Thursday, September 27, 2007

No canned laughter for the real thing

In a classic two-part "Seinfeld" episode from the mid 90s, Newman, the pudgy mail carrier, ensnares wild-haired Kramer in a madcap scheme to profit from Michigan's 10-cent beverage container deposit law by collecting 5-cent bottles and cans in New York and driving here to cash them in.

In the show about nothing but where improbable events happen continuously, Newman, Kramer and the containers never make it to Michigan. The cargo is jettisoned, along with Newman, somewhere in Ohio to make the truck go faster as Kramer chases a stolen car belonging to Jerry, the title character.

The stolen car's driver, the mechanic who was supposed to fix it, disables the pursuing truck by tossing golf clubs at it from a set he finds in the back seat. One of the clubs nails the truck's radiator. These clubs were once owned by President John F. Kennedy.

Don't ask. Get the DVD if you can't remember or if you're even slightly curious.

And know this for certain: life does imitate art.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has announced that 15 individuals from Michigan and Ohio are being charged with a complex scheme that allegedly involved collecting millions of non-deposit bottles and cans from outside Michigan, crushing and bagging them, and then selling them to Michigan stores at a discount. The storekeepers then allegedly took the crushed containers to bulk redemption centers and obtained payments from the Michigan Bottle Deposit Fund.

Thirteen people have been arrested so far. Over $500,000 has been seized. Twenty search warrants are being executed today. All of this caps an 18-month investigation.

"A half-million in cash is not 'Seinfeld' humor," said Cox spokesman Matt Frendewey.

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