It was an honest mistake, Todd Harris' lawyer says. Give us a break, say federal prosecutors.
The Kentwood, Mich., real-estate agent is on trial for bank fraud and larceny after blowing through over $50,000 that had accidentally been deposited into his account, reports the Grand Rapids Press.
Harris, now 35, got a nice Christmas present in Dec. 2000 when he opened up his bank statement. His balance had suddenly increased by $60,000.
The bank later explained that a keystroke error had turned his deposit of $487.04 on Dec. 8 into much, much more.
In the three days following Christmas, Harris spent $51,000 paying off debts and leasing a Ford Explorer.
"He didn't go out and take a trip to Tahiti," defense attorney Kevin Floyd told reporters Wednesday outside the Kalamazoo courtroom. "He paid bills and did what normal people do. He was misled by bank personnel that the money was his."
Fifth Third Bank (search) Protection Manager Lauren Davis testified that the bank discovered the mistake the same day it was made, but didn't do anything about it for two months.
She admitted that had Harris called the bank or used an ATM to confirm the balance, he would have been told it was legitimate.
"The money appeared to belong to him," Davis said.
On Feb. 9, 2001, the money was finally taken back out of his account. The authorizing documents had sat on a bank clerk's desk for weeks after she'd been fired for taking collect calls from a boyfriend in prison.
Harris' huge overdraft alerted him that something was up, and when the situation was explained to him, he began paying back the money. About $14,000 had gone back to the bank by March of this year, when Harris was indicted on federal charges.
"He was doing what he could to repay money that, at the time, he believed was his," Floyd said. "The problem is, he wasn't paying fast enough for the bank."
Harris could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Floyd, formerly a county prosecutor, faces his own trial on charges of stalking his wife.
WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A food fight that started with a fruit cup turned into a mealtime melee, serving up a full plate of arrests and injuries.
Seven seventh-graders were arrested after a spat in a middle school cafeteria left two teachers and a detective with injuries Wednesday.
The incident began at West Side Middle School (search) after a girl dumped a fruit cup over a boy's head, police said. The two started fighting, then other students joined in, some jumping on tables and throwing food, police said.
"What was described as a riot situation developed in the cafeteria," Sgt. Christopher Corbett said.
A detective and two teachers suffered minor injuries breaking up the melee.
Three girls and fours boys ranging in age from 12 to 14 were arrested on charges including breach of peace, assault and inciting a riot. All seven were released to their parents after promising to appear in juvenile court.
LONDONDERRY, N.H. (AP) — A senior prank at Londonderry High School (search) turned serious when at least 132 students trashed the school's lobby last week.
Students threw toilet paper, turned over teachers' desks and urinated on a bathroom wall, according to the principal.
About 114 students were caught on school cameras, and another 18 have admitted their involvement.
School administrators opted not to file charges with police but to handle the incident internally.
All the students involved must fulfill three community service hours on school grounds by Thursday afternoon to participate in Saturday's graduation.
DOVER, Del. (AP) — A substitute teacher at a elementary school was arrested after allegedly allowing second-grade pupils to view pornographic images on a computer terminal, police said.
David M. Reyne, 32, of Glasgow was charged Tuesday with five counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was released on $2,500 bail.
State police spokesman Lt. Joseph Aviola said Reyne was seated at a computer terminal in a second-grade classroom at Eisenberg Elementary School (search) on May 24 when a girl approached him and viewed topless women on the screen.
Another pupil asked Reyne for a bathroom pass and saw an image of a woman exposing her breasts, according to court records.
The pupils went to the principal's office and told the secretary the substitute "was looking at bad things on the computer," police said.
Three other children also saw images of naked women, authorities said.
School officials dismissed Reyne and confiscated the computer, police said.
Colonial School District Superintendent George H. Meney said Reyne was not a district employee but employed by an outside contractor. Police said in court records that Kelly Educational Staffing (search) provides substitute teachers.
Police said Reyne's employment with the agency was terminated.
MIAMI (AP) — Authorities are baffled after vandals damaged 33 police vehicles in a locked, fenced-in Miami-Dade County police station parking lot that is monitored by surveillance cameras.
Police say they do not know who vandalized the 18 police cruisers, four unmarked cars and 11 personal cars belonging to employees in the Hammocks District station lot.
The surveillance cameras don't record what they see.
The damage included slashed tires and one keyed car. Police estimate it will cost more than $6,000 to fix the tires.
Detective Lupo Jimenez said the motive was probably simple.
"We're just not very well liked," Jimenez said.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Talk about a long-distance call.
Endless Echoes (search) is allowing people to beam messages into space. The Pennsylvania-based company charges 25 dollars for a one-minute call to the great beyond.
Founder Paul Forte says many of his customers are people wanting to say goodbye to a lost loved one.
Others want to spread good news to the universe, such as the couple who wanted to announce the birth of their daughter.
Forte says in theory, the radio waves will travel forever. Forte says since launching his company on June first, he has about two dozen customers. So far, all the calls into space have been one-way.
Compiled by Foxnews.com's Paul Wagenseil.
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