The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

March 27, 2013

Butler County prosecutor drops charge against Pa. groundhog

CINCINNATI — Phil is off the hook.

A winter-weary Ohio prosecutor who filed a tongue-in-cheek criminal indictment against the famous Pennsylvania groundhog over his “prediction” of an early spring dropped the charge Tuesday. Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said Punxsutawney Phil has a “defense with teeth in it” since the animal’s handler is taking the blame.

The Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney attracts worldwide attention each year. But when Gmoser filed his indictment last week after snow was forecast to fall after the official start of spring, renewed attention made it feel like Feb. 2 all over again.

Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, said Monday the furry prognosticator had actually predicted six more weeks of winter, but he mistakenly announced an early spring because he failed to correctly interpret Phil’s “groundhog-ese.”

“Now it turns out, Punxsutawney Phil is little more than a scapegoat,” Gmoser wrote in the dismissal.

That’s a sharp contrast to last week, when Gmoser had written: “Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early.”

Deeley said Tuesday that going after the groundhog probably gave prosecutors some relief from the challenges they normally face bringing murderers, drug dealers and other criminals to justice.

Meanwhile, Phil seemed unfazed by the charge.

“No, he’s not worried,” Deeley said. “He’s getting three square meals a day, and a lot of rest.”

He also said the community appreciated all the extra publicity, which he said “you couldn’t put a dollar figure on.” Gmoser’s office said he had also received hundreds of calls.

Deeley wanted to be sure Tuesday he wouldn’t be the prosecutor’s next target, but Gmoser said it was time to move on.

“Truly, I have really serious work to do in Butler County,” he said from his office in Hamilton, some 25 miles north of Cincinnati, even as snowflakes dropped from the skies. “Let’s end it on a high note.”

He assured Ohio’s lesser-known fuzzy forecaster, Buckeye Chuck, he won’t face prosecution for his own erroneous prediction. Chuck, it turned out, was granted immunity after agreeing to cooperate with the state.

“I’m kind of done with animal cases,” Gmoser said. “Maybe another prosecutor can go after the Easter Bunny.”

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Study finds 35 percent in U.S. facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 30, 2014

  • U.S. blasts Israel for Kerry criticism

    The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.

    July 29, 2014

  • Outlook on Medicare finances improves

    Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

    July 29, 2014

  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hospital shooting suspect charged with murder

    A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Man seeks video of Oklahoma City bombing

    One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    July 28, 2014

  • Bill in Congress to help veterans with PTSD

    A group of lawmakers have joined together to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Post Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI) and other war injuries get speedy medical treatment — and avoid Veteran’s Administration bureaucracy and Department of Defense lack of accountability.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists also has crossed the border.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S. says Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

    July 25, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

     Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 25, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video