Daily Digest: Gopher receiver charged, dog race dilemas, juvenile cart shovers sentenced

Nickalas Tabbert

Here is your Daily Digest for Thursday, March 8:

Gophers receiver charged with fraud

University of Minnesota Gophers wide receiver Geshun Harris has been charged with financial transaction fraud after police said he took a stranger's bag from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and used a credit card that was inside.

Harris, 20, was seen on closed-circuit TV at the airport carrying a University duffle bag Jan. 4 and walking around the baggage carousel area, according to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court.

The alleged victim, who had flown into the Twin Cities Jan. 3, said his missing bag contained an American Express card, an iPad 2, a Dell laptop and Bose noise-cancelling headphones.  The complaint said that Harris was seen taking a roller bag from one carousel and another bag from a different carousel.

On Jan. 11, the man's credit card was used to buy gas in Minneapolis and $462.00 of merchandise at Macy's in Rosedale, among other things, the complaint said.

Three days later, the alleged victim found that his bag, along with most of the expensive itesm, had been returned along with an apology note, the Pioneer Press said.

When police talked to Harris later in January, he said he had grabbed the wrong bag from the carousel and kept it because he didn't want to be arrested for stealing it.  Harris said he went through the bag only to find its rightful owner.

Harris said he had used the credit card at a gas station, two GNC stores and the Macy's store.

Police verified the identity of the man seen in the airport and at Macy's by comparing the TV images to photos on the Minnesota Gopher football roster, the complaint said.

Harris was summoned to appear in court April 4, the Press said.

Greyhound races face extinction

Greyhound track owners are seeking changes in the law that would allow them to reduce the number of races run each week.

Over half the greyhound tracks in the country have closed in the past decade, and many of the surviving operations have survived thanks to a model used at Bluffs Run, a track in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  

Tracks won permission from states over time to add slot machines and poker tables under the condition that a portion of the profits go to the dog races – essentially subsidizing one form of gambling with another – the New York Times said.

To the astonishment of opponents and dismay of fans, track owners in Iowa, Florida and Arizona are lobbying for changes in the law that would allow them to cut the number of races, or even shut down their tracks, while keeping their profitable gambling operations running.

Even though the races are losing millions of dollars each year, the owners are required by law to keep the greyhounds running six days a week, the Times said.

Though the legislative outcome is in doubt in the short term, the effort has intensified the concern that the end is near for the century-old pastime.

Pushed a shopping cart over a walkway for kicks

A 12-year-old who sent a shopping cart hurtling onto a woman from a fourth-floor mall walkway was sentenced Thursday to at least six months in a therapeutic home.

The boy and a now 13-year-old pleaded guilty to assult in the Oct. 30 prank that seriously hurt Marion Hedges, 47, who was shopping for Halloween candy.  She was in a medically induced coma for a time and is undergoing extensive rehabilitation, family lawyer Tom Moore said.

Both were charged as juveniles, the Pioneer Press said, though the judge could decide in the future to extend their time in therapy-oriented boarding school potentially until they are 18 years old.

The younger boy was the one who came up with the idea of tossing the cart off the walkway and gave it the final shove, city Law Department attorney Leah S. Schmelzer said.

His home life has been chaotic, punctuated by frequent moves, parental neglect and violence, including an episode in which the boy saw his father attack his mother, Manhattan Family Court Judge Susan Larabee said.  She said she told the boy he has serious anger and mental health problems but can have a better life in time.

His lawyer, Sandeep Kandhari, said his behavior reports have been "for the most part, exceptional" while he's been in a detention facility since his arrest.

Moore said that Hedges' relatives, who have sued the East River Plaza shopping center's owners and others over security there, saw the boy's sentence as a step toward justice.

"Obviously, they know that these are troubled youths who need to be helped and who need to be watched over a period of time," he said.