Phil is off the hook.
A winter-weary Ohio prosecutor who filed a tongue-in-cheek criminal indictment against the famous Pennsylvania groundhog over his “prediction” of an early spring dropped the charge Tuesday.
Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said Punxsutawney Phil has a “defense with teeth in it” since the animal’s handler is taking the blame.
The Groundhog Day celebration in the Jefferson County community attracts worldwide attention each
But when Gmoser filed his indictment last week after snow was forecast to fall after the official start of spring, renewed attention made it feel like
Feb. 2 all over again.
Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, said Monday the furry prognosticator had actually predicted six more weeks of winter, but he mistakenly announced an early spring because he failed to correctly interpret Phil’s “groundhog-ese.”
“Now it turns out, Punxsutawney Phil is little more than a scapegoat,” Gmoser wrote in the dismissal.
That’s a sharp contrast to last week, when Gmoser had written: “Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early.”
Deeley said Tuesday that going after the groundhog probably gave prosecutors some relief from the challenges they normally face bringing murderers, drug dealers and other criminals to
Meanwhile, Phil seemed unfazed
by the allegations.
“No, he’s not worried,” Deeley said. “He’s getting three square meals a day, and a lot of rest.”
He also said the community appreciated all the extra publicity, which he said “you couldn’t put a dollar figure on.” Gmoser’s office said he had also received hundreds of calls.
Deeley wanted to be sure Tuesday he wouldn’t be the prosecutor’s next target, but Gmoser said it was time to move on.
“Truly, I have really serious work to do in Butler County,” he said from his office in Hamilton, about 25 miles north of Cincinnati, even as snowflakes dropped from the skies. “Let’s end it on a high note.”
He said Ohio’s lesser-known fuzzy forecaster, Buckeye Chuck, he won’t face prosecution for his own erroneous prediction.
Chuck, it turned out, was granted immunity after agreeing to cooperate with the state.
“I’m kind of done with animal cases,” Gmoser said. “Maybe another prosecutor can go after the Easter Bunny.”
Phil is off the hook.
- Local News
West End bank robbed
The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.
Old Man Winter returns to area
Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.
- Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!
City seeks support for sewer revamp
The city is looking for backup from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in spreading what they call “true” facts and figures regarding the city’s encompassing sewer revamp.
Airport gets lift with $180G grant
The John Murtha Johnstown–Cambria County Airport needs to replace some basic maintenance equipment: a pickup truck, painting machine, chain saw, weed eater, hand tools and more.
So, on Tuesday, the airport’s authority agreed to accept Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation grant money that already has been tentatively allocated.
Cresson asks court to force ex-chief to sign pact
An agreement reached more than a month ago between Cresson Borough Council and its former police chief still has not been signed, and the borough is asking a judge to intervene.
Mom told to seek help for addiction
A Johnstown woman charged with tossing her 4-month-old baby and with drug-related offenses pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Cambria County court on Tuesday.
District hopes refinancing will save additional $40G
Refinancing about $4 million in debt will result in savings more than twice as large as initially expected, Windber Area school board members learned Tuesday night.
Elder justice events set
In an effort to combat elder abuse in area communities, an elder justice seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 at the Johnstown Senior Center, 550 Main St., downtown Johnstown. In addition, a free elder abuse clergy training seminar will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 25 at Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown.
- Local briefs 4/16/2014
- More Local News Headlines
- West End bank robbed