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But we like him!: CEO Andrew Wiederhorn began his 18-month federal prison sentence in August, but unlike other convicted CEOs, he'll continue to draw his $1.6 million a year salary while doing hard time. He pleaded guilty to two felonies (including filing a false tax return) while previously the CEO of Wilshire Financial Services Group in Oregon, but his current company, Fog Cutter Capital Group, apparently believes Wiederhorn is a real hot shot worth holding onto. Fog Cutter said it might even give Wiederhorn a bonus to help him pay the restitution he is required to make under his plea agreement.

Taking sleep seriously: A 911 operator in Anne Arundel County, Md., apparently fell asleep in the middle of a call about a possible home break-in in progress July 29, according to the official tape recording, which was reported by WBAL-TV (Baltimore). And in Alexandria, Va., the week after that, police found all three staff members asleep at the Sunrise Senior Living facility on Duke Street. (They had slept through the buzzing call button, several telephone calls and a police siren. The supervisor had to be nudged awake despite the burglar alarm blaring just 10 feet away. One patient had fallen out of bed and couldn't get up, and another called 911 to summon the police when no one was there to help with his catheter.)

Government in action: Canadian officials now require immigrants seeking work as strippers to submit nude performance photos of themselves, lest non-pros falsely claim to be strippers to get Canadian work permits, according to a July Toronto Sun report. Canadian club owners are so in need of strippers that they typically pay about $3,700 a week for headliners.U.S. military personnel and their immediate families can routinely receive elective plastic surgery at government expense, including liposuction and facelifts and even breast implants for women (if the woman supplies the implants), according to a July report in The New Yorker. The writer found that, though the military did not offer the benefits in writing, word gets around, and the benefit helps in recruiting as well as in keeping the military's reconstructive-surgery doctors sharp.

Least competent criminals: Merle Hatch, 42, was arrested shortly after he allegedly robbed a Compass Bank in Denver, even though he was dressed (in running shorts and shoes) entirely differently than when he pulled off the job. Hatch's plan was to leave the bank, then strip off his pants and appear to be a jogger out for a morning run, carrying the money. For some reason, however, he did the clothing change in front of the bank building in full view of the employees, who reported his new outfit. According to a police spokesman, Hatch expressed surprise when he was caught so quickly.

Recurring themes: Shannon Kramer, 35, was hospitalized with serious burns after (according to police) trying to toss lit fireworks at his girlfriend from his car during an argument; he overestimated the burn time, however, and the fireworks went off in his hands (Jacksonville, Fla., March). And Aravis Walker, 23, was killed when his car exploded during a session in which he would light fireworks and toss them out the window at passers-by; one of the fireworks didn't clear the window but ricocheted to the backseat, where it ignited the rest of Walker's fireworks.

Readers' choice: In July, a transit system police officer in Washington, D.C., arrested, handcuffed and searched Stephanie Willett, 45, an Environmental Protection Agency scientist, detaining her at a police station for about three hours because she was finishing up the chewing of her PayDay candy bar inside a Metrorail station, in violation of the no-eating rule. Transit officials pointed out that Willett had been warned by the officer a minute before not to enter the station while eating the candy bar, but she thought if it was completely in her mouth as she walked in, she was safe.

2004 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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