Here in Cleveland, we're used to churches stealing. A little malfeasance from our friends in the banking industry isn't uncommon either. But when banks start stealing from churches, then suing because they want to steal more? Now that's fresh.
So go the claims of Calvary Apostolic Christian Faith Assembly in Lorain, where about 150 families gather in a warehouse-sized building off State Route 113. Six years ago, parishioners found themselves a little short, so the church borrowed $600,000 from Buckeye Community Bank.
But three years later, donation baskets started losing weight, so they refinanced. This, they say, is where the sin begins.
According to the accounting firm Sargent & Associates, Buckeye drove the church to default "by design." Monthly payments and late fees were calculated too high, and payments were applied to the principal instead of those late fees and accrued interest, causing the church to be slapped with -- you guessed it -- more late fees.
Then, in December 2005, Buckeye hadn't received payment from Calvary, which was having trouble making ends meet. So the bank plucked almost $35,000 from the church's checking account and again stuck it all on the principal. A month later, Buckeye sued to foreclose.
Terry Coreno, the bank's loan administrator, refused comment on the matter. But church lawyer Mike Harvey doubts Buckeye is just doing What Jesus Would Do. "If they're looking to take this land, there's some other motivation."
In the meantime, Calvary's members may soon be left to ponder whether God's will can still be done in, say, an industrial park.
Getting naked for chicken
Some scalding-hot chicks stripped naked for an important cause last week, baring all outside a KFC restaurant on Carnegie Avenue. The women were apparently representatives of an advertising agency called PETA, which was hired to bolster sales of KFC's tasty Buffalo Snacker.
The display attracted plenty of local media, although most of the reporters seemed less interested in the women's important message than their scrumptious thighs, legs, and biscuits. Punch, however, covered the event in hopes of helping the women spread knowledge as if it were a delicious faux butter. So we got there early to nab an exclusive interview with spokeswoman Nicole Matthews.
"So, you're getting naked, huh?" Punch asked thoughtfully.
Matthews, who's hotter than a Famous Bowl, explained at length the serious issues that brought her and her cohorts to Cleveland. But the waft of an original-recipe three-piece permeated the bustling corner; Punch wasn't listening.
"So, um, naked, eh?" we followed up.
Matthews then joined two other women inside a wrap-around sign, where they slipped out of their sweat suits and began pacing the sidewalk, saying stuff. The women appeared to be making a real impact.
"I got some Snackers, I came out here, and I watched," said one onlooker, huddled with friends in the KFC parking lot. "It was a good day."
"You wanna know my thoughts?" added a friend, obviously moved by the women's display. "I like the one on the left."
To learn more about the serious issues via photos of hot chicks, go to clevescene.com/blogs.
Bad guy nabbed
For nearly a decade, Anthony Bedford evaded authorities after murdering a man in Philadelphia. In fact, it was by sheer chance that U.S. Marshals finally caught up with Bedford at an Akron gas station last month.
For years, he'd been using fake IDs to escape detection. Among them was an Ohio driver's license in his older brother Dwayne's name.
But apparently the Bedford clan isn't particularly tight, otherwise Anthony would have known that Dwayne is also wanted for a more recent murder in Philadelphia. And as professors often lecture in criminal school, police rarely buy the old "No, you're looking for a different murderer" line.
As authorities investigated Dwayne's case, they stumbled upon the existence of the Ohio ID. Officials in Cleveland were alerted. "Our investigators did some surveillance and tracked him down at an Akron gas station," says Marshal Pete Elliot.
"But when we sent the photo of him back to Philly, they said, 'Wait, this isn't [Dwayne].'"
Baby brother Anthony was subsequently transported back to Philly on his own murder charges. Dwayne, whereabouts unknown, is presumably living under the name of a former concentration camp guard.
"Believe it or not, I've seen weirder," says Elliot.
He points to a 1969 fugitive who was nabbed in 2000 after he applied for Social Security under his real name. "Most [fugitives] become complacent over time," Elliot says. "They think we won't find them, or they get lazy, or they think they've fallen between the cracks."
Geraldo Does Scene
You just can't write about a cross-dressing Nazi serial killer without Geraldo Rivera finding out.
On Geraldo At Large last week, the mustachioed crusader chronicled the bizarre murders of Frank Spisak, who gunned down Assistant Prosecutor Brendan Sheehan's father 25 years ago ("Cheating Death," December 6).
Geraldo's producer apparently saw the story in Scene while in town to report on the police shooting of 15-year-old Brandon McCloud. And by strict decree of the Geraldo Accords of 1992, he who kills a prosecutor's dad while acting like a cross-dressing Nazi shall have his tale reenacted by Geraldo on national TV.
In one of the segment's most riveting moments, a cameraman shows us what it must have looked like from Frank Spisak's own eyes as he pointed his pistol at Sheehan and fired. Amazingly, after three shots, there wasn't a single drop of blood.
In another reenactment, Spisak fired at a black woman as she came out of a bathroom. In real life, the woman was white, but at least Geraldo didn't drunkenly stumble into the scene and start slurping toilet water like a cat.
And then there's Geraldo's journalistic tip for the day: It's not plagiarism as long as you change one word in the sentence.
Observe Geraldo's line on the At Large blog: Spisak "dressed as a woman and fantasized he was a Nazi, killing men in the name of Hitler."
Our line: Spisak "dressed as a woman and fantasized he was a Nazi, killing black men in the name of Hitler."
He makes it seem so easy. The guy's a pro's pro.