Your Task: Decide Which is Illegal

I’m Sure You are Dying to Know the story behind this week’s extra-weird Headline of the Week (Issue #1310, 21 July 2019):

It’s Not Your Imagination, Things Are Definitely Getting Weirder
Logan County Man Allegedly Driving Stolen Vehicle
Filled with Uranium, a Rattlesnake, and Kentucky Deluxe

KFOR Oklahoma City headline

It seems Stephen Jennings was pulled over in Guthrie, Okla., for an expired license tag. The officer took note of several things: Jennings was driving, a woman was in the passenger seat, and there was a terrarium in the back seat …with a live rattlesnake inside.

Jennings told the officer he had a pistol in the console …about the time the officer was told by radio that the plate he had called in, the expired one on the back of the car, came back as one belonging to a stolen car.

“So now he’s got a rattlesnake, a stolen vehicle, firearm, and somebody under arrest,” said Guthrie Police Sgt. Anthony Gibbs. The passenger apparently admitted the gun was hers, but Rachael Rivera is prohibited from possessing a firearm because she’s a convicted felon, and she was arrested too.

Radioactive, Ore Not?

The stolen car was impounded, and searched. That’s when the officer found a couple of other items: an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe (a low-priced whiskey), and a “canister of radioactive powdered uranium.” Turns out the cannister was far from purified uranium. It was powdered uranium ore, which isn’t particularly dangerous — and he bought it on Amazon.

(Photo: Amazon)

No really: $40, free shipping. (And it gets 3.9 stars from 1,286 customer reviews! Though clearly many of the reviews are gags.)

Jennings joked he had it to “make a mega-snake,” but really, he is a metal scrapper and uses a Geiger counter to check metal to see if it’s radioactive before he buys it. Something somewhat radioactive is needed to test Geiger counters. So yes, radioactive; no, not dangerously so, or able to be weaponized.

So, totally legit!

As for the “298 answered questions,” here’s a sample:

Q: “Ive got a Ant hill I want to remove…. is there sufficient quantity to build a working 1-1000th scale Fatman replica to nuke the little buggers?”

A: “Absolutely! I had a similar problem and built one slightly larger, (which I do not recommend, by the way) and it not only killed all the inhabitants of that hill, it wiped out a nearby herd of Nubian goats. There were HAZMAT crews and folks from Homeland Security combing the hills for weeks. I think it was the noise and the mushroom cloud. I would definitely not exceed the 1000th scale.”

Still a Heap o’ Trouble

Jennings is charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, transporting an open container of liquor, driving with a suspended license, and “failure to carry security verification form” (which I presume means proof of insurance).

Rivera was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. Her previous conviction, for embezzlement, resulted in a suspended 3-year prison sentence. The district attorney has already filed papers to revoke that suspension, so she may be headed to prison even before she goes on trial for the new charge.

All for an expired license tag. It’s the little details that can get ya!

P.S.: The answer to the title question: as you may gather from the list of charges, neither the snake nor the uranium were illegal. The stolen vehicle and open container of alcohol were illegal.

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7 Comments on “Your Task: Decide Which is Illegal

  1. Here in Florida, it is illegal to own a rattlesnake unless you have a special license. Chances are, this guy could never qualify for one. Interestingly enough, you can kill them if you get the chance, but you have to do it humanely.

  2. Kill them humanely? What? You’re going to scream, “I’m doing this for your own good, it hurts me more than it hurts you?”

    I’ve had an encounter with a rattler, sleeping on top of my sleeping bag in Basic Training in 1968. We were on our “bivouac,” and had set our tents up in the dark. Our tents were 2 man “pup” tents created by either snapping together our shelter halves or our ponchos. Would have been nice to have not been the odd man out that night, no partner. So, I slept in a lean-to. Drill Sergeant came around at 5 AM, kicking the tent poles out (thus collapsing the tent,) while yelling the usual profanities. I felt a weight on my chest and belly and yelled at the Drill that if he kicked mine over, he was gong to be sorry. He turned his flashlight on into my sleeping arrangement, and saw the rattler.

    It was cool to cold that night, and the snake was looking for warmth. I thought I knew that it would not be as quick as if it had been laying out in the sun for hours. So, I carefully (VERY carefully) got my arm out of my bag and slowly moved my hand around it. It was real active! That’s when I found out that I put out a lot of heat.

    The drill killed the snake while I was holding it, and we had a “supplemental ration” with our runny scrambled eggs, soggy toast, greasy bacon and lukewarm coffee that morning. And it was very good!

    So, those of you that do “humanely” kill a rattler, remember that you can skin them (the hide makes a nice leather), gut them and cook them.

    Nice that the Sarge listened to you! -rc

    • Randy, back then, I was 6’5″ and weighed 180. I also had an advanced belt in jujitsu. One of the many “useful” things taught in Basic Training was “Hand-to-Hand Combat,” another way of saying (Achmed the Dead Terrorist’s voice) “I Kill You!”

      As one of the more noticeable trainees, I got called on to demonstrate often. But only once in Hand-to-Hand. I forget what the move was, but the Drill demonstrated on me very slowly so that the moves could be seen by all. Then he did it quickly. I landed a bit wrong and it hurt, so I got back up and asked the Drill to do it again. I reversed the move and the Drill was on his back!

      Quick counseling session followed, and when they saw I knew what I was doing, I became an assistant instructor of Hand-to-Hand.

      Same Drill out camping with us happened to be a bit shorter than I, and he seemed to hear a bit of panic in my voice. It may have also helped that we had lost two trainees from our cycle (not from the Army) when one was sprayed by a baby Skunk from inches away, and another had been bit by a rattler on the rifle qualification range. My whole Basic Training Company was skittish, and paid attention to our surroundings. As a result, we saw a lot of wildlife that us city boys had never seen before.

  3. I always say, “Never break a little law when you’re breaking a big one.” Call it “Joe’s Law.”

    I could list a lot of examples, but I’d rather hear other people’s.

    • A corollary to that is something the military authorities, prosecutors, and corporations do — “Don’t go for the big conviction when you can nail ’em on a smaller one.” You get rid of the person you want gone on the lesser charge that’s a lead-pipe cinch rather than run the risk of going for the big charge that’s not a cinch. Plea bargaining by the prosecution is an example of this.

  4. I was once stopped for having a burned out light bulb in my license plate frame. The little things sometimes hint of something more sinister, and cops know this. Not in my case, thankfully. He let me go with a warning.

    My guess for most such cases is, something caught his eye and the minor violation was the legal excuse needed to pull you over and check things out. May have seen you drift in the lane, for instance, and by talking to you he confirmed you were not drunk. -rc

    • I was pulled over for an expired tag, and found the part you’re supposed to mail back in my glove compartment. I managed to convince the officer that my husband took care of all this good stuff, and he also let me go with a warning. I guess I just have an innocent face.


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