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Quick Takes: Eviction notice

Con artist gets the boot after mooching off New York hotel for five years

Illustration by Chris Smith

Quick Takes: Eviction notice
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AFTER LIVING RENT-FREE in a New York hotel, Mickey Barreto has finally overstayed his welcome. Police arrested Barreto Feb. 14 for filing false property records connected to his unusual stay at the landmark New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan. Five years ago, Barreto paid $200 to rent a room for a night. Then, using a little-known provision of state law, he demanded a six-month lease from the hotel. When staff refused, Barreto went to court, where he gained possession of the room after lawyers for the property owner failed to appear. Unwilling to negotiate a lease and unable to kick him out, hotel owners let Barreto stay in the room. But Barreto upset the equilibrium when he tried claiming ownership of the entire building and charging another tenant rent. Depending on how he fares in court, Barreto could book a new room—in the slammer.

Outback mishap

If Google Maps directs you onto a dirt road in Australia’s Queens­land wilderness, just ignore it. That’s the advice of two German tourists who learned the hard way in February. Philipp Maier and Marcel Schoene say they followed their phone’s directions while driving from Cairns to Bamaga when they pulled onto a dirt track and got stuck in the mud. They hiked more than a week before finally reaching civilization. Along the way, the pair dodged crocodiles, forded rivers, and attempted to make a shelter. “That didn’t work really well,” the inexperienced Maier told 9News of Australia.

Turkeys take the town

Staten Island is going to the birds. In a Feb. 26 article in the Staten Island Advance, city councilman David Carr said parks and conservation officials believe the infestation of wild turkeys on the island is now the “status quo” and “needed to be accepted.” The island’s turkey population has exploded since the 1990s, leading to complaints about the birds scratching vehicles, nesting in yards, and dying on sidewalks. Carr still hopes to find an effective solution because “these turkeys are not pets, they’re pests.”

Win some, lose some

Bobi, a record holder for the world’s oldest dog, died last October after surpassing his purported 31st birthday in Portugal (see “Global Briefs,” Nov. 18). Now his owner has been dealt another blow. On Feb. 22, Guinness World Records officially rescinded the late Bobi’s record. Guinness launched an investigation into the purebred rafeiro do Alentejo’s age and ultimately determined that owner Leonel Costa couldn’t produce firm evidence the dog was born in 1992 as claimed.

Unlucky numbers

One year ago, Washington, D.C., resident John Cheeks thought he’d won a $321 million Powerball lottery prize. After all, the numbers on the district’s lottery website matched his ticket. But when Cheeks tried to collect, lottery officials told him the website’s numbers were wrong. After the D.C. Lottery and other affiliated organizations refused to pay up, Cheeks decided to sue, alleging breach of contract, gross negligence, and emotional distress. The 60-year-old hopes the case, which began Feb. 23, will force lottery officials to be more careful. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said he had another objective: “To get paid.”

A hole new game plan

Next year, Jaxson Remmick and Gavin Hamann will be Division I college athletes in possession of athletic scholarships. But it’s not proficiency in bat, ball, glove, or pigskin that’s paving the way: The two are masters of the beanbag. Both of the Denver, Colo., high school seniors signed letters of intent to play cornhole—the popular backyard game resembling horseshoes but played with beanbags—for South Carolina’s Winthrop University next year. “I’m shocked, I mean, as everybody is,” Hamann told KUSA in February. “It’s crazy. It’s groundbreaking, it’s new, it’s making history.” Their scholarships will cover about 60 percent of the cost of attending Winthrop.

Pocket appreciation

U.S. Marine Corps and Navy service members have another thing to spar over after the Navy announced Feb. 14 it was lifting its restriction on placing hands in pockets while in uniform. Both the Navy and the Marines had banned its members from resting their hands in their pockets—a decorum standard that often provoked anger and mockery. However, the Marine Corps says it will maintain its high standards and won’t be following the Navy’s lead. The Navy will also begin allowing female sailors to wear false eyelashes.


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