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Criminal Mischief:

Not your typical, everyday charge of "criminal mischief":

PITTSBURGH -- Police have flagged a man for an illegal quarterback sneak.

Authorities said Brian Jackson, 31, dated two women by pretending to be Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Brian St. Pierre.

Jackson, arrested Friday, was charged with harassment for allegedly continuing to contact both women after they learned of the ruses. He was also charged with criminal mischief for allegedly ruining a Steelers jersey owned by one of the women's neighbors when he signed his worthless rendition of Roethlisberger's autograph on it. The jersey was worth $75 before it was signed, police said.

Here's the interesting legal theory in the case--by signing the jersey with his worthless "autograph" he ruined a $75 jersey, thereby giving rise to a criminal mischief charge.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds:

He's not 6-foot-5. He's not 23. He doesn't wear No. 7. And he doesn't have a goatee. In fact, Brian Jackson doesn't resemble Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in any way.

What I want to know is who is this supposed Stiller fan who owns a Roethlisberger jersey--but doesn't even know what Roethlisberger looks like?

Matt Barr (mail) (www):
Fortunately for Pittsburgh-area jersey salespersons, "Crosby" is a lot easier to spell.
7.22.2005 6:01pm
Zywicki (mail):
Matt:
I don't get it.

And if you are the fomer Steeler's kicker, you misspelled your last name.
7.22.2005 7:08pm
42USC1983 (mail):
This is an appalling example of prosecutorial indiscretion. Basically, some women got upset because their gold-digging efforts were frustrated. And they turned to the criminal system to right this "wrong."

I'll bet dollars to fake autographs that these "victims" had well-connected daddies. Really, just absolutely sickening.
7.22.2005 7:31pm
Matt Barr (mail) (www):
The Penguins won the NHL draft lottery today, giving them the right to draft Sidney Crosby, the most promising prospect since at least Eric Lindros and possibly Mario Lemieux himself. And I get that a lot.
7.22.2005 7:34pm
ss:
If the notoriety of this case raises the value of the jersey back to or above $75, would that be a defense to the criminal charge?
7.22.2005 7:46pm
DNL (mail):
He also claimed to be Brian St. Pierre, the #3 QB on the Steelers. That is more plausible, as quite often, not even the head coach knows what the #3 QB looks like.
7.22.2005 10:24pm
Carl (mail):
Um, wait a minute, criminal mischief? Isn't that with what I'd get charged were I to inscribe a pornographic graffito in the dead of night on her newly-painted garage door, or on a bridge abutment?

But...surely he was invited to sign the jersey by its owner. How is his action criminal, then? I understand of course that the owner would have a strong civil case to the effect that he conned her into a fraudulent investment, id est writing "his" name on her jersey to increase its value, and that she would have a right to recover her losses.

So, um, let's see, if my next-door neighbor kid tells me he's Picasso's grandchild, and so I ask him to paint and sign a beautiful mural on my garage door (which I figure will greatly increase the value of my house), but I don't offer to pay him anything (because I'm a cheap opportunistic bastard), and then he does, but, oops, joke's on me and he's not Pablo's descendant -- then the cops will come out and arrest his lying ass for me? And the State will prosecute? They won't all just laugh and tell me I need to hire a lawyer and try my luck in civil court? While muttering caveat cheapskator under their breath?
7.22.2005 10:38pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
My read of the PA statutes (disclaimer: I am not a lawyer) would put that "criminal mischief" at the level of summary offense, which means he's headed for a wrist-slap in the event he is actually guilty.

http://members.aol.com/StatutesPA/18.Cp.33.html

I also think that, given summary offenses are tried in a venue similar to Traffic Court, even *I* could beat this particular charge with PA's consent provision. Or the provision against de minimis infractions.

http://members.aol.com/StatutesP4/18PA302.html
http://members.aol.com/StatutesP4/18PA312.html

Patrick McKenzie
7.23.2005 2:30am
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"who is this supposed Stiller fan"

Ben or Jerry?
7.23.2005 10:59am
Troy H:
Besides... now with the ginormous VC publicity machine helping him, the guy can eBay said jersey for at least 75 bones and make up his damages.
7.23.2005 11:09am
Big Ben:
It's about time we Stillers got a little attention on the VC. This year we'll get the one for the thumb.
7.23.2005 1:24pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
I'm seeing consent, (and in fact, solicitation) by the victim as a serious stumbling block for the DA: she solicited the underlying act of the writing, whether or not it had the commercial consequences for her she thought it would.

O/w, every painter whose paint, on my house doesn't look the way I thought it would (or who uses the wrong paint) is subject to prosecution for damaging my house. (You can tell, I'm mid-remodel right now).

As a family law practitioner in Los Angeles, I've seen multitudes of parentage cases brought against professional athletes (in one instance, I inquired of a court clerk regarding a hearing set for my mom-client's case, only to discover, through the clerk's resulting confusion, that defendant athlete daddy had been in the same courtroom the prior week with A DIFFERENT plaintiff mom...) and have waited to see the consequences of someone accomplishing seduction by this sort of impersonation. If someone's willing to raise this much of a stink about a jersey. . . .

BTW, this brings be back, collaterally, to my favorite California criminal law puzzle: Cal. P.C. 261 says that a defendant can commit rape by obtaining the victim's consent

Where a person submits under the belief that the person
committing the act is the victim's spouse, and this belief is induced
by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the accused,
with intent to induce the belief.


Does this mean:

A. perp hires a fake minister, who performs a fake marriage, and then says to victim, "Dear, we're married now, it's OK", or

B. perp puts on a fake beard, so he looks like his brother, and slips into bed with his brother's wife?
7.23.2005 4:22pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
I'm guessing either is illegal, but they were concerned about B more when they passed the law. Probably more in the scenario "I slept with the man in my husband's bed without getting a clear look at him". I suppose it could happen without lights, stranger things have.
7.25.2005 3:36am
Paul Gowder (mail):
I wonder if that criminal mischief theory could be stretched a little further. Like against predatory lenders: before they signed the piece of paper containing the loan agreement, it, as a piece of paper, was worth about half a penny. After they signed it, it cost the poor sucker who had it thousands of dollars. Criminal mischief? :-)
7.25.2005 11:52am
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