The year of our Lord 2010 was a banner one for jackasses. In a year in which Sarah Palin was the driving political personality, when caffeinated alcoholic beverages reached such a sublime state of perfection that they had to be banned for the safety of college kids, when Tea Partyers stomped the terra demanding that government keep its hands off their Medicare, when the Super Bowl and its surrounding debauchery came to Miami, when panic and hatred seemed to bloom everywhere you looked, it goes without saying that the jackasses were on the prowl.
They seemed to be everywhere, from the local bar to the halls of Congress. If a local radio talker wasn’t calling for people to resort to armed insurrection if a nutcase like Allen West couldn’t get elected (the one upshot to his successful campaign, really), an angry motorist was plowing through a Martin Luther King Day parade, or a deputy sheriff was involved in a complicated scheme involving falsified police reports and fraud to get a refund for his Def Leppard tickets. (Also, he may have stolen a tractor.)
This was the sort of year that, if you told Carl Hiaasen to write a book about it, he’d laugh in your face and call you a lunatic, right before he gave you a wedgie and tossed you in a canal along Alligator Alley. We hear he likes giving wedgies almost as much as he enjoys the floating underground midget knife fights held in warehouses around Little Haiti — which is to say, a lot. But who really knows? In any case, stranger things have happened than a Hiaasen-delivered atomic wedgie, as the following stories will surely show.
We would, at this point, offer some sort of prayer that 2011 proves to be a saner, less-stupid year than 2010, but let’s face it — the bizarre acts perpetrated by some of our sun-fried neighbors here in South Florida are among the things that keep this place interesting. It just wouldn’t be South Florida without an all-Asian Super Bowl party broken-bottle brawl that ends in a partial castration.
We love you, South Florida. We really do.
THE JACKASS: SHAWN BARBER
The jackassery: Shawn Barber just wasn’t made for these times. A former Broward Sheriff’s deputy, Barber was suspended from the force in December 2009 because he may have been involved in the theft of a neighbor’s tractor. As if that weren’t enough of an anachronism — who the hell steals a tractor in this day and age, let alone in South Florida? — Barber may have gotten caught up in the only criminal act involving Def Leppard in the 21st century.
This past June, Barber turned himself in to Palm Beach County Police for his alleged role in a complicated and supremely jackasstic scheme to get a refund on tickets to see the aging hair-metal band two years earlier at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood. Pour some sugar on yourself, take a deep breath and try to follow along with this: After the babysitter Barber and his wife had hired to work the night of the show bailed on the couple, the totally rockin’ law-enforcement officer allegedly decided the best way to get his money back for those unused concert tickets would be to draft a fake report that stated his wife and neighbor had been in a traffic accident. The resulting insurance claim would cover the price of the tickets and then some. A brilliant idea? Does the drummer from Def Leppard only have one arm?
Well, after Barber got caught up in Tractorgate more than a year later, the Broward Sheriff’s Office began to take a closer look at his old police reports. Surprisingly, it turns out Barber didn’t think his plan all the way through, as the date he listed on the phony accident report happened to coincide with a day he wasn’t working, meaning he could not have filed it, and used a case number that belonged to another, obviously unrelated case.
Palm Beach County Police reportedly charged Barber with grand theft, insurance fraud and Florida Communications Fraud. The neighbor who went along with his plan, Sharyn Iaboni, faced the same charges.
“There’s an innocent explanation to this,” Barber’s attorney told The Palm Beach Post. “There’s another side to the story that will come out.”
For Barber’s sake, we hope it involves a time machine, a Pyromania cassette and a bitchin’ ’83 Camaro.
THE JACKASS: NATHAN ROBERT MOSER
The jackassery: Before he became a reality-show punch line and a World of Warcraft pitchman,Ozzy Osbourne did some downright freaky things. He bit the heads off bats, snorted ants, wrote songs about werewolves and Aleister Crowley, peed on the Alamo and married Sharon Osbourne. And even though Ozzy now acts more like the Duke of Dusk than the Prince of Darkness, no one should try to outmadman the guy who recorded Diary of a Madman in his presence.
Enter Nathan Robert Moser, who apparently misread the lyrics of “Crazy Train” as an instruction manual and showed up to an Ozzy book-signing at a Barnes and Noble in Palm Beach Gardens with a questionable bag of tricks. Actually, it was a backpack, and after police allegedly spotted Moser smoking a joint while waiting for the original Iron Man to sign his autobiography, I Am Ozzy, they discovered within it a healthy supply of pot and some homemade fireworks. The 19-year-old jackass was arrested, of course, and charged with possession of narcotic equipment, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of explosives. We’re not sure if he ever got that autograph.
THE JACKASS: KENNETH PARKERSON
The jackassery: Heroes seldom appear in our Jackass of the Week feature. Heroically stupid decisions, yes. Heroic people, not so much. But the story of Kenneth Parkerson involves a hero the likes of which we see far too little of these days, the kind of brave soul whom, if we were living in another age, we would have already written a folksong about and whose likeness we would have cut from a block of marble and erected in a town square. Pity for Parkerson, he is not that hero.
That honor belongs to Capt. Ireneusz Fajkis of the Pembroke Pines Fire Department, whose Coral Springs house Parkerson allegedly made the tremendously unlucky mistake of breaking into this past May in an attempt to secretly film the firefighter’s wife going about her business. Parkerson made it no farther than the couple’s porch when Mrs. Fajkis saw the voyeuristic jackass and screamed for her husband, who caught up with the intruder on the lawn and smashed his face into the ground (resulting in one of the most-Godawesome mug shots of the year). Police arrested Parkerson and charged him with burglary, video voyeurism, marijuana possession and tampering with evidence for trying to destroy his camera while running scared shitless from Fajkis.
If you think the firefighter is a hero for fearlessly pursuing a burglar who for all he knew could have been armed — with a knife, a gun or a brain — you’d only be half-right. You see, a few months earlier, Fajkis joined the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 in Haiti to seek out and save people trapped under mountains of rubble created by the earthquake that devastated the country in January. To save one of those people, a woman he found pinned under a concrete slab, Fajkis had no choice but to amputate her leg on the spot with a power saw. To rescue another woman, he crawled into a collapsed building through a narrow hole filled with dead bodies and unstable debris. That woman, Mireille Dittmer, turned out to be a resident of Pembroke Pines who was in Haiti on business at the time of the earthquake.
Parkerson was unaware of any of that when he broke into Fajkis’ home, though he certainly realized the firefighter was no ordinary human being, telling a hospital staffer following his arrest,“I picked the wrong house, because a UFC fighter lived there and beat me up.” Parkerson has a hearing scheduled before a Broward County judge Jan. 13, the same day, we imagine, Fajkis will be preventing a massive asteroid from striking the Earth or retrieving a child’s kitten from atop Mount Everest.
THE JACKASS: JOHN LONG
The jackassery: Break-ins happen all the time, but it’s not often that someone breaks into your house for the orange juice. Up in Wellington, though, several residents experienced just that state of affairs when John Long allegedly busted into their joints and absconded with their juice. (Also, a flashlight.) Long’s father, Vincent Long, told WPTV News, “He did some ecstasy and PCP and hasn’t been right since.” To which we say, man, you’d have to have done a shit-ton of ecstasy to start busting into people’s houses and stealing their O.J. When we named Long our Jackass of the Week in August, he had been arrested and faced a psychiatric evaluation. Since that time, according to the Palm Beach County Clerk’s office, his evaluation has been completed and he now faces trial.
THE JACKASS: BENNETT WYCHE
The jackassery: You may think New York Jets assistant coach Sal Alosi pulled the biggest jackass stunt on the sidelines of a football field in 2010 when, earlier this month, he intentionally tripped the Miami Dolphins’ Nolan Carroll during a punt return. As childish and unsportsmanlike as Alosi’s action was — the Jets have indefinitely suspended the coach for his numbnuts move — it’s nothing compared to the sideline shenanigans committed this past April by Bennett Wyche, the head coach of the Stranahan High School flag-football team.
Wyche, whom the Sun-Sentinel named the 2009 Coach of the Year, guaranteed he wouldn’t become a repeat winner during an April 27 game between the Stranahan Mighty Dragons and the Western Wildcats. As the accompanying photo shows, Wyche yanked the flag from the waist of Wildcats safety Jessica Lucarelli after she intercepted a pass and headed for the goal line.
“I saw the coach out of the corner of my eye,” Lucarelli told the Sentinel. “I was shocked. You definitely don’t expect something like that to happen. I was upset. He took away my glory and was teaching a horrible example to his players.”
Officials on the field agreed, issuing an unsportsmanlike conduct call to Wyche and awarding a touchdown to Lucarelli and the Wildcats, who won the game 6-0. A week later, after the incident blew up in the local and national press, the Florida High School Athletic Association fined Wyche $100, demanded he attend a coaching course and ordered him to begin the 2011 season with a two-game suspension.
Wyche, who offered a non-apology apology a few days after the game — “it was the wrong thing to do. It was embarrassing and we have no comment” — maintained his silence after the FHSAA handed down its punishment. “I really can’t say more,” he told the Sun-Sentinel. But that says it all, doesn’t it?
THE JACKASS: LATRICIA SAMUEL
The jackassery: Latricia Samuel must have needed a parking place awfully badly. When she pulled into a spot along Northwest Eighth Avenue in Hallandale Beach this past Martin Luther King Day, police informed her that she could not park there, as this was a parade route, in celebration of the holiday. And with that simple explanation, Samuel snapped. According to police, she became “verbally abusive,” and then hit the gas and sped off southward — directly toward the oncoming parade. She plowed right through the parade, made it onto Hallandale Beach Boulevard and then onto I-95 in a disappointingly short police chase that ended when she crashed near the Pembroke Road exit. Although she was charged with 13 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, ironically, only Samuel was hurt in the incident. The struggle of Martin Luther King for civil rights freed many African-Americans from the bonds of Jim Crow. But it also got at least one of them locked up.
THE JACKASS: CHARLES L. STEWART
The jackassery: This past March, federal and state authorities raided the Hialeah home of Charles L. Stewart after they received reports that he had smuggled into the United States a box of giant African snails known by the scientific name Achatina fulica, a destructive species that wreaks havoc on any environment in which it is introduced. Not unlike a Kardashian, the creature can eat just about anything, leaving behind it a disgusting trail of slime and threatening great intestinal distress to anyone who encounters it.
It’s bad enough that Stewart may have brought these nasty little buggers into South Florida, but it’s almost unconscionable that he was able to convince people to ingest them. Yet as reported by The Miami Herald, Stewart did just that. Claiming to practice an African religion known as Ifa Orisha — whose last album was terrific, by the way — Stewart allegedly told his followers that the mucus of these snails contains healing properties and drinking it would cure them of their ailments. Instead of finding themselves magically cured, the newspaper reported, “Several followers became violently ill, losing weight and developing strange lumps in their bellies.”
Stewart, whose breath we imagine could melt hair, is said to have eaten the snails himself. “I did not invent this. It’s something that is part of our religion,” he told the Herald. If true, that only means some other nitwit invented the drinking-snail-snot ritual, and if he happens to be reading this, we would like to ask that he never, ever invites us to a cocktail party.
THE JACKASS: JOYCE KAUFMAN
The jackassery: It takes a truly swirly eyed nutbag to outcrazy congressman-elect Allen West, whose most recent claim to fame is his call to censor newspapers who run the information held in the cables leaked by Wikileaks, regardless of that whole First Amendment, freedom of the press thing. We could go on and on about what a nightmarish bag of hypocrisy this is coming from a guy whose election campaign essentially consisted of swaddling himself in the American flag, but this isn’t about West. This is about Joyce Kaufman, the local talk-radio host who managed to one-up her would-be employer. Not long after West announced that Kaufman would be his chief of staff, she announced that she was withdrawing from consideration for the job, as she would not be part of an “electronic lynching by proxy.”
The fact that schools went on lockdown around Broward County while she was under consideration for the job after someone sent her an e-mail threatening that “something big” would happen at a Broward County government building, or maybe a school, was certainly a factor in her decision. Of course, another may have been that electronic lynchings just aren’t her style — she prefers the real thing. After West’s announcement, multiple videos of Kaufman espousing the most-bizarre, far-right opinions made their way around the Web and onto cable news. She said that illegal immigrants who commit crimes should be hanged and their bodies shipped home. She said before the November election that “if ballots don’t work, bullets will,” and promised “at that point, I’m going to go up into the hills of Kentucky, out into the Midwest, up into the Vermont and New Hampshire outreaches, and I’m going to gather together men and women who understand that some things are worth fighting for and some things are worth dying for.”
The woman who sent the threatening e-mail turned out to be a left-wing agitator, natch. But that doesn’t change anything as far as Kaufman and her bloodlust are concerned. She returned to local radio, where she continues to preach to the armchair-revolutionary choir, never considering that, as with the Glenn Beck follower who was recently stopped with a small arsenal on his way to shoot up the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, one of her mouth-breathing audience members may finally get up out of his chair and decide to take her seriously.
THE JACKASS: RICHARD PEREZ
The jackassery: Wilton Manors Police Chief Richard Perez hung on to his office as long as he could after the South Florida Times dropped the news that he had forwarded racist e-mails around his office, but he eventually resigned in October, after being issued a month-long suspension. Other than a few breathtakingly racist screeds, the e-mails also included several about President Barack Obama. One suggested that Obama’s mother had engaged in bestiality, while another expressed regret that, when the Marines fired off their 21-gun salute at Obama’s inauguration, they had missed the president. Ha, ha! Hilarious, right? Nothing like a good presidential assassination joke in a country that has seen one in every 11 of its leaders leave office at the barrel of a gun. Police Chief Perez’s e-mails also did a huge disservice to his department. All it takes is one story like this and there isn’t a black man in Wilton Manors who will trust the police to give them a fair shake, regardless of how much community outreach the department may have done in the past. Perez defended the e-mails by claiming that he had forwarded them for “training purposes.” No one believed him.
THE JACKASS: JOSEPH LOPRETE
The jackassery: Joseph Loprete is, apparently, a jealous man. He decided that, at a Fourth of July party, his wife had been paying too much attention to two men who had, as at many house parties, busted out acoustic guitars for some sing-along time. As he drove the family SUV home, he got into an argument with his wife that became quite heated. When he pulled the car into their driveway, she got their four kids out of the car (yes, their children were present) and herded them into the house to let Loprete stew for a while. But while she may have thought that letting him count to 10 out in the car would do some good, this alone time only made Loprete all the more angry. A few brief moments passed, and then — boom! — the car slammed through the living room wall, thankfully harming no one, as Loprete’s wife was putting the kids to bed. According to the police report, when the cops arrived, Loprete demanded, “Put me in cuffs. Take me to jail. Let’s go.” The police complied. And that’s the last we had heard of Loprete, until a search of the Palm Beach County Clerk’s records found that the man, who had a clean record up until the incident, was let go with probation. No word on what sort of punishment his wife doled out.
Contact the authors at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was originally published Dec. 21, 2010.