Most people spend their 37th birthdays slugging beers and wondering where time went. But Michael Gonzalez, praise the Lord, is not most people.
He's the former Rhodes High art teacher accused of having an ongoing affair with his freshman student ["Head of the Crass," December 14]. When the girl's dad found out, he called the cops. He was hoping to call on Gonzalez as well. But when prosecutors charged the teacher with sexual battery, he skipped town.
Months passed, and nobody heard from Gonzalez -- until the teacher's 37th birthday two weeks ago. Apparently he didn't want to spend the big day as a free perv, pounding Corona and scoping middle school girls on the beaches of Mexico. So he got on a flight from Mexico City to San Antonio and tried to roll through U.S. Customs. (Yes, he is a moron. Thanks for asking.) A check of his passport revealed a wanted man, so they offered him accommodations at a Texas jail, which is much safer than being anywhere near the girl's dad.
"That's beautiful," Dad tells Punch. "It's not the same since this son of a bitch did this to my daughter."
We will be fooled again
When 49 attorneys general finally got Ameriquest Mortgage Company to fork over $325 million to make their predatory-lending investigation go away ["All the President's Men," October 19], Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro hailed it as "a landmark agreement."
Ameriquest will dole out $6.6 million to 17,000 Ohio borrowers. Petro and the Department of Commerce will also recoup $125,000 in "investigative costs."
Yet Petro, The Laziest Man in Law Enforcement, apparently let other states do all the investigating. Even a cursory probe would have revealed that most of Ameriquest's Cleveland loans are done through its Argent subsidiary -- and Argent isn't included in the settlement.
"I was like, 'You idiots!'" says Mark Seifert, executive director of the East Side Organizing Project, an anti-predatory group. "This won't even benefit this region. For Cleveland, it means nothing."
Petro could at least have done a Google search for his $125,000. He would have found that, since 2004, Ameriquest made only 117 loans in Cleveland. Argent originated 2,128, making it the area's most prolific high-interest lender.
Argent victims aren't eligible for any settlement money. Nor does Argent have to abide by Ameriquest's pledge to stop screwing people.
But Jim Petro now has another $125,000 to conduct further "investigations." We can at least feel good about that.
While the White House spies on domestic terrorists -- like Quakers -- a Streetsboro gear-pump manufacturer found a real national-security threat in its midst: executive Jack Buffin ["Inside Job," July 6].
Last year, Permco officials discovered that Buffin was leaking the company's trade secrets to a rival manufacturer in South Africa, screwing co-workers, the state, and Uncle Sam in the process. So last week U.S. Attorney Gregory White charged Buffin with felony theft of trade secrets. (Punch would have gone for treason, but let's not quibble.)
There may be more charges to come. Buffin's lawyer, Larry Zukerman, says his client has reached a plea agreement. While the feds aren't talking, Permco president Rick Olszewski suspects they're targeting the South African firm that conspired with Buffin.
"We kept waiting for it to happen," Olszewski says of the indictment. "How can courts in the United States not say, 'Wait a second, let's look at this. This is bad for America.'"
Olszewski says Buffin's former co-workers were jubilant over the news. One even invoked the words of another International Man of Mystery: "Yeah, baby!"
Anthony Hodel is addicted to scheming.
First the former auto-warranty magnate got caught scamming his customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars ["Platinum Tony," October 12].
When he filed for bankruptcy, he got caught hiding money he planned to use to start up a new warranty company.
And when he got caught at that, he turned his attention to the wonderful world of consulting. His latest venture, Entrepreneurial Edge, purportedly offers cutting-edge business advice. Unfortunately, his résumé isn't attracting customers.
Hodel recently planned a seminar at a Chicago hotel. "After eight years of taking 'the bull by the horns,' [Hodel] learned how to handle many facets of business today successfully thru trial and error," a press released announced. Yet no one showed up for the $199-a-head audience with the master.
Hodel is now leasing an office in the Leader Building on Superior Avenue, but you're more likely to find him at the U.S. Courthouse down the street, where he's being sued by the U.S. bankruptcy trustee. But he's still pitching his real-world experience on entrepreneur911.com.
"Many consultants employ half-tested advice and run and hide when it doesn't work," it says. Hodel, by contrast, promises not to run and hide until he's invested your money in Hummers and jewelry.
Give 'em Steel
Since the start of the playoffs, the Blue Moose in Parma has hosted weekly Steelers parties -- the football equivalent of sacrificing goats at St. Anthony of Padua. Regulars have grumbled, irate Browns fans have tied up phone lines, and Parma cops have stood by each week, expecting trouble.
But the only problem so far has been where to put all the Pittsburgh fans, who have crowded around the bar's 14-foot TV screen in increasing numbers each week. This Sunday's Super Bowl party will once again honor the Steelers.
"We're definitely not looking to piss anyone off," says Colleen, a Moose staffer. "Cleveland fans are loyal -- and they hold a grudge."
But they don't pay the bills. The Moose held weekly Browns parties during the regular season, but never drew more than 20 people. "We have one Pittsburgh game, and our place is packed," she says.
"Football fans -- whatever color they like, whatever team they root for -- are all welcome. The color they all have in common is green. They spend their money here."