The real Charlie Free

Hazen You may have read Sunday's story about Jack Hazen (left), a man who robbed a Pompano Beach 7-Eleven back in 1975, escaped from prison, then lived 32 years on the lam under the name Charles Danny Free until being caught again in 2008.

 He's being released today from Dade Correctional Institution in Florida City and will be paroled to Panama City, where he'll have a job and his wife and grown daughters will take care of him.

A colleague who read my story raised a good question: Has anyone ever tracked down the *real* Charles Danny Free, the man whose ID Hazen lifted in order to start his second life? 

A few keystrokes later, I found Charles Danny Free, 63, a nice Southern gentleman living in his hometown of Anderson, S.C. He picked up on the second ring. 

 "I lost my driver's license, and several people used it as their own," he said, explaining he had never been to Jacksonville, where Hazen said he picked up Free's ID at a motel.

Hazen's quiet life as Charlie Free in Las Vegas turned out to be the least of the real Free's problems. Free was a truck driver, and he got fired from two jobs because other people who stole his identity racked up several DUIs.

"It took several weeks to clear that up, but by then they had taken my truck away from me," Free said.

He didn't seem too impressed by Hazen's double life.

"What he did doesn't concern me," Free said.

Florida man loves T-shirt irony

0316093marriage1 Brad Gellert, left, probably didn't know the day he picked to wear his "I [Heart] My Marriage" shirt was also the day he'd get popped on domestic-abuse charges.

Gellert, 32, of Hillsborough County, allegedly tried to strangle his wife during an argument at their home Sunday night.

The Smoking Gun notes that Gellert's shirt was a promotional item from a recent Christian-themed film starring evangelical actor and former Growing Pains wunderkind Kirk Cameron.

Arrested minister: Let my people go

Image_8521008 A minister who was running for Belle Glade city commission got arrested Tuesday night outside a polling place, where he allegedly swung a baseball bat at a woman.

Police and witnesses said the Rev. James Richard Harris (who wound up losing the election, btw) got angry at the woman for "talking to my people" in the polling site's parking lot.

He then said he was "going to crack me some heads," and swung a bat within five feet of the woman's face, according to this Palm Beach Post report. Harris was booked on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

McNugget rage turns to crime

0303091inside1 Police in Fort Pierce have charged 27-year-old Latreasa Goodman (left) with misusing the 911 system after she called the emergency number three times to report that her local McDonald's was out of Chicken McNuggets.

"This is an emergency," she said to the 911 operator.Seriously. "My McNuggets are an emergency."

Only in Florida. Ba da ba ba baaaaa. I'm loving it.

Slangin' weed at the drive-thru

454225507_5c832723b8 This kind of story really makes you think David Simon picked the right city for the backdrop of The Wire.

Cops in Baltimore got a tip Douglas Brice, 27, was selling weed at a local McDonald's drive-thru.

Sure enough, the cops went to investigate and said Brice sold 'em pot when they asked for it with their Quarter Pounders.

Thanks to MenuPages Blog for the tip.

Chalie Simon, accused ball-grabber

0224092assault1 Nineteen-year-old Colorado State University sophomore Chalie Simon, left, was arrested last weekend after squeezing her ex-boyfriend's testicles hard enough to warrant assault charges.

The 4 a.m. incident reportedly happened after Simon went over to Job Donker's apartment, angry at him for not texting her as he promised to do, and then finding out he had another woman in his bed.

Donker tried to get her to leave, but that's when the alleged ball-grabbing happened.

The Smoking Gun has the full story, along with the police report.

Cab driver, photographer, economist

Jackson Rip Holmes is a jack of all trades.

2 Holmes, a Miami Beach cabbie (and, until recently, registered real estate agent), sent me an e-mail today lamenting the state of our economy and how empty his taxi was during the recent boat show weekend.

But here's the kicker: he punctuated his e-mail with pics he shot of pretty women posing outside his taxicab (left).

I wrote him back, asking if he's been taking pictures of his female fares for a while and what kind of collection he has. Haven't heard back yet.  


Man fondles blowup dolls at Publix

Doll Attention Publix shoppers: Pay no attention to the man in the parking lot having sex with blowup dolls in his car.

Police in Cape Coral say 51-year-old George Bartusek was charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace after being spotted "inappropriately touching" two sex dolls.  

One anonymous witness told reporters, "As I walk by I see this guy with two blowup dolls, kissing them and bouncing them."

Police confiscated the dolls, who may or may not resemble the one here.

'Hello, 911? Wait while I buy drugs'

Ap_911_call_070705_mn Alejandro Melendez could be a walking PSA for how drugs can scramble your brain.

Police say the Cleveland man called 911 on Saturday night to say two men with guns were spying on him, then he hung up.

The 911 dispatcher called back Melendez's cellphone, and Melendez picked up and asked the dispatcher to hold on. This what the dispatcher heard someone else say to Melendez:

"What you need, a 10-pack? You need a 10-pack? All right." (A 10-pack is slang for a bundle of heroin with a street value around $800-$1,200.)

The 911 center sent police to Melendez's location, where they found crack in his pocket and arrested him.

Google helps cops bust pot farmers

Google_earth_1 A buzzworthy story out of Switzerland today, where police say they used satellite images from Google Earth to sniff out a big marijuana crop.

It helped cops find a two-acre field where more than 1.2 tons of pot was growing. They arrested 16 people in what investigators said was a "interesting chance discovery."

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