TACOMA, Wash. – Normally it’s the dentist who tells you to open up and say ahh. But for two men arrested on drug violations, it was the feds. And they didn’t just want to see whether the suspects had been brushing or not. They were after gold.
Government lawyers had a warrant out for the teeth of Flenard T. Neal Jr. and Donald Jamar Lewis, who are facing several drug and weapons charges, The Associated Press reports. Specifically, the feds tried to remove and confiscate gold caps known as "grills" from their mouths.
Neal and Lewis learned the government had a warrant to seize their grills on Tuesday, when they were taken from the Federal Detention Center to the U.S. Marshal’s office.
"I've been doing this for over 30 years and I have never heard of anything like this," said Richard J. Troberman, a forfeiture specialist and past president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
"It sounds like Nazi Germany when they were removing the gold teeth from the bodies, but at least then they waited until they were dead."
The gold-toothed suspects called their attorneys before they were put into a car heading to a Seattle dentist who would have yanked out their glittering mouth accessories. The lawyers were able to stop the seizure, according to Neal’s public defender Miriam Schwartz.
Court papers show that U.S. Magistrate J. Kelley Arnold signed a permanent stay of the seizure order Tuesday.
Grills are caps made of precious metals and jewels that fit over the teeth, either by snapping them on and off like a mouth guard or retainer or by permanently bonding them to the teeth. The look has become trendy thanks in large part to rappers like Nelly, Three 6 Mafia and others.
Neal’s and Lewis’ grills are the bonded kind, according to their lawyers, and so cannot be removed — which government attorneys didn’t realize when they ordered them to be confiscated on March 29.
"Asset forfeiture is a fairly routine procedure, and our attorneys were under the impression that these snapped out like a retainer," said Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Seattle.
Once the government understood that removal of the grills could damage the defendants' teeth, they abandoned the seizure attempt, she said.
Schwartz and Zenon Peter Olbertz, Lewis' lawyer, criticized what they said was a clandestine attempt to have the grills seized.
"It's shocking that this kind of action by the federal government could be sought and accomplished in secret, without anyone being notified," said Schwartz. "It reminds me of the secret detentions" in terrorist cases.
Seizure warrants are typically sealed to prevent defendants from trying to move or hide valuables and evidence, Langlie and court clerks said. They become public with the filing of a return that shows what has been seized.
School's Restrooms Went Down the Toilet
ABILENE, Texas (AP) — An elementary school's worst nightmare came true earlier this week when the toilets stopped working.
Faced with about 600 wriggling, squirming youngsters, Bonham Elementary School officials on Wednesday morning bused them to nearby schools that offered the use of their restrooms.
For three hours, teachers took their classes in shifts to the other campuses while the city's utilities crew repaired a water main break that caused the problem, said Bonham's principal, Diane Rose.
Each grade was gone for about 30 minutes, and by the time each group was due for another restroom break the water was once again running — and toilets flushing — at Bonham, she said.
Surprisingly, the day was accident free, she said.
"In an emergency, we had restrooms and knew we could flush later," Rose said.
She praised the city crews for their quick work and lauded the teachers for handling the matter with as little disruption to students' learning as possible.
"It was just like a little field trip," she said.
Town for Sale — on eBay
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The tiny town of Bridgeville is up for sale again on eBay, complete with its dozen houses, cafe and post office.
Two years after Bill Krall bought the entire northern California town for $700,000 on the Internet auction site, he's flipping it. Minimum bid this time: $1.75 million.
Krall, a Southern California financial adviser, said personal family commitments prevented him from ever moving into the town about 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean, according to his eBay listing. He said he "spent a lot of money and a lot of effort" cleaning up the 82 acres among the redwoods northwest of San Francisco.
The town was once a hub for a local stagecoach route and a stop on the Pony Express, but it was run down when the landowner decided to sell. The first eBay auction, in 2002, led to a bidding war, but the winning bidder disappeared. Krall bought the town in a second online auction.
Krall said he has received e-mails and phone calls from as far away as China and Germany inquiring about the latest sale.
"The world has a fascination with being able to buy a town," Krall said. "You can come in and name it after yourself if you want and be the mayor, chief of police and secretary of interior all at the same time."
The auction, which started Tuesday, ends May 4. As of midday Thursday, there had been no bids.
Bald Eagle Becomes Single Dad
WASHINGTON (AP) — Within earshot of traffic roaring along the Capital Beltway, a suddenly single dad is waging a quiet struggle to save his offspring, a nest of bald eagle eggs on the verge of hatching.
The eagle, nicknamed George by workers building a new Beltway bridge, lost his mate, Martha, when she was attacked by another female eagle Wednesday. The aggressor may have been trying to take over George and Martha's nest in suburban Maryland, which is valuable real estate for the area's booming bald eagle population.
After watching Martha fall in a dramatic midair battle, construction workers sought help from Stephanie R. Spears, an environmental specialist working with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.
Spears rushed the bleeding mother eagle to a veterinary hospital in Newark, Del., where she was being treated for puncture wounds and a damaged beak that may need weeks of rehabilitation.
George was left alone to guard the nest and at least two eggs, difficult because he needs to hunt for food twice a day, and the attacking female remains a threat.
Spears said she and federal wildlife officials were considering whether to move the eggs, or chicks, into a surrogate nest where they might have a better chance at survival.
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Catherine Donaldson-Evans.
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