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November 6, 2013

House of Burgess: The scoundrel update round-up

What became of these villains?

Often, after I write a column or two about a particular subject, I want to let the matter rest. There are many subjects which interest me and I try not to linger on any single topic too long. Yet, when my columns are published, they stand as a snapshot reflective of the facts as they stood then. Time, as Steve Miller pointed out, keeps on slipping into the future. Story lines I’ve brought up in the past are later routinely resolved whether I have 700 words to say about the outcome or not. So, in order to give some measure of closure to these varied threads, let this week’s column serve as an update round-up of five villains I didn’t feel like writing another column about individually.

‘Carlos Danger’ and ‘Client 9’

New York City political phoenixes Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner and Eliot “Client 9” Spitzer were still in contention for the city’s mayoral and comptroller elections, respectively, when I filed my July 31 column, “Nobody wants to see that.” Prior to this year’s race, Weiner lost his seat in Congress and Spitzer fumbled his governorship through reckless sexual behavior. Weiner was actually ahead in early polls until July 23 when it was revealed his photographic endeavors hadn’t changed since his last public shaming. Big Apple voters turned on them. Both lost their races Sept. 10 in the city’s primary election. “Well, we have it on camera,” tweeted Lindsey Christ, NY1 reporter, after Weiner’s concession speech. “Weiner drove off, middle finger raised at an NBC reporter. Curtain down. Bam.”

Bob Filner

In that same July 31 column, I mentioned San Diego mayor Bob Filner’s July 26 announcement of his entrance into a behavior counseling clinic. He was to undergo two weeks of intensive therapy after several women accused him of sexual harassment. After a few weeks of defiance, Filner finally resigned office effective Aug. 30. On Oct. 15, Filner pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor battery charges. He will be sentenced next month. A special mayoral election has been scheduled for Nov. 19.

Ariel Castro

In my Aug. 15 column, “You are never, ever getting out,” I opined on the semantic problems inherent in judges handing out unthinkably long sentences. As an example of this phenomenon I wrote about Ariel Castro. On July 26, he pleaded guilty to 937 of the 977 charges against him in connection with the kidnappings of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in Cleveland. On Aug. 1, he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison, plus 1,000 years. On Sept. 3, just over a month into his millennium-length sentence, he was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell.

Matthew Cordle

In my Sept. 11 column, “Matthew Cordle ‘killed a man,’” I discussed a viral video made public Sept. 3 by the 22-year-old with the help of nonprofit Because I Said I Would. The Ohio man admitted being blackout drunk June 22 when he hit and killed Vincent Canzani, 61. Cordle claimed his only reason for the confession was to stop others from making the same mistake. In that column, I joined Vincent’s daughter Angela Canzani and others in expressing skepticism over Cordle’s motives, as the video was released before he was charged or sentenced. Our suspicions were immediately confirmed. “In the video, he said he’d take full responsibility and plead guilty,” reported ABC News’ Linsey Davis and Kevin Dolak on Sept. 11. “But Judge [Julie] Lynch told ABC News that Cordle’s lawyers decided that Cordle would plead not guilty at the last minute. … Judge Lynch said Cordle’s attorneys were trying to game the system. Under Ohio law, entering a guilty plea locks in the judge, before the case was reassigned. It would have been Lynch. She said that she believes Cordle’s team got spooked after she told them she didn’t know how she’d sentence Cordle.” On Sept. 18, in front of a new judge, Cordle changed his plea to guilty. He was subsequently sentenced to 6 ½ years Oct. 23.

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.

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