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Barista-Stand Owner Faces Prostitution Charge

August 31, 2014 Simon McCormack 0

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The owner of bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts, according to local prosecutors.

Snohomish County prosecutors charged Carmela Panico, a 52-year-old former nude dancer, with promoting prostitution and money laundering, alleging that she operated drive-thru brothels throughout the county north of Seattle, The Everett Herald reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/1lliY1P ). Her baristas made money mostly on tips, saying they could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, authorities said. The women said they could make up to $14 for baring their breasts or genitals and charged more for sex acts, according to charging documents.

“Panico’s businesses were driven by prostitution and lewd behavior,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Bob Hendrix wrote in the documents. Panico was charged Thursday, the newspaper reported.

Her attorney told Snohomish County Superior Court that she left the coffee business and sold some of her stands and leased others.

Authorities allege that she didn’t report her full earnings to the Internal Revenue Service by dealing in large amounts of cash. A search at Panico’s home last year resulted in the seizure of nearly $250,000.

The investigation has also led to the prosecution of a veteran sheriff’s sergeant. Darrell O’Neill is accused of tipping off Panico and her workers to police scrutiny in return for sexual favors. O’Neill resigned after his arrest last year and has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for November.

Authorities allege that baristas had a certain dollar amount they were supposed to make for Panico, and the rest the women could keep.

“The sales goals were effectively rent that the girls paid to have the opportunity to perform lewd conduct or acts of prostitution,” Hendrix wrote.

The documents say that Panico could deduct money if the women failed to wear high heels throughout their shifts, did not have a tan or failed to put on makeup.

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Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com

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Lye In Tea Mystery Solved

August 16, 2014 Simon McCormack 0

BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An industrial cleaning solution that ended up in tea that a woman drank at a Utah restaurant was unintentionally mixed into a bag of sugar a month earlier, authorities said Friday.

South Jordan Cpl. Sam Winkler said a former employee told authorities the mixing of the cleaning product into the sugar bag happened July 5.

On Sunday, a worker took large quantities of the substance thought to be sugar and poured it into the iced-tea dispenser, he said.

A 67-year-old customer, Jan Harding, drank the tea that day at Dickey’s Barbecue in South Jordan, severely burning her esophagus and mouth. She remained hospitalized Friday in critical condition.

The cleaning product is meant for degreasing deep fryers and contains the odorless chemical lye, the active ingredient in drain cleaners.

Winkler said police are waiting to see what happens with Harding’s condition before moving forward with any arrests or charges.

KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City first reported what led to the mix-up.

Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants Inc. said in a statement late Friday that it was an isolated incident and nothing like it had happened in the 73 years the Dallas-based chain has operated.

“There is nothing more important to us than the trust and safety of our guests,” the statement said, adding that the franchise owner, John Thomson, was deeply saddened and is cooperating with authorities.

His restaurant is one of 400 Dickey’s around the country. South Jordan is a suburb of 60,000 about 15 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Doctors have determined Harding has deep, ulcerated burns in her upper esophagus, family attorney Paxton Guymon said. They found the internal damage Thursday while doing an endoscopy, which involves inserting a tube with a light and camera into the digestive tract.

“The news was very disappointing and disheartening for the family,” Guymon said in a statement. “The burns were deeper and more extensive than we had hoped.”

Harding and her husband had just arrived at the restaurant for lunch with friends when she filled her cup with sweet tea from a self-serve beverage station. She took one sip before spitting it out and exclaiming to her husband: “I think I just drank acid.”

Police have determined Harding is the only victim, Winkler said. It appears she was the first to drink the tea that day, and Dickey’s employees disposed of it after she was burned, he said.

The establishment remains open after county health officials inspected it and found all chemicals properly labeled and separated from food items.

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Man Accused Of Drinking $102,000 Worth Of Whisky Dies

August 13, 2014 Simon McCormack 0

GREEeNSBURG, Pa. (AP) — The former live-in caretaker of a Pittsburgh-area mansion has died, ending criminal charges that he drank more than $102,000 worth of old whiskey that he was supposed to be guarding.

A district judge last year ordered 63-year-old John Saunders, of Irwin, to stand trial after hearing testimony from the owner of the South Broadway Manor Bed and Breakfast.

But the Tribune-Review (http://bit.ly/1sV3jY0 ) reports Saunders died July 21, ending the case.

The mansion’s owner, Patricia Hill, told police she had found nine 12-bottle cases of whiskey hidden in the century-old mansion built by industrialist J.P. Brennan after she bought it in 2011.

According to court records, Hill hired Saunders that March to care for the property, which would have included safeguarding the whiskey. But when Hill went to have the pre-Prohibition Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey appraised in March 2012 she discovered 52 empty bottles, on which police said they later found DNA from Saunders’ saliva.

The whiskey was produced in 1912 and bottled in 1917 by the West Overton Distilling Co. and was appraised at more than $2,000 a bottle.

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Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com

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Man Walks Into McDonald’s With a Knife In His Back

June 25, 2014 Simon McCormack 0

Customers were stunned when a man walked into a Queens, New York McDonald’s with a knife sticking out of his back and blood pouring down his shirt.

Story continues below …

NYC man calmly on the phone today after being stabbed in the back pic.twitter.com/8yFzaehKFO

— PzFeed Top News (@PzFeed) June 24, 2014

CBS New York reports that the unidentified victim walked down the street and into the restaurant on Tuesday morning, according to witnesses.

“I heard everybody screaming and it was a lot of commotion,” witness Tromaine Yancey told CBS New York. “The guy came and he was standing there with a knife in his back and it was a kitchen knife.”

WABC spoke to a witness who said the man was talking on the phone, apparently saying what he thought were his last goodbyes.

Cops told PIX11 that the man was involved in a dispute with two men minutes before entering the McDonald’s. The suspects are still at-large.

The 50-year-old victim was taken to a local hospital where he is in serious condition.

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