to return it."

Someone started an Arcade Fire Bobblehead Twitter parody account about the prop being on the run.

The band also has a good sense of humor about the incident.

”Perhaps this is all an innocent mistake and you meant to leave the venue with your own oversized paper mache rendition of Richard Parry's head?” the statement continues.

Their next show is on March 28 in Mexico City.

If you took the mask or know who did, help get the head back to the band by contacting info@quest-management.com with any information.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>