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TV photo mix-up shows lawmaker, not felon

CHARLESTON, W.Va., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A television station in West Virginia's capital has apologized for airing a photo of a state legislator instead of a convicted racketeer who had the same name.


During a late-night newscast, WVAH-TV reported that a federal appeals court upheld the racketeering conviction of Danny Wells, a former Logan County magistrate, and showed Wells' photo with the news item, The Charleston Gazette reported Thursday.

Only one problem: The photo was of Del. Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, a two-term state lawmaker and retired Gazette sports editor.

Wells said he didn't see the newscast but was alerted to it by viewers.

"I'm pretty upset about it," said Wells, adding that given the tenor of politicking today, the footage could wind up in a so-called attack ad. "I'm going to talk to an attorney about it. I can't see how my reputation was not damaged by it."


Matt Snyder, news director for WVAH and its sister station WCHS-TV, said producers immediately recognized the mistake and an anchor issued an on-air retraction and apology within minutes. When Wells called about the mishap, he hung up before hearing about the apology, Snyder said.

Report: W.Va. justice a 'hellhole'

CHARLESTON, W.Va., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A report listing West Virginia No. 4 in the "judicial hellhole" national rankings drew -- predictably -- mixed comments.

Yes, the ranking by the American Tort Reform Foundation was an improvement over last year, when the group relegated the Mountain State to the bottom of the judicial heap, The Charleston Gazette reported Thursday.

This year's report kept West Virginia near the bottom "despite the occasional faint sign of hope."

"It's nothing to be proud of when you're at the bottom of a national ranking," commented Steve Cohen, West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse executive director, who says West Virginia is a dumping ground for out-of-state plaintiffs

Teresa Toriseva, the president of the state's trial lawyers association, countered that civil filings were 15 percent below the national average.

"It's a farce for them to be saying that we are a 'judicial hellhole,' and they know it," she said.


The foundation highlighted a breach of contract in which a jury awarded the plaintiff a multimillion-dollar verdict.

"Despite the lack of any supporting evidence of damages, the case went to trial and ended with a $10.5 million verdict against the defendant," the report said.

Colorado tiger's SUV-riding days are over

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A tiger cub seen riding shotgun around Centennial, Colo., in an SUV has been seized by state wildlife agents.

The healthy 4-month-old male Bengal tiger was taken to a wildlife sanctuary while its now-former owner was ticketed for unlawfully possessing endangered wildlife, the Denver Post said Thursday.

The investigation began last month when a neighbor took a cell-phone picture of the critter as it was being driven around Centennial in an SUV. Enough information about the vehicle was obtained to lead agents to the home.

Some neighbors told the Rocky Mountain News that they had heard growling coming from the back yard of the suburban home, but couldn't figure out what kind of animal it was.

Drunken grim reaper arrested in Britain

MORECAMBE, England, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A man in Morecambe, England, started the evening fully dressed and with friends, but ended the night dressed as the grim reaper, alone and under arrest.


Christopher Kelly said he was in Morecambe for a friend's birthday party, but became separated from the group after hours of heavy drinking, the Telegraph reported Thursday.

Kelly decided to take a walk on the beach, but lost his shoes, pants and jacket while escaping from boggy sand. The intoxicated reveler traveled across the street to Morecambe Town Hall, where he entered through an open window, disposed of his soiled underwear and came across the grim reaper costume.

He donned the costume and traveled to a local police station, where he waited for three hours until the facility opened and officers placed him under arrest.

Kelly was given a six month conditional discharge and fined after admitting to burglary and trespassing.

"This has all been the cause of great embarrassment for him. He is remorseful, ashamed and has moderated his drinking," said John Lee, Kelly's attorney. "He does not want to end up as the grim reaper again."

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